Category Archives: Blogging

A Look Back on 2016

A Look Back on 2016

PicMonkey Collage-5Reviewing the past year always helps me to move on to the new one, and here we are already heading into the last week of January! I just now feel like I’m catching up to the start of 2017!  It doesn’t usually take me this long to re-group and find the quiet time that I need to reflect after the holidays end, the kids get back to school, and visits with family and friends slow down. The election results left me distracted this January, but the Women’s March in DC last weekend has helped me to get back on track. Now I feel I can really take a look back at what unfolded over the past year and start to set some new goals for the new one ahead.

With a busy work schedule in 2016 I posted less on my blog than I would have liked.  While it was great to be busy, it left me finding less time for my own projects. I hope that in 2017 I can set aside time to do more with video and the writing that I love. Among my social media clients for the past two years I had the pleasure to work in strategic partnerships and as the Digital and Social Media Specialist for a local non-profit that I greatly admire. I worked with Edesia through the transition into a newly built factory where they produce life saving Plumpy’Nut and other ready-to-use foods to treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s most vulnerable populations. It was exciting to witness the progress from plans to the grand opening of this amazing facility that helps to save millions of children’s lives each year from right here in Rhode Island.

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Other work highlights included attending the RESULTS conference in Washington, DC for the first time. RESULTS is a grassroots organization that builds momentum to tackle the complex and layered issues contributing to poverty. As a member of the RESULTS Social Media Corps I shared moments from the conference over digital channels highlighting the power to end poverty both at home and abroad through grassroots efforts. The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Conference was also held in Washington, DC, and in 2016 I spoke as a Champion Leader about shaping the narrative of global health. Both conferences are opportunities for constituents to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for these important issues. A number of World Moms Network editors and contributors met up to attend the Social Good Summit in New York City during United Nations General Assembly week. As Managing Editor of World Moms Network I work with regional editors on each continent to support our global community of mothers and writers, During the same week I was part of a  Twitter Takeover of the GAVI  account along with a team of fellow Shot@Life Champion Leaders, keeping global vaccines front and center in the development conversation.

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By far the most amazing opportunity for me this year was to travel to Haiti where we met Artisan Business Network artisans who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line. This was a dream trip for me where I soaked in a glimpse of the thriving visual arts culture that is everywhere you look. The Heart of Haiti program was launched in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake as a way to help the many talented Haitian artists rebuild through economic recovery. I was deeply touched by the testament to spirit and creativity displayed in the Haitian Artisans whom we were able to meet. I still have so many great stories to write from this trip I can’t wait to share.

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Standing in the spot at the Ciragan Sarayi in Istanbul where we became engaged 20 years ago, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy & old town Split in Croatia

50th birthday celebrations inspired my husband and I to travel to some incredible destinations in 2016.  Our travels took us to Scotland, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Turkey. With a growing appreciate for the fact that as our kids get older, our opportunities to travel as a family are dwindling, has also inspired us to take family trips each summer while we can. Last summer the six of us had a fantastic trip to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia.

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Coffee on the beach and meeting the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James.

I have to include the 2016 Nantucket Book Festival  in my recap.  Aside from Nantucket being one of my favorite places, the book festival is a heavenly event for any reader and writer.

Yes, 2017 has gotten off to a slow start, but attending the Women’s March on Washington last weekend gave me hope. Being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who, despite our differences, all believe in human decency and basic human rights, made me feel that love will ultimately prevail. Bring it on 2017, I’m fired up!

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Searching the (he)ART of Haiti

Searching the (he)ART of Haiti
"Home Is Home"

“Lakay Se Lakay” / “Home Is Home”

When I travel to a country for the first time I usually try to do some homework in preparation for my visit. I love the way that travel brings history, geography, and humanity to life, and provides a deeper understanding of the world. Still, sometimes I visit a place like Haiti, that is so enigmatic and full of surprises, that I realize no amount of advance preparation could have fully primed my understanding of the place. I loved the way Haitian Fashion Designer of Rapadou, Marie Therese Hilaire who goes by “Tetes”, expressed it:

“We have a country that has a feeling, se la pu la, You have to be there to understand it“.

It took less than two hours to fly there from Miami, but could not have felt more worlds away.

Packets of fried plantain snacks for sale

Packets of fried plantain snacks for sale

The art of any country always provides insightful cultural cues. In a country like Haiti, which is deeply infused with a visual arts culture, it can be a primer into the ethos of the population. Read the rest of this entry

When Moms + Social Good Come Together

When Moms + Social Good Come Together

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The first week of May I was in New York City for the 4th annual Moms + Social Good conference at the New York Times Center.  When Moms + Social Good come together, great things are bound to happen.  I gathered there with some of my “tribe”, like-minded friends from World Moms Blog, the United Nations Shot@Life campaign, and the Social Good world.  The one day event was hosted by The United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, with support from BabyCenter, Global Citizen, Fatherly, and Charity Miles. The goal of the Moms + Social event, in honor of Mother’s Day, was to highlight some of the greatest challenges women and children across the globe are facing today.

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The buzz word that came up in almost every panel and topic of conversation, whether the discussion was on the refugee crisis or the importance of global vaccines, was EDUCATION. The importance of education to rise above any circumstance was underlined again and again.

“For refugees we need to focus on quality #education for girls and women.”- Mari Malek

Mari Malek, Model/DJ/Advocate/Founder Stand4Education and former refugee

Mari Malek, Model/DJ/Advocate/Founder Stand4Education and former refugee

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 Save The Children usually conducts a State of the World’s Mother’s Report released around U.S. Mother’s Day, but the surprising statistics on maternal and child health in the USA in last year’s global report (The US ranked number 33 worldwide) inspired the compilation this year of The Shriver Report Snapshot: Insight Into The Resilient American Mother instead. The Save The Children special report was especially impactful to us as moms in the USA. The study polled 1000 mothers in the United States of various backgrounds. The findings were surprising.

  • Overall 85% of American mothers polled think that the US is becoming a worse place to raise a child.
  • Despite this alarming finding, almost all moms, also said they are optimistic about their future and their children’s future.
  • 6 in 10 said that the US business culture makes it “nearly impossible” to balance work and family.
  • The top stressors for American moms were bills and expenses.
  • American moms are conflicted whether technology and social media do more good than harm for their children.
  • When it comes to helping kids, American mothers overwhelmingly want the next president to focus on education.

World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden had the opportunity to interview Save The Children CEO Carolyn Miles about the report. (go to World Moms Blog to find the interview soon!)

World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden, interviews Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children at the Moms + SocialGood event in NYC on May 5th, 2016.

World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden, interviews Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children at the Moms + SocialGood event in NYC on May 5th, 2016.

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Gene Gurkoff and Elizabeth Atalay

Gene Gurkoff and Elizabeth Atalay

I first met Gene Gurkoff,, Founder and CEO of Charity Miles, three years ago at Moms + Social Good. Charity Miles is an app that lets you donate to the charity of your choice when you work out, and I’ve been logging in my Charity Miles ever since.  In the mean time it had been exciting to watch his company grow and do more and more good in the world each year.

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US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power led a panel where she spoke about working hard to take out Boko Haram, and the importance of education.  Just last month, Ambassador Powers was in Abuja, Nigeria visiting with the mothers of the Chibok Girls. There, she met fellow World Moms Blog contributor, Aisha Yesufu, at the sit in, and World Moms Blog Founder was excited to get the opportunity to tell her about the connection to Aisha, and our support for the moms in Chibok! 

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power with Jennifer Burden, Founder and CEO of World Moms Blog, at Moms + SocialGood in NYC May 5th, 2016.

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power with Jennifer Burden, Founder and CEO of World Moms Blog, at Moms + SocialGood in NYC May 5th, 2016.

 

Ambassador Power a few weeks earlier in Abuja Nigeria side by side with World Mom, Aisha Yesufu! 

2016 Aisha Yesufu and Ambassador Power 600

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As good friend and fellow Shot@Life Champion Leader Ilina Ewen said on her panel, From local to global challenges: Focus on the whole child, “The sisterhood of motherhood is universal”. This is what keeps me coming back to Moms + Social each year. I believe in the power of mothers when we come together for a better future for not jus our own children, but for all the children of the world.

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Photo credit of Aisha and Ambassador Power to Aisha Yesufu.

The Lady Project

The Lady Project

Takeaways from the #LadyProjectSummit :

FullSizeRender-11We jumped right in to the inspiration last weekend at the Lady Project Summit as it kicked off with tips on getting to the place where we feel “badass everyday” from Opening Keynote Speaker Ann Shoket.

“You know that feeling, wind in your hair, lights all turning green.”.-Ann Shoket

Shoket encouraged young women to see the world outside their window, and her advice to women was not to imagine that their life now is the way it is always going to be. “You have no idea all of the adventures in store for you”  Shoket, the former editor of Seventeen Magazine, divulged to the crowd of creative professionals.

The day was broken up into keynote speakers, panels and workshops with snack breaks and a delicious lunch from Ellie’s Bakery in downtown Providence in between. On the Media Panel that I attended Julie Zeilinger described why she founded the F-Bomb years ago at the tender age of 16.

“If you live in a place that is inhospitable to your beliefs, you can find a like-minded community on social media.”   – Julie Zeilinger

That quote resonated with me, as I stay connected with my own tribe of like minded women from around the globe that I have met through World Moms Blog and the UN foundation Shot@Life campaign via social media. My take away from the Social Media Panel was the importance for women to create their own opportunities in life.

Creativity is a currency right now – Carley Barton

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Afternoon Keynote Speaker Ruma Bose of the Chobani Foundation shared insights learned from her mentor Mother Theresa.

Greatness isn’t designed by what we do in this world but what we’ve done FOR this world.- Ruma Bose

To figure out what you are really meant to do with your life she suggested mapping out what you want to achieve and then looking for the ‘why’ in it, find the common themes that keep popping up.

I found it energizing to hear from so many young successful creative women about their path, and stumbling blocks along the way. Mentorship came up as a common theme and the need to reach out to those whom you admire, as well as help other women in their endeavors if they reach out to you.  Co-Founder and CEO of The Lady Project Sierra Barter was quoted in an article in Providence Monthly magazine as saying:

“Our vision was an ‘old boys club’ for fabulous women in The Creative Capital to network, connect with other like-minded ladies and to do so over a glass of champagne.”-Sierra Barter

Closing Keynote Speaker Elaine Pouliot, who spent her life shattering glass ceilings, ended our day by encouraging us to take risks and ask for what we want. For the second year in a row I came away from the Lady project Summit feeling empowered, full of possibilities, and part of a sisterhood of inspiring women.

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Join this extraordinary group of women.

Looking Back on 2015

Looking Back on 2015

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As the first week of 2016 comes to a close I wanted to take a quick look back to savor the fantastic year that was 2015 before moving on. Last year flew by, full of family, work, and travel, and as excited as I am for upcoming 2016 plans, I want to make sure to take the time to pause and savor the highlights, and small successes of the past year before forging ahead.

2015 was an exciting year of travel. Skiing in Aspen. The Nantucket Book Festival. Yoga in Bali.  It will be tough to top! On our family trip we explored a glacier lake in Iceland and climbed crumbling castles in Ireland.  2016 does have a few exciting destinations on the horizon so far, so we will see!

This past year work fulfilled me and helped me grow. I challenged myself by agreeing to do a “media day” of television and radio interviews at the National Press Club in Washington, DC for the United Nations Foundation. As a Shot@Life Champion advocating for global vaccines I was paired up with Dr. Mkope a Tanzanian Pediatrician to do 22 TV and radio interview with stations from across the USA to highlight World Pneumonia Day. In 2015 I continued to work with local non-profit Edesia, the world’s 2nd largest producer of Plumpy’Nut, an amazing product used to treat malnourished children around the globe, and save the lives of nearly a million kids a year. Some of my photography and writing was included in a book put together by ONE.org that went to the US Congressional representatives to support the Electrify Africa Act which was ultimately passed by congress. As a United Nations 2015 Social Good Fellow I attended the Social Good Summit in New York City for the launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals. As Managing Editor of World Moms Blog I attended the United Nations Correspondents Association Award Gala at Cipriani with Founder Jennifer Burden to accept Senior Editor Purnima Ramakrishnan’s UNCA Award for journalism covering a UN topic on her behalf.

As wonderful as the travel and work accomplishments were this year, the moments with family and close friends are my most cherished every year, and there is nothing like being home, especially after an adventure away. I am so grateful to my husband and the supportive women in my life who cheered me on, and provided the incredible opportunities of the past year, and  I’m excited to see what the New Year brings!

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