No stranger to nonprofit work, former attorney loves meeting new people in Orlando’s coolest coworking space

Kate Martin
Kate Martin

Sometimes at CoLab Orlando, the teams remain the same, but the players change. Such is the case with Bridges of Light Foundation, which has been with CoLab Orlando for about three years but recently hired a new executive director. Kate Martin, a former attorney, is enjoying her first experience working in downtown Orlando’s coolest coworking space. A married mother of two 6-year-old fraternal twin girls and a 12-year-old miniature schnauzer, Kate is an active athlete; she’s been known to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles — on the same day.

Tell us about yourself and your company.

At Bridges of Light, we tutor and mentor children who are in foster care or are at-risk to help improve their educational performance in school. We also help support them as they attend higher education, which would include technical or trade school or college. I was in private law practice with two other people in Orlando. The reason I wanted to switch (from law to a nonprofit) was because I had gone to law school with the idea that I was going to help people, and I just wasn’t helping people in the way that I wanted to. I’ve been very involved in nonprofit work from a volunteer and leadership standpoint, and one day I had one of those light-bulb-over-the-head moments: I know what I want to be when I grow up; I want to work in nonprofits.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

What our foundation actually does for the kids. The results are amazing. We have a really great tutoring program that works one-on-one with the kids based on their needs. We’ve had more than 25 children attend college and a huge number graduate from high school. A good example of how successful our program has been is a test in Florida for algebra that’s given to high school students, who must pass it in order to graduate. The average pass rate in Central Florida was 56 percent, and we had 86 percent of our kids taking the test pass; only one of them didn’t pass. (Editor’s note: for those of you with rusty math skills, that means six of seven kids passed.) I think just the overall impact we make in the community is the best thing about the organization.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that many people don’t know.

Most people don’t know that I have done a Half Ironman. I did the Ironman 70.3 Augusta. It was a little hillier than I expected.

When did you join CoLab?

Bridges of Light has been with CoLab for almost three years. I started in mid-March.

Where were you before CoLab?

I practiced estate planning and corporate law in a full-service civil law firm with two other people in East Orlando.

Door open or door closed?

Open.

What are your thoughts on the CoLab community?

I really like it. I have already met our next-door neighbor from the Sierra Club. Brian’s been wonderful; he introduced me to people on the floor. He sent me an email about the coffee on the ninth floor. It’s been a welcoming experience and awesome. You can chat with people and get to know them and get some ideas, too.

What are your favorite spots to go to in downtown Orlando?

I love the salads right here in the building at FinnHenry’s. They have really great salad.