Trumbull businesswoman heads fundraising drive for crisis center that saved employee’s life

Kate Hampford Donahue always knew what the Center for Family Justice was, and that the organization helped survivors of domestic and sexual violence. But it wasn’t until a friend recruited her to take part in a “Dancing With the Stars”-style fundraiser for the group, that the Trumbull native realized just how much the center did.

Donahue, 63, is president and CEO of Stratford-based Hampford Research Inc, a specialty chemical company which develops products for the electronics, printing, personal care, and coating industries. As an accomplished businesswoman, she was particularly impressed by center’s business model, which allows survivors to access a range of domestic violence services — including legal help, counseling, access to shelter and access to basic needs, such as clothing — in one place.

“I appreciate efficiency,” Donahue said. “Until this center opened, there was not one-stop shopping (in Greater Bridgeport) for these services. The fact that they have everything under one roof and women and children only have to tell their story once is huge.”

Donahue became even more impressed with the center when she learned that an employee of hers had used it to help escape an abusive situation.

“They saved her life,” she said.

Her appreciation for the center led Donahue to become more involved with it and the work its staff does. She was recently named to head up a major fundraiser for the Center for Family Justice.

Called Faces of HOPE, the campaign looks to raise $400,000 to help the center continue and expand the services it offers annually to the more than 4,500 victims of domestic and sexual violence in six local communities — Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.

Donahue will chair the campaign. She was selected for the job partly because of her business acumen, said Debra Greenwood, president and CEO of the Center for Family Justice.

“Kate is such a dynamic and community-minded person, we were thrilled when she agreed to lead this campaign,” Greenwood said. “Her leadership at Hampford Research and her commitment to building a strong corporate team are so impressive, we knew she would be a great leader for this effort. She is kind, empathetic, smart and means business.”

The Faces of HOPE committee also includes Merle Berke-Schlesel of Branford, a former nonprofit CEO and current volunteer in CFJ’s Pro Bono Legal Center, and Marge Hiller, a Bridgeport community leader and former CFJ board chair.

Donahue said the Faces of HOPE fundraiser will largely help the center cover its operating costs, which is crucial.

“I appreciate that, if those basic expenses aren’t met, you can’t set out to do what you need to do, let alone build on it,” she said.

The center has been in particularly deep need since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which demand for the services it offers has increased by more than 25 percent. Demand for domestic violence services alone has increased by 18 percent, according to the center.

Though leading a fundraising team may be a new challenge, Donahue has taken on such challenges before. After years in the cable television industry, she took over running Hampford Research from her father shortly before his death in 2007.

Initially, she said, she thought she would just be getting Hampford in shape to sell to someone else. Donahue said she knew little about the chemical industry. But she did know about managing people, and stayed on to run the company, she said.

“I just love this place, and I love what I’ve learned here,” she said.

Donahue said she’s glad to transfer the skills she has acquired in business to helping programs such as the Center for Family Justice. She said she and the other Faces of HOPE members are committed to making the campaign a success.

“We don’t just want our names attached to this,” she said. “We believe so much in the center’s mission.”

To support the Faces of HOPE campaign visit or contact Lisa Labella, director of development and community engagement at