If you want to know what mentorship really means, I know a woman.

Leah Fessler
5 min readNov 1, 2019
A journal Lauren gifted me in 2018

This week has been shit. This week has also been, in some ways, pure love.

On Tuesday, October 29, Lauren Brown passed away at age 37 (her birthday was two months earlier, in August). Breast cancer killed her, but to me, and so many people, she is still so alive.

Lauren was invincibly fierce. She was hilarious, and obsessed with bunnies. She unlocked the door when I was sitting in the office privacy room sobbing. She listened to my anxieties, then told me I needed to make a decision: grow up and face my fears, or live in perpetual uncertainty. She made me an adult. She Slacked me with crazy story ideas at two in the morning, and held me to them. She had impossibly high standards. She realized my ambitions.

Much has been written about Lauren since her passing, all of it true. Lauren was a founding editor at Quartz, the publication I used to work at. She was exceptional at her job, but she was even more exceptional at being a human being. As Quartz reporter Jenni Avins writes, “With Lauren, you were safe.” As Quartz co-founder and former editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney writes, “Lauren excelled at giving other people space to tell their stories.”

“You couldn’t care less if you were likable or not,” writes Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli, your dear friend. “Liking is transient and easy anyway; your intensity belonged to the realm of deep love.”

This is so untouchably real. Lauren made me believe that anything was possible. She built confidence out of thin air. She never wasted her time.

Lauren holding my pug, the first week I got him

When I told Lauren I was in the ER alone after a minor stomach incident—despite living much of her adult life with breast cancer—she was the first person to text me, asking to come sit by my side. She acknowledged how scared I must be without a glimpse of comparison. Lauren cared about Bachelor Nation just as much as I do. That’s saying a lot.

When I dressed my pug up as Yoda for Halloween, Lauren lost her mind. Just months earlier—depressed, 24, and fresh off a breakup—I told her I wanted to get a dog. I knew it was…

Leah Fessler

Investor at NextView Ventures. Journalist. Thinking about gender, equality, and pugs. Formerly at Chief, Quartz, Slow, Bridgewater Associates, Middlebury.