caught you caring

The road from here to Channing

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Jenna Dewan-Tatum

 

As you likely know by now — I recently worked with the generous goddess that is Jenna-Dewan Tatum. The Forty Weeks team of brilliant women teamed with the rock-star crew at Baby Buggy to facilitate a large donation of Bravado Designs nursing bras. It was a gift from the heart. It was remarkable to watch as the whole crew jumped in to make it so. Our joint mission was clear — supporting Baby Buggy and their ongoing work in support of all mothers. Jenna was remarkable not only in her willingness to step-up to make this donation but later in her defense of the then still pregnant,  Kim Kardashian  - and in support of allowing women to be whomever they wanted to be in pregnancy, motherhood and beyond. She was beautiful – inside and out. Really, impressive  – Jenna was singing my song!

What you may not know is the road that led me to Jenna. And that road begins with  my  daughters, their crushes and my basic desire to do well both in the big picture of the world and also in the dizzying universe that is home. I try hard to strike the balance. I am not sure I always get it right. And then there are days when somehow it works. When your (then) 16 year-old daughter comes giddily into the kitchen, asking with an uncharacteristic amount of interest, if you will be working with Channing Tatum as his wife is pregnant. And it is me thinking – I am not even sure I know a thing about his wife (truly I did not). And then the “reminders” – the daughters bugging you for days on end about this philanthropic possibility and you brushing it off. Until one day you do not. And that day you begin to learn about Jenna Dewan-Tatum and in doing so, you realize she is so spot on and just who you were looking for to continue Bravado’s commitment to all mothers. And just like that it falls into place. She is open, Baby Buggy is thrilled and more than $214,500 worth of nursing bras are donated to women who need them most.

Last Friday I was invited by my friends Denise and Melissa of  The Moms to a local screening of White House Down. So, I took my daughters, each with a plus one. The giddy energy was palpable – they were decked out and just thrilled. I too was happy –it is not every day a Mom gets her 15 minutes of being adored by her daughters. Just prior to the screening, the cast came in for a quickie Q&A. And as Channing talked about his brave and exciting new role as Daddy – I could hear it in him too. That same remarkable humility, gratitude and care that I got from Jenna. What a couple! I considered all this with a very satisfied smile as I looked to my right and saw the girls beaming with excitement.

And that was the road from here to Channing….

 

The More Things Change…1990 All Over Again…

Friday, September 28th, 2012

This has been a remarkable week. The launch of the Rebecca Minkoff for Bravado Designs Limited Edition Nursing Tank to Benefit Baby Buggy has captured the hearts, minds and attention of so many. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished with this ground-breaking initiative. It is not just about breastfeeding or at-risk mothers and children or community or connection –  it is about all of it and more. It is about weaving these parts together to create a new standard for care and a greater whole from the parts. I thought I would share some of what we accomplished – but there is time for that (spoiler alert – it is really impressive!!!).

What I am struck by is how often I have been asked about my philanthropic influences this week. And as I tell the stories – I can help but want to revisit the early days…

Today I want to share the story of one of my significant philanthropic influences, David Bindeman. I need to share this story because he is not here to see what I have accomplished or laugh with me about the way in which he influenced me (any one who knew David knew he neither suggested or asked  - he simply told me what to do) and moved me on my way on this most amazing path.

So here is the scene – it is 1990. I am a recent college graduate (all of you be quiet — and stop doing math on your fingers!!!) and I am sitting in David’s office. David Bindeman’s office. He is of one of Washington’s most influential men. I am there because David’s old friend Dick Simon (a dear family friend from Philadelphia) asked that David keep an eye on me in DC. I am also there because David is married to Carol who was a close childhood friend of my Aunt Susan.  I am in my first “real” job – I make close to nothing and live off of a combination of happy hour food and Tortilla Coast (which is owned by a friend of mine who is  more than happy to feed me in exchange for my bringing in the revolving cast of  characters in my life). I am busy with work, book groups, tennis games and cooking classes. I am dating a former USC football player who calls me Maestro (see nothing changes!!!). I am all about life in DC.  I am so happy – happy to finally be “in the real world” — honestly, I don’t remember too many details. But I do remember being pretty buzzed about my little red MX-6 and my business cards! So now you have the context.

David calls me into his office. He tells me simply – ” I am on the board of JFGH (Jewish Foundation for Group Homes),  they need some help and you are going to help me”.  Well, of course I want to help. I don’t have money  (understatement) and I let him know I would love to help but honestly I cannot afford the ticket to their gala and I don’t see that sort of thing in my near future. He looked at me (big – he was big on so many levels) and said – “you have friends — I want your friends”. He expained that the staff at JFGH were overlooking two key things – they had no plan for the next generation of support for the Foundation and they were not  fully considering the social needs of the residents of the group homes. He said. “you will launch Young Friends of JFGH”. This seems logical enough to me. And, I agree. Pretty simple. We begin by brining in my friends to be spend time hanging with the residents. We have game nights, dinners – we have fun!  Years pass (the football player is replaced by a nice Jewish boy!!!). The residents are engaged and respected. Relationships grow. The word and the mission spreads. It has a viral quality (that is not what we called it then). And we go to the gala (I remember my dress) – I think David may have even paid for a bunch of us. He wanted to prove his hypothesis correct  (and it was) — and we helped him make it so. The group remains in tact today.

Today I ran into Debbie Bindeman Kleinbord. We talk about her father. We talk about the initiative I launched this week. We laugh and we smile, rapt by the memory and how fortuitous it was to see each other on this day — really good stuff. And as I walk away, an amazing sense of “lucky timing” for having run into Debbie washes over me. I started thinking – really how is  this 2012 moment with Influencers, Baby Buggy, Bravado and Rebecca Minkoff any different from what David enlisted me to do so many years ago? There is a formula, a methodology, a familiarity – trademark Julia which had its roots way back when. And really it comes down to this from 1990:

I  was exposed to an issue.

I identified a strategy to do better – I kept it simple and from the heart (and I only agreed because it moved me).

I enlisted my friends and their collective power and voice to incite real change.

I engaged my community – to amplify what was possible.

And made it so.

So from there to here and whatever comes next –nothing feels better than when this works!

Thank you all for being part of this remarkable equation. And to David Bindeman for showing me how powerful what I had really was…

 

 

 

A thank you from the tracks….

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

I am training North – not much new in that fact. I have left Bob, the kids (all four) and a beautiful DC day behind. Philly shines out my window. The Philadelphia Museum of Art (my Mother really was a decent docent!) , The Philadelphian (home of The Mommom – my incredible grandmother, muse and mentor), the River (skullers, boathouses, River Drives) – all landmarks of my childhood. All visible weekly from my train window. I don’t stop (not very often) I am simply passing though. I have lived longer away than I did there. Yet the lessons of those  formative years – the ones in which my sisters and I are shown by loving example who we should strive to be, how we should connect and care  for those around us and how we  have real responsibilities to the bigger picture – these powerful mandates stay with me, even today.  And, especially today, as I train on by on my way to bring something that I have incubated for nearly a year to life.

I have the feeling of being the in the right place (despite evidence to the contrary) because I am doing what I most believe in. And that is as good as it gets.

In the morning I am hosting a launch breakfast. I will introduce Jessica Seinfeld whose amazingly dedicated organization Baby Buggy will be the benefactor of a limited edition Rebecca Minkoff  for Bravado Designs nursing tank collection.  I will introduce Kathryn From who, at them helm of Bravado Designs, has always trusted me with her brand and given me an amazing swath of blank canvas on which to paint our shared commitment to super-serving and connecting all women with respect and with dignity. This is what I did – this is what I do…

I will stand with models adorned in these super chic nursing tank styles. And I will proudly share how 20% of all proceeds will go to support at-risk mothers. How a young mother will receive a tank or bra for each garment purchased. And how we are all connected — in our motherhood.

So yes Philly- I am training past you again – but I would not have had the chance  to be this woman had I not started there — with my eyes and heart wide open paying careful attention as I set off on my way….so from the tracks, thank you.

#DesignedForGood

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

All Kinds of Amazing – and Coming Soon!

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, September 7th, 2012

 Close your eyes and imagine a fireball of incredible energy, enthusiasm, passion and care — now look below and you will see the real thing – Melissa Chapman is all that and more. I adore her candor, compassion and humor. She can go from zero to 60 in one second flat — she is fast to respond to the call in all the very best ways. I have had the good fortune to have Melissa in my life for a few years. I can honestly say that each encounter – be it serious or silly leaves me feeling more of her incredible light and looking forward to the next time! Introducing my friend, the beautiful Melissa Chapman.

Melissa Chapman

Married My Sugar Daddy

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I am actually very involved with an animal Rescue Organization based on Staten Island and Ohio called Louie’s Legacy and we are one of their event sponsors for their upcoming Race to Rescue event on September 15th and we are also fundraising for them as well! http://www.crowdrise.com/racetorescue-melissachapman

What is an early or stand-out memory of community service, philanthropic commitment or another way in which you felt strongly connected to  an issue in the bigger world?

My parents used to DRAG us kicking and screaming to visit an old age home every weekend. But after a while I started enjoying it and especially loved the ladies fawning all over me and playing Barbies with me and never asking me to stop talking (I was quite the loquacious kid!)

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

That is such a great question-as part of our schooling as kids we were always required to do good deed projects and so, giving back was simply a part of my culture growing up. It was as everyday an occurence as watching TV. But I have to say the people at Louies Legacy have reignited this passion, this desire to leave the world a better place, to take care of those who cant care for themselves and well it is my GOAL to instill these same values in my kids.

What is the legacy of change you want to leave behind?

If you have the time give it. You don’t need to give money– you just need to give your time and talent- you have absolutely no idea how much giving even an hour of your time will impact the life of a less fortunate four legged or two legged creature.

What would your kids say about all of this?

They think I’m a bit of a crazy dog lady who drags them to Louie’s Legacy adoption events on the weekends and who has informed them that once they move out I am turning my home into an animal shelter– but I also see how these experiences have softened their hearts in small and big ways.

What to say?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

This week I will be honored by the R Baby Foundation with their first-ever Champion Award. It is an incredible moment – not only to be marking five years of  progress in improving the standard of pediatric emergency care though life-saving grants, self-advocacy education and of course, legislation/regulation – but also to be shining a brilliant light down the path of “what’s next”.  As we progress towards clear standards in definition of pediatric emergency departments, greater tools available to doctors and EMTs, higher levels of parental and care-giver knowledge we will stop and remember.

We will remember how my friends Phyllis and Andrew Rabinowitz took the most tragic of moments, the loss of their daughter Rebecca Ava –  and turned it into a powerful mandate to save babies lives. There is nothing that compares to the one-two power-punch of Andrew’s vision and determination along with Phyllis’ deep passion and  methodical, well-considered approach. These two have taken harrowing loss and used the painful power of this experience for the greater good. Phyllis and Andrew have spent five years trying to assure that no-one suffers the loss their family experienced. They have been tireless and courageous. They are the  real champions. I was just lucky to be invited along for the journey.

And so, today I sit, pen (OK MacBook) in hand trying to craft just the right words to say as I am brought in front of 1000 people at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday night.  How do I even begin to write this speech? What words are there really to express:

My gratitude for being recognized for the thing that means the most to me – using my voice, passion and authenticity to incite  real change where is it needed most?

My deep appreciation to my beloved friends and colleagues who have been limitless in their support of my commitment to RBF – you show up again again with a level of care and commitment that is both real and impossible to ignore. Have you seen the PSA?

My unwavering belief  in Philanthropic Moms – my  hypothesis that the power of all of our voices to elevate the dialog is the way in which we see progress over and again.

My thanks for being asked to join RBF and be a part of change that will protect all babies and children in emergency medical situations – not only now but for future generations.

My love for my husband and children for making room for this in our lives — for what they may have scarified along the way (and for my kids, especially who have been educated via the blue tooth – listening as strategies were built, tactics were designed, plan Bs were conceived).

My love too for my own parents for instilling a deep sense of community in me from the earliest of ages (or should I thank Woody Guthrie and my mother’s late 60s lullaby of  We Shall Overcome) and to al of the amazing mentors who have helped me hone in on these instincts, combining them will my skills and making it “easy” to step up and serve.

I don’t know where to go with this one. So I will wait for it to come, I know it will begin with the words: Thank you.

P.S PLEASE – sign the RBF petition and pass it on.

Check out the PSA that will change everything!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Behold the power of Philanthropic Moms – a community committed to positive change. Here we join our voices to help raise much needed awareness and help improve the quality of pediatric emergency care in the US. LOVED shooting with this amazing lot of women. Take a look and you will see why!  Please visit R BABY to sign the petition, share your story and help make a real change today!

Why We are Better for the Celebrity Bump

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Having just spent some time deep in The Baby Bump (which, if asked, I would have titled, Bumping up Careers, One baby at a Time) in today’s New York Times, I want to first commend Jacob Bernstein for a well-researched, engaging piece and then slap him for missing the other side of the story. All he shares is true – he does a careful job of tracing the history of the thriving Bump Business. Mr. Bernstein tackles the profit center, career booster questions with savvy. What he misses is the positive side of the equation. He fails to examine how celebrity pregnancies, played out in public view actually give back  and otherwise contribute to the experiences of more than 4-million pregnant women in this country. And so while, yes – there is a way to interpret celebrity pregnancy though the lens of commercialism, I suggest we take a bit of a deeper dive.

In defense and even appreciation to these celebrity gestaters  – a quick inventory of what they are giving back along the road to baby:

  1. Normalized Pregnancy – Out of back rooms and suddenly on full view, while sometimes extreme, these very public pregnancies open the windows and doors WIDE and allow us to see a broader view of pregnancy (for better or for worse). And with that there is a change in the candor, content and scope of dialog – not just on-set but around water coolers as well.
  1. New Vocabulary, Confidence and the rise of the “Experiential Pregnancy” – The Hollywood bump-set give pregnant women a sense of confidence, style, and a new view to a range of real, radiating beauty. Since early aughts the style community has risen to the occasion as well – suddenly maternity fashion (thank you Liz Lange) and nursery décor (check out project nursery, for example) were elevated to meet the desires and aspirations of main street parents (In reaction to the new view of Melrose and Madison avenue parents). Our new vocabulary included (and does to this day) glow, maternity chic, fourth trimester, etc. – making the challenges and triumphs of one’s changing body and lifestyle a shared, open experience.
  1. Expectant Parents – before the celebrity baby boom hit, we did not include Dad in much of the baby talk. This wave of celebrity family has certainly played a part in bringing Dad into focus and view – what used to be “her” pregnancy became “our” pregnancy. And with the birth of a Dad came a new version of Dad, in a wide range of populations. This year saw the first male breastfeeding blogger, for example. And many a Diaper Dude is carried with paternal hipster pride.

AND MY BURRIED LEAD – PHILANTHROPY, EDUCATION and CARE

  1. Celebrities have loaned their voices, status and energy to critical work focused on raising much needed funds and awareness for issues effecting all populations of families. I have been honored to work on a wide range of projects with expectant and new celebrity parents and remain grateful for all they have given back. They have raised their voices and pointed attention to causes that need it most.  When Christie Turlington throws herself into Every Mother Counts or Jewel donates nursing bras in her name to Baby Buggy’s efforts in her adopted home state of Texas this ignites change. When  Gwyneth Paltrow or Melissa Rycroft openly share their battle with postpartum depression (PPD) or  Jennifer Garner discusses breast-feeding and back-to-work challenges it increases awareness and care around issues that were once quiet and cloaked.  The list goes on and on – and it should!  These celebrities have marked their entry into parenthood with very meaningful and powerful gestures that help to advance not only the conversation around key issues but also the outcomes for all families.

In the end, the story is that of a bigger picture, both sides of the equation and how the game is advanced for all parents with celebrity parents on the front lines.

Goodbye 2011 — Bring on the New Year

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

As the year ends, I find myself slowing and reflecting – appropriate I would say after the wild ride that was 2011. Looking back this was a year of remarkable challenges and frankly some very happy endings. And when I wander back through the months – one thing stands out and that is commitment. The deep, undeniable commitment of the Forty Weeks team to their clients, projects, partners, ideals, core values and biggest picture view of what needs to happen next. I continue to be moved by the way in which the entire team reliably navigates with such grace and passion. And frankly the results impress even the very hard-to-please me!

I am lucky to be surrounded by such remarkable people, engaging projects and to be at the epicenter of such a vibrant industry.

What do I see for 2012? Funny you should ask…

STRATEGY SESSIONS

This sector of our business continues to grow and thrive – in fact, this particular sweet spot of ours has lined up perfectly with the needs of some of our oldest industry friends as well as international newcomers, expanding brands and organizations in transition. The process of stopping and defining via the Forty Weeks Road Map has led some of our clients on the way to the very best of what is next for them – and of course, we take great pride in these critical accomplishments. Look for Forty Weeks to continue to lead the category in strategy and for new brands to find their way to our innovative methodologies.

PHILANTHROPIC PARNERSHIPS

It is where I live – in clear lane of ALL mothers needing the tools to survive and thrive for themselves, their children and their families. I have had a long-standing commitment to bringing the Forty Weeks savvy to a wide scope of philanthropic organizations. This year, expect to see some new milestones – think both brands and non-profits raising the bar both on what they will do to reach much needed funding milestones and awareness and also on what they will deliver to all women. This is both energizing and incredibly exciting for all parties and something we will take great pride in on an ongoing basis. Some hints – think celebrity, programming, anniversary and celebration.

INFLUENCER MEETINGS OF THE MINDS

There is a great deal to say about how the collective sum of the women I connect with on a daily basis is much greater than the individual parts. And the parts are outstanding too!  It is community made up all of some incredible secret sauce.  And with that power, commitment and drive I can hardly wait to see what comes next! Well I may have a little idea, but you will need to stay tuned…

CONFERENCES, SPEACHES, SESSIONS

Join us as we explore a wide range of topics with some of the brightest women in the business. Expect new, provocative topics, insights and calls to action in 2012!

BABYMOON, PAMPERING, PLEASE!!!

Oh yes, I will keep my “Fairy Godmother” wand well polished,  my bump-style spree step-out in high gear, my craving radar at the ready and my pampering play list well studied — this is the fun part, and I would not pass on the privilege of sharing a little Gestational Girl-time for all the tea in China (oooh, tea sounds good!!!).

PHILANTRHOPIC HONORS

I did hear a little something…

CONTENT

Yes, there is lots brewing here and mainly I will say, stay tuned and you will not be disappointed

Am I a tease?  Well yes, I am – but I promise the “what comes next” is the stuff that makes us all glad we came along for the ride. Happy New Year and I will see you all, with bells on, in 2012!

Rock the Red

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Last week I let you in behind the velvet ropes of my latest bit of fun with the beautiful bump-goddess that is Jenni Hogan.  I shared with you how we reached out to our friends (Song, Shannon and Jen that’s you) in maternity fashion land to  help Jenni Hogan to find  three frocks for consideration for her #GO RED Friday fun.

Jenni Hogan

Jenni Hogan

All of my super wonderful friends offered up the best bump-fashion around and then went above and beyond – they all agrees to donate back to American Heart Association for anyone who used the code AHA. Talk about heart!

Here are the contenders – prepare to drool over these maternity dresses! And, the voting is still going on – join us pick, click and help us raise money for the American Heart Association…

Wrap Dress by Due Maternity

Wrap Dress by Due Maternity

Pickles & Ice Cream Berry Red Turtleneck Dress

Pickles & Ice Cream Berry Red Turtleneck Dress

 

Olian Cranberry Wrap Dress for Belly Dance

Olian Cranberry Wrap Dress for Belly Dance