Born in Greenville, Ohio, Laura M. Derby graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 1968 with a degree in psychology. She immediately put that to use as the executive director of a children's day care center for the next 10 years.
She then joined United Way and traveled to upstate New York where she was the executive director of the chapter just outside Albany, N.Y. "I then came to the Washington area with United Way of America. But, after two years decided I wanted to open my own consulting firm specializing in government grant writing," Derby said.
As a member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church and with her expertise in grant writing, Derby became associated with Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church while it was still in rented space on Richmond Highway. That was in May 1998.
Today, Derby is the programs and office administrator for Rising Hope which moved into its first permanent home since its founding by the Rev. Keary Kincannon over 10 years ago. Now located on Russell Road, just off Route 1 in Lee District, Derby's primary responsibility is "the business side of the church's operations," as she describes it.
"I handle the financial and administrative matter as well as reaching out to the community for support. Since we finally got a permanent home I'm also the property manager," she said.
But, it hasn't been all work for Derby. She has two grown children, a son and daughter both living in Colorado. She also has seven grandchildren.
Her daughter works for the Alliance for Justice in Denver, while her son is the manager of a resort ranch in the Rockie Mountains. An avid skier, Derby visits the ski area "as often as possible."
A resident of Mount Vernon District, along with her "best friend and partner" Don Terrace, here are some insights to Laura Derby.
What is the favorite part of your current job?
"Helping to make sure we are reaching out to all the needy in the community and striving to make sure they know they are loved as the children of God."
What are your key ties to the community and community involvement?
"I am very involved with my home church, Aldersgate United Methodist, as well as being active in the Mount Vernon Rotary Club where I am a past president."
What do you enjoy most about your community that you think others might not be aware of?
"The diversity of the people in this area and how many recreational and park sites we have within this urban setting."
What are some of your favorite places in the community?
"Being able to walk along the Potomac River on a nice day."
What is the one thing you would change about the community?
"I would increase the pedestrian safety along the Route 1 corridor so that there were not so many accidents, injuries and deaths."
What books would you recommend?
"Anything by John Grisham."
What is the last movie you saw and enjoyed and what is your favorite television show?
"Walk The Line for the movie and Commander In Chief on television."
Do you have a favorite hobby?
"Skiing which I do when I visit my son in the winter months."
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
"Actually I have two, one for winter and another where it is warm. The winter one is the Rockies for skiing and the other is St. Johns in the Caribbean."
How would you most enjoy spending one day?
"Teaching disabled skiers."
Do you have a favorite quotation?
"Matthew 25, where Jesus tells us to feed the poor, clothe the naked and visit the sick and imprisoned."