Laura Dean-Mooney '82 educates others on the dangers of drunk driving

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: March 12, 2011

Laura Dean-Mooney ’82 never imagined the positive impact she would have on thousands of lives. Nor did she imagine the personal tragedy that would eventually lead her to become president of the national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“As national president, I am the face of MADD,” she says. “I am the victim/survivor that the public sees.”

And Laura is a survivor. In 1991, Laura and her husband Mike, both native Texans, had just moved to Denver with their infant daughter.

On November 21, Mike left a business meeting in Oklahoma to visit family in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Mike was traveling on a Texas highway when a drunk driver going the wrong way struck his car head on, killing Mike instantly.

After the crash, Laura relocated to College Station and decided she wanted to keep tragedies like this from happening to others.

“In 1993, I approached MADD’s Texas chapter in Austin about making a designated gift,” Laura says. “I designated it for public policy use in Texas — making sure better drunk driving laws got passed so that families like mine would not have to go through the tragedy of losing a loved one in a drunk driving crash.”

Laura, who earned a bachelor’s in curriculum and instruction, used her background in education to play an active role in MADD Brazos Valley and eventually, as a state board member of MADD. In 2008, Laura took office as MADD’s national president.

As national president, Laura’s job is educating others, but she has found other ways to teach as well — both as a trained victim advocate and certified trainer of law enforcement officers, in which she teaches officers how to deliver a death notification.

Now in the last year of her three-year term, Laura primarily serves as MADD’s official spokesperson, educating and informing government officials, the media, law enforcement and many others about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.

She also is an instructor in a new MADD initiative called Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence.

Supported by the National PTA, the program provides coaching for parents and other adults on how to talk to children about underage drinking. “We give the parents tips and tools on how to begin the conversation,” Laura says.

Despite its many successes, Laura believes tough challenges still lie ahead for MADD. “While MADD has made a great deal of progress in our 30-year history by reducing the number of alcohol-related deaths by about 45-50 percent, we still live in a country that kills over 10,000 Americans every year in drunk driving crashes — a 100 percent preventable crime,” she says.

“To me, that is unacceptable. The hope is that we’ll get to the day when drunk driving is eliminated. We believe that in the next 15 years, drunk driving will be eliminated through the use of technology in automobiles. Turning cars into the cure is a real possibility.”