philanthropic moms

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….


Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, June 21st, 2013


I have been wracking by brain, trying to remember when Lyss Stern and I first crossed paths. The problem is, this is an long-standing, rich and super- positive relationship that really seems to have no beginning and with luck no end! Let’s just say that one day an amazing force of sunshine, energy, conviction, passion and integrity came into my world. And I would never be the same!  I am sure we met around a plan to do some good and, I will bet my last nickel that together we met and far exceeded expectations. That is just how Lyss does it. So that day, that day I cannot  clearly identify,  the one when Lyss Stern and I met — that was a very lucky day!

Lyss is about a beautiful as they come — deep-seeded grace and care are her calling card and these traits only serve to amplify the outer  beauty (which is impossible to miss). Lyss’ arms are always open wide — her intention is to make a difference and she does so day in and day out. She moves fast, but in a precise manner. Lyss has got her sites clearly focused on what she is out to accomplish. Lyss uses her power and her influence for good — from the most intimate (raising two little boys) to the most public (the amazing world of DivaLysscious Moms) she is impeccable in her execution and deeply committed to the best possible outcomes for all involved.

Lyss has led the way — not only creating communities for Moms but for creating a mandate that these groups give back in real ways. Lyss is loyal, fun-loving and deeply engaged in the world. I am so incredibly proud and lucky to call Lyss my friend, business associate  and with luck one of the ones I will grow old with! Meet the stunning Lyss Stern!

Lyss Stern



DivaLysscious Moms


What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?


I believe I fit the description of a philanthropic mother because I have have always been sure to incorporate the act of giving back into my business. Following the 2004 Tsunami, we held a benefit luncheon with tot-rock star Dan Zanes, raising much-needed money for the Red Cross Tsunami Relief efforts. DivaLysscious Moms has helped raise thousands of dollars for family-oriented charities, including The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, The Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center and Max Cure Foundation just to name a few. I also believe I am a different kind of philanthropic mom and not just surface-level; I have witnessed so many friends and family members suffer through cancer and am determined to help in any and every way possible. I also have a way of putting myself in other people’s shoes, which gives me that extra drive when it comes to charity. I take pride in the empathetic aspect of my persona.


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?


A stand-out memory for me happens every summer at the Max Cure Foundation: Roar for a Cure carnival. Thousands of people– including myself and FabULyss DivaMoms members– gather together in the Hamptons to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer. Again, putting myself in my own shoes, I would want billions of people supporting my family and families like mine should one of my children ever get sick. This is a way in which an insane number of people all commit themselves to a cause together and it is truly beautiful to watch. Even if the children running around don’t understand why they’re there quite yet, they’re still there, and their parents are doing so much good by involving them.


Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?


My biggest philanthropic influence would have to be the beautiful and elegant Audrey Hepburn. My company was founded on the principle that a woman can get messy and be a mom but still be graceful and glamorous, and Audrey Hepburn was a philanthropist and so levelheaded and still managed to be the classiest, most beautiful woman in history. Hepburn said, “I speak for those children who cannot speak for themselves, children who have absolutely nothing but their courage and their smiles, their wits and their dreams.” Being a mother, my heart opens up wildly to those words and encourages me to always do what I can for children and those less fortunate than myself.


What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?


I am most proud about being a philanthropic mom because of the example I am setting for my children. They are growing up in a household in where we care about other people as much as we care about ourselves, and that is such a crucial thing to instill in your children at a young age.


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


I want to know that I have empowered people in any and every way that I could, especially women. Empowerment is key to change and success; an empowered woman can do more good works that anyone, any group, and anything.


What would your kids say about all of this?


I am proud to say that my children understand what helping others means; I know that they both want to inspire people– Oliver wants to be a theatre artist, and Jackson an athlete– and I know that when they reach these points in their lives they will always make time to do good things for the world and its people. Jackson my nine year old likes to tell me that one day when he’s a Major League player and on the NY Mets making a lot of money he’s going to give money to Breast Cancer Awareness (He is very sensitive to the fact that I have lost several friends to Breast Cancer already).


Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

One day in the land of  We Are All Working Like Crazy to Make The World a Better Place,  I came across a woman with boundless energy and a mega- watt smile.  A woman who was as devoted as she was capable  -  and as savvy as she was stunning. Really – it was my lucky day. Because not only was Elissa Freeman the real deal – she shared the same passion for food, fashion, fitness, philanthropy and yes  - plain old fun that I did. She was an avid reader of the Sunday Vows section – and was so damn clever in her weekly commentary on the state of the unions! I suppose you could say ours was love at first sight! To this day,  she continues to wow me with her writing, her long-list of  “in-process” projects and of course her big ideas! Elissa is now involved a a start-up called Eatzclub – Canada’s first reward and loyalty dining club; where you dine out, earn reward dollars and a percentage of the food bill helps fight hunger in the community. It is a brilliant example of how Elissa pours herself into making it so. And one of many reasons you need to meet the one and only, Elissa Freeman.

Elissa Freeman



What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

Altruism is in my genes – I worked in the not-for-profit world for 18 years and have volunteered for many organizations.  The world is a big place – everybody needs a helping hand once in awhile.


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?

The first time I participated in a fundraiser called the Ride for Heart, which raised money for heart and stroke research.  I was just one of 10,000+ other cyclists riding a good portion of a major highway located in Toronto (yes, it was shut down for the day). Fifty-two kilometers, to be exact. As I stood in line waiting to go, I was touched by all the people – young, old, survivors, their families – who had chosen to complete this journey so future generations could lead healthier lives.


Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

Survivors. Whether it’s someone who has survived a traumatic health event in their lives or who have lost a loved one – the ability to come from a place of extreme pain and devote themselves to change never fails to inspire me.


What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

Engaging my daughter to understand the importance of philanthropy – both in devoting time and money. When she was in Grade 3, we went door-to-door to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Having her join me in the ask and watching people – some neighbours, some strangers – give money was a very powerful moment for both of us.


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

To make philanthropy an intrinsic part of everyday business versus an after-thought. Philanthropy needs to be built into the business model from the get-go – not looked upon as something to do because optically it’s the right thing to do.


What would your kids say about all of this?

My daughter is now 13 – so, actually I’m afraid to ask.  Although, I did mention to her the other day I was asked if I wanted to rappel 30 stories down Toronto City Hall to create awareness during an upcoming media day for a charitable organization. My daughter’s response? “Mom, if you do that, people will NOT think you’re cool. They’ll think you’re crazy.”

‘Nuff said.

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Monday, April 29th, 2013


I met Kristin Swenson through two women with whom I have shared a great deal of history, philanthropy and laughs. When Jill Seiman and Nicole Feliciano made the introduction via their super fashionable Monday Mingle I felt lucky to have met Kristin. She struck me as chic and capable (juggling content creation, parenting and sharing her POV like a pro). But more than that, Kristin was all about the heart of the matter and super committed to all that she valued.  The more I got to know Kristin the more I understood what moved, motivated and had meaning to her  - and the more I knew, the more I adored her. She’s got range but more than that Kristin has integrity that wraps the whole package up with a stunning bow!  I have seen her step up over and again — never holding back when there was a way to contribute. Kristin, a beautiful mother of two is all that and more — philanthropic, fashionable and full of love — meet my friend, Kristin Swenson!

Kristin Swenson

BonBon Rose Girls


What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

Thanks to my mother, who has been an active volunteer her whole life, I’ve been exposed to community service since I was a child and have volunteered, myself, for various organizations over the years including March of Dimes, the Humane Society and local shelters.

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?

From a very early age, my mother stressed how important it is to give back. I remember joining her at March of Dimes walkathons as a youngster and having so much fun!


Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My mother and sister are incredibly inspirational to me. I can’t remember a year in the last couple decades when they weren’t involved with at least one philanthropic effort. They’ve organized many drives including holiday card collections for deployed troops, bedding collections for the Joshua House, a home for abused children, and coat collections for local residents in need. In fact, after having a very difficult pregnancy and now running around after two kiddos, I haven’t volunteered regularly and it’s my family who has inspired me to push past that mama exhaustion of mine and get back out there!

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

I feel that my most important job is to raise children who will leave the world a better place and exposing them to the joys of philanthropy makes me proud. This past Christmas I took my four year old to pick out toys to donate and seeing him really get how amazing helping others can feel was so special!

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

My children are my legacy and I hope that I’ll be remembered for raising kind and giving people.

What would your kids say about all of this?

They’re still quite small, but I hope that someday they’ll say they’re proud of their mama. I can’t imagine a better complement!

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, April 12th, 2013

As I am writing this, it is a gloomy, rainy day. Still, as I put pen to paper (ok fingers to keys) there feels to be sunshine. Just glancing at the picture below brings a smile to my face.  And that is the Nancy Horn effect. Nancy is one of those highly effervescent souls, a truly bubbly and bright woman who brings enthusiasm and light to all she touches. My history with Nancy is not as long as it is rich. She has brought her amazing bounty to the world of Forty Weeks and to me personally over and again. Lucky, lucky me! She is a most reliable ally, a kind soul and the one whose love for the world leaves a lasting impression. I am so happy to share with you a little sunshine today in the form of my friend, Nancy Horn.


Nancy Horn 

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom? 

I try to give what I can, when I can, as much as I can.  It’s just what should be done. If someone needs help, I try my best to provide it, whether it’s financial, goods, or my time….

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?

Definitely through the Girl Scouts. I was a Brownie, starting in first grade and I remember working on service projects with them. Later on, I worked at a jewish camp, Surprise Lake Camp (for years)  that had a lot of scholarship campers (I had also been one). I loved connecting with the Russian Campers, many that were new to this country. In my late twenties to early thirties, I taught in East Harlem for five years, in a school with many children that lived in the surrounding projects. I spent a lot of my own money on supplies and gave my time before and after school to create the best educational and social experience to my students.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My mother was very active in the local women’s chapter of ORT .

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

While I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past seven years, I try to donate what I can to organizations like Baby Buggy, which is a wonderful source for parents in need. I’ve also walked in 5Ks and have donated the money I earned for charity. I also financially support my former summer camp, Surprise Lake Camp, with donations every year and I’ve volunteered my time to plan alumni events for them.

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

I want my children to know that we should always try always be grateful that we are healthy and have a roof over our heads at night.  That should be the reason to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

How do you involve your children?

Recently, we tried to do a lot for Hurricane Sandy Victims. My oldest child (who had just turned seven at the time) helped me select toiletries, clothes, and goods to pack up for victims. We took them with us to the local donation site and let them help with sorting the items we bought. He also helped me wrap presents for the Hurricane Sandy Christmas Party that one of my friends organized, and pack up the supplies we bought for the party.



Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013


I heard about Melisa Fluhr long before I met her. And not through the industry loop either, though her husband with whom I had known and cultivated a friendship in my own travel circles. He spoke so glowingly of his wife — literally this man was over the moon for this smart, savvy, beautiful and ambitious woman who was his bride. I remember one conversation so well – we were walking through Union Square and I thought the whole of the experience to be remarkable. What love, pride and complete respect!  Fast forward to that “ah-ha” moment when we are both in Las Vegas at ABC Kids and I suddenly “get” who she is. And of course, it makes perfect sense. Because Melisa is just the woman her husband had described. She is at once easy but also focused in all the best ways. Melisa gets it done (and then some) and brings all the best people along for the ride. Melisa is above all else loving. She bring her beaming smile and near contagious laughter to every room she enters. She finds the humor in almost every situation – adding much needed levity and release from otherwise taxing moments. She is engaging, energized and completely committed to her dreams.  Melisa not only talks the talk but she also walks the walk and where she goes, I will follow!

Melisa Fluhr

Project Nursery

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

What makes me a Philanthropic Mom? I think for me, it’s making the extra effort, as a busy mom, to carve out time for causes that are near and dear to both me and my family. This year my focus was on FACES, “Finding a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures”.

But honestly speaking, I wish I could have been a “Philanthropic Mom” much sooner in my mom career. It’s taken both circumstance and the fact the my kids are finally starting school to truly focus on this area of my life. My younger self had always just assumed that once becoming a mother, I’d have plenty of time for causes (little did I know!) so it’s taken time to get here.


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?

I’ve always done community service through school, work, church, etc and I’ve genuinely felt for every single cause I’ve helped whether physically and financially. Our eldest Austin however, has battled with Epilepsy since 9 months of age. That’s when I said to myself, I am going to take this cause and make it mine. When something like Epilepsy hits home—a condition with no real answers—there’s nothing more important than wanting to save your child and all those suffering from it.


Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

That’s easy, my parents, Dan and Lucy McHale. Growing up, my parents often made helping others a family event. We once went on a trip where the purpose was to drop off warm clothes, toys and supplies to families in need. I remember it being so cold and seeing families with so little. I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but I remember it well. My parents simple, loving actions established the importance of giving back later in life from a very young age. I am proud of the time and work they have committed to “The Daughters of Charity” over the years and then some.


What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

Seeing my friends and family willing to jump in and help support a cause that’s important to me means the world. The people I have crossed paths with over the years offering their support is a pretty darn awesome. It makes me really proud to call them my friends.


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

Ha! No legacy needed. Just that my kids get involved in causes that will help others. And that they grow up to be kind, helpful and giving.


What would your kids say about all of this?

They don’t get it just yet. Right now, they just wonder where I take all their toys. I tell them that there are kids in this world with no toys. They respond with, “What! What are you talking about? or How can that be?” each and every time. I just chuckle and then watch them let go of their toys with ease. I think they get it now.

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.

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I first met Rebecca Minkoff on Twitter. Really I did!  It was October, she had just given birth to her son Luca. There were tweets between us about breastfeeding, nursing bras and new motherhood. The communication between us was easy and Rebecca was about as open and as full of life as I’ve experienced. This came though – loud and clear – despite her obvious new mother fatigue, frustration with the learning curve (the usual stuff!) and fancy steps required in her new juggling act – she was present and full of a boundless, bubbly and beautiful energy that made her glow (even via the web).

She was at once completely unique and obviously connected to all other mothers. She reminded me of why people who truly love what they do are so successful.  It is all about passion and Rebecca has that with enough to spare (and share she does!) Rebecca Minkoff is just “that girl”.

Feeling both touched and inspired, I took one of my deepest desires to Rebecca – I asked via my partners at Baby Buggy – if she would you design a nursing tank to help support at-risk mothers with Bravado Designs.  Rebecca’s answer was simply, “no, let’s do more – let’s do a collection”.  And so it began this remarkable partnership that we now call #DesignedForGood – the one in which Rebecca Minkoff with her signature spirit and spunk show up and invest in a better future for all Moms. The one in which we use our gifts and talents to advance the conversation around motherhood in all the best ways.

As we get close to launch date (Monday, 9/24) we are all busy as can be. But true to form, Rebecca found the moment to speak with me about her Philanthropic Life.

Rebecca Minkoff

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I think it’s really important to give back to the community and my latest project with Bravado has been a perfect way to do that. As a new mom helping other new mom’s has been top of mind.

what about being a Philanthropic Mom do you hope to pass on to your son, Luca?

I hope to show Luca that helping other’s is important. I think instilling the “give back” attitude in your child is an important part of parenting.

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

When the Tsunami in Japan hit my company created a bag that allowed a portion of the proceeds to go a charity that helped those affected by it.  There was a very large social reaction to the project which made me realize how proud I am that I can contribute to the world with projects like these.

Who is your biggest philanthropic influence?

My Mom!


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!

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.

Sh*tty Mom Makes Our Day!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Well sure we are busy  - September is just days away… and with that will come a wild roller coaster ride of things we hold dear. What’s the best part? All of this amazing action is connected to philanthropy and all the result of a lot of hard work, love and commitment. Look forward to hearing more about our launch on September 24 of the Rebecca Minkoff for Bravado Designs Limited Edition Nursing Tank Collection to benefit Baby Buggy as well as the first Fashion Forward Conference featuring a panel led my me on that most magical of topics — Brands, Bloggers and the Bigger Picture. Whew!

Which is why today, today we play — well not really. But today we declare it Read to Your Headless Pregnant Manaquein Day and tuck a hot off the presses copy of Sh*tty Mom in her nursing tank…

Who says we don’t have range?

Welcome Sh*tty Mom to the world of Forty Weeks!