Pat Lawler

Nonprofit Fellow


Chief Executive Officer, Youth Villages

When it comes to helping troubled children succeed, Patrick Lawler believes that doing whatever it takes is the only thing that works. It’s that drive that has led him to transform a failing children’s residential program with 25 kids into a leading national nonprofit that helps more than 20,000 children and families every year, with more than 60 locations across 11 states and the District of Columbia. Not only that, but his organization’s unique data-driven approach is changing the way our society treats its most vulnerable members: children who have been abused, neglected, and traumatized.

As the founder and chief executive officer of Youth Villages, Patrick Lawler is dedicated to providing effective solutions for troubled youth and their families. With more than 80 percent of children served achieving positive long-term outcomes, Youth Villages’ success rates are nothing short of astounding—with children still living at home with family, staying out of trouble with the law and in school or graduated even two years after treatment. Since 1986, the organization has changed the lives of more than 80,000 children despite overwhelming odds and an even more overwhelmed system.

Driven by a passion to take on the toughest child services cases he can find, Lawler has revolutionized the field of child welfare in America with Youth Villages’ Evidentiary Family Restoration™ approach. This approach proves that troubled children can achieve better success rates than that through traditional services at one-third the cost of traditional care, making Lawler one of the most effective national advocates for the transformation of America’s failing child welfare system.

Lawler was recognized in 2006 as one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report in conjunction with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2012, he was featured in the book “Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Who Are Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time.” Mr. Lawler’s leadership and Youth Villages’ success are profiled in Ken Stern’s 2013 book “With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give” as a prime example of nonprofits that are achieving results and merit donor investment.

Youth Villages has been cited as a model by the White House, the New York Times, the American Youth Policy Forum, the National Coalition of Juvenile Justice and the United Way of America.