Lori Lester was born and raised in Olean, New York. Following high school, Lori served in the United States Marine Corps, where she was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant (E-5) and awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal. After discharge, Lori worked in several administrative capacities at law firms in Washington, D.C. while attending college part-time in the evening, and further serving six years as a Reservist with the United States Air Force.
Lori received her B. A. in Psychology from George Mason University in 1994 and her Master of Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1998 with a concentration in Advocacy, Administration, and Policy. During and since that time, Lori worked in numerous professional capacities, most of which focused on child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and interpersonal and social trauma. Some of the roles she filled included Mental Health Therapist, Child Protective Services Investigator, Court-Appointed Special Advocate for Children, and Crisis Counselor and Team Leader for post Hurricane Katrina survivors. Lori lobbied the Virginia General Assembly in the mid-1990s for improved funding for children’s mental health, and was selected to be one of the first trained advocates for the nationally-based grassroots movement Stand For Children, a part of the Children’s Defense Fund, in the late 1990s. Lori has been published in several venues in the social work field. Her publications with her co-author Robert L. Schneider include Social Work Advocacy: A New Framework For Action, (2001) (Brooks/Cole, Thompson Learning: Belmont, CA), three editions of Entitlement Policies and Programs: Internet Access for Social Work Professionals and Students in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the article entry on Advocacy in the Encyclopedia of Social Work (Oxford University Press: New York, 20th Edition (2008). Lori also authored Why We Can’t Always Help, (Washington Post, February 4, 2001), which addressed the difficulties child protective services investigators face in attempting to function effectively under a maze of oppressive legislative and administrative policies. Lori was a panelist at the First Annual Georgia-Alabama AILA Conference in early 2013 where she discussed how to work with traumatized clients under the VAWA, U, T, and SIJS Forms of Relielf.
Lori currently works with her husband at Lester Law, where they help clients with their immigration and criminal defense matters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Finally, Lori and Martin were foster and adoptive parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the early 2000s.