“You never know how strong you are until you have no other choice,” says Lexie Love Hodges, 34.
Stunning, stylish Hodges is a force to be reckoned with. As an IT engineer and consultant at Agora Publishing, mother of one, wife and cofounder of the One Love Foundation, she seems nearly invincible.
Hodges’ life work, however, centers on helping young people realize that they are not invincible. In May 2010, her younger sister Yeardley Love was killed by an ex-boyfriend and fellow University of Virginia senior. The shocking act of domestic violence captured national interest; Yeardley’s picture appeared on the cover of “People” magazine and in newspapers across the United States, nearly always accompanied by some form of the same questions: How could this have happened? Could it have been prevented?
In an effort to answer these questions, Hodges and her mother, Sharon Love, founded the One Love Foundation.
“We had so much support, it was impossible to do nothing,” Hodges says. “People kept coming to us and sharing their own stories, and we decided we wanted to focus on preventing [domestic violence], not dealing with it after something had already happened.”
With the help of survivors and other experts, the One Love Foundation developed a program now used nationwide to educate high school and college students about the warning signs of domestic violence and unhealthy relationships. Anchored by the viewing and discussion of One Love’s “Escalation” video, the program has evolved as the foundation’s reach has grown. You may have recently seen one of their latest campaigns, a short Instagram video exposing signs of an abusive relationship along with the hashtag #ThatsNotLove.
“It’s been hard working with [One Love] because it’s a constant reminder of what happened,” Hodges says, “but the good outweighs the bad. I get so many messages and emails from people saying how thankful they are that the foundation exists. It’s really been an eye-opener. I never really knew about relationship violence. It was never part of any curriculum, never part of any conversations growing up. Now, I have a little girl. I think about what advice I have to give her now almost every day.”
In addition to its extensive programming, the One Love Foundation also hosts a number of fund- and awareness-raising events.
“Never in a million years did I think it would get this big,” Hodges says. “There are events all over the country that I try to get to, but now that I’m a mom I have a lot less time than I used to.”
(Hodges and her colleagues will head to Remington on Feb. 3 for “Lip Sync for Love,” a fun event where celebrities and professional athletes hit the stage to show off their best moves. Check the group’s Facebook page for more details.)
Despite the Foundation’s success, however, Hodges has never lost sight of the reason for its founding.
“It’s still an uphill battle for my mom and me,” she says, “but we never let the bad or the negative get the best of us. My sister has always been at the top of our minds. It’s not because of what happened to her that we’re so successful. It’s because of who she was.”
WHAT SHE’S WEARING
Dress, Maggy London, $140, Freesia. Shoes, Dolce Vita, $130; Silver Bag, $60; Earrings, $14, at Poppy & Stella.
MODEL: Lexie Love Hodges
PHOTOGRAPHER: David Stuck
ART DIRECTOR: Kim Van Dyke
CLOTHING STYLIST: Mets Feeley
MAKEUP: Owen Michael O’Donnell
LOCATION: The Sagamore Pendry