LEF is a completely voluntary organization comprised of a Board of Directors and numerous donors and supporters. Every penny we receive is used to further our mission of providing scholarship awards to deserving college-bound high school students.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Mr. Lawrence was a member of the first graduating class from Edna Karr Senior High School. He went on to receive a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1997 and to graduate with honors from The George Washington University Law School. A member of the American Bar Association, Mr. Lawrence is admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and in the District of Columbia.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Lawrence devoted his legal skills to helping those in need of disaster relief assistance, by securing benefits for individual clients and by working as a pro bono attorney on behalf of the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit demanding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implement changes to make it easier for disaster victims to receive the assistance they need from the government. In 2009, he created the Lagniappe Education Foundation as a way to continue giving back – first to the New Orleans community that laid the groundwork for his future, and eventually to the broader, national community.
Mr. Lawrence currently serves as Staff Attorney and Director of Legal Education for Taxpayers Against Fraud, a non-profit, public interest organization committed to combating fraud against the United States Government through promotion of the federal False Claims Act and its whistleblower provisions. Prior to this, Mr. Lawrence spent more than six years as an associate in the Washington, DC office of international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, litigating cases in a variety of practice areas.
A New Orleans native and high school graduate of Sacred Heart Academy, Ms. Almonte is LEF’s first Secretary. Ms. Almonte received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She began her career as a litigation associate in the Washington, DC office of Arnold & Porter, before moving to the Washington, DC office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where she has spent the last six years focusing on complex commercial litigation and international arbitration. Ms. Almonte is licensed to practice law in the State of New York and in the District of Columbia.
Although Ms. Almonte was living in the Washington, DC area when Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the storm directly impacted many of her family and friends living in the New Orleans area. As a result, she worked tirelessly to aid those in need by opening her home to evacuees and by serving as a pro bono lawyer in a class action case demanding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implement changes to make it easier for disaster victims to receive the assistance they need from the Government. She continues to manifest her strong commitment to helping others through her work with LEF.
A life-long youth advocate, Ms. Sandoval grew up in Colorado, where she was appointed by two former Colorado Governors to serve on the Colorado Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council. She later directed a gang rescue and support program in Denver. While in Colorado, Ms. Sandoval earned a B.S. degree with an emphasis in high-risk youth studies from Metropolitan State College of Denver (1997) and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver (2004).
Ms. Sandoval currently serves as the Director of National Field Operations at the Campaign for Youth Justice, a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating minors in the adult criminal justice system. Prior to her current position, Ms. Sandoval worked with numerous national juvenile justice and youth advocacy organizations, including the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the Center for Youth as Resources, and the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. She has also worked for the National Crime Prevention Council, home of McGruff the Crime Dog. Joining the LEF Board as Treasurer was an easy decision for Ms. Sandoval, as it allows her to continue helping young people to succeed.