Lara was the founding Director of the Missouri Jobs with Justice coalition and under her leadership grew to a powerhouse coalition of nearly 100 organizations committed to building statewide power for workers’ rights and economic policy issues. She also co-chaired the Jobs with Justice National Board for nearly a decade. She now serves on the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s Roadmap Strategy Committee. Lara is a graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute Cross Movement Year Long Fellowship. Lara is also a founder of the Missouri Organizing and Voter Engagement (MOVE) Collaborative, and served on the Working Group on Economic Inequity and Mobility of the Governor’s Ferguson Commission, Citizen Review Panel of the St Louis Regional Arts Commission, and on the boards of Gateway Homeless Services, the Ballot Initiative Group of Missouri and Leadership for Social Change.
Lara is a native Missourian where she was a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local B-2 for seven years. She attended Macalester College in St. Paul, MN graduating with a degree in International Studies including field work in Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala. Lara lived and worked at the Instituto Teologico da Bahia in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil before returning to Missouri to work as a neighborhood organizer.
Lara and her husband Brendan Smith live in St. Louis where they are they enjoy her stepson Sam and being super-Aunt-and-Uncle to 15 wonderful nieces and nephews.