Lauren Kerner - @lauren.e.kerner

Interviewed by Vanessa McCall - @nessanessie

Photography by Camille Chamard - @ikigai_camillechamard

Dressed by Iridescent Sea - @iridescentsea_

There are people you meet in life and instantly know they are special. When I first saw Lauren Kerner, she glided into Cottesloe’s Il Lido café, turning heads along the way, such is her natural, effortless beauty. But way beyond that, Lauren is one of the most intelligent, well-travelled global- minded people I have ever met. She’s already lived in four countries and she’s only 28. Wise beyond her years, I could have spoken with her all day. In the few hours we did have together, we talked about the upcoming US elections (Lauren is a Californian and worked on the 2020 Biden election campaign), her favourite poetry, the loss of her little brother, peace in Israel and Gaza and her love of Perth. A truly fascinating and determined young woman with the world at her feet. Perth is lucky to have her. I for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.

Lauren grew up in California with her parents, and her two younger brothers, Daniel and David. They are a close-knit family with a strong commitment to public service. Her brother, Daniel, had a terminal illness and died when he was just 10 years old. Lauren was 14.


Tell us about your brother, Daniel. He obviously was, and still is, a very important part of your life.


Daniel really was my everything. I curled up next to him and he passed away in my arms. That definitely changed me. I’ve never felt my age. I’ve always felt older – much older.

There’s life and dying and death and then, there’s grief. Grief is forever – it just changes, or you change. I don’t know which one is changing - the grief or the person. Maybe a bit of both.


And what about the rest of your family?


My brother, David, is still based in the United States as a mountaineer and a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

He works at the Alaska Mountaineering School in summers. Winters he’s on ski patrol in Montana. Later this year he will travel to India to do wilderness medicine in the Himalayas – he’s essentially a wilderness EMT (someone who is trained to care for people in remote and harsh environments.) He’s as intense as me but in the outdoors! I’m the bureaucratic workhorse, he’s the outdoor pack mule! But he loves to be outside, and he loves adventure.

David feels connected to Daniel when he’s up in the mountains. He said he loves climbing mountains because it’s the closest he can get to heaven.


Your parents have also led incredibly interesting lives.


My parents have both given many years of their life to the service of others.

Mum worked for a public university as an administrator and then took time off to care for Daniel, David and me as we were growing up.

My Dad had an amazing career. He went to a Catholic International School in Rome as a child and speaks fluent Italian. This is thanks to my Grandpa Lou who was in the movie industry as a casting agent for Lana Turner, Danny Kaye – all these old stars. Grandpa Lou ended up doing all the spaghetti westerns in Italy!

Dad became a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He was a Judge Advocate General - a “JAG” (an Air Force lawyer) and was stationed in Sicily. He did all sorts of missile placement negotiations all over the world plus dealt with internal Air Force disciplinary proceedings.

His second career was as an Assistant US attorney in the US Department of Justice. He has had 60 years of combined military and government service, so we are a really service-driven family.

Your Dad sends you poetry wherever you are in the world. How beautiful!


Oh my God I love poetry! Where that comes from, I don’t know! I just love reading poetry - more than a novel, actually. I just love the way you can read a few words and it can describe the most precise feeling that you’ve never been able to articulate yourself. And in a way you could never say out loud, but someone else has been able to put a pen to it and write a piece of your heart.

I love language and storytelling. My favourite poet is Mary Oliver – a US poet from Ohio – and there’s this last line in her poem “Don’t Hesitate” - “Joy is not made to be a crumb.” (read the full poem here – it’s so beautiful)


Ambition and drive run in your family! What was your area of study?


I studied history, international relations, and politics at the University of California, completing my Masters of Science at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. My Masters research was on the suppression of Pro-Palestinian students on US University campuses. This followed my time living in Israel, working there and in Palestine with the Chief Negotiator of the Oslo Accords.

I was also doing post-Arab Spring citizen journalism helping people in the Middle East and North Africa tell their stories after all the protests and revolutions.

Tell us about your career after Oxford.


I returned to America when the first Biden/Trump election was going on. I wanted to help restore a sense of democracy and normalcy for the US (after a chaotic four years of the Trump Presidency) so I decided to work for the Biden campaign.

After Joe Biden won and became the US President, I worked for the US Small Business Administration and for the Deputy Secretary of Commerce.


Those roles sound like a lot of work and travel!


I did close to 50 trips through my work - a mix of both domestic and international travel.

One month, we did four continents in four weeks: A trade mission to Brazil, export control negotiations in Brussels (I was the only woman in the talks and the youngest participant at the table), trips to Ghana and Puerto Rico. I was also involved in a very important United Nations election in Bucharest, Romania, where we were successful in having our USA candidate win a massive majority to lead the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency that sets global standards for telecoms and tech infrastructure.


Is there anywhere else you’d like to travel?



I really want to go to Jamaica, Mexico City, Japan and Madagascar. I would love to do more of Africa. There’s so much more of the world I want to see. I want to be a traveller not a tourist.

You now live in Perth, Western Australia, making Australia the fourth country you’ve lived in. You’ve also lived in the USA, Israel and the UK. Can you tell us what you love about living in Perth?


I have learned a lot about myself since being here and I love Perth. I love the beach, the people, I love the thirst to be active and outside and creative. Such a special combination of life-affirming activities and that’s the stuff I want to remember about Perth.

It’s such a special place, I will always want to come back and live here again one day. Make it work for longer. It’s a special place and I think I will always keep that with me.

I have learned to take better care of myself since I’ve been living here. The difficult thing about my previous jobs is they are so full on - it’s literally impossible to make time to take care of yourself. Wherever I go and whatever job I do, I’m looking forward to doing it all with a bit more intention and care for myself. I really have Perth and the lifestyle here to thank for that.

You discovered Iridescent Sea during your time in Fremantle. I feel like I am on holidays every time I step in to that beautiful space!


It is the most gorgeous shop. I love that it has its own style. There’s no other shop like it. I love wearing anything that’s not the same as everyone else and I think that’s why I love Iridescent Sea. I’m always looking for things that are different - I love bespoke designers, vintage shopping.

Because I’ve worked in government my style is colourful but it’s also more modest. I’d be uncomfortable wearing something that’s super tight or super short. Because I work in serious roles, it’s really important that the clothes I wear reflect who I am in all these different aspects of my life. I love what Robin (Iridescent Sea owner) has and what she’s built. It’s such a cool place for women to come and buy things that inspire them to be the most authentic version of themselves - I think that’s what really special about the place. Also to give them the clothes they need to go have fun. Whether it’s the swimming, at the beach or having a dinner party or travelling - that’s what the store is for. It’s for women who are excited about life and want to be involved in the world whether here or wherever their adventures take them – looking chic but feeling comfortable at the same time. If I do go back to the US, I’m excited about the closet I am bringing with me! I know many Perth women think shopping is better elsewhere, but seriously, this is the best shopping ever!

Perth is the most isolated city in the world and relatively quiet compared to other countries you’ve lived in and travelled to. How do you think you will go if you leave our beautiful shores?


It would be a big adjustment, but I think I’ll be okay. Because of the way I grew up with Daniel being so sick and life being so chaotic, I thrive in chaos. I just go. So many times, I’ve just had to throw everything together, get on a plane and jump right in headfirst and run as fast and hard as I can. Whether it’s staying in Perth or going back to the US – it’ll be a thousand miles per hour and that’s the way I like it.

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