Laurell was born in Queens, New York City (NY) and lived on Long Island, New York. When she was eight (8) years old, her father (a Detective with the New York City Police Department) retired, and the family moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL. Laurell graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in 1980, and attended Florida State University, receiving her degree in Criminology Her first job was with the Florida Department of Corrections, where she held the positions of Field Officer, Court Liaison, and Pre-Sentence Investigator. Later, Laurell worked for the Pompano Beach Police Department as a Crime Analyst.
After her wedding with J.R. Phillips, they lived in Fort Lauderdale for two (2) years, and then relocated to Texas where J.R.’s family lived. While living in Houston, Laurell attended a Paralegal Career College, and received her Paralegal Certificate. She took a job with Bank One (now known as Chase Bank) as a Fraud Investigator.
Laurell began her benevolent work with professional Paralegal associations in 1999. When NationsBank was assumed by Bank of America, Laurell remained in the Legal Department in Dallas. She continued volunteering in the legal field for several more years. In 2006, Laurell was selected to work with a group of investors to create a Legal Assistant Career College in downtown Dallas. In 2008, Laurell and J.R. adopted a newborn girl. Laurell completed her role with the Lawyer’s Assistant School of Dallas, to devote fulltime as a mother to Sierra.
Laurell has always been interested in giving back to the public, her time and expertise as a volunteer. Over the years Laurell has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Lone Star Santa’s, Legal Services of Northwest Texas, Ronald McDonald House, and Palmer Elementary and Middle schools. She is an ardent volunteer to her church, giving her time and skills for several ministries: Awana’s, Vacation Bible School, Pre-Teen Camp, Addiction Recovery, Christmas Cherub, Food pantry, and Youth (Hunter’s Dinner, Summer Camp, and New Year Retreats).
Volunteerism is a basic expression of human relationships. It is about people’s need to participate in their societies, and to feel that they matter to others. Laurell strongly believes that the social relationships intrinsic to volunteer work are critical to individual and community well-being. The ethos of volunteerism is infused with values such as solidarity, reciprocity, mutual trust, belonging and empowerment, all of which contribute significantly to quality of life. Laurell fosters this expression and will continue supporting various endeavors for Ellis County communities and support the needs for Ellis County citizens.
This character trait in Laurell is one reason that she and her husband have started the nonprofit “HARVEST Foundation” to help homeless families, homeless veterans, and ex-offenders in Texas, as well as, creating a quality Women’s Shelter in Ellis County.