Patrick W. Lawler

What Works Nonprofit Fellow & Moneyball All-Star

Chief Executive Officer, Youth Villages

When it comes to helping children with emotional and behavioral problems succeed, Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler believes that doing whatever it takes is the only thing that works. That’s what led him to transform a small children’s residential program into a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health, committed to building strong families, delivering effective services and significantly improving outcomes for child welfare systems across the country.

Youth Villages now helps more than 30,000 children, families and young people every year through a continuum of programs and services built around strengthening and restoring families through Intercept intensive in-home services, allowing children to grow up safely in their own homes and our communities. Through its LifeSet program model, the organization is leading the way to ensure that effective, comprehensive services are provided to the 20,000 young people who turn 18 in foster care every year without ever being reunited with their family or adopted.

Youth Villages was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study examining its growth and impact, and exploring the organization’s innovative treatment approach, use of research in program development and targeted growth strategies. The case was written for inclusion in an HBS course called “Leading and Governing Highly Effective Nonprofit Organizations.” Lawler is a frequent guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and Columbia University.

He was recognized 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.  His leadership and Youth Villages’ success are profiled in Ken Stern’s 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.

In 2009, the White House cited Youth Villages as an example of “effective, innovative non-profits” that are “high-impact, result-oriented” organizations.

In his free time, Lawler enjoys swimming, reading, biking and spending time with his wife, Ellen; his daughter, Brooke; his son, Brad; and his grandsons, Cooper and Luke.