Rodriguez-Carbone Honored with Prestigious Crain's Cleveland Business 40 Under Forty Award

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Laura Rodriguez-Carbone is driven to help others because so many helped her family in its times of need.

Homeless for much of her youth, Rodriguez-Carbone and her family — two younger brothers and their mother — stayed with friends at times, but also on the streets and, when they could afford it, a hotel. Rodriguez-Carbone worked two jobs during high school to help keep the family afloat. Often, they turned to churches for food.

"I remember the institutions, the churches that helped us, and I always wanted to give back," Rodriguez-Carbone said. "I know how I was affected by that kindness."

Despite limited resources, she earned her bachelor's in political science and her master's in public administration and built a career heavy on public service. Rodriguez-Carbone has worked to enforce civil rights laws in public schools, to tutor at-risk children in Cleveland schools, and today, works to educate people about organ, eye and tissue donation for Lifebanc, an organ procurement organization in Warrensville Heights.

Conversations about organ donation don't tend to happen in the Latino community, said Rodriguez-Carbone, until people find that someone they know needs a transplant. People are most likely to be organ donor matches for people of their own ethnic makeup, so Rodriguez-Carbone is working to spread the word that one donor can save up to eight lives and heal up to 75 more.

Rodriguez-Carbone and her husband, Christopher, moved to Lakewood in 2015. City council selected her for the Lakewood Wellness Foundation Planning Task Force, which is working to build a foundation to meet Lakewood citizens' health care needs following the hotly contested closure of Lakewood Hospital.

"We have an opportunity to help close some of the gaps left by the hospital (closure), and what we're doing will likely impact generations of Lakewoodites," she said.

Rodriguez-Carbone has a unique ability to say yes to lots of things and get them all done, said Lamar Ratcliffe, an agent emeritus at MassMutual who has advised her on her career.

"I would describe her in four ways," he began, calling her very positive, an entrepreneur, a learner, and a giver. "She asks a lot of questions and really seeks to understand where the person before her is coming from. She feels this purpose in her life (to) really make a difference." — Michelle Park Lazette

Laura Rodriguez-Carbone