Abby Sher: Comedian, Performer, Writer, Mom

Abby Sher: Comedian, Performer, Writer, Mom

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Abby Sher: Comedian, Performer, Writer, Mom
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When I started talking to Abby, I went into the conversation with the idea that I would be talking to someone who was funny. And for sure, she is. Funny, warm and able to talk candidly about herself. So candidly, that I knew this is exactly the conversation needed for so many. With much humor and humility, Abby speaks about her own struggles. Her struggles with an eating disorder, her intimidation of those who are supposed to be in the know and how improv and comedy helped her hide. And how she finally took control. Control that she is not letting go of.

“Anything I should know before I go home?” I asked the chief cardiologist, trying not to sound terrified.

“Just don’t lift stuff over 10 pounds for a few weeks.”

“My baby is over 10 pounds.”

Abby refers to herself as a performer, obsessive compulsive comedian, writer and mom. She wrote and performed with The Second City, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, HBO, Nick Jr., and NPR. And the first all-female improv group found Abby among its performers.

Abby’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, Self, Jane, and Elle. One was adapted for the television series Modern Love. Abby currently co-hosts the Chucklepath Comedy Show with Molly Reisner. She is the author of five books including Miss You Love You Hate You Bye, named a 2020 Buzzfeed Best Book for Mental Health Awareness Month. And Abby most recently co-authored Sanctuary, a YA (Young Adult) dystopian novel.

A candid conversation with Abby:
The start of being funny
Why improv – putting it out there
Not being ‘precious’ about it
1st improv female group
Performer, comedian and mom – how about SpongeBob
Mental health issues
A reckoning and getting help

Finding solace in writing
Personal essays
Young adults, rock bottom and friendship
Miss You Love You Hate You Bye – friendship and mental health
Finding confidence to speak up – knowing your own body

Judithe Little: Author ‘The Chanel Sisters’

Judithe Little: Author ‘The Chanel Sisters’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Judithe Little: Author ‘The Chanel Sisters’
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Judithe Little is the award winning author of two historical novels, ‘The Chanel Sisters’ and ‘Wickwythe Hall.’ She grew up in Virginia where she earned her B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Judithe studied at the Institute of European Studies and the Institut Catholique in Paris. Afterwards she was an intern at the U.S. Department of State. Judithe then went on to earn her law degree from the University Of Virginia School Of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow.

Judithe lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three children and is presently working on her third novel.

‘Coco’s freedom translated into her clothing. She wore men’s pants to ride in and realized how comfortable it was.’

Gayle Kabaker & Sonya Kitchell: Mother &  Daughter

Gayle Kabaker & Sonya Kitchell: Mother & Daughter

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Gayle Kabaker & Sonya Kitchell: Mother & Daughter
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Gayle Kabaker and Sonya Kitchell

Gayle Kabaker, mother and daughter Sonya Kitchell, one a world renowned freelance illustrator and artist, the other a two-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter. One a new grandmother, the other a new mom…mothers and daughters.

The bond between a mother and her children starts early on.  For Gayle and Sonya the bond is even stronger. Five months ago, baby Mona made it a trio.

Gayle is a world renowned longtime freelance artist and illustrator. She’s published over 5 New Yorker covers. Vitalvoices.org, an organization that invests in women leaders worldwide, commissioned Gayle to do 100 portraits. Gayle illustrated the book ‘Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower.’

Using her art to make a difference, Gayle’s work is connected to equality, the environment and civic involvement. For the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March, Gayle was among the artists who the Washington Post commissioned. Gayle’s illustration was a takeoff on ‘Wonder Woman’ showing a caped young woman wearing a T-shirt that says ‘Voting Is My Super Power.’

Sonya is a two-time Grammy winning singer-songwriter and teacher of music. At the age of 17, Sonya had her first international-selling record ‘Words Come Back to Me.’ Moving from her hometown of Ashfield, MA to New York City, Sonya spent time in Europe and Asia, She worked as a side musician and songwriter-for-hire. She also delved into photography and film. Sonya worked with many of the greats of our time, including the legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

Mother & Daughter

Mom was her daughter’s original manager, traveling with her throughout the U.S. and overseas. The fun didn’t stop there. Mother and daughter have worked together on several projects. Gayle designed a series of animated illustrations for a client that included a short musical soundtrack composed by Sonya.

A conversation with Gayle Kabaker & Sonya Kitchell:
9 year old & her budding career
Bonding and art
Traveling mother and daughter
Art and music
The journey can be tough, the outcome worth it
No stage-mom here
Mom wisdom
Daughter wisdom
Grandma wisdom
The ‘Antidote Workshop’

Rebecca Walker & Lily Diamond: – Co-Authors ‘What’s Your Story?: A Journal for Everyday Evolution’

Rebecca Walker & Lily Diamond: – Co-Authors ‘What’s Your Story?: A Journal for Everyday Evolution’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Rebecca Walker & Lily Diamond: - Co-Authors ‘What’s Your Story?: A Journal for Everyday Evolution’
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Co-authors of the newly published What’s You Story? A Journal for Everyday Evolution, Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond give us an interactive roadmap for beginning a new life story.

Rebecca Walker is an award winning writer, feminist and activist. She has contributed to the global conversation about race, gender, power and the evolution of the human family. Rebecca has written, developed and produced film and television projects with Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, Amazon, HBO and Paramount. And she has spoken at over 400 universities and corporate campuses.

Awarded the Women Who Could Be President from the League of Women Voters, Rebecca was also named by Time magazine as one of the most influential leaders of her generation.

Rebecca has authored and edited seven bestselling books. Black White and Jewish, Autobiography of a Shifting Self and Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After A Lifetime of Ambivalence, a memoir, are among her bestselling books. She also teaches her masterclass, The Art of Memoir. Rebecca is a graduate of Yale University.

Lily Diamond is an award winning writer, educator and advocate. Her work is focused on democratizing wellness for accessible practices.

Lily is the creator of the internationally beloved blog Kale & Caramel.  She is also the author of the bestselling memoir-cookbook Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart and Table. And it was named one of the top cookbooks of 2017 by the New York Times, The Independent, and Cooking Light.

A graduate of Yale University, Lily’s writings have appeared in VICE, Healthyish, the Huffington Post, Better Homes and Gardens and Eating Well.

A powerful conversation with co-authors Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond:
Finding the voice
Writing your story – a transformative experience
Encountering your mind
Relationships with body, people, nature & technology
Why interactive
Moving through memories
Journaling – what you remember or how you want to remember
Seeking answers
The need to belong
Walking through a day in your life
Giving yourself permission
Creating the roadmap

Ilyana Kadushin: – Audiobook Narrator & Performer, Podcaster, Film & Music Producer, Founder ‘Stories Love Music’

Ilyana Kadushin: – Audiobook Narrator & Performer, Podcaster, Film & Music Producer, Founder ‘Stories Love Music’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Ilyana Kadushin: – Audiobook Narrator & Performer, Podcaster, Film & Music Producer, Founder 'Stories Love Music'
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What do you think of when you hear music? Does it bring back memories? Does it make you want to get up and dance? Let’s add voice into the mix and think about the images that your mind conjures up.

Ilyana Kadushin uses both music and voice. And both manage to affect change, whether narrating or performing a book, producing music or co-hosting the podcast ‘No, I Know.’  Ilyana has delved into the world of performance, film, art and music melding these creative mediums. Always a part of the storytelling process, Ilyana wrote and performed the one woman “Devour the Apple” musical. She also performed the audio of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling Twilight novels and narrated the heartbreaking memoir of Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad, The Lost Girl.

Incredible as it may sound, something positive came out of Superstorm Sandy…the creation of Stories Love Music. Ilyana and her creative partner and husband, James Harrell, were asked to help with some of the displaced seniors. Not knowing what to expect or how they could help, they chose something they both did well…they played music and sang. Music tugs at the heart and can brighten up even the bleakest of times. The moment evolved into Stories Love Music, a nonprofit program for caregivers of seniors with dementia and Alzheimers.

Ilyana is an award winning film producer. She won HBO’s 2011 Best Documentary for Separate, But Equal. She also won the Audi Award for audiobook narration and is an adjunct faculty of voice and public speaking at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.

As a producer and co-host of the podcast No, I Know, Ilyana and husband James, feature live music and spirited conversation.

A conversation with Ilyana Kadushin:

A little microcassette player
A fascination with voices
Landing in New York City & Tisch School of the Arts
How about some ‘voice watching’
Twilight series and Edward’s character
Jeremy Irons inspiration
Nadia Murad and The Lost Girl
Storytelling and performing
Superstorm Sandy
The ‘spell of music’
A senior, a song (Shalom Aleichem), a memory and a voice
Voice Performance Coaching
Stories Love Music

Paulina Bren: – Author ‘The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free’

Paulina Bren: – Author ‘The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Paulina Bren: – Author ‘The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free’
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Paulina Bren is the author of The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free.  It’s the fascinating true story of one of the first residences for women only. From its opening in 1928 to the present, Paulina brings us the evolution of both the place and the women who stayed there. Located in the heart of New York City, it drew women from all over the country. Each one brought ‘a suitcase and a dream.’ Paulina delves into how the Barbizon was supposedly setting women free. And explains the reality of how it didn’t. Some made it, others did not.

Known as a safe haven for the ‘Modern Woman’ seeking a career, the women all were expected to have the same goal. That goal being one of marriage, family and suburban living. Some of the famous among its residents were Sylvia Plath, Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Liza Minelli, Ali MacGraw, Cybill Shepherd and Joan Didion.

Meet Paulina 

A writer, historian and professor, Paulina teaches International Studies, Women’s Studies, and Media Studies at Vassar College.  Her previous books include the award winning The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring. Paulina is also co-editor of a collection of essays entitled Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe.

She alternates her time between the Bronx, Poughkeepsie and MetroNorth. Paulina was born in the former Czechoslovakia and lived in the U.K. before moving to the United States. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University, her M.A. from the Jackson School for International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle and her PhD in Modern European History from New York University.

My conversation with award-winning author Paulina Bren:
The Bell Jar and Sylvia Plath’s inspiration
The building of a ‘safe haven’
The many women
The 30’s and restrictions on women
Single women, hotels and no check-in after 6pm
Ambitions and society
Women, careers and goals
Rich and poor
The not-so glamorous modeling career
Contests and summer internship
The hidden stories, lost ambitions and suicides
‘The Women’ and standing their ground
A timeline for the women’s movement
The start of equality and the end of The Barbizon

Judith Sherven, PhD: – Clinical Psychologist, Overcoming ‘The Fear of Being Fabulous’

Judith Sherven, PhD: – Clinical Psychologist, Overcoming ‘The Fear of Being Fabulous’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Judith Sherven, PhD: – Clinical Psychologist, Overcoming ‘The Fear of Being Fabulous’
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A former actress (you may have spotted Judith in one of the original Star Trek series episodes), Judith Sherven coined the phrase The Fear of Being Fabulous. A clinical psychologist with more than 35 years’ experience as a psychotherapist, transformational executive coach and business consultant, Judith practices alongside her husband Jim Sniechowski, also a PhD Clinical Psychologist. Judith is an executive coach for a number of tech companies. She helps leaders overcome any insecurities they have about maximizing their leadership: Their Fear of Being Fabulous.

Both Judith and Jim are on retainer at both LinkedIn and Credit Karma. Judith writes for LinkedIn as an influencer. She inspires managers to engage their team members with their trademarked program: Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous. It’s been called “the missing link in personal and professional development.”

Judith has been on over 3,000 radio and TV shows including Oprah, The View, 48 Hours and Canada AM as a guest expert. Together, Judith and Jim have written 7 LA Times bestselling books.

Both had been professional actors for a long time before they met in 1987. And both discovered that their Fear of Being Fabulous had prevented them from moving forward with their acting careers. This brought them on a 6 year journey of creating their program.

A conversation with Judith:

Self-sabotaging a successful acting career
The Fear of Being Fabulous incubation
The Barbizon connection
Patterns identified and their connections
Meeting Jim and their journey
Owning your own excellence
Asking for more with confidence
Relationships of all kinds – personal and professional, family and friends
Owning your uniqueness
‘You are a miracle’
Making yourself stronger

Sharon G. Flake: – Multi-Award Winning Author ‘The Life I’m In’, Peeling Back the Layers

Sharon G. Flake: – Multi-Award Winning Author ‘The Life I’m In’, Peeling Back the Layers

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Sharon G. Flake: – Multi-Award Winning Author ‘The Life I’m In’, Peeling Back the Layers
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Sharon G. Flake is a multi-award winning young adult and children’s author. She is a three-time winner of the Coretta Scott King award. Her latest book, The Life I’m In follows her groundbreaking debut novel The Skin I’m In. The impact of her debut novel more than 20 years ago, is felt today. Sharon’s books withstand the test of time. It was a given that a sequel was needed, even if it took her 20 years to be convinced of it.

Sharon continues to take on the tough issues: race, self-esteem, self-protection and empowerment. Issues that teenagers can face on a daily basis. With the advancement of technology, these issues can be paralyzing. And she always reminds us that we are talking about children. Teenagers are not adults. They are still children and we need to protect them. With The Life I’m In, Sharon takes on the multi-billion dollar business of human trafficking, targeting venerable teens.

Prior to becoming an author, Sharon was a counselor for teens at a foster placement agency. Excelling as a counselor, Sharon garnered valuable insight into teens, adoption and foster parenting.

Sharon had literally exploded onto the literary scene with The Skin I’m In over 20 years ago. And she was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Since then, she has won multiple Coretta Scott King Author Awards. Many of her novels have received ALA Notable and Best Books for Young Adults citations from the American Library Association. You can visit her website at sharongflake.com.

This week’s ‘Sylvia & Me – My Reading Corner’ a conversation with author Sharon G. Flake

Teenagers and children
Bullying
Responsibility
Social media and teenage pressure
Remember – these are children
Predators and human trafficking
Survival and the power of human empathy
Compassion and its powerful cure
1st question asked

Dr. Fatima Khan: – Menopause Specialist, This Isn’t Your Mother’s Menopause, Let’s Talk

Dr. Fatima Khan: – Menopause Specialist, This Isn’t Your Mother’s Menopause, Let’s Talk

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Dr. Fatima Khan: – Menopause Specialist, This Isn’t Your Mother’s Menopause, Let’s Talk
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It’s no longer taboo to talk about menopause. In fact, it’s one of the healthiest topics for women to talk about. Dr. Fatima Khan is the ‘Menopause Specialist.’ She is an expert in perimenopause and menopause. Using a holistic approach to women’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, Fatima is empowering women through the transition.

Fatima completed her medical training in the United Kingdom from Imperial College London in 2007 where she received a Bachelor in Medicine and a Bachelor in Surgery. She also received a Bachelor in Science in Pharmacology and Therapeutics with the publication of her research.

After extensive training at Kings College London, Fatima received an Advanced Menopause Certificate accredited from the British Menopausal Society and faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health. Fatima undertook further training in the USA on optimizing hormonal health for anti-aging and longevity. She also sees patients at AGORA Specialist Centre.  Fatima is involved in teaching medical students at the Epworth Clinical School at the University of Melbourne.

Fatima and her medic husband currently live in Melbourne with their daughter. She actively educates women on menopause awareness through her social media platform.  https://instagram.com/menopausespecialist?igshid=2zg06ux1u11c

A very informative and much needed conversation with Dr. Fatima Khan:

Journaling and being aware of your body
Mind-Body Connection
Heart disease and dementia
Hormone replacement
Estrogen
Perceptions and myths
A continuing conversation

Jona Frank: Author ‘Cherry Hill: A Childhood Reimagined’, Photographer, Balancing Reality and Fantasy

Jona Frank: Author ‘Cherry Hill: A Childhood Reimagined’, Photographer, Balancing Reality and Fantasy

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Jona Frank: Author ‘Cherry Hill: A Childhood Reimagined’, Photographer, Balancing Reality and Fantasy
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The debut of our special Thursday’s segment ‘Sylvia & Me – My Reading Corner’ with author and portrait photographer, Jona Frank. Known for her portraits surrounding youth culture, Jona made a slight detour and wrote a memoir. Not one for doing what is expected, Jona’s memoir is done not with words, but with photographs. But if you’re thinking, great, a book of old photos…you’re wrong. ‘Cherry Hill: A Childhood Reimagined´ stars Laura Dern as her mother.

Jona grew up in the 60’s in suburban Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Her mother lived the life that a suburban housewife was supposed to live. The men went into the City, a grey background while the women stayed at home, tending to their house and family. The stereotypical suburban woman, Jona’s mother never deviated from the standards that had been set for her. She did what was expected of her, not what she may have wanted to do. But Jona rejected this way of life and went on to construct her life from within herself. The result –  Jona is living her life freely, rejecting the standards that others have set.

Meet Jona Frank:

Meet Jona Frank, whose high school passion for photography led her to study at the University of California on a scholarship. Jona did go home after graduating, but returned to Los Angeles pursuing her personal dreams, not other’s expectations and standards.

Her works have been exhibited at such venues as the Smithsonian’s National Gallery in Washington, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and the Kimbal Art Center.

Our conversation:
A photo shoot in a small town in England and a connection with Cherry Hill
Suburbia and the stereotypical woman
Art class, a blank piece of paper, a phone call and tulips
Doing it her own way
Societal norms and individual desires
Casting Laura Dern
Staged pictures and the strain of maintaining an image
Recreating the non-Kodak moments
Creating images between reality and cinematic fantasy
What’s next

Bunmi Laditan: Award Winning Writer, Believer, Moniker – ‘The Honest Toddler’

Bunmi Laditan: Award Winning Writer, Believer, Moniker – ‘The Honest Toddler’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Bunmi Laditan: Award Winning Writer, Believer, Moniker – ‘The Honest Toddler’
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Bunmi Laditan, is an award winning, Webby nominated writer. Most of you may know her by her moniker ‘Honest Toddler.’ Her debut novel, Confessions of a Domestic Failure, is a satirical, realistic look at motherhood. Bunmi has outdone herself with her latest book, : Honest Prayers to a God who Listens.

She had originally written this collection of poetry and prayers as a way of following her own spiritual journey. With candor, self-aware humor, and a profound insight, Bunmi saw that so many were struggling with similar journeys. And so with much humility, she agreed to publish Dear God. The book is for anyone seeking to reconnect as well as for those looking for a good word. Bunmi shares her journey, a journey of emotions that we all experience at different points in our lives – doubt, anger, love, desperation, gratefulness and more.

Dear God was featured on the Today Show and Bunmi is a contributor to Parenting.com, Mothering.com, iVillage.com, the New York Times and the Huffington Post. Bunmi lives outside of Montreal with her family. Her social media following is large. But more impressive is that there is communication between her and her followers, not just emoji’s. Bunmi relates and is not afraid of having a conversation, even with someone who disagrees with her.

A candid conversation with Bunmi:
Childhood and faking it
Marrying at 16 and converting to Judaism
Culture not religion
Identity as a Jewish wife and mother
Divorce and becoming a seeker
Struggles with depression and anxiety
Journey to reconnect with God
Raising her three children

Jenny Lecoat: NY Times Bestselling Author, Screenwriter, Former Stand-Up Comic, Actor, Teacher

Jenny Lecoat: NY Times Bestselling Author, Screenwriter, Former Stand-Up Comic, Actor, Teacher

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Jenny Lecoat: NY Times Bestselling Author, Screenwriter, Former Stand-Up Comic, Actor, Teacher
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Jenny Lecoat grew up in Channel Islands, 15 years after World War II. She knew her family’s history, but she didn’t know the horrors that they had experienced. Her curiosity peaked in her 30’s when Jenny saw photos of her family being shown in documentaries on national British television. Seeing them, Jenny realized that she had a responsibility to tell their story and the story of Channel Islands. Especially after having heard a variety of differing stories of the people and the islands’ occupation by the Nazis.

There are stories that need to be told and stories that should never be forgotten. Stories that tell the history of events that have taken place. And stories that need to correct the ones that have not been remembered correctly. One such story is the story of Channel Islands and its occupation by the Nazis.

She may never have written a novel before, but she had done quite a bit of writing. You see, Jenny had been a stand-up comedian writing her own material. She also wrote for sitcoms and soap operas. And then onto dramas and more serious historical subjects. In 2017 Jenny wrote the screenplay for ‘Another Mother’s Son’, the true story of her great-aunt who, during World War II, hid a young Russian war prisoner.

‘The Girl From Channel Islands’ is a historical novel based on the true story of Hedy Bercu and the woman who hid her from the Nazis for 18 months, Dorothea Le Brocq. The book debuted in February of 2021 in North America. It made the New York Times bestseller list its first week.

This week I talk with Jenny Lecoat:
Transitioning from standup comic to writing a New York Times bestseller
Her dad at 5 and the occupation
What you don’t know about the Channel Islands
The timing of the North American publication of The Girl From Channel Islands and the release of her movie, ‘Another Mother’s Son’
The untold stories of the heroes of the Resistance
Why this story needs to be told and remembered
How does it start
Never forget
What’s next
Meet Jenny Lecoat:

Jenny is a New York Times bestselling author, screenwriter, former standup comedian, newspaper and magazine feature writer and teacher.  Over the last thirty years Jenny has written for a wide range of formats including feature film, television drama, sitcoms and sketch shows. She has taught screenwriting courses and is a qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Jenny has studied British Sign Language enabling her to work with D/deaf writers and actors. She lives in Essex Sussex, UK with her husband, writer Gary Lawson.

Nikki Edmundson: Founder Canty Boots®, Making Special Memories into Wearable Stories

Nikki Edmundson: Founder Canty Boots®, Making Special Memories into Wearable Stories

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Nikki Edmundson: Founder Canty Boots®, Making Special Memories into Wearable Stories
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For Nikki Edmundson it all started with a single pair of her own boots – cowgirl boots that is. She cut them down to fit, folded them over and, as the saying goes: ‘These boots are made for walking.’ Turns out that everyone wanted their own pair with their own story. And so, in the small town of Harrison, Montana, Canty Boots was born.

‘I really had no option except to give them away, sell them or cut them and I cut them. So I cut and rolled them and when I wore them into town, everyone gave me compliments. I just figured why not, you know, why not start selling them. So that’s how we started.’ – Nikki Edmundson, Founder Canty Boots®.

And that was how Nikki Edmundson started Canty Boots®. She opened an Etsy store and her first customer was from Australia. First sale and already Nikki was international!

Cowboy boots always make a statement. And boy, are they ever hard to part with.

Security vs Passion

Nikki had to make a choice – start her career as a teacher or design and handmake cowgirl boots. Teacher = stability…Boot Designer/Maker = passion and fulfillment. She made the right choice for her and it’s been a great journey.

Who’s Been in My Boots?

Try Victoria Secret’s Models, Katy Perry, Tanya Tucker, Nahko Bear and Cam Newton, just to name a few.

This week’s conversation with Nikki Edmundson:
All it takes is the first
Passion vs Security
Her all women’s team
Rural and hot
Bringing stories together
Memories and walking
He’s a rancher
Mom of four
It’s all in the name
Finding the balance
Keeping it close to home
Turning Memories into Walking Stories

Nikki learned quickly that selling footwear, especially cowgirl boots online could result in huge returns. Not all boots fit the same. Having cut down and refreshed her own pair, people had started asking her to do the same for them. So she took it a step further. Now Nikki is giving people the chance to hold onto memories and turn their own boots into their own unique story. The result…boots that her customers know will fit and walk in their story.

Ally Condie: Author #1 NY Times Bestselling Matched Trilogy, Dystopian Trailblazer

Ally Condie: Author #1 NY Times Bestselling Matched Trilogy, Dystopian Trailblazer

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Ally Condie: Author #1 NY Times Bestselling Matched Trilogy, Dystopian Trailblazer
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This past November marked the 10 year anniversary of the release of Utah author Ally Condie’s Matched, #1 New York Times bestseller. Matched was on the list for more than a year. And the first in what would become a trilogy.

Last week marked the 1 year anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. It didn’t seem possible that a year later we would have a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Dystopian and The Pandemic

What do they have in common? The word ‘dystopian’ comes to mind: ‘relating to, or being an imagined world or society in which people lead fearful lives’.

The difference: The last year was real and full of fear. Matched was imagined.

Matched, a dystopian young adult novel has been read by a wider readership than the young adult population. The first in a series of three, it has been compared to ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight’.

This week’s conversation is with Ally Condie

How did the idea for Matched come about? And why the young adult audience? I had the  privilege to talk with Ally recently. Our conversation covered these questions and so much more:

Chaperoning a high school prom
Best dresses, red carpet and the dark side
Experiences of teaching and inspiration
Society and choices
Building a society around a character
Good intentions taken to extremes
‘A nice girl’ wakes up
Teenagers, women, choices and waking up
The Pandemic – and yes there’s one in the 3rd book, written over 6 years ago
‘Suburban dystopian romance’
What’s next?
Meet Ally Condie

The author of young adult and middle grade fiction, Ally’s novel Matched was a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. The sequels to the trilogy, Crossed and Reached, are also on the NY Times bestsellers list. Matched was chosen as on of YALSA’s 2011 Teens’ Top Ten and named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Book of 2011.

Ally is also the author of Atlantia, a New York Times bestseller,  and Summerlost, a finalist for the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.

She is the founder and director of the WriteOut Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) foundation that runs writing camps for rural teens.

Born in Cedar City, Utah Ally has a degree in English Teaching from Brigham Young University. Ally lives with her husband and four children in Pleasant Grove, Utah. In 2017,  Ally graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with a Master’s in Fine Arts Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults. You can follow Ally on Twitter and Instagram (ally.condie).

Ann Chernow: Artist, ‘The Queen of Noir’, Film Noir & Femme Fatale

Ann Chernow: Artist, ‘The Queen of Noir’, Film Noir & Femme Fatale

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Ann Chernow: Artist, ‘The Queen of Noir’, Film Noir & Femme Fatale
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The 1940s and 1950s saw changes to how women were portrayed in film. A change from the victim of the 1930s. Post World War II films introduced the ‘Femme Fatale’ and with it women characters who were mysterious and dangerously seductive, not victims. During the war, women had taken the place of men in the workforce, bringing an independence that for many, had never been experienced before.  These movies were known as ‘Film Noir’ (French for ‘dark film’), classics of the 1940s and early 1950s.

‘The Queen of Noir’ Ann Chernow

So I turned my attention to ‘The Queen of Noir’, renowned artist Ann Chernow. Ann has been painting this genre for over a decade. She does paintings, prints and drawings always in the abstract capturing the essence of the ‘Femme Fatale’. Ann has gone from actual portraits of the films’ stars, to imaginary faces of film, to painting scenes from the films to inventing scenes from ‘Film Noir’ movies. Then came a night alone at an Italian restaurant in NYC and a bottle of wine. The evening resulted in creation of ‘Bad Girls’ – eight separate stories and eight separate images.

Film Noir and Femme Fatales have been with her ever since that evening.

‘The reason for women: everybody has a guess. It’s psychological. It has to do with the women in the films. The women in Noir movies all had fabulous clothing and the men just had gray suits and hats. There’s nothing to paint – just gray suits and hats, so the male figure is sometimes an abstract support.’

Meet Ann Chernow

Artist, ‘Queen of Noir’, Mother, Grandmother and Teacher. Ann has taught art for over 26 years. Born in New York City in 1936, Ann has been a resident of Westport, Connecticut, considered a haven for artists for the last 50+ years. Ann is a beloved leader in the extended arts community. She has worked in the mediums of lithography, silkscreen, etching and colored pencil as well as oil painting.

Ann’s second husband, Burt Chernow founded the Housatonic Museum of Art. He was an art historian and professor at the Housatonic Community College. Burt passed away in 1997. Ann later became the life partner of actor and documentarian, Martin West (d. 2020).

Ann’s work evokes a sense of veiled mystery. A veiled mystery that is the essence of Film Noir and Ann’s creativity.

I had the privilege of talking with Ann about our favorite genre of film, her beginning, her philosophy, the pandemic and her continued mining.

Age 3 ½ – the beginning
The RKO theaters and going to the movies at 11
Victims and Heroines
The ‘Queen and King’ of Noir
Femme Fatales
1930’s and Post World War II
Those clothes
The abstract
‘That looks like my grandmother’
Miss Bette Davis
How to get an invitation
Artists and life
Advice to young artists
Keep on mining

Crystal Byrd Farmer: Author ‘The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization’, Educator, Organizer

Crystal Byrd Farmer: Author ‘The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization’, Educator, Organizer

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Crystal Byrd Farmer: Author ‘The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization’, Educator, Organizer
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Diversity and the ‘Token’

How does one start with be diverse without having a ‘token?’ Meet Crystal Byrd Farmer. She teaches organizations who acknowledge the need for diversity but don’t know where to start. She works with organizations and people who are dedicated to social justice and the diversity of people they want to employ, across identities of race, LGBTQ, education, socioeconomics and disability.

In today’s atmosphere, the topic of diversity and inclusion has become a heated and often misunderstood conversation. Educators and employers have tried many ways to be what they would consider ‘diverse and inclusive’. There’s busing when it comes to schools. In business there’s a certain air of being diverse by having a woman employee, an employee who is a person of color, an older employee, etc. There are ratios of people of diverse colors and cultures, and rules and regulations that have been put in place. Unfortunately, these good intentions can have the opposite result of what was intended. For some, they become the ‘token’.

Crystal Byrd Farmer

Crystal knows firsthand what it is like to be the ‘Token’. Growing up in a lower income black community, Crystal was bused to a middle school in a middle class white community. Crystal became the ‘Token.’

Crystal Byrd Farmer is the author of The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization. No punches pulled, Crystal wrote The Token which has been called provocative, humorous and an accessible guide for well-meaning people who acknowledge the need for diversity but don’t know where to start.

An engineer turned educator, organizer and speaker, Crystal focuses on cohousing Black, and polyamorous communities. Crystal founded the Freedom School in Gastonia, NC. She serves on the Editorial Review board of Communities Magazine and is passionate about encouraging people to change their perspectives on diversity, relationships, and the world. Crystal lives in Gastonia, NC.

This week’s conversation with Crystal is candid and revealing:

Being a ‘token’ in middle school
Asking a question that can be harmful
Macroaggression
Bias
Privilege – both white and black
Freedom School & Self-Directed Learning
Doing “The Work’
Norms
Meetings and location, location, location
Recognizing different cultures
Ways to be inclusive

Wendy Walker: International Bestselling Psychological Thriller Author, Newest Journey – Taking the Bull by the Horns

Wendy Walker: International Bestselling Psychological Thriller Author, Newest Journey – Taking the Bull by the Horns

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Wendy Walker: International Bestselling Psychological Thriller Author, Newest Journey - Taking the Bull by the Horns
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Bestselling Author and Psychological Thrillers

Wendy Walker is an internationally known bestselling author of psychological thrillers. This particular segment of novels suits her quite well in turbulent times. Especially when those times call for quick action. Her newest book Don’t Look for Me, was supposed to be released on September 15th. As they say: ‘timing is everything’. In early March preview copies had just been sent to bookstores and reviewers and then…Covid Lockdown!

When things happen un-expectantly – Bringing a community of authors together

The unexpected happens all the time. How Wendy handled it made all the difference. It took time, research and the use of what she had in front of her. Knowledge is power and Wendy used hers to commandeer her community of authors and lead them in taking the Bull by the Horns. With the power of the internet in front of her Wendy devised a very targeted and carefully executed plan. As a result, the release date of September 15th saw a flood of Wendy’s book all over the book community on Instagram. Her plan not only benefited her, but also the community of authors who found themselves in the same predicament.

Meet Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney. While at home raising her three sons, Wendy began her writing career. Her latest thriller – Don’t Look For Me deals with the bond between mother and daughter, guilt, blame and gaslighting.

She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller. All is Not Forgotten took her into the world of PTSD and memory suppression. Next was the thriller, Emma In The Night, taking her into the world of narcissism. And then came, The Night Before, taking her into the world of online dating.

Wendy earned her J. D., magna cum laude, at the Georgetown University Law Center where she was awarded the American Jurisprudence award for her performance in Contracts and Advanced Criminal Procedure. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University.  As part of her undergraduate studies, Wendy attended The London School of Economics and Political Science.

Prior to her legal career, Wendy was a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co.. She has also volunteered at the ACLU, Connecticut Legal Services and Figure Skating in Harlem where she served on the Board of Directors for over twelve years.

Conversation, the Pandemic and a Community of Authors

The conversation ran the gamut – from the pandemic to challenges to new avenues:

Newly published and the pandemic
Targeted strategies
Getting the word out
Bringing together a community of authors
Oh the places we will go
Discovering new avenues

Jessica Murphy: Perfume Professor, Scent & Art Historian, Museum Professional, Uncovering Scent’s Empowering Power

Jessica Murphy: Perfume Professor, Scent & Art Historian, Museum Professional, Uncovering Scent’s Empowering Power

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Jessica Murphy: Perfume Professor, Scent & Art Historian, Museum Professional, Uncovering Scent’s Empowering Power
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With her passion for perfume, Jessica Murphy uncovers the history and empowerment of scent. Jessica is a Scent and Art Historian and a Museum Professional.  She’s always looking for new ways to connect art, fragrance, history and popular culture. Jessica shares the continuing results of her curiosity and research skills and along the way, she enriches the enjoyment of perfume.

Since 2006, Jessica has been a contributor for the leading perfume blog Now Smell This. And what better name for her website than ‘Perfume Professor’. Since late 2015 Jessica has taught and lectured about the history and culture of fragrance at venues such as the Brooklyn Brainery, the Brooklyn Museum, The Institute for Art and Olfaction and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Currently, Jessica is Manager of Visitor Engagement at the Brooklyn Museum. Before the pandemic, Jessica occasionally offered scent-themed tours.

Prior to the Brooklyn Museum, Jessica worked as a Research Associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also worked as a Contractual Educator at the Met and as a Curatorial Assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Jessica received her B.A. from Fordham University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Delaware. 

A conversation with Jessica Murphy…

The beginning – religion or incense
Festivals and seduction
Commercial use
Luxury and class
Studio 54
That iconic fragrance
Memories and scent

Shilpa Yarlagadda: Founder & CEO Shiffon Co. & Start-Up Girl Foundation, Investing in Women Entrepreneurs One Pinky at a Time

Shilpa Yarlagadda: Founder & CEO Shiffon Co. & Start-Up Girl Foundation, Investing in Women Entrepreneurs One Pinky at a Time

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Shilpa Yarlagadda: Founder & CEO Shiffon Co. & Start-Up Girl Foundation, Investing in Women Entrepreneurs One Pinky at a Time
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Who do Michelle Obama, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson and Serena Williams have in common? Shilpa Yarlagadda, Founder of Shiffon.

What do Michelle Obama, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson and Serena Williams have in common? A Shiffon Duet Pinky Ring. They believe in the symbolism of the ring: the power of mentorship between women. Each of these women unite in showing the beauty behind this gem. And the ‘Pinky Promise’ to pay-it-forward.

What is Shiffon? A fine jewelry company Shilpa started in her dorm at Harvard University.

In 2017 looking for something to do in her downtime at Harvard, Shilpa started googling. The two areas that interested her the most were fine jewelry and women entrepreneurs. Two major discoveries took place:  Discovery #1 – fine jewelry has a large markup. Discovery #2 –  a large gender gap in the field of entrepreneurship exits. Armed with this information, Shilpa lowered the overhead by selling directly to the consumer. And embarked on a mission to close the entrepreneurial gender gap, ‘one pinky at a time’. All while she continues finishing her studies at Harvard University.

The Four Events

Four events by Shilpa took place simultaneously:

Attending Harvard University
Launching Shiffon and the Duet Pinky Ring
Launching the non-profit, Start-Up Girl Foundation – funding women entrepreneurs
Donating 50% of Shiffon’s profits from the Duet Pinky Ring to the Start-Up Girl Foundation
Featured

Forbes has named her in their list of ’30 under 30′. The Wall Street Journal featured Shilpa in, ‘The Crazy, True Story Behind the Pinky Ring Loved by Nicole Kidman, Michelle Obama and Serena Williams’. And CNBC did a story on her: ‘How a 20-year old college student launched a jewelry company whose rings are worn by Michelle Obama’.

The Duet Pinky Ring – a symbol of female solidarity and a promise to pay it forward. Since launching Shiffon Co., Shilpa and Shiffon have funded 11 female entrepreneurs. And it doesn’t stop with money, it continues with mentoring.

An Inspiring Conversation

Listen to my inspiring conversation with Shilpa and:

The entrepreneurial gender gap
Why a spiraling ring
Paying it forward
Emma Watson and perseverance
Doing one thing and doing it well
Sustainable business model
The network of powerful women supporting each other
What’s next

Dr. Natalia Spierings: Consultant Dermatologist, Dermatological Surgeon, Educator, No-Nonsense Approach to Dermatology & Skincare

Dr. Natalia Spierings: Consultant Dermatologist, Dermatological Surgeon, Educator, No-Nonsense Approach to Dermatology & Skincare

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Dr. Natalia Spierings: Consultant Dermatologist, Dermatological Surgeon, Educator, No-Nonsense Approach to Dermatology & Skincare
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‘A huge part of my daily job is earning my patient’s trust – it cannot be demanded’. – Dr. Natalia Spierings

An honest, no-nonsense approach. Let’s add tackling the myth behind perfect skin, ‘anti-aging’ and expensive skincare. The answer: Dr. Natalia Spierings. Dr. Spierings’ approach combines European style and sensibility with the energy and quirkiness of London. Now add her positive American attitude. This combination provides her patients with a unique and holistic modern skincare prescription. Born in Europe, Natalia spent her childhood in the United States before heading to London for medical school.

With her technical skill, depth of knowledge, aesthetic sensibility and communication skills Dr. Spierings is a global leading dermatologist.

Dr. Spierings trained as a Consultant Dermatologist in London with a sub-specialty fellowship training in Mohs Micrographic and Dermatologic Surgery at the Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle. She holds a Master’s Degree in Aesthetic Medicine from the University of London. Her subspecialty is the diagnosis and management of skin cancer. She has held a consultant post at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in Leeds, UK. Dr. Spierings’ primary aim is to provide the best cosmetic outcome after successful surgical treatment.

Working closely with the renowned Fusion Apothecary in Dubai Healthcare, Dr. Spierings provides bespoke prescription skincare for her patients throughout the Middle East.

An in-depth conversation:

‘Perfect skin’ – is this really a thing
Sunscreen – yes, it’s essential, but when, how much and what good is it if not applied correctly
Trust and the correct information
Correct information and using logic and evidence based explanations
Ingredients, manufacturer, packaging, price – defining ‘good quality’
Vaseline – really?
Social media – how and its impact on decisions
It’s not criticism – let’s talk

Alyse Nelson: President, CEO & Co-Founder Vital Voices Global Partnership, Using Their Power to Empower

Alyse Nelson: President, CEO & Co-Founder Vital Voices Global Partnership, Using Their Power to Empower

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Alyse Nelson: President, CEO & Co-Founder Vital Voices Global Partnership, Using Their Power to Empower
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The Power to Empower is key to the mission of Vital Voices Global Partnership and Alyse Nelson. For more than 20 years Alyse has worked for the organization. A Co-Founder, Alyse started as Vice President and Senior Director of Programs. Then in 2009 she took over as President and CEO.  Under her leadership, Vital Voices expanded their reach to serve over 18,000 women leaders, across 182 countries.

‘One of the things I’ve learned along the way is that a person’s path to leadership is rarely planned out perfectly – it’s an experience that begins with a conviction to do something.’ – Alyse Nelson

Women are Rising

Women are rising and their voices are being heard. Vital Voices searches the world for women leaders with daring vision for change and partner with them to make that vision a reality. Vital Voices makes sure that women have the power to empower. And we just witnessed the inauguration of the First Female Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris!

Meet Alyse

Prior to Vital Voices, Alyse served as deputy director of the State Department’s Vital Voices Global Democracy Initiative. She worked with the President’s Interagency Council on Women at the White House. Alyse is a Member on the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as a Board Member of Running Start, RAD-AID and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective. She is on the Advisory Board of Chime for Change and Global Citizen. Newsweek Magazine named her one of the 150 Women Shaking the World. Fortune Magazine featured Alyse as one of the 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter. Apolitical named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Global Gender Policy. Alyse’s work has been honored with awards such as the Tribeca Disruptive Innovative Award and foreign Policy’s Citizen Diplomat of the Year award.

Alyse is the author of the best-selling book Vital voices: The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World. She is the editor of Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower. Alyse received her MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She also has a BA from Emerson College.

This week, a conversation with Alyse and it couldn’t be more timely. Women and voices, power and empowering.

It all started at a conference in Beijing
Finding her passion
Women have always had a voice – now they’re being heard
The search for women leaders with a daring vision
How women lead differently
The obstacles and barriers for women leaders
What makes a leader
Women tackling the world’s greatest challenges
The commonalities of women leaders
The power of listening
The 4 ways to measure a leader’s impact
Leaders and starting off locally
Righting the wrong

Melanie Travis:  Founder and CEO Andie Swim, Making a Splash & Reframing Swimwear

Melanie Travis: Founder and CEO Andie Swim, Making a Splash & Reframing Swimwear

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Melanie Travis: Founder and CEO Andie Swim, Making a Splash & Reframing Swimwear
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Yes, a nightmare for most women is the thought of shopping for a bathing suit. Actually, it’s usually more like a hunt – hunting for one that you not only would wear, but would make you feel good wearing it. That hunt led Melanie Travis to Founder and CEO of Andie Swim.  It had nothing to do with the garment industry or wanting to start a swimwear line. What it did have to do with was the frustration of trying to find one for a company retreat. The tiny dressing rooms, the lack of variety, her exasperating online experience all turned a lightbulb on for Melanie.

The Creation

The lightbulb turned into the creation of Andie Swimwear, a collection of bathing suits that women can feel good in,. The swimsuits are classic, high quality and affordable without the anxiety of trying them on in a tiny dressing rooms. A direct-to-consumer shopping experience. And the experience is empowering.

‘Made for life’s sunniest moments, so you can spend less time thinking about your swimsuit and more time making memories.’ – Andie Swim. Andie Swim just made the Lead’s 2020 FOREMOST 50 list of high-growth D2C brands that are reinventing the future of fashion and retail. https://the-lead.co/the-foremost-50-2020/

This week Melanie and I will chat about:

The hunt and the inspiration for finding the “perfect suit”
The beginning of her Crowdfunding Campaign
The start of the first collection
The Mykonos and it’s sellout
E-commerce, technology and and the consumer
The at-home-try-on shopping experience
Why the D2C (Direct-to-consumer) model
Perfect fit – how does this work
Funding process
Letting experts in without fear
Some  advice for others starting out
Covid and swimwear
What’s next

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess:  Author ‘The Cat I Never Named, A True Story of Love, War and Survival’, Genocide Survivor, Educator & Scholar

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess: Author ‘The Cat I Never Named, A True Story of Love, War and Survival’, Genocide Survivor, Educator & Scholar

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Amra Sabic-El-Rayess: Author ‘The Cat I Never Named, A True Story of Love, War and Survival’, Genocide Survivor, Educator & Scholar
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Three best teenage girlfriends living in Bihac, Bosnia. They had grown up together – a Muslim, a Serb and a girl who was half Jewish. Best friends until the start of the Bosnian war and the Serbian military siege in 1992. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess was only 16 when it started. For 1,150 days Amra lived under the Serb’s siege and survived the ethnic cleansing. 1996 saw Amra emigrate to the United States with the help of four people – a Quaker, a Jewish Philanthropist, a Catholic Sister and a Muslim with some Serb.

‘The Cat I Never Named, A True Story of Love, War and Survival’ is Amra’s story, a Muslim teen struggling to survive the Bosnian genocide. It’s a story that is told from Amra’s 16 year-old self. A story of love, survival and the power of education that is meant to be read by all ages. And a cat who gave her comfort and hope.

Only three years later, December of 1999, Amra had earned a BA in Economics from Brown University. She then went on to earn two Masters Degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Today Amra is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding decimated countries. She has published on education-related issues and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. Feedback from her students? ‘One of the most inspiring professors they have encountered.’

Therese Plummer:  Audiobook Performer, Storyteller, Actor

Therese Plummer: Audiobook Performer, Storyteller, Actor

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Therese Plummer: Audiobook Performer, Storyteller, Actor
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‘Bringing what’s written on the page to life with just your voice.’ – Therese Plummer

This week’s conversation is with a very inspiring woman, Therese Plummer. Therese has performed over 400 audiobooks.

The performance of audiobooks and a candid conversation

A very candid conversation with an amazing actor, storyteller and all around extraordinary woman. Therese has helped many of us to be able to escape, even for just a little while during these wild times. Amazing, but it was her mother who pushed her into this field.

But her mother was a librarian!
Storytelling without using expressions or moving or using your hands?
How can you tell a story with just your voice?
A wild child and teenager – really?
She’s been to the bottom – how did she clean herself up?
Crisis Center, Drama Therapy and conveying the emotional life and journey of each character.
Bringing books alive for those who have trouble reading.
What’s next?
Meet Therese Plummer

Therese Plummer is an actor and award-winning audiobook performer. She has recorded over 400 audiobooks for a variety of publishers. Therese won the 2019 Audie Award for her work on the Multicast Sadie by Courtney Summers. She was nominated for the Multicast Any Man by Amber Tamblyn and for her solo narration for the Rogue Planets Shaken by Lee W. Brainard. In addition, Therese was awarded for her work on Sourdough by Robin Sloan by the American Library Association as part of the 2018 Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration for Adult Listeners.

You may recognize Therese as the voice of Maya Hansen in the Marvel Graphic Motion Comic Ironman Extremis, Dr. Fennel in Pokemon and various Yu-Gi-Oh characters. And let’s not forget her Television Guest Star Roles on the Good Wife, Law and Order SVU and the Netflix series Virgin River.

Therese spent five years as an adolescent counselor where she used Drama Therapy techniques in individual and group settings. As a result of her years as a counselor, Therese is able to bring to characters to life in a very real way. She shares a passion of creating, helping and entertaining Therese recently adopted a rescue named Butterfingers. She now lives in Bloomfield, New Jersey with her husband and of course, Butterfingers.

Saying Goodbye to 2020 and Hello to 2021

Saying Goodbye to 2020 and Hello to 2021

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Saying Goodbye to 2020 and Hello to 2021
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Goodbye 2020…Hello 2021

The New Year is almost here. Yes, two days from today. The last few months have been tumultuous to say the least. Baking and jigsaw puzzling were among the craze. For me it was connections – old and new. Connecting with extraordinary and inspiring women – a diverse group of women from all over the world. And a diverse group of topics to have conversations about. Happy, sad, inspiring and candid, we were let into their lives.

What does 2021 hold for us? I’m going to predict that 2021 will bring us hope and inspiration from extraordinary and inspiring women – women who are making a difference in our world!

I want to thank all of you who have come along for this amazing journey!

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year!

Michela Di Carlo:  Lifestyle Journalist, Late Bloomers Advocate, Speaker, Founder of CrunchyTales.com

Michela Di Carlo: Lifestyle Journalist, Late Bloomers Advocate, Speaker, Founder of CrunchyTales.com

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Michela Di Carlo: Lifestyle Journalist, Late Bloomers Advocate, Speaker, Founder of CrunchyTales.com
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CrunchyTales.com

Michela Di Carlo is the founder of CrunchyTales.com. A ‘Late Bloomers’ Advocate, Michela is on a mission to reset the meaning of middle age. And so many women get stuck thinking about the number instead of thinking about the opportunities. The opportunity to find their ‘sassiness.’

Meet Michela Di Carlo

A Manchester-based content producer and presenter specializing in lifestyle, food, arts and travel, Michela founded CrunchyTales.com , a digital lifestyle magazine,  dedicated to bright women over 40. Michela is a Late Bloomers’ Advocate. Her mission is to reset the meaning of middle age.

Michela is a former feature writer for the most influential Italian National Newspaper La Repubblica.  Nominated twice for the International Journalism Festival Award (Travel Section), Michela has run several digital editorial projects including marketing campaigns. In addition, Michela is a speaker and hosts several ‘road shows’ around the UK promoting the Italian way of life.

A conversation

A conversation that women should listen to, because – hey – it’s never too late to bloom.

Crunchy Tales – A virtual playground for midlife
Why a digital lifestyle magazine?
Redefining middle age
Browsing the gallery
You’re never too old
There’s so much to be discovered
Menopause is not the end of the world
Bring out your sassiness
Melding sassy and classy

Just Hang On – A Special Edition

Just Hang On – A Special Edition

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Just Hang On - A Special Edition
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Just Hang On – that’s what we’re doing. I decided to release the Just Hang On webinar from last week because this discussion made such a phenomenal impact on me and the women who attended. These women really broke down what is important right now for us and how we need to remain positive as we live through these next couple of months. 

I spoke with Elizabeth Bryan-Jacobs, Debbie Gravitte, Kristen Jensen and Kitt Shapiro, all Just Hanging On and staying positive. Artist, Performer, Content Creator and Small Business Owner. How the pandemic has affected them both personally and professionally. And the message –  Just Hang On.

Renée Brinkerhoff:  Champion Valkyrie Rally Racer, Breaking Barriers, Fighting Child Trafficking

Renée Brinkerhoff: Champion Valkyrie Rally Racer, Breaking Barriers, Fighting Child Trafficking

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Renée Brinkerhoff: Champion Valkyrie Rally Racer, Breaking Barriers, Fighting Child Trafficking
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At 64, Renée is taking a 1956 Porsche 356A to Antarctica to raise awareness about child trafficking. Talk about a road trip of a lifetime! Her goal is to have raced in all seven continents. Antarctica will be the final continent for Renée to complete that amazing goal.

Renée turned her hobby into Valkyrie Racing and then launched Project 356 World Rally Tour, raising awareness about child trafficking along with money to help fight it. She has worked with aid groups around the world including Kenya’s HAART Foundation in Kenya and The Exodus Road in Colorado.

And all of this started after raising her four children eight years ago.

Let’s combine the above with chance meetings, decisions that incorporate courage and a woman in her mid-fifties. After raising and homeschooling her four children, Renée remembered something that had been percolating in her head since she was 17 years old. 17 years old, her father and a VW Beetle. She figured it would be a one-time thing. What had been percolating? How about racing…Rally Car Racing to be more specific. And why not? The one thing that Renee could not fathom happening was to go to her death bed regretting that she had never tried.

Rally racing, one of the only woman Champion Rally Race Car Driver, working undercover with the FBI and advocating to stop child trafficking internationally and she’s 64.

That thought in her head led to helping so many.

This week I talk with Renée Brinkerhoff, a woman who didn’t have to take the chances that she does at 64. A woman who is more than a little inspiring.

A VW Beetle
The one liner in her head
A chance meeting with an undercover FBI agent
Her first race
Winning as a woman
Her Valkyrie racing team
Why she chose advocating against child trafficking
The treacherous terrain
Her undercover work
$1 million dollar goal
One more continent to conquer
Antarctica and what that means

Leslie Gray Streeter: Author of ‘Black Widow’, Journalist, Storyteller

Leslie Gray Streeter: Author of ‘Black Widow’, Journalist, Storyteller

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Leslie Gray Streeter: Author of ‘Black Widow’, Journalist, Storyteller
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Leslie Gray Streeter is Black and Baptist, her late husband Scott was White and Jewish. They had met back in 9th grade when they were both in the same high school. They reconnected some 20 years later through Facebook. It didn’t take them long for them to fall in love and marry.

We were both very respectful of each other’s backgrounds and faiths because we respected our own and I think we saw that in each other. And it never seemed like a conflict. It never seemed insurmountable. So the differences made it all the more sweet. The difference made… this was something else to learn about; I could learn about Kugel and he could learn about gospel music and we learned about each other’s things and that to me is exciting.

The Black Widow

They had only been married for five years when in 2015 Scott died suddenly of a heart attack. Leslie had been laying right next to him. They had also been in the final stages of adopting their son, Brooks.

A veteran journalist and writer, her story needed to be told. And so ‘The Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books With Words Like “Journey” in the Title’ was written, a heartwarming, love story that has all the real-life elements of love, heartbreak, and laughter.

It’s the story of the religious and racial obstacles that they overcame and how Leslie navigated grief after losing Scott so suddenly. And of course, busting stereotypes on how she was supposed to act.

Tender, true, and endearingly hilarious, Black Widow is a story about the power of love, and how the only guide book for recovery is the one you write yourself.

Meet Leslie

Leslie is an author, speaker and journalist who has written for O, The Oprah Magazine The Palm Beach Post, Modern Loss, The Sweet Midlife with Lynne and Leslie, and New Musical Express. She has been featured on Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, in the Miami Herald, The New York Times as well as other sites. Leslie is a playwright a well having written ‘The Gift of the Mad Guy’.

‘Black Widow’, her memoir was released in March of 2020, right before the pandemic hit and has been named a top pick by Glamour, The New York Post and others.

Having just moved back to her hometown of Baltimore along with her son, Brooks, Leslie is currently Senior Director at Laurel Strategies, a D.C. based CEO and C-Suite advisory firm.

Candid and heartwarming
This week I talk with Leslie Gray Streeter, candid and heartwarming…
Navigating and embracing differences
Busting stereotypes
Overcoming racial and religious obstacles
‘New Widow Lifestyle’
Integrating tradition with her own need and belief
Finalizing the adoption of their son
The journey of writing her story
James Patterson – a big fan

Sue Stuart-Smith: Author The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, Psychiatrist, Avid Gardner

Sue Stuart-Smith: Author The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, Psychiatrist, Avid Gardner

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Sue Stuart-Smith: Author The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, Psychiatrist, Avid Gardner
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The Avid Gardener

Sue Stuart-Smith, is an avid gardener, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and the author of The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature. Don’t let the title fool you; you do not have to be a gardener to read this powerful book, but you may want to become one after you have. You may discover the mental health benefits that come with tending a plot or just a plant.

Really, just a plant and your mental well-being?

‘Nature’s power of restoration and natural beauty is very sustaining.’

Sue Stuart-Smith is a prominent psychiatrist and psychotherapist and of course, an avid gardener. She took her degree in English literature before becoming a doctor. Sue worked in the National Health Service where she became the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. Currently, Sue teaches at The Tavistock Clinic in London is a consultant to the DocHealth service. Married to Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer for over thirty years, the avid gardeners created the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertsfordshire.

Can growing something actually help one’s mental well-being? Does nature really have restorative powers? And does a garden need to be more than the plant that you can fit on your windowsill?

‘Long before I wanted to be a psychiatrist, long before I had any inkling that gardening might play an important role in my life, I remember hearing he story of how my grandfather was restored after the First World War.’ Sue’s grandfather had been a prisoner of war and had suffered tremendous trauma. She would learn that his recovery started in 1920 when he enrolled in a horticulture course.

Simone Gordon – The Black Fairy Godmother, Community Organizer, Motivational Speaker, Domestic Violence Resource Specialist

Simone Gordon – The Black Fairy Godmother, Community Organizer, Motivational Speaker, Domestic Violence Resource Specialist

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Simone Gordon – The Black Fairy Godmother, Community Organizer, Motivational Speaker, Domestic Violence Resource Specialist
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Not just a gal from New Jersey. The Black Fairy Godmother.

The Black Fairy Godmother, Simone Gordon, is not just a gal from New Jersey. She’s a community organizer in New Jersey for black African American and Latino families. Simone is a mother of an autistic child, motivational speaker, special needs advocate, and domestic violence resource specialist. She also serves as the Executive Director for the nonprofit organization House 581Inc based in East Orange, New Jersey.

Simone utilizes social media to provide emergency assistance to domestic violence victims, send groceries, emergency medical supplies, baby formula, low funded tuition, rental assistance and household essentials to help families get back on track. She regularly provides assistance for special needs schools/centers and support families to achieve their GED. Her proud moment is her inaugural event, The Purple Diamond Awards where she was able to honor fellow Domestic Violence survivors and activists championing this cause including Carol Maraj, Andria Mayberry & Luisa Diaz from Fox 5 and many more including the LGBT community. She is endorsed and receives support from many celebrities including acclaimed author Elizabeth Gilbert. Simone’s mission is to replace the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Replacing the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Simone and her team of volunteers do not just help with a specific emergency and then leave. They do so much more by helping these women get out of emergency mode. Even having them make a vision board. “I’m going to help you with this emergency. However, we’re going to get you stabilized because you can’t continue to be in the same predicament that you are in. Where do you see yourself? Do you need job placement? Do you need job training? Or do you want to go to school? Maybe you need babysitting services? Do you want a car? Would you like to open a business? So I just tried to dream with them.”

“So I make them think the same way these women had me think and I get them to stability and that’s where the testimony comes; ‘Yes, she changed my life and made me think out the box.’ I’m not saying these women are rich, but they’re stabilized. They have jobs. They’re in school. They’re eating healthy, their children are healthy. They’re housed.”

Soon it will be Thanksgiving and assisting women in need.

This week’s episode is so right for this time of year. In a little over a week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and what could be more appropriate than celebrating a woman who is assisting women in finding the missing pieces and self respect. And saving so many.

A candid conversation with a woman who is without question, a fairy godmother to so many Black and Brown women.

How 4 women changed her life and her path
Instagram, getting noticed by acclaimed author Elizabeth Gilbert and the growth overnight to over 37,000 followers
Not just a handout – how Simone gives women the self esteem and replaces the missing pieces of their puzzle
On being a Domestic Violence Resource
Covid hit hard – how is Simone managing

You can find out more about Simone here.

Hazell Jacobs: Busy Bee Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Scarf Aid Lady, Magic Carpet Rider

Hazell Jacobs: Busy Bee Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Scarf Aid Lady, Magic Carpet Rider

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Hazell Jacobs: Busy Bee Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Scarf Aid Lady, Magic Carpet Rider
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Hazell Jacobs goes by the saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ Hazell lives in London. Over 80 years of travelling with her late husband, saw Hazell accumulating hundreds of scarves. Each scarf holds a story. When the pandemic hit, Hazel knew that there were many people having a difficult time adjusting to this new reality.

Finding herself stuck in lockdown back in March, Hazell made a plan to start blogging. Mind you, Hazell had never blogged before. At 87, living alone since the death of her beloved husband in 2004, Hazell hatched her plan with the help of her granddaughter, Ella, a graphic designer. Ella built her a website and on March 26th Hazell chose one of her scarves from her bottomless collection of scarves, and blogged her very 1st blog. And Hazell became Scarf Aid, Busy Bee Blogger Hazell.

The reaction could be heard around the world, literally. Comments came from all over. They were comments of joy, laughter and happy tears. Hazell has managed to touch people when they most need touching. One blog every day for 100 days straight. One hundred days of choosing a scarf and writing the true story behind it. Always with humor, always bringing back memories and touching so many. These days she has gone to one a week, with everyone waiting patiently for Sunday’s for her newest blog. You never know where it may take you. Hazell continues to ‘Keep calm and carry on.’

Kara Goldin: Founder & CEO Hint Water, Author ‘Undaunted, Overcoming Doubts and Doubters’, 2019 InStyle Badass 50, Business Disruptor

Kara Goldin: Founder & CEO Hint Water, Author ‘Undaunted, Overcoming Doubts and Doubters’, 2019 InStyle Badass 50, Business Disruptor

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Kara Goldin: Founder & CEO Hint Water, Author ‘Undaunted, Overcoming Doubts and Doubters’, 2019 InStyle Badass 50, Business Disruptor
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Kara Goldin is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint® water, the leading unsweetened flavored water, and the author of Undaunted, Overcoming Doubts & Doubters. She is an active speaker & writer and hosts the podcast Unstoppable with Kara Goldin where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs and other disruptors across various industries.

Kara turned her unsweetened flavored water into one of the most successful beverage businesses of our time, as a result, she has been named one of six business disruptors. And let’s not forget, she’s also one of InStyle’s Badass 50, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California.

Our conversation turns to her complete journey from going cold-turkey on diet Coca-Cola to her dislike of plain water to her search for flavored water. That is, flavored water with no sugar added. Becoming an entrepreneur was not a plan, figuring out how to disrupt the beverage industry and create an unsweetened flavored water resulted in Hint® water.

Were there setbacks? Were there fears to overcome? Was she told that it was an impossible goal? Yes to all of these questions, but that did not stop Kara who has forged a path for future entrepreneurs who may feel that simple can’t make it. And there’s more…sunscreen, deodorant, hand sanitizer and masks. All helping to put people on a path to healthier living.

Laura Fahrenthold: Author ‘The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles’, Journalist, Widowed Mother of Eyeball Rolling Teenagers, Adventurologist

Laura Fahrenthold: Author ‘The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles’, Journalist, Widowed Mother of Eyeball Rolling Teenagers, Adventurologist

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Laura Fahrenthold: Author ‘The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles’, Journalist, Widowed Mother of Eyeball Rolling Teenagers, Adventurologist
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Love, loss, healing, camping, adventure, misadventure and that RV

Laura Fahrenthold is a former NY Daily News crime reporter. She has worked as a government press secretary, private investigator and content editor at Woman’s World Magazine for over two decades. 

Her memoir, ‘The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles, A Love Story’ has been ranked as a ‘Top 20 Hot Pick’ on Amazon. Laura has appeared on national television and her story has been featured on People.com and The New York Post in addition to other news, radio and internet outlets.

Laura Fahrenthold hadn’t given much thought to traveling across the country. That is until she and her two young daughters suffered an unspeakable tragedy, the sudden death of Mark Pittman, husband and father.  As a result of looking to find a way to heal, Laura and her daughters embarked on a five year, 31,152 mile adventure across the country. Every summer vacation was spent in their 1993 RV with the pink steering wheel.  31,152 miles as they sprinkled his husband’s ashes across N. America.

The journey came with lots of adventure, misadventures, tears and laughter:
Laura’s husband – Mark Pittman
The evening before Thanksgiving
Finding the way and pitching a tent at the beginning
‘HaRVey’ the RV and a stray dog
Spreading his ashes and McDonalds
The people you meet
Dealing and healing – each in their own way
Finding his journal – the surprise

Laura has interviewed more than 60,000 subjects on topics from health parenting and motherhood to fitness and finance. She is a regular contributor to humor writer Erma Bombeck’s memorial blog.

Harriet Shugarman: Author ‘How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action’, Executive Director ClimateMama, 2020 NYC Climate Hero

Harriet Shugarman: Author ‘How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action’, Executive Director ClimateMama, 2020 NYC Climate Hero

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Harriet Shugarman: Author ‘How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action’, Executive Director ClimateMama, 2020 NYC Climate Hero
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Climate change is a crisis and action needs to be taken now. This is not political. The science has been very clear about it. This is a crisis that even for adults, is hard to grasp. So how do we talk to our children about it without freaking them out even though for a lot of us adults, we ourselves, are ‘freaking out’?

I turned to Harriet Sugarman, Founder and Executive Director of “Climate Mama”. Harriet is the author of How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action. Harriet’s goal over the last many years is apolitical. And her book directly addresses this goal: to help parents have the conversation with their children about climate change and the fact that we are facing a crisis. Our children are facing a very different future than ours. How do we have the conversation and still maintain hope for ourselves and our children?

Founded in 2009, ClimateMama is an on-line community reaching individuals in over 110 countries and 50 states. Harriet is a professor of Global Climate Change Policy and World Sustainability and Chair of the Climate Reality Project, NYC Metro Chapter. She is a climate policy advisor with many years of experience when it comes to activism on the climate crisis.  In 2017, Harriet received the Climate Reality Green Ring Award and she is featured in Al Gore’s 2017 book, An Inconvenient Sequel, Truth to Power. Harriet was selected as a 2020 New York City Climate Hero and a 2019 featured speaker at the Global Engagement Summit at United Nations Headquarters. She spent 13 years working with the International Monetary Fund including 10 years as an IMF representative at the United Nations.

A sought after speaker on solutions to the climate crisis, here’s a glimpse into this hopeful and inciteful episode with Harriet.
Harriet’s beginning and her journey
It is a crisis
Maintaining our own hope and that of our children
Talking to children at various stages of life
Actions do speak louder than words
Truth is easier to deal with
Actions that we can take to tackle the climate crisis together

All profits from the sale of How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change will go to support parent, youth and teacher projects on education, advocacy and outreach on the climate crisis. For more information on this program and how to apply you can find the information on ClimateMama.com.

Caroline McBride: Author ‘Four Seasons at Angelino’s’, Director of Public Relations & Business Development Serafina Restaurant Group, Romantic Lover of Escapades

Caroline McBride: Author ‘Four Seasons at Angelino’s’, Director of Public Relations & Business Development Serafina Restaurant Group, Romantic Lover of Escapades

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Caroline McBride: Author ‘Four Seasons at Angelino’s’, Director of Public Relations & Business Development Serafina Restaurant Group, Romantic Lover of Escapades
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Caroline McBride’s debut novel, Four Seasons at Angelino’s, is a modern day relationship story. It has all of the ingredients that are necessary for making the culinary wonder that we call love:: women’s empowerment, communication, chemistry and more.

In life as in cooking, following recipes doesn’t always give the results that we are looking for. A tweak here or there can add spice in our life. That’s never been truer than in the times we are currently living in. So this week I’ve decided to lighten things up a bit and talk about romance, finding the one and all of the ingredients that go into it.

Caroline McBride and her protagonist Charlotte, take us on a whirlwind escape through Japan, India, France, and Russia and of course, New York City. We follow the recipe for trying to find the one.

Caroline was encouraged by someone very dear to her before he passed away. She was encouraged to venture into writing fiction as a creative outlet influenced by her work experiences and personal escapades around the world.

A conversation with Caroline McBride. We talk about everything…
Public Relations and restaurants
Travel and escapades
Inspiration and drive
Journey into writing
Empowering women
Finding the one
Communicating
Confidence
Ingredients

Caroline Alexa McBride is the Director of Public Relations and Business Development for Serafina Restaurant Group. She spent the past decade marketing, branding and launching restaurants across the globe, as well as consulting for private clients.

Caroline Alexa McBride grew up in sunny Southern California. She remained there for college to earn her B.A. in Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. Caroline holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Universiteit van Amsterdam in The Netherlands where she studied as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar.

Patti Russo: Executive Director Campaign School at Yale University, Women’s Rights Advocate  & Increasing Number of Women in Elected Office

Patti Russo: Executive Director Campaign School at Yale University, Women’s Rights Advocate & Increasing Number of Women in Elected Office

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Patti Russo: Executive Director Campaign School at Yale University, Women’s Rights Advocate & Increasing Number of Women in Elected Office
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‘It never occurs to a woman that she could possibly win and we’re seeing that changing now.’ – Patti Russo

Patti Russo is a nationally recognized leader focused on improving the quality of life for women.  An advocate for increasing the number of women in elected office Patti explains that it’s not a job for everyone. 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment – 100 years of women having the right to vote. And 2018 saw an increase in elected women. For Patti, there is much to talk about and this is a very timely time… So we talk about:

The start of her passion for women in politics
The vision 
1992 – the year of the women – really?
2017 and ‘I’m not going to take it anymore’
A thick skin and so much more is necessary
#MeToo Movement
Are passion and a pulse enough?
The increase in younger women and women of color
Women’s biggest hurdle
Golf, country club and the network
AIN’T NO STOPPING US NOW

Patti is the Executive Director, Campaign School at Yale University – a non-partisan, issue neutral political campaign training program for women interested in running for public office or campaign management. Based at Yale Law School, the program attracts women from both the United States and internationally.

Patti is also a member of the council of women’s health research at Yale and chairs its Philanthropy and Communications committee.

For over 25 years Patti has held numerous leadership positions in public, private and not for profit organizations centered on increasing the number of women in the political arena. Patti has held leadership positions on federal, state and local political campaigns.

While an undergraduate student at George Washington University, Patti served as an intern to US Congresswoman Bella Abzug – who inspires her to this day.

Michelle Moran: Award Winning Wearable Skincare Pioneer & Creator, Founder SKINEEZ® Skincarewear®, Social Causes Promotor through Fashion

Michelle Moran: Award Winning Wearable Skincare Pioneer & Creator, Founder SKINEEZ® Skincarewear®, Social Causes Promotor through Fashion

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Michelle Moran: Award Winning Wearable Skincare Pioneer & Creator, Founder SKINEEZ® Skincarewear®, Social Causes Promotor through Fashion
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Michelle Moran – Learning how to cope and faking it till she made it.

Michelle went from living in her car with her 6 month old son, to becoming the pioneer of wearable skincare and a multi-million dollar business. In the middle, she bet it all. Michelle Moran, Founder & Creator of Skineez®, CEO of Legends & Heroes. Skineez® Skincarewear®, which uses patented microencapsulation technology to deliver natural cosmetic ingredients to the skin to firm, tone, and slim.

Twenty years ago she was couch surfing – yes – it’s a thing. Her friends had no idea that she was actually living in her car, a single mom with a six month old son. Learning how to cope and faking it till she made it. Michelle wanted to be a newscaster but was held back from that goal by her dyslexia. She knew she had to be the best that she possibly could be. For Michelle that meant making sure that having dyslexia did not hold her back from a life of giving back. Hiding her literacy issue, Michelle forged ahead. Starting with the creation of Legends and Heroes T-Shirts from her car to the invention of wearable skincare, Michelle has been giving back.  And so, even while living in her car, creating Legends and Heroes, Michelle donated part of her proceeds to the children in the inner cities. Did I happen to mention that Michelle’s son is on the autism spectrum?

Rose Morris: Founder/Pres. Award Winning Abram’s Nation, Creator of ‘The Safety Sleeper’, Chairman/Co-Founder Fund It Forward, Special Needs Children & Adults Advocate

Rose Morris: Founder/Pres. Award Winning Abram’s Nation, Creator of ‘The Safety Sleeper’, Chairman/Co-Founder Fund It Forward, Special Needs Children & Adults Advocate

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Rose Morris: Founder/Pres. Award Winning Abram’s Nation, Creator of ‘The Safety Sleeper’, Chairman/Co-Founder Fund It Forward, Special Needs Children & Adults Advocate
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Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Rose’s son Abram is on the autism spectrum. For Rose Morris, the will to make sure that her son had a safe place to sleep, showed her the way. That way led to the creation of the Safety Sleeper. As a result of her will, parents of children with special needs are sleeping better knowing that their children are safe. Rose did not wait for someone else to solve her problem. Because of her drive, so many families are feeling more secure. Rose created Abram’s Nation, a company that with The Safety Sleeper has served over 1500 families.

Recognition for what Rose and her company have created and continue to create,is ongoing. In 2010 Rose received the 40 under 40 award from Pittsburgh Magazine. Abram’s Nation has been honored for contributing to the special needs community.  In addition to the Safety Sleeper, Rose Co-Founded Fund It Forward. Fund It Forward, is a non-profit Rose created to help families get adaptive equipment not covered by insurance. 2018 saw Rose appointed to the Western Pennsylvania District Export Council. The Pittsburgh Business Times honored Rose with the 2018 Women of Influence Award. And Abram’s Nation was awarded the 2017 Exporter of the Year by the Small Business Association.

Rose has adapted and redirected life plans over the years. She has learned to focus on what is important, taking it one day at a time. Rose’s mission is simple – providing practical products with real solutions for special needs problems. Rose’s vision for Abram’s Nation -to be devoted to special needs families around the world.

Find out how it all started and  more. A conversation with Rose Morris, Founder & President of Abram’s Nation and Co-Founder of Fund It Forward. The beginning, the middle and what’s next.

Jene Luciani: ‘The Bra Guru’, International Best Selling Author, Intimate Apparel Influencer, On-Air Expert, TEDx Talk Speaker

Jene Luciani: ‘The Bra Guru’, International Best Selling Author, Intimate Apparel Influencer, On-Air Expert, TEDx Talk Speaker

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Jene Luciani: ‘The Bra Guru’, International Best Selling Author, Intimate Apparel Influencer, On-Air Expert, TEDx Talk Speaker
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Theresa Carroll: Award Winning Entrepreneur, Founder/Co-Owner Homestead Inn & Thomas Henkelmann, Principal & Managing Member Homestead Associates LLC,

Theresa Carroll: Award Winning Entrepreneur, Founder/Co-Owner Homestead Inn & Thomas Henkelmann, Principal & Managing Member Homestead Associates LLC,

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Theresa Carroll: Award Winning Entrepreneur, Founder/Co-Owner Homestead Inn & Thomas Henkelmann, Principal & Managing Member Homestead Associates LLC,
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Theresa Carroll, is a successful business woman who balanced family and career. And she learned how to succeed in a male dominated business.Take a look at the top five women entrepreneurs in Greenwich, CT and you’ll find Theresa’s name.

Although a graduate of Western Michigan University, Theresa had grown up in an era where a woman’s main job was to be good a wife. And so, that’s what she set out to do. Two years after her first child was born, the National Organization for Women was founded. The following years saw more women entering the workforce and things were going to change. Itching to do something while her children were in school full time, Theresa made her debut into the world of entrepreneurship.

As a result, in 1991 Theresa became co-owner of Carrol & Calani, a casting company located in New York City. NYC was the ideal location because the commute allowed her to be home to make and enjoy dinner with her family.  Career and family balancing act.

Then Theresa found her passion in the hospitality space.  And with 1997 came the co-ownership and building of the award winning restaurant Thomas Henkelmann and the Homestead Inn.  Theresa applied her business expertise and acumen along with her insight into the international luxury hospitality market. Then she added those skills with her decades of interior design experience and the result was spectacular. Theresa had and continues to create, a modern showcase of elegance, warmth and sophistication.

‘Boy, it’s been an interesting time to be a woman because we’re groundbreaking.’

So how did this mother of seven become a successful business woman?

A successful mother and a successful business woman…here’s some of what you’ll hear:

Balancing career and family
Male aggression
Fighting to be listened to
Not being afraid to ask
Passion
Creating the Homestead Inn and Thomas Henkelmann
Being assertive, not aggressive
Reopening in the midst of the pandemic and what she has control over

Persis Laverack: 93 Year Old Icon, Senior Citizen Cheerleader, Teacher, Writer, Entrepreneur, Communicator, Globe Trotting Mom & Grandmother

Persis Laverack: 93 Year Old Icon, Senior Citizen Cheerleader, Teacher, Writer, Entrepreneur, Communicator, Globe Trotting Mom & Grandmother

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Persis Laverack: 93 Year Old Icon, Senior Citizen Cheerleader, Teacher, Writer, Entrepreneur, Communicator, Globe Trotting Mom & Grandmother
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Meet Persis … She just turned 93!

She’s taking her daily 2 mile walk!  Persis drives her new 2020 pearl white Subaru to wherever she wants to go, pops the hatchback, pulls out her walker and off she goes!

Persis is a woman who keeps busy. She defies the myths  – she’s on social media, she texts and she Zooms. And yes – there’s the 2 mile daily walks. These days she does divide them into two 1 mile walks, morning and afternoon. Her knee replacement less than two years ago slowed her down just a little. Or so she says.

We talked about how Covid has changed her life and how she makes sure to stay positive and engaged. Persis saw how so many single women in her retirement village appeared to be depressed during the three months that they were quarantined. She made it a point to reach out to them, to let them know that they were not alone.

To pass some of the time, Persis was on Facebook tracking down old friends and acquaintances. If they were no longer around, she found their relatives and delighted them with stories that she shared. In either case, they laughed, they cried and they connected. Persis keeps in touch with them, it’s never a one-off. You’ll hear how she tracked down one after a month long search. Because of her perseverance, she now has a new friend in Arizona.

Persis and her late husband Bill started Appplewild, an Independent elementary day school in Massachusetts. Persis taught in the Newtown Massachusetts public schools, the Chapin School in New York City and was the Director of Admissions at the Windsor School in Boston, A graduate of Vassar College, Persis is the proud mom of Liz, a physician in Maine, Bill, a venture capitalist in Florida and Tom, Director of Financial Operations at a NYC non-profit. And let’s not forget that she is grandmother to seven.

Debbie (Shapiro) Gravitte: Tony Award Winning, Emmy & Grammy Nominated Broadway Musical Star & Actress, Producer & Founder Group5Production

Debbie (Shapiro) Gravitte: Tony Award Winning, Emmy & Grammy Nominated Broadway Musical Star & Actress, Producer & Founder Group5Production

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Debbie (Shapiro) Gravitte: Tony Award Winning, Emmy & Grammy Nominated Broadway Musical Star & Actress, Producer & Founder Group5Production
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Hear the rhythm. Feel the beat. Music has the ability to move you no matter what kind you listen to. On sunny days, rainy days, blue days, whether happy or sad, there is something to be said for hearing the rhythm and feeling the beat.

Debbie Shapiro Gravitte is a Broadway star, Tony Award winning actress, singer and dancer with both Grammy and Emmy nominations. Debbie is also a producer and Founder of the All-Female Production Company Group5Productions. And I am delighted to say, Debbie is my guest this week.

Debbie won her Tony for Jerome Robbin’s Broadway and is one of Broadway’s biggest personalities. She made her debut in the original cast of They’re Playing Our Song and went on to appear in Perfectly Frank (Drama Desk Award Nomination), Blues in the Night, Ain’t Broadway Grand, Zorba, Chicago and Les Miserables. Debbie has been in the Encore’s series productions of ‘The Boys From Syracuse’, ‘Tenderloin’ and ‘Carnival’ at New York City’s City Center.

She’s performed her nightclub act worldwide, from New York’s 54 Below to London’s Pizza on the Park. Debbie is a favorite with Symphony audiences and has sung with over 175 Orchestras around the world. There’s more. Debbie co-starred on the CBS series ‘Trial and Error’ and has starred in several PBS specials. Debbie also has four solo CD’s to her credit. I almost forgot, you can find Debbie in the Bette Midler movie ‘Isn’t She Great’.

Martina Kwan: Champion Race Car Driver, War Survivor, Award Winning Businesswoman, Transformational Coach

Martina Kwan: Champion Race Car Driver, War Survivor, Award Winning Businesswoman, Transformational Coach

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Martina Kwan: Champion Race Car Driver, War Survivor, Award Winning Businesswoman, Transformational Coach
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Daring to be different

For Martina Kwan, born in Hong Kong to a German mother and Chinese father, being different started right there. Martina was 8 years old when the sounds of war were surrounding her and her family in war torn Beirut, Lebanon. The next 2 years of her young life would be the defining years that have led Martina to living fearlessly.

Is it ever too late to try something new? Think again. At the age of 50 Martina took her hobby of race car driving up a notch, and became the world’s only Female Chinese/European race car driver. Did I mention that she is a three time champion? That’s 3-time champion in a male-dominated racing category in her Porsche 911.

By now you must know that this is not all that Martina has accomplished. She worked for some of the biggest finance and accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG. And she was Senior Management for the Ian Schrager properties. Not finished yet…Martina became an entrepreneur, winning Telly and Emmy awards for the first company she founded, So! Animation. A candid conversation about daring to be different. Daring to be different and how an Arabian horse changed a hobby into a champion.

Katie Hill: Former Congresswoman, Author ‘She Will Rise’, Founder Her Time PAC

Katie Hill: Former Congresswoman, Author ‘She Will Rise’, Founder Her Time PAC

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Katie Hill: Former Congresswoman, Author ‘She Will Rise’, Founder Her Time PAC
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2018 was an explosion of women running for office, approximately 256 women candidates. And at least 90 of those women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Among those women was a 32 year old woman named Katie Hill.

When Katie Hill was asked about running for Congress in 2017, it wasn’t something that she had been contemplating. She had a successful career as …… and she had no prior experience with politics. But after the 2016 election, she decided, Why Not?

Katie was among the youngest members of the historic freshman class that flipped the house and the first openly bisexual member of Congress. But that’s not all. Katie was elected by her colleagues to be the Freshman Co-Representative of Leadership. A position that meant that Katie worked directly with Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House.

And then the world came crashing down. Scandal, nude photos and a relationship with a campaign staffer had her resigning from office. The photos had been taken by her now ex-husband without her consent and published in what can only be called, revenge. The relationship with a campaign staffer was poor judgement, as Katie has admitted.

Regina Skyer: Leading Special Education & Advocacy Attorney

Regina Skyer: Leading Special Education & Advocacy Attorney

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Regina Skyer: Leading Special Education & Advocacy Attorney
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Schools all over the country are scrambling to figure out how to open due to the pandemic. Several months have passed since schools closed and went to online teaching. For many students and parents it has been a difficult transition. Now think about all of the parents with special needs children and their children. Regina Skyer has spent her career advocating for the education of children with disabilities. And the pandemic has brought even more attention to their struggles.

When does a parent start to advocate for their child? What can a parent do? Are there actual resources? I turned to Regina Skyer, founder of Skyer Law, a special education law firm. Their sole purpose: advocating, mediating and litigating on behalf of children with special education needs.

Regina is a leading special education lawyer. After a fifteen-year career as a social worker and special education administrator, she entered the City University of New York Public Interest Law School for the sole purpose of working with special needs children and their families. Prior to opening her practice, Regina worked as a pro-bono volunteer attorney at Advocates for Children. In 2015 she published a resource for parents of preschool age children, How to Survive Turning 5: The handbook for NYC parents of special needs children.

Patricia Walsh Chadwick: Author ‘Little Sister, A Memoir’, Life in a Cult

Patricia Walsh Chadwick: Author ‘Little Sister, A Memoir’, Life in a Cult

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Patricia Walsh Chadwick: Author ‘Little Sister, A Memoir’, Life in a Cult
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Patricia Walsh Chadwick’s ‘Little Sister’ You can’t imagine. 

Imagine being a 6 year old girl and you and your siblings are no longer allowed to live with your parents. Now imagine not being able to call them Mom and Dad. How about not being allowed to speak to them even if they walked by you? Now imagine being cruelly punished because you spoke to a boy. Keep imagining – you are now 17 and “kicked out” of the only place you have lived. You’re thrown into a world you know nothing about. You’re told its a world of sin and danger. No, you do not even know how to use a telephone. Imagine that as you are writing your story, it takes your daughter putting a word on that place you lived for those 17 years.

Did you guess it? The word is CULT. You won’t find that word in Patricia’s memoir. Listen as Patricia tells her story that at times can be impossible to fathom. The story of intelligent men and women and their children, Little Sisters and Little Brothers, and the cult-like community that was led by an excommunicated Catholic priest, Leonard Feeney and a very sadistic nun, Sister Catherine.

‘My story is about family that may have been separated but couldn’t be broken.’

Patricia Walsh Chadwick did learn how to make a phone call. By working as a teacher and taking out loans, Patricia graduated summa cum laude from Boston University and started her career in finance. Ms. Chadwick is the founder and president of Ravengate Partners LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to providing businesses and non-profit institutions with education and advice about the financial markets and the global economy. Patricia lives in Greenwich, CT with her husband of more than 35 years and their two children.

Tea Hacic-Vlahovic: Author ‘Life of the Party’, Columnist, Comedian, Performer, Party Girl

Tea Hacic-Vlahovic: Author ‘Life of the Party’, Columnist, Comedian, Performer, Party Girl

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Tea Hacic-Vlahovic: Author ‘Life of the Party’, Columnist, Comedian, Performer, Party Girl
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Everyone wants to get out right now (even if we can’t), and the bestselling debut Life of the Party by Tea Hacic-Vlahovic is the perfect escape. It-girl Tea Hacic-Vlahovic’s many hats include writer/columnist for Wired, Vice (among others), performer, comedian, TV host, and filmmaker.

Tea is a smart, fun, exciting presence, and her true-life adventures inspired a book you won’t put down until you finish! A welcome respite, not to mention, some great stories! Think Fear and loathing in Las Vegas…

What are outgoing people–people who love being social–doing to manage isolation and shelter in place? Millions at home feel stir crazy right now and can’t get out, especially people who love restaurants, parties and nightlife. Tea lets us in on ways to infuse some energy and fun into our nights at home.
Social media and creativity- Tea discusses how creative people can survive using a variety of platforms from Instagram live to Zoom.
Virtual social life-  Everyone needs to connect with people, and Tea is a master at using every platform available to reach out to people. From Zoom parties to Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat, Tea illuminates the many ways to “see” people, stay safe and still have a good time.
From party girl to professional, you don’t have to wear sweats and look dumpy to be comfortable at home and online. Tea offers some easy tips to looking good and making the most out of your online visits.

Tea Hacic-Vlahovic is a Croatian-American writer based in Los Angeles. Formerly a columnist for Vice and Wired Italy, contributing editor of Wonderland Magazine, director of Bullett TV and contributor to i-D, Dazed, Oyster, Flaunt and Autre Magazine. She’s the founder and creative director of a satirical art magazine based in Milan called STAI ZITTA.

Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D.: Author ‘The Turnaway Study, Ten Years, A Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – or Being Denied – an Abortion’

Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D.: Author ‘The Turnaway Study, Ten Years, A Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – or Being Denied – an Abortion’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D.: Author ‘The Turnaway Study, Ten Years, A Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – or Being Denied – an Abortion’
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Dr. Foster is the author of “The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, A Thousand Women, And The Consequences of Having – Or Being Denied – An Abortion.” The study compares the physical health, mental health, financial circumstances and family life of these two groups of women. And that the assumption that women feel regret, is not correct. In fact, the study showed that 95% of women who receive an abortion later reported that it was the right decision for them.

The author led a ten-year study of a thousand women, comparing those who received abortions shortly before reaching a state’s gestational limit with those who did not—because they didn’t learn early enough that they were pregnant, couldn’t travel to a provider, or couldn’t afford the escalating costs of a later abortion. Drawing on her research and on first-person narratives, the book illustrates how women denied abortions were more likely to struggle financially, suffer domestic violence, and experience short-term anxiety, while women who obtained abortions tended to experience better physical and mental health. One woman, reflecting on an abortion that enabled her to focus on her teen-age daughter and find a job, says, “It’s an ordinary life, but it’s an extravagant, wonderful ordinary life.”

Diana is a professor and demographer who uses quantitative models and analyses to evaluate the effectiveness of family planning policies and the effect of unwanted pregnancy on women’s lives. She leads the Turnaway Study, a nationwide longitudinal prospective study of the health and well-being of women who seek abortion including both women who do and do not receive the abortion. She is collaborating with scientists on a Nepal Turnaway Study. Dr. Foster has worked on the evaluation of the California State family planning program, Family PACT. This work demonstrated the effectiveness of the program in reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy and the effect of dispensing a one year supply of contraception. Dr. Foster created a new methodology for estimating pregnancies averted based on a Markov model and a microsimulation to identify the cost-effectiveness of advance provision of emergency contraception. In 2017, Dr. Foster received the Robert A. Hatcher Family Planning Mentor Award by the Society of Family Planning; a transcript of her acceptance speech is available here. Dr. Foster received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, her MA and PhD in Demography and Public Policy from Princeton University.

Fran Pastore: Founder & CEO Connecticut Women’s Business Development Council

Fran Pastore: Founder & CEO Connecticut Women’s Business Development Council

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Fran Pastore: Founder & CEO Connecticut Women’s Business Development Council
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Women, Business and Entrepreneurship – Does everyone fit the description? So what does it take? What are the obstacles that women face? Fran answers these questions and much more.

Finding herself a single mom with very jobs available, Fran took the bull by the horn. Fran embarked on her own venture and founded Connecticut Business Development Center. And CBDC is a leading organization championing female entrepreneurship and women’s economic equity. The council provides training, education and access to capital for women entrepreneurs and business owners.

Fran’s background is quite extensive. She served a 3-year term as an appointed member to the President’s National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). In addition, Fran serves on the Board of Women Impacting Public Policy. In conjunction with the U.S. State Department and University of Connecticut’s Office of Global Affairs, Fran taught women entrepreneurs in rural Costa Rica financial management and business strategies. She has served as a US Delegate to the 2015 Istanbul Women’s Summit. Over the past two years Fran has testified before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions and was instrumental in the passage of legislation benefiting women entrepreneurs. 

Caroline Labouchere: 55 Year Old Grey Ambassador, Model, Runner, Speaker

Caroline Labouchere: 55 Year Old Grey Ambassador, Model, Runner, Speaker

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Caroline Labouchere: 55 Year Old Grey Ambassador, Model, Runner, Speaker
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Caroline Labouchere was living a fabulous life until she wasn’t. Always counting on her husband to provide, a rude awakening came the day that he was no longer employed. Caroline’s husband worked for the British Army which had always provided them with a secure lifestyle. He had taken a post in Dubai. All was great until the post no longer existed.
Caroline had made the choice years before to be a wife and mother and leave the providing to her husband. Except now, through no fault of his own, he wasn’t providing. How did Caroline go from anger and fright taking control of her life?
On this week’s podcast I talk with Caroline about taking control of your life. It’s possible at any age. Caroline had never been a model, but at 54 she became the grey ambassador and model who has been on the cover of British Vogue 8 times.

Olivia Wells, Human Rights Advocate, Director of Programs & Impact Nadia’s Initiative, Advocate for Survivors of Genocide & Sexual Violence

Olivia Wells, Human Rights Advocate, Director of Programs & Impact Nadia’s Initiative, Advocate for Survivors of Genocide & Sexual Violence

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Olivia Wells, Human Rights Advocate, Director of Programs & Impact Nadia’s Initiative, Advocate for Survivors of Genocide & Sexual Violence
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Olivia Wells has spent her life being an advocate for human rights. Specifically the human rights of women. Olivia advocates for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. She is the director of Programs & Impact Nadia’s Initiative. The initiative actively works to persuade governments and international organizations to support the sustainable redevelopment of the Yazidi homeland. Nadia Murad is the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative. In 2014, Nadia was among the many kidnapped when ISIS attacked her homeland. Nadia did manage to escape.

Olivia Wells has her Master’s degree in Human Rights Law. Her expertise is in gender-based violence, international criminal law, and genocide prevention with a regional focus on the Middle East. Over the past six years, she has worked with several European and American NGOs. She has worked on the ground with marginalized communities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southern Africa to help implement community led development. She has also worked with refugee aid programs in Southern Europe and is responsible for initiating several psychosocial support projects for refugees in Athens, Greece.

We talk about what drove Olivia to human rights, how she met Nadia Murad, the programs that they have planned and the affect of the pandemic.

Gayle Kabaker, World Renowned Artist, Freelance Illustrator, Captures Essence of Powerful Women on Canvas

Gayle Kabaker, World Renowned Artist, Freelance Illustrator, Captures Essence of Powerful Women on Canvas

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Gayle Kabaker, World Renowned Artist, Freelance Illustrator, Captures Essence of Powerful Women on Canvas
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Gayle Kabaker, is a world renowned artist and freelance illustrator. Gayle powerfully captures the essence of empowering women on canvas. And in 2019 she was asked to do just that. But it wasn’t just one woman or even a couple of women. The project,100 women in just over a year. 100 portraits on canvas: ‘Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower.’ The women are from all over the world. There’s a mixture of household names and unsung heroines in the front lines of change. Among the portraits: Leah Lizarondo, co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, Nadia Murad, human rights advocate and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx.

Gayle is a freelance illustrator covering everything from fashion and general illustration, to animation, logo and brand development. Her work has graced the cover of New Yorker magazine four times. Gayle’s first New Yorker magazine cover was, ‘June Brides’ celebrating gay marriage in 2012.  In addition to painting, Gayle has written, directed and produced two award winning 5 minute movies – The Great Ashfield Pancaper and Pandcaper 2 – Mr. Jones Strikes Back. Gayle graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. She moved to Western Massachusetts over 30 years ago with her husband artist Peter Kitchell.

Stephanie Cartier, Co-Founder & Owner No Limits Cafe – Empowering Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Stephanie Cartier, Co-Founder & Owner No Limits Cafe – Empowering Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Stephanie Cartier, Co-Founder & Owner No Limits Cafe – Empowering Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
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What if we never had any expectations? How would we know what our limits were? Would we ever know if we had exceeded our limits?

And what if we stopped perceiving that we couldn’t? And now what if we stopped perceiving that they couldn’t?

Limitless possibilities is what No Limits Cafe is all about. Based on the belief that adults with Intellectual Disabilities can be successful and relevant, Stephanie Cartier and her husband Mark set out to prove just that. No Limits Cafe is a new-concept eatery, a 501 (c) (3) employing and training people with intellectual disabilities. Their motto: Eat Well – Do Good. By the time they opened, they had 33 trained and ready to go. All 33 are adults with intellectual disabilities.

How did a former portfolio advisor and stay-at-home-mom decide that this was her next chapter?

Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder Webby Awards, Author ‘24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week’, Co-Founder & Executive Director Let It Ripple Film Studio, Challah Baker

Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder Webby Awards, Author ‘24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week’, Co-Founder & Executive Director Let It Ripple Film Studio, Challah Baker

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder Webby Awards, Author ‘24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week’, Co-Founder & Executive Director Let It Ripple Film Studio, Challah Baker
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In this crazy world we seem to be connected 24/7/365. So what would happen if we took some time off? Maybe start with an hour or jump right to a day.

Sounds scary? Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and author of ’24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week’ does just that. For the last 10 years, Tiffany and her family have unplugged one day a week, from Friday night to Saturday night. It’s been a way for her family to make an oasis for themselves and focus on what matters.

Tiffany explains how this came about and why it is so important, especially in these times of unease and unknown. We talk about unplugging, her documentaries, Challah baking via Zoom and so much more.

Tiffany is the founder of the Webby Awards, and Co-Founder & Executive Director of Let It Ripple Film Studio. She has won over 80 awards and distinctions for her films and work, including selection for the Albert Einstein Foundation’s initiative Genius: 100 Visions For the Future. And she’s been named by Newsweek as ‘one of the women shaping the 21st century.’

Four of her films have premiered at Sundance, including her acclaimed feature documentary ‘Connected: An Autobiography about Love, Death & Technology.’ Her film ’50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present and Future of Women + Power’ premiered live at TEDWomen. Her films and art installations have shown at museums including MoMA NYC and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum.

Tiffany lives in Northern California with her husband and collaborator Ken Goldberg and their two daughters Odessa and Blooma.

Alka Joshi, Writer, Author The Henna Artist: NY Times Bestseller List, Reese Witherspoon’s May 2020 Book Club Pick

Alka Joshi, Writer, Author The Henna Artist: NY Times Bestseller List, Reese Witherspoon’s May 2020 Book Club Pick

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Alka Joshi, Writer, Author The Henna Artist: NY Times Bestseller List, Reese Witherspoon’s May 2020 Book Club Pick
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Alka Joshi’s mother married at 18 in an arranged marriage, as was the custom in India in the 1950’s. The choice was not hers. But what if she had fled and not married? What if she had been able to make her own choices? The Henna Artist is Alka’s story of what if. Ten years of research, ten years in the writing and we have the story of one woman’s journey to be self-made and discover herself. Choices that we have and those we don’t have or didn’t have, Alka expresses it all through the artistry in The Henna Artist.

Alka Joshi’s debut novel is on the New York Times Bestseller List, Reese Witherspoon’s May Book club pick and one of Ms. Magazine’s ‘8 Books That Will Transport You’. Born in the desert state of Rajasthan in India, her family immigrated to America in 1967. Alka has lived in India, Italy and France. She and her husband currently live in California. Alka earned her BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts in San Francisco. Alka has spent over 30 years in marketing and is the CEO of Alka Joshi Marketing.

Donna VanderPoel, Creator Stamford CT Rocks, Spreading Happiness Everywhere & Lauren Zajac, Fulltime Working Single Mom of 3, Spreading Gratitude Everywhere

Donna VanderPoel, Creator Stamford CT Rocks, Spreading Happiness Everywhere & Lauren Zajac, Fulltime Working Single Mom of 3, Spreading Gratitude Everywhere

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Donna VanderPoel, Creator Stamford CT Rocks, Spreading Happiness Everywhere & Lauren Zajac, Fulltime Working Single Mom of 3, Spreading Gratitude Everywhere
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This week I talk with two different women, each making an impact in these crazy times.  One who is spreading Happiness and the other, Gratitude. 

Donna VanderPoel, Creator of Stamford CT Rocks, Mother, Student, Former Teacher and ‘I Spy’. ‘I Spy this, I Spy that’ was a game that Donna noticed so many parents were repeatedly doing with their children. The pandemic and social distancing were having parents pull from their childhood. An oldie and sometime goodie, Donna thought that there had to be something a little better. And so, Stamford CT Rocks was born. Yes, rock painting, hiding rocks, and finding the hidden rocks was not new. But this was different, it was taking place on social media for her New England town of Stamford, CT during a pandemic. Within 3 weeks Stamford CT Rocks had over 738 members. And its members now include people from near and far. Seems that spreading happiness and bringing smiles to people, is not a small thing.

Lauren Zajac, Chief Legal Officer for WorkHuman, single full time working mom of 3, stumbled at the beginning. Twin teenage girls and a fifteen year old son, home schooling, working from home and running the house, just a slight change to her her daily life. Lauren discovered the opportunity to gain a balanced perspective due to the pandemic. Her children were deputized, yes deputized. Life may not always be perfect and days may be different than planned but Lauren took a deep breadth and realized that this could be the time to take a pause, look around and be grateful for things that she taken for granted. Gratitude is what Lauren is spreading. Her journey has not always been easy and the house may be messy at times, but even when life is not all roses, gratitude is what has led to her success. She is sharing her journey.

Both women are spreading happiness and gratitude during these strange times. Two things that can sometimes make days easier, even for just a little while.

Indie Lee, Creator and Founder Indie Lee Skin Care, Former Planner, Healthy Living Educator, ‘Welcome to the Rest of Your Life’

Indie Lee, Creator and Founder Indie Lee Skin Care, Former Planner, Healthy Living Educator, ‘Welcome to the Rest of Your Life’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Indie Lee, Creator and Founder Indie Lee Skin Care, Former Planner, Healthy Living Educator, ‘Welcome to the Rest of Your Life’
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Only 6 months to live? Hah, that was over 10 years ago and Indie Lee is still going strong. She knew what she needed to do and nothing was going to stand in her way. A planner all her life, the plan that she had created was not going to work anymore. We’re given bumps along the way of life, Indie was given mountains. From making home grown ‘tush’ cream for her new nephew, to creating a clean skin care company, Indie speaks to me about the life changing words she heard: Welcome to the rest of your life. How would your life change if you were told that you only had six months to live?

Educating people about what we put on our skin, is Indie’s mission. After learning that 60% of what we apply to our skin may be absorbed in as little as 26 seconds, Indie’s journey has led her to the creation of a clean beauty collection, inspiring and empowering people to be mindful as to what we put on our skin as well as into our body.

Ida Morris, Mom, Writer, Marketer, Lover of Cooking, Winner Covid -19 Cooking Challenge, #MorrisFamilyKitchen CEO

Ida Morris, Mom, Writer, Marketer, Lover of Cooking, Winner Covid -19 Cooking Challenge, #MorrisFamilyKitchen CEO

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Ida Morris, Mom, Writer, Marketer, Lover of Cooking, Winner Covid -19 Cooking Challenge, #MorrisFamilyKitchen CEO
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Ida Morris is a mom, writer, marketer, lover of cooking and CEO of the Morris Family Kitchen. And oh yes, winner of the Covid-19 Cooking Challenge.

Food has always been a symbol of family and bringing people together. In these strange and uncharted times, we need connection. Meet Ida, MacGyver and Mary Poppins rolled into one amazing lady. Ida is an inspiration to all, cooks or not. She not only cooks, but she gathers her family and friends in ways that some of us would never have thought possible. People are following her not just for her recipes, but to see what she has discovered. Discovered in that pantry of hers. Ida is our cooking MacGyver. She’s able to adapt on the run – don’t have a specific ingredient, Ida to the rescue.  Ida is Mary Poppins, you never know what she is going to pull from her pantry.

Hope, inspiration and creativity. Let’s not forget that part. Many have followed her example of a Covid Cooking Challenge and many are waiting with watering mouths for her next meal. Vicariously that is. Listen to a fun conversation in times that we could all use a reason to smile.

Illana Raia, Founder & CEO Être Girls, Author, Knowledge Strategy Attorney, Columbia University Guest Lecturer, Mogul Influencer

Illana Raia, Founder & CEO Être Girls, Author, Knowledge Strategy Attorney, Columbia University Guest Lecturer, Mogul Influencer

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Illana Raia, Founder & CEO Être Girls, Author, Knowledge Strategy Attorney, Columbia University Guest Lecturer, Mogul Influencer
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Illana Raia is the founder of Être Girls. ‘Who exactly do you want to be?’ – Être Girls, a knowledge strategy and a resource and mentorship platform for girls approaching high school. Do your children know much about your career? Do they think of you as the cook, driver, cleaner, supplier of your clothes and other various items? When Illana realized that her daughter had no clear idea of what she actually did or that the women who she was around were accomplished women in their own right, Illana decided she wanted to change that. Illana was determined to make sure that young girls knew that there are many options to choose from. And so, the beginnings of Être Girls.
Illana is the author of Être: Girls, Who Do You Want To Be?, a former Skadden Arps lawyer, guest lecturer at Columbia University, and a contributor to HuffPost, Ms. Magazine and Thrive Global. Illana was named a Mogul Influencer in 2017 and has appeared in the HuffPost “Talk To Me” video series and participated in the 2019 #WomenWhoRock campaign.

Gillian Anderson, Founder My Friend Abby, Young Adult Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Advocate, Mental Health Revolutionary

Gillian Anderson, Founder My Friend Abby, Young Adult Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Advocate, Mental Health Revolutionary

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Gillian Anderson, Founder My Friend Abby, Young Adult Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Advocate, Mental Health Revolutionary
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“Say their name. Say their name out loud.”

Gillian Anderson is starting a mental health revolution. Abby was just 15 when she succumbed to suicide. Abby is Gillian’s daughter.
The rate of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the United States who have died by suicide, has sharply risen in the past couple of years. Suicide is thought to be the second leading cause of death for Americans between 10 and 34.

Gillian’s mission now is to get rid of the stigma and shame of depression and anxiety. How did Gillian stay strong enough to make sure that Abby’s friends understood that Abby suffered from an illness? She founded My Friend Abby whose mission is to empower youth and young adults to actively create peer to peer connections. And to make sure that the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness is eliminated.

Before founding My Friend Abby, Gillian worked as Development Director for WSHU Public Radio.

Ariana Neumann, Amateur Detective, Mystery Lover, Author ‘When Time Stopped, Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains’

Ariana Neumann, Amateur Detective, Mystery Lover, Author ‘When Time Stopped, Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Ariana Neumann, Amateur Detective, Mystery Lover, Author ‘When Time Stopped, Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains’
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Mysteries. Ariana Neumann, is the author of When Time Stopped, A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains, a New York Times Bestseller. Ariana’s father had never spoken about his past. Her father left her the pieces to a puzzle. As a child she had always dreamed of being a detective. As an adult, she put her childhood dream to use and uncovered a family that had been veiled in silence, her family.

Have you ever wondered if you have relatives living far away? Or maybe even in the next town over? Ariana discovered a family she never knew and the secrets of her father’s past, years spent hiding in plain sight in war-torn Berlin. According to the New York Times reviewer, “The story she uncovers is worthy of fiction with hairpin plot twists, daredevil acts of love and unexpected moments of humor in dark times.”

Mysteries. At a young age Ariana found a box in her father’s study containing an identity card with her father’s picture. The mystery, the card had someone else’s name on it. More than 20 years later that box led her on a journey that would reveal her father’s struggle. A struggle of survival during the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, a part of his life she never knew. It’s a story of love and heroism and the discovery of a family she never knew existed.

Born and raised in Venezuela, Ariana has a BA in History and French Literature from Tufts University, an MA in Spanish and Latin American Literature from New York University and a PgDIP in Psychology of Religion from University of London. She previously was involved in publishing, worked as a foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s The Daily Journal and her writing also appeared in The European.

She currently lives in London with her husband, three children, a basset fauve de Bretagne, a border terrier and a rescue mutt.

Bobbe Greenberg, Mother, Grandmother, Retired Teacher, 73 year old Ironman World Champion 2018 & 2019

Bobbe Greenberg, Mother, Grandmother, Retired Teacher, 73 year old Ironman World Champion 2018 & 2019

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Bobbe Greenberg, Mother, Grandmother, Retired Teacher, 73 year old Ironman World Champion 2018 & 2019
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She’s a grandmother of 4, she’s competitive by nature, she’s a multi – winning Ironman Champion. What would you be doing at the age of 73? For Bobbe, well she’s looking forward to another win in Hawaii later this year. When did she find out that she has a competitive streak? Try 5th grade and knee raises. An inspiring woman for all ages, listen to what drives Bobbe. It really is never too late to try. We can all use some of her enthusiasm. 

Kicking off Season 3 April 7th

Kicking off Season 3 April 7th

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Kicking off Season 3 April 7th
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We just wrapped up Season 2 and will be kicking off Season 3 next Tuesday, April 7th. Conversations with inspiring, extraordinary women who are making their mark on the world by changing their lives and the lives of those around them. In these frightening, stressful times we can all use some inspiration. In case you missed any episodes of Seasons 1 and 2, or want to hear any again, you can find them on your favorite podcast platforms or on our website https://lifeapres.com/podcast/.  If you know of an extraordinary, inspiring woman, please contact me at sylvia@lifeapres.com. Be smart and stay safe.

Suzanne Vita Palazzo, Founder and CEO Upper Deck Fitness, Empowerment Coach, Fitness Guru, Always In Motion

Suzanne Vita Palazzo, Founder and CEO Upper Deck Fitness, Empowerment Coach, Fitness Guru, Always In Motion

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Suzanne Vita Palazzo, Founder and CEO Upper Deck Fitness, Empowerment Coach, Fitness Guru, Always In Motion
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Suzanne Vita Palazzo, founder of Upper Deck Fitness. In motion more often than not, Suzanne is an Empowerment Coach whose philosophy is heavily rooted in the concept of mind over matter. Suzanne believes that both the body and mind were designed to progress, even if moving forward requires taking a step back to reflect. Through a combination of movement, mindfulness, and written and spoken word, Suzanne’s encourages us to live our lives: ‘with intention, strategy and plenty of opportunities to play.’ With over fifteen years in the industry, both dance and fitness, her approach directly addresses the barriers so many of us have self-constructed to stand in our own way. Suzanne has a unique way of encouraging and motivating and reminding us that it’s never too late to start taking care of ourselves.

Anna Polonsky, Internationally Renowned Steinway Artist, Soloist, Chamber Musician, Piano Faculty Vassar College, BM, Curtis Institute of Music, MM, Julliard School

Anna Polonsky, Internationally Renowned Steinway Artist, Soloist, Chamber Musician, Piano Faculty Vassar College, BM, Curtis Institute of Music, MM, Julliard School

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Anna Polonsky, Internationally Renowned Steinway Artist, Soloist, Chamber Musician, Piano Faculty Vassar College, BM, Curtis Institute of Music, MM, Julliard School
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How do you know when you have a passion for something? Anna made her solo piano debut at age seven at the Special Central Music School in Moscow, Russia. Daughter of professional musicians, Anna and her twin sister started when they were only 5. Her parents being professional musicians, she only knew a life of musical training.  Immigrating to the US in 1990, this teenager quickly learned that not all teenagers where so focused. Believing that she wanted more, Anna enrolled herself into the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. Read on and you will get an idea of her passion, talent and work that she does inspiring so many through music. Her most important role, being a single mom to a delightful 6 year old daughter. We’ve included a sample of Anna’s music in this episode.

Anna has appeared with the Moscow Virtuosi, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, just to name a few. She’s collaborated with Yo-Yo-Ma, David Shifrin and Peter Wiley, just to name a few. Anna has given concerts in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall’s Stern, just to name a few. And let’s not forget, Anna tours extensively throughout the US, Europe and Asia. Anna is a frequent guest at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is a recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award.

Robin Stern, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Associate Director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Associate Research Scientist at the Child Study Center at Yale, Author ‘the Gaslight Effect’

Robin Stern, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Associate Director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Associate Research Scientist at the Child Study Center at Yale, Author ‘the Gaslight Effect’

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Robin Stern, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Associate Director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Associate Research Scientist at the Child Study Center at Yale, Author ‘the Gaslight Effect’
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‘Gaslighting’ Is it a real thing? This word has seen a resurgence over the past few years and is becoming widely recognized. Most recently it’s being used in the political arena. But let’s not forget where it came from and how it is a real thing. Think back to the 1938 movie Gaslight. Robin Stern, Ph.D. is the author of ‘the Gaslight Effect – How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life’. Robin helps us identify the characteristics and lets us in on how to stop other people from getting inside our head.

Robin is the Co-founder and Associate Director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and an Associate Research Scientist at the Child Study Center at Yale. She is a licensed psychoanalyst and co-developer of RULER, an acronym for the five key emotion skills of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating emotions. Robin does consulting work with schools nationally and across the globe as well as with large corporations including Facebook and Google. Robin is the co-founder of Star Factor Coaching, a model of leadership coaching anchored in the skills of emotional intelligence and was a founding member of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, creating and facilitating professional development programs for aspiring women leaders.

Erin Barnes, CEO and Co-Founder of ioby (in our backyards), Inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow, Board Chair of Resource Media

Erin Barnes, CEO and Co-Founder of ioby (in our backyards), Inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow, Board Chair of Resource Media

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Erin Barnes, CEO and Co-Founder of ioby (in our backyards), Inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow, Board Chair of Resource Media
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You have an idea, one that would benefit your community but really, how do you even fathom raising the money? Why not trust neighbors to know what’s best for their neighborhood? Erin one of the inaugural fellow recipients of the Obama Foundation, co-founded ioby, a Crowdfunding platform allowing for civic participation. ioby connects local leaders with support and funding from their communities to make neighborhoods more sustainable, healthier, greener, more livable and more fun.
Erin was the environmental editor at Men’s Journal magazine and a freelance writer on climate change and other environmental issues. She also worked as a community organizer and public information officer at the Save Our Wild Salmon in Portland, Oregon. Erin and her co-founders were awarded the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation.

Jackie Botelho, Founder Above and Beyond Concierge (ABCVIP), Event Planner, Hospitality Specialist, Experience Creator

Jackie Botelho, Founder Above and Beyond Concierge (ABCVIP), Event Planner, Hospitality Specialist, Experience Creator

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Jackie Botelho, Founder Above and Beyond Concierge (ABCVIP), Event Planner, Hospitality Specialist, Experience Creator
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What does it take to pack up your car and move across the country for a dream? Jackie did just that. Always a homebody, she had decided to go to college not far from her Connecticut family home. But Jackie had the feeling that she was missing out on something. With determination she packed up her car and moved to San Diego, California. Nope, no job waiting for her. That didn’t stop her from setting out and getting hired by a top boutique hotel on the beach in San Diego. Getting her feet wet, so to speak, and turning the hotel from  #11 on Trip Advisor to #3, Jackie knew that she wanted to go back East. New York City was where she landed and she is now taking Manhattan by storm. Jackie tells shares her story of perseverance, determination and knowledge of treating people right. All of which have turned into the company that she started. A company that provides unique experiences for people who actually put down their cellphones and meet new people while giving back to the community.

Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, Geriatrician, Author, Educator, Defining Elderhood

Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, Geriatrician, Author, Educator, Defining Elderhood

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Louise Aronson, MD, MFA, Geriatrician, Author, Educator, Defining Elderhood
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We are living longer these days. What does ‘successful aging’ mean? We have childhood, adulthood and…? How about Elderhood?  Elderhood now can span forty years of our lives or more. Louise is the author of the New York Times bestseller Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life. Louise lets us in on breaking through some of the myths that surrounds age and numbers. It’s not a disease. Let’s debunk the myths. Let’s re-examine the meaning of aging.

A practicing geriatrician, Louise has served as director of the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center, is a Harvard-trained geriatrician and award winning author. Louise has recently appeared on morning shows including NBC’s The Today Show.

Lucy Dhegrae, Professional Singer, Producer, Composer, Animal Lover, Survivor of Rape

Lucy Dhegrae, Professional Singer, Producer, Composer, Animal Lover, Survivor of Rape

Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
Lucy Dhegrae, Professional Singer, Producer, Composer, Animal Lover, Survivor of Rape
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“Vocal Versatility and an omnivorous curiosity.” – The New York Times

“Adventurous mezzo-soprano” and “raconteur” – The New Yorker

Is it possible to shrug off a trauma? Is it possible to silence yourself after you’ve been raped? That’s what Lucy Dhegrae tried to do. She was 19, in her sixth week as a college freshman when she was drugged and raped by a student athlete. Having heard and read about other victims who had been trashed after reporting having been raped by an athlete, she remained silent. Ten years passed before the effect hit her. She suddenly lost her singing voice.

Three years, a variety of therapies and $25,000 later, she can and does talk about it. Now Lucy is on a mission with her music, exploring how music can address the aftermath of trauma; Mind and Body. Lucy shares her story so that other survivors, especially college students, will have the confidence to believe in themselves. “We can’t continue to stay numb to this. We just can’t.”

Lucy is an Artist in Residency at National Sawdust for the 2019-2020 season, presenting a muti-concert project. She was the 2018 recipient of the University Of Michigan School Of Music’s Emerging Artist Award and among the first cohort fellows with Turn the Spotlight, a new mentorship program for young professionals. Lucy is an extraordinary woman.