Q&A: Laurel House’s Beth Sturman

The Norristown resident serves Montgomery County women and children through her work.

The Philadelphia nonprofit sector owes much to Beth Sturman, who worked with Project HOME before taking over as executive director of Laurel House 11 years ago. The facility began as one half of a twin home in 1980 and has since grown to serve countless women and children, providing education and awareness to Montgomery County and beyond.

About Laurel House: A comprehensive domestic violence agency, our shelter has nine bedrooms, and we have an emergency response program that works in conjunction with police departments and nine hospitals in the county. We also have a community education program and two thrift stores. 

A story that’s stuck with her: A young woman named Kristin Mitchell was killed three weeks after she graduated from Saint Joseph’s University. She was starting a great job, had a wonderful apartment, and was killed by her boyfriend. I’ve gotten very close to that family and seen what that devastation has done. But we have a lot of wonderful success stories­— women who have gone through our program and have new marriages with healthy, non-frightening people. 

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How the community can get involved: Our thrift shops are always happy to have donations and offer information, especially for a group that invites speakers. This topic touches everybody. 

Favorite place to eat: White Dog Cafe. I go there as often as I can. 

Favorite area event: One is the Kristin Mitchell 5K every year at Saint Joe’s, because it gets people out from all different segments of the community and it’s a great way to connect with a lot of different kinds of people. 

From left: White Dog Cafe, Kristin Mitchell 5K.

Favorite place to go with friends: Anyplace outdoors. I love walking any of the garden spots. I’ll walk almost everywhere, and there are a lot of beautiful places on the Main Line. 

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Best chance of getting stuck in traffic: Right now, 202 around the King of Prussia Mall

Where she exercises: YogaOne in Trooper.

If she had 30 minutes to herself, she would: Read. I’m reading a book by Dr. Daniel Gottlieb. It’s called The Wisdom We’re Born With, and I just love it. 

The best part of living here: It’s really great that we have access to the city, which has so many different things to choose from. I love that, within an hour, I can be in Bryn Mawr, Philly or Peace Valley Park in Bucks County. And the diversity of people and cultures is really wonderful.

From Left: The Wisdom We’re Born With; Peace Valley.

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How she came to be at Laurel House: I was working as a secretary in a corporate environment, and I really knew that I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector. I got a job in a domestic violence day program, which was very new in 1980—kind of cutting-edge. I learned a lot about domestic violence, and I got more and more interested in that kind of work.     

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