My law school class was the first at Georgetown with more women than men. I was under the delusion that somehow this meant that firm culture would adapt and truly become more family friendly. After spending a few years at a large firm, I was pregnant and trying to figure out what I was going to do. Before I had a chance to make a plan, my son was born prematurely. He spent 3.5 months in the NICU. I was lucky that I could afford to leave my job and become a full-time mom. My career went on hold while I devoted myself to helping him grow and get stronger. Luckily by 2, he had hit his milestones, and today he is a happy, healthy and bright 13 year old who just finished the 7th grade and is off to overnight camp.
By the time my son went to preschool, I was ready to go back to work. I loved being a mom but was bored intellectually. However, I was pregnant with my daughter so I deferred re-entering the workforce for another year. During my years at home, I did a tremendous amount of volunteering and started exploring and weighing my options. My career goals shifted as I now prioritized flexibility and time with my family. I decided that as much as I found law school and working in a big law firm stimulating, what I really loved was working with nonprofit organizations as I had done before law school and as a volunteer throughout my life.
With my husband's encouragement and support, I started my own nonprofit consulting business in 2006. Ten years later I can say that it was the best decision I ever made (except marrying my husband). I get to do work that I am 100% aligned with and care about, and I am able to be around for my kids.
What is your typical day like?
I have work-life integration, not balance. Because I have my own business, I am always on. I love my work and my clients so this is fine with me. I get up by 6 am (often earlier as many of my clients laugh at my 4 am emails) and clear my in box, make my list for the day and write. Unless I am traveling or have an event, I take my kids to school. My day is packed from the moment I drop off until I pick up at 3 pm. I schedule everything because I subscribe to the motto, "What gets scheduled, gets done!" I try to not book anything from 3-7 pm because of pick up, after school activities, homework and family dinner (every night at 6 pm). As soon as dinner is over, I am back on my email and work until 9:30 or 10 pm when I then watch some really bad TV and spend some time with my husband. Every Sunday my husband and I have a scheduling meeting for the week, and we share a calendar.
How do you take care of yourself in the meantime?
I am a compulsive list maker, and I believe in rituals and routine to simplify!
I schedule my favorite pilates teacher at least once a week and try to meet a friend for coffee or lunch at least once a week. I treat myself to little luxuries like hair blow outs, nails and massages regularly. My husband and I try to have a regular date night.
A big part of taking care of myself has been learning to say no to volunteer requests, social invitations and even work projects that stress our finely balanced operation.
What is your favorite part of being a mom?
My favorite part of being a mom is watching my kids develop into these phenomenal human beings who are thoughtful, compassionate and engaged in the world around them. And they are good fun and funny! I love the hugs, kisses and snuggles too. I basically like the whole thing except packing lunches and math homework.
What career achievement are you the most proud of?
I wrote a book called On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service in 2011. It was a big project, and I am very proud especially when I hear from board members how it helped them understand their roles and lead in their organizations.
Truly, I am proud of the work my clients are doing every day in so many arenas from education to health care to social justice and beyond and am delighted to play a small role in their success.