Why Do I Keep Hearing About “Resiliency?”

Philanthropy loves its buzzwords. High-impact. Data-driven. Donor-centric. I know I’ve heard plenty, and certainly repeated more than a few. So if you have your ear to the ground in trends in the giving and foundation space, you’ve likely come into contact with a newer one: resilience. Most visibly helmed by the Rockefeller Foundation (through its 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, of which Boston has been a participant for the last couple of years), the language of resilience and resiliency have inundated the philanthropic world. Where did it come from? And where is it going? Finally, if and how does it relate to our work with SheGives?

International Development

The term and concept of resilience first emerged in the global development sector. The UN defines resiliency as “the ability to withstand unexpected events and quickly recover,” often within the contexts of natural or economic disasters. More recently, global concerns have shifted to building resiliency to the increasingly accelerated effects of climate change, the impact of which is forcing many regions of world to create new contingencies.

Urban Resilience

In more recent years, cities and urban planning have on the concept of resilience from a reactive response to natural or economic disasters to include proactive and holistic community development. Washington Monthly writes: “Economic gains, social cohesion, safer communities – these are what we call the “resilience dividend” – the idea that an investment in resilience makes a city better in the short-term, as well as the long run.” Philanthropic entities have partnered with government agencies, community-based organizations, and in some cases, the private sector. Rebuild by Design, for example, was a partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Rockefeller Foundation in the form of a competition awarded ten grants for city planning and storm resilience projects in New York City. The awardees included teams of architects, engineers, scientists, and civic organizations – a uniquely collaborative call to action that elicited new innovations.

We have this model in our own backyard, too: thanks to funding from the Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, Dr. Atyia Martin was named in 2015 to be Boston’s Chief Resiliency Officer. Dr. Martin’s work aligns well with the more holistic (or “healthy community”) approach to urban resiliency, which demands sound policies across sectors: affordable housing, public safety, education, social services, transportation, and more. She works with multiple community-based organizations to create aligned strategies to make the city stronger, healthier, and more collaborative. (Check out the “Blueprint for Boston’s Resiliency Strategy” if you want to learn more!)


Image via 100 Resilient Cities: A PREVIEW OF THE PRINCIPLES & FRAMEWORK

Now the holistic, cross-sector concept of “resilience” has made its way into the education world, as schools, parents, and services are recognizing the importance of cultivating social and emotional skills in students – and investing in programming outside the schoolday to provide students and families with resources.

Worth the Buzz?

Whether the conversation is about response to a storm or the importance of nurturing empathy in students, the concept of resilience isn’t going anywhere. And sure, you can call it a buzzword. But to me, a broad concept like “resilience” making its way through different sectors offers an exciting opportunity for both funders and the organizations they support: to think more intentionally together about how to support students, families, and communities – grounded in the wisdom and specific context of those communities. It marks an abandonment of the notion that a single service or intervention will meet all of an individual or community’s needs. In this framework, funders can be more effective and trusted conveners, as well as thought leaders and issue area experts. Maybe we, as members of the SheGives community, can have a conversation about what we believe will make the Boston area more resilient, and continue the conversation with other funders and organizations about how we can work towards those ends together.








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SheGives Visits Music & Youth Clubhouse for First Event of Fourth Year


How is Music & Youth different from other non-profits?

That is what SheGives members and guests set out to learn during their visit to the Music & Youth clubhouse at the West End House in Allston, MA on Wednesday.

The West End House Boys and Girls Club hosts one of Music & Youth’s 16 clubhouses, fifteen of which are in Massachusetts. At each clubhouse, kids 10-18 take lessons in music theory and instruments, drawing on a variety of in-house resources such as recording studios, practice rooms, computers, iPad stations, and musical instruments. SheGives members toured the clubhouse and listened to some of the teens in the program perform an unplugged cover of Paramore’s “Decode.”

After the tour, CEO Gary Eichhorn spoke about his inspiration for starting Music & Youth, which he founded with his wife, Joan, 14 years ago. Joan and Gary wanted to make a difference for inner-city kids that did not have high-quality after-school programs. The kids who did not have access to these programs, Gary said, were often those who needed them most, including the most economically disadvantaged children in the Boston area.

Gary and Joan did not want to create their own organization, as they were afraid that it would take away funds from other non-profits, so they came up with a unique model for helping current organizations. They contacted organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and discovered that music programs for preteens and teens were in high demand, but were difficult to implement due to lack of funding.

Gary and Joan decided to help organizations solve the problem of how to create and implement a music program, with the focus on making them high-quality and self-sustaining: “We’re really building a community. We’re not just building a clubhouse and then walking away,” Gary said. Music & Youth provides startup money for the clubhouses and then continues to invest to ensure that they have up-to-date equipment – such as a new iPad station at the West End House.

The model has been highly successful. West End House CEO Kristin Rhuda credits the music clubhouse with the growth in teen participation in her non-profit’s programs, calling it a “magnet” for young adults. “We really did have an explosion [in teen participation],” she said.

Kristin is grateful to Music & Youth for creating what is now a vital part of the organization: “It’s kind of hard for me to remember way back [before Music & Youth] because now it’s such a part of who we are and what we do, and such a part of how kids grow socially and emotionally here,” she said.

You can learn more about Music & Youth and donate on their web site. Also, be sure to read our interview with CEO Gary Eichhorn here.

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Meet Gary Eichhorn, CEO of Music & Youth


1. What about your job gets you up in the morning?

In five words, “It’s all about the kids.” I love to get to know them and watch them perform. I love hearing stories from the Music Clubhouse Directors about how music has changed so many lives – building self-confidence and self-esteem. I feel very fortunate to be a partner to so many amazing youth development organizations who do the great work that they do every day!


2. How has your organization changed in the last few years? What are you most excited about on the horizon?
We have doubled down on our efforts to leverage our knowledge of how to establish and sustain a high quality after-school music program for teens. We have made considerable investments in training materials, method books, design guides – all of which can be used by all of our Music Clubhouses.

I am very excited about the future. For our established clubhouses, we are investing in technology – the iPad is now a recording studio and teaching assistant! We are committed to ensure that our program stays on the leading edge of new musical recording and instruction techniques. We continue to invest in our Clubhouse Directors who have paid it forward with great new ideas and programming that we share with all of our Clubhouses. All in all, we have a very active and creative music community where everyone learns from each other and shares energy and excitement for our work of bringing music opportunities to underserved youth.


3. What is the most challenging element of your work?

Our organization is different and sometimes being different is hard! Our model is to exclusively work with Youth Development Partners like Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA’s and “teach them to fish” – in other words, to empower them to change the lives through music. Working with partners is harder than doing things yourself – but the payoff is huge in terms of leverage and sustainability.

4. What story of impact really stays with you?

There are so many stories – in fact our website has a fairly extensive collection which I would encourage people to visit. For example, one that stays with me is a story about a young lady who became active at the Music Clubhouse. When she first started coming, she was shy and reserved. A few years later, you would not recognize her as she performed original songs to a packed house at her Club. What she overcame was not only being from a poor family, but one where both her mother and father were in jail. The Music Clubhouse became her vehicle for coping with a very difficult life.


5. What is your personal relationship to music?

I took guitar lessons for a couple of years when I was in junior high. I hated it! In fact, the music books I used are still being used today, but not by us, as we feel there are more engaging approaches for the population we are serving. Scales, theory, “two string polka” did not do it for me – so I quit. When I was 40, my mid-life crisis was not to buy a sports car but to go back to the guitar. I was very fortunate to start taking lessons from Jay Ford who now runs the Music Maker School in Acton, MA. His approach was to find out what kind of music I liked and to teach me to play a song – then fill in the theory later. I was hooked and over 20 years later, I still play just about every day. This approach, now with the fancy academic name “informal learning,” is the way we teach at the Music Clubhouses today.

Music is my constant companion, my way of dealing with stress, my way of relaxing. I can’t imagine my life without music!

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We’re Ready To Reach One Million! Recapping Our Fourth Year Launch

Having already donated over $700,000 to nonprofits on our slate, SheGives is poised to reach the $1 million mark this year–and we need your support to get there!

Over 40 SheGives members and supporters attended our Fourth Year Launch on October 20, where SheGives founder and president Kirstan Barnett announced the three new nonprofits on the 2016-2017 SheGives slate:

Music and Youth, a music education and mentoring initiative

Second Step, a non-profit that aids survivors of domestic violence

Silver Lining Mentoring, a non-profit that mentors foster youth in Greater Boston

These three nonprofits join GLAD, Innercity Weightlifting, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters to make up the six non-profits on the SheGives slate this year.

In the three years since she founded SheGives with her “wonderful, dynamic, energetic friends,” Kirstan has helped oversee the distribution of grants to the high-impact nonprofits that have been part of our slate.  Kirstan especially  thanked SheGives’ diligence committee, Farah Darliette and Nicole Underwood, for making the foundation’s mission a success: “We have the most incredible diligence program. Our entire focus is making sure that if you give, you are giving effectively.”

Three nonprofits that SheGives has supported for the past two years—Lovin’ Spoonfuls, My Life My Choice, and Science Club for Girls–will now be veterans of our slate. However, just because these nonprofits are no longer officially on our slate does mean the end of SheGives support! Each of the nonprofits that have appeared on our slate are forever part of the SheGives community, and we encourage you to keep up with news of the great work these organizations continue to do.

Click through the slideshow for photos from our Fourth Year Launch!


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WhoIsShe? SheGives Blogger Jess Weaver


Grew up in Central Square in Cambridge and recently moved back to the area after stints in Maine (where she attended Bowdoin College), Istanbul, and Seattle.

Currently works as the Communications and Marketing Manager at Essential Partners (formerly known as Public Conversations Project)

Interested in exploring trends in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, especially in our innovative city of Boston

Also known for skills in parallel parking, movie trivia, and swing dancing

What made you want to work with SheGives?

For one thing, I care deeply about being engaged in and supporting my community: philanthropically, politically, and socially. I grew up with a mom who – having never completed a traditional degree – noticed a problem in her community and did something about it. A slew of sexual assaults on young women prompted her to start Girls LEAP around our kitchen room table. I saw the hard work and deep relationship-building that went into growing the organization  into the institution it is today, and saw from the inside how the support of giving communities like SheGives made all the difference to my mom, especially in those early days. That experience shaped a belief I still hold dear: when women come together to make change, watch out. SheGives is a community I would love to be a part of one day because I believe we can make a greater difference together. I want my contributions – be they financial or beyond – to be part of an overarching vision for the future of Boston and the next generation of women who can shape it.


What causes are near and dear to your heart?

My mom had me stuffing envelopes for Girls LEAP pretty much since she figured out all it took was food to lure me into volunteering. Since then, I’ve worked for organizations supporting women and girls in so many different capacities because I believe that our families, communities, and civil society is stronger when women are able to contribute. I have served as a legal advocate, a mentor, a volunteer, and a donor – from helping women remain in their homes (and not evicted due to the behavior of a domestic abuser) to taking groups of young girls in Seattle rockclimbing! Specifically, right now I’m really interested in how the digital divide will impact social services and people struggling to get out of poverty. Everyone has a phone, but having no access to or literacy with a computer is hugely problematic for people who are trying to secure childcare, apply for a job, or even access certain services. How will we create new infrastructure to meet that need?


What book (or movie, or song, or any piece of art) had a tremendous impact on you?

Such a tough question! As a former English major, so I’m a sucker for a good book (and a well-timed English major joke), and am a movie nerd. What comes to mind most immediately, though, is a book by a local author named Caroline Knapp. Caroline wrote for The Boston Phoenix and struggled with both addiction and an eating disorder. Both serve as a frame for her incredibly astute work “Appetites,” which is a memoir about so much more than alcoholism or anorexia. It’s about what women are told we should desire and what we shouldn’t, how we deal with conflicting desires in a world that encourages us to judge one another for the choices we make. It’s absolutely beautiful, and filled with quotes from folks across generations about the challenging relationship women have with hunger in its many forms. I think for me it articulated how tricky the terrain still is for women in the workplace, in families, in relationships, and how our society is so rigid in opening up new possibilities.


Who would be invited to your ideal dinner party?

Gosh, I want to impress you guys so much, there is no way this can end well for me. Actually, after learning about it in college, I finally got to see the Judy Chicago “Dinner Party” at the Brooklyn Art Museum recently, and I have to say a lot of those incredible women would make my list! Working in the field of dialogue and conflict transformation, I would love to see the Tunisian Dialogue Quartet in action and learn from their efforts to create a pluralistic democracy. But I have to say, I like a dinner party with a good laugh…so I would have to throw in Gilda Radner to mix it up.


What excites you most right now?

I have recently started a grad program in Civic Media at Emerson College, which looks at how new media and technologies can help to build stronger civil societies and democracies in particular. I am excited to meet potential community partners to work with this coming year!


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Where Is She Now? Following Up With Former SheGives Fellow Amy Barrett


SheGives 2014-2015 Media Maven

Born and raised in Southern Massachusetts, and a loyal New England sports fan

Favorite Places: Boston and Washington DC (history buff!)


Q: Where are you working now? 

A: I’m working at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine. I started in December after finishing my Master’s degree in Communication Research at BU.

Q: What sort of projects and responsibilities do you have?

A: I work with pre-doctoral dental students to better understand what they want and need out of their education. To do this, I develop surveys and analyze the data to better understand the effectiveness of the courses and school programs.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the work you’re currently doing?

A: I really love getting to work with the students and being a liaison between them and the administration. I’m constantly learning from them and learning about the business behind running a school. I also have wonderful coworkers who continue to help me to grow professionally and personally.

Q: Have you utilized any of the skills or connections you made while working with SheGives?

A: SheGives gave me a wonderful opportunity to improve my communication and networking skills. This definitely helped me to be more confident when working with professors and students who’s backgrounds are so different from my own. Also, Carrie was so helpful and supportive when I was graduating and looking for a job. I am eternally grateful to her for all of her help!

Q: What was your favorite thing about your time as a SheGives fellow?

A: Every day feeling inspired by the amazing women of SheGives and the passionate people at Science Club For Girls, Engineering is Elementary, Raw ArtWorks, and MyLife My Choice.

Q: What causes are near and dear to your heart?

A: I was so excited when SheGives added GLAD to the slate as LGBTQ rights need to be addressed by our society. Also near and dear to me on a personal level is Alzheimer’s research and helping those who care for people with serious, debilitating illnesses.

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ShePartakes: Sugar + Spice = Smashing Success!

Celebrating James Beard Award Winning Chef Ana Sortun + Her All Star Team of Leading Ladies!

We shared lots of stories over a beautiful family style lunch of wonderful mezze style plates inspired by Chef Ana’s travels to Turkey, Greece + Croatia presented by Oleana Chef de Cusine Cara Chigazola-Tobin while we sipped on stunning selections from Sharon Kazan Harris of RARECAT Wines based in Napa.  Pastry Chef and Co-Owner of Sofra provided the sweet treats – and was oh so humble about her huge James Beard Nomination this year.

We were also entralled with Susan Turner, CSA Manager of Siena Farms, work with Chop Chop  – a locally published cooking magazine – for kids!  Siena Farms provides their “Kids Share” for the newly launched Kids Cooking Club in a partnership to educate children about the wonder of vegetables and where their food comes from!

And to tie the bow on the lunch – guests went home with a custom spice trio curated by Claire Cheney of Curio Spice Co.  Claire is a former star of Siena Farms and Sofra and her spice blends are not only remarkable – they can be found at both Sofra and the Farm Store in the South End at 100 Waltham Street.

Check out even more photos from the lunch by scrolling through the gallery below.  

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Where Is She Now? Following up with Former SheGives Fellow Kalina Deng


Former Research and Management Fellow for SheGives

Served as SheGives's Vice Chair of LGBTQ Equality Track

Currently a paralegal at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Where are you working now, and how long have you been there?

A: I work at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. at its headquarters in Boston’s Financial District. I’m a paralegal in the Immigration Section and have been working at Mintz for a year now. I primarily work for our section’s largest client.

What sort of projects/responsibilities do you have?

A: I work on a variety of employment-based visas, including “non-immigrant” visas such as H-1B Specialty Occupation, L-1 Intra-company Transfers, E-2 Treaty Investors, and TN visas based on the NAFTA as well as “immigrant” visas such as Outstanding Researchers, Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, and Multinational Managers/Executives. I work with the client on a global scale, especially when we’re working to transfer one of its employees from an affiliate abroad into the US.

What is your favorite thing about your position?

A: I really enjoy working in immigration law because I get to learn about so many aspects of the legal system from local courts to federal courts and across different federal branches, such as the EOIR (federal immigration court), Dept. of Homeland Security, and Dept of State. I previously worked on the humanitarian aid side of immigration – in cases of asylum, Violence Against Women Act, ICE detention, and Special Immigrant Juveniles – and was able to attend EOIR hearings and asylum interviews. Now, in business immigration, I’m learning so much more about corporate law, mergers & acquisitions, and venture capital by virtue of working with our different clients that range from large multi-national corporations to start-ups. It’s really been amazing to have had quite a spectrum of experiences from working in this field.
But I think ultimately, my favorite thing from working on all different aspects of immigration law is that I’m able to give back in a very tangible, real way. I came to the US when I was 7 and have certainly benefited from the immigration system. I’ve been very blessed in my life, and I’m very fortunate that I’m able to do work in my day-to-day to pay it forward.

Have you utilized any of the skills or connections you made while working with SheGives?

A: Depending on the type of case I’m working on, I may be digging through a lot of financial documents about the client. This usually happens when I’m working on a E-2 Treaty Investor or a L-1A New Office petition. Even though the training that I had at SheGives was tailored to the non-profit sector and the kind financial statements NGOs would produce, I’ve found that having that financial vocabulary was really helpful for me to quickly ramp up and digest the information I was handling for my clients.

What was your favorite thing about your time as a SheGives fellow?

A: I do believe that as women, it really behooves us to be financially literate, both personally and professionally, so that we can confidently stand on our own two feet. So it’s great that I was able to take that away from my SheGives experience.

Do you maintain contact with anyone from SheGives, or from any SheGives non-profits?

A: I still keep in touch with some of my co-Fellows from my year. One of my good friends also has been working at Build, so I’ve attended a few of Build’s events since being in the SheGives Fellowship.

What causes do you care most about?

A: So many! Certainly from a professional and personal standpoint, I’m very attuned to and concerned about the state of the refugee crisis globally and the state of immigration policies domestically. Aside from that, I’m very passionate about arts engagement and art as a medium for raising social justice awareness. I’m also currently active with three awesome organizations in Boston!
I’m a Human Rights Committee Member for Bay Cove Human Services. Bay Cove is the largest Boston area provider of human services for persons with mental health and developmental disabilities. The Human Rights Committee evaluates the human rights program within the agency and monitor compliance with state regulation mainly through attendance at committee meetings and visiting residential and day programs in the metro and greater Boston area. I’m also on a sub-committee working on updating the human rights trainings for the officers of the organization.
I’m also a Live Blue Service Leader at the New England Aquarium. In this capacity, I organize and lead episodic events in the greater Boston area. This could range from protecting turtle nests out on the shores, removing invasive species from the Mystic River, or hosting educational events at the Aquarium itself.
Finally, close and dear to my heart, I’m an alumna mentor for the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI). AAWPI is the only organization in the US that proactively works to close not only the gender gap but also the racial gap in representation in the political system. It does so by providing training and support for Asian American Pacific Islander college and graduate students to engage in meaningful fellowships at the Massachusetts State House. As an alumna mentor, I get to work one-on-one with a current Fellow and provide the support she needs to navigate her professional path.

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GLAD Executive Director Janson Wu Addresses SheGives Members


SheGives members and supporters gathered on Tuesday for  discussion with Jason Wu, Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). After some brief refreshments, members heard heartbreaking stories of members of the LGBTQ community facing prejudice, and learned how GLAD is working hard to ensure that people of all orientations feel safe and are celebrated, rather than denigrated, for their differences.

Wu began with the story of Leila, a transgender teenager who committed suicide after being rejected by her family. Before her death, Leila wrote on her Tumblr page that she had no hope for the future. Leila is one example, Wu says, of the 50% of young people face repudiation  from their families when they come out as LGBTQ. For this reason, a disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth are homeless or in the criminal justice system. They are also twice as likely to attempt suicide as their non-LGBTQ peers.

Wu then spoke about Nicole Maines, an 18-year-old transgender girl from Maine who had two advantages over Leila: a supportive family and GLAD’s legal advocates. Nicole’s parents, Wayne and Kelly Maines, knew early on that one of their identical twin sons was actually their daughter. Kelly decided to learn as much as she could about transgenderism, while Wayne learned to put aside his own reservations to accept his daughter.

By the fifth grade, Nicole was wearing girls’ clothing to school, and her parents had her name legally changed from Wyatt. Nicole had permission from the school to use the girls’ bathroom, and her peers, for the most part, accepted her as a girl. When the grandfather of one of Nicole’s fellow students found out that Nicole was using the girls’ bathroom, however, he encouraged his grandson to bully Nicole at school. Instead of punishing the bully, Wu says, the school punished Nicole, by singling her out. They made her use the nurse’s bathroom and assigned an adult to follow her throughout the school to ensure her safety.

The Maines family decided to sue the school, and enlisted the help of Jennifer Levi, who leads the Transgender Rights Project for GLAD. At that time, Wu says, no transgender person had ever won a court case for access to facilities. Another hurdle came when a Maine legislature passed a bill that would require everyone to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate–a law that is very similar to the one recently passed in North Carolina.

However, because of GLAD’s efforts, and because of Nicole and her family’s willingness to tell their story, the bill was defeated with bipartisan support, and the family won their lawsuit against the school district. Wu applauded the Maines’ courage in telling their story, and that they were able to convince the legislature of “how baseless the fears were about trans people living their lives and using the facilities.” The family’s testimony was important because “we can’t win in the court of law unless we win in the court of public opinion.” Nicole and her family still advocate for transgender rights, and Nicole was recently named one of Glamour’s “50 Phenomenal Women of the Year who are Making a Difference.”

This victory, like many GLAD has had in New England, has set a precedent for legislation in the rest of the country: “The playbook we created in Maine is now being used across the country to fight anti-trans legislation,” says Wu; and for all of GLAD’s cases, “the progress and precedents that we set here in New England lays foundation for progress across the country.” This is clear from GLAD’s ability to take their victory for gay marriage in Massachusetts to lay down a path for the rest of the country with the Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling for marriage equality in all fifty states.

The long-term goal for GLAD is not just to ensure rights, however; Wu discussed how GLAD’s overall mission is to change society by educating people and changing mindsets. “We don’t just change laws, we also open hearts and minds,” Wu said. In Nicole’s case, they did this by showing pictures of her in court to give a face to the issue. They will not be satisfied, Wu says, just with laws. Instead, they need to focus on making society better: “We can change and transform the way people understand and treat differences in gender and sexuality.”

GLAD will continue their work in 2016 by petitioning the Massachusetts state legislature to pass a bill to help HIV patients get coverage for lipodystrophy, a side effect of some HIV medications. They will also work toward creating policy to protect LGBTQ youth in foster care and the criminal justice system, and they are currently in the news for fighting to protect the rights of gay parents. Wu explained that GLAD hopes to expand the GLAD Answers service, a free legal information and resource service for LGBTQ and HIV communities. Overall, he is confident that “Through the power of litigation…we can educate society about accepting all differences.”

You can learn more about Nicole Maines’ story in the book Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (Random House), by Amy Ellis Nutt. Nicole and her twin brother Jonas will also be speaking at the Museum of Science in Boston on Wednesday, May 11.

Be sure to also follow GLAD on Twitter and Facebook for updates on their work.

Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below.  

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SPOTLIGHT: Sharon Kazan Harris of RARECAT Wines


Founder of an exclusive trade group called Wine Entre Femmes: comprised of women in wine in Napa + Bordeaux

Co-founder of: A Woman's Palate, a company that celebrates wines by women for women.

Mom of two sons and three fur babies

Lives in Napa Valley - but can also frequently find her at her 2nd home in Bordeaux

I fell in love with wine in Bordeaux when I was 20 years old, a time when I was obsessed with speaking French and living abroad. There to study French, Bordeaux brought me some of the most important things in life: an appreciation of fine food and wine, and a joie de vivre one gets from sharing those things with the people we love and cherish.

Most people have long lists of accolades that define their life’s successes. For me, it is quite the opposite — my successes have been a result of fortuitous introductions, dreaming big ( with the ability to make ideas happen), and a willingness to try new things. My love of food and wine directly stems from naive gumption, charm, and a desire to learn, all of which led me to my first wine experience at Haut Brion; then to living with France’s most famed cheese making family; and finally to a cooking internship under the wings of Amat, a famous 2 star chef in Bordeaux and my first fine culinary experience.

I have had the desire to be in the wine industry for decades, but getting to Napa Valley has been like taking windy back roads more than efficient toll roads. I spent many years working in executive positions in publishing (Managing Director of Miller Freedman’s International Division), advertising (President of an ad agency, Transphere), and technology (VP of Sales of Inktomi, an internet search engine start-up and consultant to Visa and Estamp). Luckily very successful in business, I was able to trade computers for vineyards.

Undoubtedly the hardest thing I have accomplished is graduating with honors from the Universite de Bordeaux’s famed D.U.A.D. program, a technical oenology diploma taught in French.

I now live in Napa Valley full time, yet frequent a second home in Bordeaux. I have two great sons who are my greatest love, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. While promoting RARECAT, my greatest passion has been empowering women through wine and supporting women in the wine industry. Several years ago I formed an exclusive trade group called Wine Entre Femmes, comprised of some of the most remarkable women in wine in Napa and Bordeaux, and co-founded A Woman’s Palate, a company that celebrates wines by women for women.

I am lucky; I am living my passion. Wine puts me in contact with amazing people and brings me endless laughter.

Sharon will be our special guest and pouring her RARECAT wine at our ShePartakes event: Sugar + Spice at Oleana, Wednesday April 27th from 12:30 – 2:30 PM. Tickets are still available, RSVP Here

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