Community

Jae Russell, Founder of PATYL & Grateful Human

As an occupational therapist for nearly 10 years, Jae has worked in skilled nursing and mental health facilities and currently provides home care to Veterans who have served as far back as WW II. One year ago, Jae self-funded and launched PATYL (Pay Attention To Your Life) with two simple goals in mind: 1. To share positive messages and impact lives 2. To create a platform to make a difference. She is selflessly doing just that. 

What led you to this path? Do you believe you were born to help others? 

Yes, I believe that I was born to help others.  I’ve always had a strong belief in altruism.  As far as my career is concerned, it’s never really made sense to me to spend my time doing anything other than something that will improve the life of someone else, and I’ve truly enjoyed the work I’ve been fortunate enough to do for the past decade.

I came to OT after I was given a unique opportunity to teach special education for severe and profoundly disabled high school students in a small border town in Arizona.  I worked with students and their families to help students improve their basic daily living and communication skills and loved the work. But as a teacher, I was not able to spend as much one-on-one time with students as I would have liked and started considering an alternate career that would keep me on a similar path. That’s when I started investigating OT, went to graduate school, and the rest is history.

In graduate school, I became keenly interested in the mental health aspect of the profession and completed two internships at the Arizona State Psychiatric Hospital. In addition to developing a passion about mental health and well-being, I also developed an interest in public service and wanted to continue my work as a therapist in this way. Working as an OT with the Department of Veterans Affairs allows me to give back to those who served, and I am honored to do this work every single day.

One year ago you launched PATYL (Pay Attention To Your Life), a "platform for making a difference." How did you come up with the name PAYTL, and do you remember your Aha moment when your idea formed? 

I was driving home from my job at a state psychiatric facility with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and listening to the “You Are A Badass” audiobook by Jen Sincero during my commute.  At one point in the book, the author asks the reader/listener what their personal motto would be, and in an instant, “Pay Attention to Your Life (PATYL)” came to me.  These five words really represented what I was hoping to instill in the patients I was working with at the time. I hoped (and still do hope) for people to learn how to appreciate the awesomeness of what it means to be alive and to start to pay attention to how they live.  

Paying attention to your life means developing good self-care habits that make you happy, it means taking care of others and giving back, and it means overcoming personal challenges and learning how to thrive.

It was then that I knew I wanted to take this motto and share it in a way that would make an impact in other people’s live.  I came up with the idea of putting other people’s personal mottos on shirts as a way to both give back to that person and as a way to put inspiration out in the world, so that when you see someone wearing a PATYL tee, you too become inspired to pay attention to your own life.

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You select a different VIP (Very Impactful Person) to share their inspiring story and to represent PATYL T-Shirt Collections. Can you share with us how this works and a favorite VIP collection and story you featured? 

The three main criteria for being a VIP are that you take care of yourself, you face challenges in a positive way, and that you give back to others.  I’ve connected with people from all over the world and have asked them to share their stories with me.  When I find one that resonates with me and that I think will resonate with others, I invite them to be featured as a VIP. It’s been an honor, and I am truly humbled that in the year since we’ve launched that over a dozen strangers (now friends) have said yes to being a part of this journey with me.

Our VIP collections rotate seasonally which means that every VIP collection is only available for a limited time.  

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Every PATYL VIP tee is a direct representation of that VIP.  I collaborate with the VIP on their motto and their design.  VIPs always have a say in the final design. 50% of the proceeds from the sale of every single VIP shirt go directly to that VIP to help them continue doing good things. PATYL does not in any way dictate what VIPs do with their half of the proceeds. Since PATYL VIP collections are so collaborative, I can’t imagine sharing the proceeds any other way. There are a lot of social impact companies out there who donate profits for great causes, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many that give away half!  Plus, the majority of VIPs being the awesome people they are, have chosen to donate their proceeds to the do-good-change-the-world causes that matter most to them. 


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Jeremy...

is a father, a husband, a youth basketball coach, and a motivational speaker whose struggle with depression led him to seek a new direction for his life and to inspire others to do the same.

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Leigh...

is a mom, an advocate, and community leader who found out just how brave and courageous she could be after losing her husband to suicide.  She now works to help parents and children find their own voices and to use them to influence change.

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Jason...

is a former Marine who overcame tragedy at an early age and grew to be a leader. He now gives back as a nutritionist and personal trainer working to help his clients embrace wellness and build resiliency.


I’ve loved all of the VIP stories that PATYL has featured, but the first will always be the most meaningful to me.  When PATYL launched in March of 2017, we did so with a young man named Kevin Martin whose message was “You Are Loved.”  I mean, what an incredible message to start with!

Kevin’s story of his own personal struggle with anxiety, depression, and self-hatred (due to being a gay man in a very conservative community) is powerful. He tried committing suicide in his early 20s and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. But he came out on the other side of all of this having learned to embrace positivity, kindness, and community. By day, Kevin is a social worker committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth. In his “spare time,” Kevin runs a non-profit organization called To Love and Inspire.  TLAI partners with a variety of causes seeking to resolve social issues and inequalities through empowerment and collaboration. They are committed to helping people. A mental health professional is available via chat on their website 24 hours a day for anyone that needs someone to talk to. They hit the streets and share tangible messages of love, inspiration, and kindness with others. PATYL has an ongoing relationship with Kevin and TLAI for which I am incredibly grateful, and we continue to feature his “You Are Loved” shirts to benefit TLAI. 


A Message From Kevin

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Jae is the epitome of an inspiring human being. In all of her work, particularly her role as the founder of PATYL, an organization designed to support good people and good causes, Jae always goes above and beyond to help those who help others, bringing awareness to global issues and the people who are making positive impacts in the world. Jae encourages us all to pay attention to our lives, and in doing so, she has launched an incredible world-changing movement. The one word I would use to best describe Jae is “woke.”
— Kevin Martin (Founder of To Love and Inspire)

Tell us about bootstrapping a startup. What has been one challenge and lesson you've learned? 

I work full-time as an OT for the VA and then pick up extra shifts at another local hospital on the weekends to fund PATYL.  People talk about the grind as it relates to being an entrepreneur, and they aren’t exaggerating.  It’s time consuming, and it really can be draining.  The biggest challenge for me has been to maintain my level of attentiveness to my own life while not letting my commitment to PATYL fall too far to the wayside.  When it comes to PATYL, it’s really important to me to practice what I preach. I rely heavily on my mindfulness practices to keep me grounded and to help me achieve perspective. I have to make an effort to balance my time and my attentiveness to all of the things I love about life and doing this with some semblance of grace has been challenging for sure, but it’s a challenge I’ll happily accept.

What is one invaluable resource that has helped in the growth and development of PATYL?

Friends and family.  Hands down. When you’re bootstrapping a business with zero funding from banks or investors, and it’s just you and your idea, you have to rely on the people around you.  PATYL doesn’t exist without the support of those close to me who keep reminding me that what I’m doing matters and that it’s making an impact on other people’s lives. 

There have been a few instances when I’ve thought that this might be more work than it’s worth, but then people will tell me they were wearing a PATYL shirt while out and about and someone told THEM one of our messages like “You Are Loved” or “Keep Your Thoughts Positive” or  “Remember Your Brilliance” was exactly what they needed to see in that moment. For me, that’s really what it’s all about.  More than selling t-shirts, PATYL is about putting good into the world and making a difference in the way that people approach their lives.

 "The world becomes a better place when we choose to do things for the good of the people around us.  @patyl  we sell t-shirts that always benefit the greater good."

"The world becomes a better place when we choose to do things for the good of the people around us. @patyl we sell t-shirts that always benefit the greater good."

How important is goal setting in your everyday life and work? 

I would say that goal setting is very important. In both life and work, I like to see what I’m capable of, and I can’t do that if I don’t keep setting and re-setting goals.  Goal setting keeps me focused and keeps me motivated.  

November is National Gratitude month, and Mindbosa is partnering with PATYL for a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge. Please enter your email, and you'll be notified of updates as the date approaches. 

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing most? 

Sleeping, ha ha ha ha ha!  But in my waking hours, I love spending time with my wife and our three rescue pups, Rebel (after the David Bowie song), Bodhi, and Gibson.   I absolutely love riding my bicycle.  I’d ride it around the world if I could (maybe someday). I also love hiking, traveling, cooking, yoga, learning, and spending time with the people I love. 

 "A 2017 study found that biking to work burns as much fat as spending 40 minutes at the gym five days a week. · A 2011 study of Barcelona's bike sharing program (Bicing) found that the health benefits of using the system outweigh the risks by a ratio of 77 to one. The study also estimated that Bicing reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9,000 metric tons every year. · Cyclists on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15% fewer days off work through illness." Via  Patyl's Instagram

"A 2017 study found that biking to work burns as much fat as spending 40 minutes at the gym five days a week. · A 2011 study of Barcelona's bike sharing program (Bicing) found that the health benefits of using the system outweigh the risks by a ratio of 77 to one. The study also estimated that Bicing reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9,000 metric tons every year. · Cyclists on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15% fewer days off work through illness." Via Patyl's Instagram

What is one thing not many people know about you? 

This isn’t something I share with very many people because it’s not something people like to talk about, but a big part of my mindfulness practice is a daily contemplation on my own mortality. Reflecting regularly on the impermanence of my own life keeps me grounded and keeps me grateful.  It really helps me have perspective on the day-to-day problems that I face, and it allows me to get less worked up about things beyond my control. 

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment? 

Eight years ago I quit smoking cigarettes, and it’s hands down the thing I am most proud of.  Beating that addiction was the catalyst for the path I’m on now.  It spurred my commitment to my health and my own well-being, and it completely changed the way that I approach my life.

Professionally, I spent five years working in a state psychiatric facility. I was very proud to have developed and implemented yoga and mindfulness-based interventions for the patients at that facility. 

I truly believe that if everyone learned to bring a little more mindfulness into their day, the world (especially here in the US) would be all the better for it. 

Many of the patients in that hospital didn’t have many resources either personally or financially on which to depend, but if they could learn to depend on their breath and their own mind-body connection, they could learn to recover and thrive. I was really proud to be able to share that skill with others. 

What message can I repeatedly share with the world on your behalf? 

Pay Attention to Your Life.

Pay attention and stop making excuses and start making plans. Let go of doubt and go for it. Start believing in yourself. 

Pay Attention and stop attaching to things you can’t control. You can’t control any of it. 

Pay attention and stop being so serious. Let yourself have fun and remember to do it often. Laugh and be silly. 

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Pay attention and stop being stagnant. Make those travel plans. Save up and get on that plane. Go somewhere new. Explore. 

Pay attention and stop putting other things first. Take care of yourself. Breathe. Rest. Meditate. Practice gratitude each and every day. Slow down and notice all the good that’s around you.

Pay attention and remember that we are all in this together. Recognize that what we do and how we treat each other matters, and make choices that make others feel appreciated and loved. Know that you are capable of making a difference; do it and be proud. 

Pay attention to your life and make an impact.

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote? 

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ― Jane Goodall

In one word, describe yourself:  

Compassionate

 “I am so grateful that surrender had taught me to willingly participate in life’s dance with a quiet mind and open heart” -Michael Singer, author of The Surrender Experiment (PATYL VIP  @gigimarieb  ‘s favorite book!)"

“I am so grateful that surrender had taught me to willingly participate in life’s dance with a quiet mind and open heart” -Michael Singer, author of The Surrender Experiment (PATYL VIP @gigimarieb ‘s favorite book!)"


YES

Did you enjoy this blog feature? 

Please help us spread Patyl’s message by sharing Jae’s story. We can use technology and social media for greater good and make a positive impact in the world we coexist. 

Thank you for reading.


To Connect with Jae Russell (PATYL Founder / Grateful Human) 

 

Cat Runs NYC, Founder of We Run NYC Running Club

I am fortunate to have found The United NYC Half Marathon Facebook group and to connect with Cesar Trelles, its founder. On Sunday, Cesar and I will run the 13.1 miles through 5 boroughs of iconic NYC. From the ground up, Cesar has brought 1000's of runners together over the bond of running. For one I am grateful for his dedication to the sport of running and excited to meet in person. Here's a glimpse of Cesar's life and passion for running.

What inspired you to create Cat Runs NYC, a running club and furthermore, social media groups to connect runners? 

I started CAT Runs NYC last November after finally qualifying for the 2018 NYC Marathon. I qualified by completing The New York Road Runners 9+1 Program which means I ran 9 of their races and volunteered for 1. Since I had never run a marathon before, I thought the road to preparing for a marathon is likely an interesting one. I figured why not document it and at the same time, inspire people to pick up running on their own. The Facebook groups I have created are simply an attempt to reach out and connect with other runners. I think the running community, in general, is a very motivational and strong-willed community, hence why I wanted to bring like-minded people together!

 
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We Run NYC Running Club is a running club whose simple purpose is to unite runners from all around the world with one common bond - we all love to run in NYC!" More Here

Would you say running improves your relationship with family, community, and coworkers? 

I think it definitely does improve family and community relationships. Running takes dedication and motivation. If you can be motivated and dedicated to running, people will notice and appreciate your hard work ethic.

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What is one thing you think all runners have in common? 

Runners tend to be highly motivated people. Talk to any runner about the first half-mile, and they will tell you they want to stop. But they don’t. Runners know there are miles ahead, so they keep going and going and going till they reach their destination. Not only that, but runners strive to improve their pace and results. Runners sense of community is amazing. They are always looking to help further a runner with knowledge, tips or even physical help when a runner is down during a race. It’s a sense of community you don’t find in any other sport.  

How important is it for you and generally speaking for people to set personal goals? 

I think setting goals is extremely important no matter what your status is in life. It keeps you motivated and from becoming complacent with yourself.  

CESAR RUNS UNITED AIRLINES NYC HALFMARATHON

Proceeds benefit  Depression2Extinction

 "On March 2018 as I run the NYC Half Marathon, I want to run on behalf of “  Depression 2 Extinction  ” to help raise awareness to this illness. Today many still suffer from it and the battle is always ongoing. Any donation you can give towards this cause is greatly appreciated!" Donations can be made   HERE  . 

"On March 2018 as I run the NYC Half Marathon, I want to run on behalf of “Depression 2 Extinction” to help raise awareness to this illness. Today many still suffer from it and the battle is always ongoing. Any donation you can give towards this cause is greatly appreciated!" Donations can be made HERE

What motivates you the most? 

Race Days. I am easily motivated to do training runs especially after thinking about where I was 3 years ago with my weight. Race day is something unique. The vibe and energy of the crowds can do amazing things for a runner. My adrenaline goes through the roof, all of the training I have done leading up to a race pours out of me on race day.

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What is your favorite running app?

It used to be Under Armour’s, Map My Fitness but now it is Strava. The amount of information Strava provides is amazing. Plus, the community aspect of it lets you interact with your runner friends also on Strava. I think it’s pretty cool! LOL!

Can you share the most helpful piece of advice you've ever received? 

Fear is your worst enemy. Conquer fear and you will conquer life. To this day I haven't conquered all my fears but each fear I face, I know I am becoming a better person! 

 "I am a busy person just like most of you are! But I refuse to let that stop me. Get out and make time for yourself. Exercise, run and make that the best part of your day!" -CatRunsNYC

"I am a busy person just like most of you are! But I refuse to let that stop me. Get out and make time for yourself. Exercise, run and make that the best part of your day!" -CatRunsNYC

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment? 

Definitely, my proudest personal accomplishment is buying my own home. Growing up my mom couldn’t afford her own house. Professionally, while I have managed to land a successful job for many years, I still think my proudest professional moment is still to come. While I have done well for myself professionally, I can’t say I am passionate about those accomplishments. The best is yet to come from me!  

You are established and have a successful career in finance. What's next for you?

Successful doesn’t necessarily mean gratifying. While my career has allowed me to live comfortably and reach goals I have aspired for, there is a personal satisfaction I still need to be fulfilled. I want to help others in general. I want to share the knowledge I’ve amassed over the years. Running and motivational know-how is what comes to mind when asked what I want to share. I also want to help young folks who may be misguided or not have the solid family structure to guide them. I can’t pinpoint how I will do this. Therein lies a challenge for me and right now, that challenge has been accepted!!

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote? 

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
— - Fred Lebow

I love this quote because it applies to runners in general and obviously you know I love running. It also speaks to the notion of seeing things through to the end. It bothers me when people start something and never finish it. They never see their potential. And if you finish it and it wasn’t the outcome you liked, well at least you know that now and it’s onto the next thing. 

In one word describe yourself: 

Man, one word! I can think of phrases, like always thinking of the next move. But one word? Energetic 

Scroll Down To Connect with Cesar and Facebook Groups! 

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Did you enjoy this blog? 

Are you interested in signing up for Mindbsoa? 


To Connect with Cesar Trelles

Blog: www.catrunsnyc.com

Instagram: @catrunsnyc_2018 & @werunnycrc

Twitter: @catrunsnyc 

I also have FB groups for upcoming races folks are enjoying. They are as follows:

We Run NYC Running Club: 

https://m.facebook.com/WeRunNYCRC/

United NYC Half Marathon:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/155989931802841

Brooklyn Half Marathon:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/395607474214981

NYC Marathon:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1405007329608837

Topher Stephenson, Marketer, Musician & Portland Ambassador

Topher has been recently promoted to the VP of Marketing at Atlantic National Trust in addition to being the Volunteer Marketing Director for PROPEL, a non-profit whose mission is "to enrich Maine’s economy by developing an environment and culture where young professionals can thrive in Maine’s growing business community." Through networking, celebrating small businesses, and introducing newcomers to Maine, Topher is committed to Portland and its future.  

When did you first get involved in marketing?

There were a few experiences in college that helped shape my perception of marketing early on. I had my first real experience when my friend and I both quit our summer jobs to start a house painting company. We were both excited to get out of our comfort zones and try something new, but the downside was we hadn't lined up any business before quitting our other jobs. I kind of thought we should build a quick website and make a Facebook page before doing anything else & my partner thought we should just hit the pavement, we ended up doing the latter. We made a flyer and went door to door for 2 weeks straight until we had a summer worth of work lined up - I don't think I became an expert salesman in that 2 week stretch, but it definitely taught me the value of hustle when it comes to bringing money in the door for a small business. 

After that some friends and I started up a blog to cover the Penn State music scene (State In The Real) which introduced me to social media as a marketing tool (and later on how putting too many eggs in the social media basket is a mistake) - It also kind of forced me to learn how to leverage relationships with different businesses and student groups I knew to form partnerships and help promote the website. Working with the blog ultimately landed me an internship with Red Bull where I got a better understanding of how a big brand handles marketing - IE the necessity of having boots on the ground in your target markets to strengthen brand awareness and the importance of working with local thought-leaders to get your message out.

 Part of the  State In The Real  Team circa 2012

Part of the State In The Real Team circa 2012

What would you say inspires you? 

I'm inspired by people that strive to be the best at what they do. It's super easy to get bogged down in day-to-day minutia and lose sight of the big picture things like "How can I stay ahead of the curve?" or "How can I focus on the projects that generate results and weed out the ones that don't" - Especially because there is never a definitive answer to those kinds of questions. But when I meet people who are continuously trying to keep themselves on the cutting edge in their field and improving their craft, I find that really inspirational.

Can you give us a brief history of your education and work history? 

I got my Bachelors of Science in Health Policy & Administration from Penn State in 2012. Up until I started my current job my work history is a big mish-mash because I was doing a lot at once to get as much experience as possible. 

My last year at Penn State I worked for Red Bull as a Student Brand Rep and I was running State In the Real (which at the time was comprised of 20+ people/volunteers). When I graduated I kept interning with Red Bull part-time, took on 2 more part-time internships and started up a collegiate marketing company with some friends until Red Bull brought me up to Maine for a full-time internship. Eventually, I started working with Mainely SEO doing Social Media and Search Engine Optimization in Portland while I did some marketing consulting in my spare time. I started consulting with Atlantic about 4 years ago until they brought me on full time to manage their real estate marketing program. As of November 2017, I've taken on more marketing and communications projects in addition to the real estate marketing.

What role does music play in your life?

Not nearly enough of one lately but music is both a creative outlet and a stress reliever. Depending on what the project is, music can actually turn into its very own form of stress but I've been lucky enough to stay away from that for the past few years. I'm not putting nearly as much time into music as I'd like lately, but I was lucky enough to do some vocals on 2 albums that were released in 2017, one from my friend Harry Zobel and one from local rapper Myles Bullen. I'm working on some new tracks with local producer & beatboxer Ben Toppi, but with both of us having busy schedules it will probably have a while until we have a finished product.

The Sublime rendition of Marley Medley as performed by Topher Stephenson.

What do you like to do outside of work and music that directly impacts your career? 

My favorite things to do outside of work are hiking and taking advantage of Portland's awesome food & beer - Unfortunately, neither of those things really impact my career. I'm of the mind that people should do less business networking on the golf course and do more in front of Food Trucks.

Other than eating and hiking, I sit as Marketing Chair on the Board of Directors for PROPEL, an organization dedicated to making Portland a place where Young Professionals can thrive. It doesn't play into my job every day but the connections I've made through PROPEL have come in handy in on many occasions. We have a very talented board and I consider myself lucky to work with them. 

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. What would you say are yours?

Once in an interview, I was asked - "What is your superpower?" I think I was too early in my career to have a good answer at that point, but I know what it is now  - Above all else, I'm resourceful. I think a lot of the value that I've added to my job over the past 4 years comes from digging in and finding marketing opportunities that other people in the industry have no idea even exist, or just haven't thought to use for real estate. 

The less that people are using an effective marketing tool, the more valuable it can be.

I'd say my biggest weakness is that I often try to do everything/ get everything done at once. Sometimes I'll have a Sunday completely free and want to work on a hobby, but instead of working on 1 hobby I'll play guitar for 20 minutes, have a quick workout, take 5 photos and read half a chapter of book - I feel well rounded at the end but it's not really a good practice if you want to excel at anything. I recently listened to a great podcast featuring Derek Sivers where he mentions the concept that we can all do everything we want to do, but only if we can get used to the idea of doing those things over the course of a lifetime and not all at once. I think this is something that Generation Y struggles with as a whole, but considering how time-poor we are it is something we really need to accept and it's something I plan to be mindful of in 2018.

How do you measure the impact of PROPEL'S success and continued growth?  

As the Marketing Chair and coming from a digital marketing background I gravitate towards numbers - It's awesome to see that our email subscribers have gone up 25% in the past year and that we have over 100 people signed up to be Maine Ambassadors, and it's always a great feeling when we sell out a Networking Event. But I think that I get real a feel for PROPEL's impact by the anecdotal things you can't measure, like when someone tells you they made an important connection at an event, or better yet that they made an introduction that helped them land a job interview - Those kinds of stories make me feel like we're living up to our mission. 

  "  PROPEL strives to enrich Maine’s economy by developing an environment and culture where young professionals can thrive in Maine’s growing business community."

"PROPEL strives to enrich Maine’s economy by developing an environment and culture where young professionals can thrive in Maine’s growing business community."

Similarly, we're in the process of launching Phase 2 of the Maine Ambassador Program, ultimately the app will allow people who are visiting or just moved to Maine to connect with established Mainers (the Ambassadors) so that they can take them out for a cup of coffee and show them the area. It will be good to see new Mainers begin to use the app, but what I'm really excited for is to hear the feedback from them after they've made a connection and get an idea of how well we're helping them acclimate to the area.

What advice would you give to people deciding whether to live and work in Maine?

If you haven't been to Maine, book your ticket - It is worth a trip whether you decide to live here or not. While you're here, definitely take some time to hit the usual tourist attractions, but consider making use of the Maine Ambassador Program - It's an awesome way to meet someone local from the area who can tell you what it's like to live here, take you to some of the hotspots that your average tourist won't know about, and show you what living here is all about. The project was originally spearheaded by Chris Lee, PROPEL's previous President, and is run by Eric Collins - They've both done an excellent job getting us where we are.

If Topher's photo's alone aren't reason enough to move to Maine, I don't know what is! 

What is something people will be surprised to know about you?

A friend told me the other day that when he thinks of people who are good networkers, I'm one of the first people that come to mind. Fortunately, he's never actually seen me in action - The surprise is that for someone who sits on the board of an organization that regularly throws networking events, I'm shockingly bad at networking by all standards. But I've definitely noticed that the more I do it the better I get - Maybe I'll start using Mindbosa to give myself an incentive to keep it up. 

What is one "can't live without it" app you use? 

I travel a lot to NY and PA to see family and friends so that means lots of 5+ hour drives, I'd be toast without the Podcasts app. On that same note, if Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss both quit doing their podcasts I think I'd need to start buying more plane tickets because driving would be out. Other than that - Anytime I run out of room on my phone and need to make room to take pictures (happens pretty frequently), the only apps I can never bring myself to delete are Instagram, Spotify, Waze and the Tabs & Chords app from Ultimate Guitar.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

This changes frequently, but right now it is this video. Sometimes waking up early requires tough love. 

In one word describe yourself: 

En route.

If you enjoy this blog, please enter your email for future updates.

  "New  #drone  new  #selfie ." via Topher's  Instagram

"New #drone new #selfie." via Topher's Instagram

To Connect w/ Topher & PROPEL: 

Email: topher.step@gmail.com

Instagram: @tophernow || @propelportland

 
 

Katie Rutherford, Director of Development at Frannie Peabody Center

It is clear to me, Katie was born an advocate. Her words resonate with me. 
I asked Katie what message she would like me to share on her behalf: “Always try harder to consider and understand the challenges that other people face.  Be kinder to each other, but never stop fighting oppression, injustice, and inequality. 
Also, please remember to accept science.  It’s real.” 

When did you first get involved in working with non-profits? 

I was on a Student Athletic Advisory Committee in college that coordinated service projects for all the athletes.  At the same time, I was majoring in anthropology and taking a course on international development.  I was very fortunate to have an athletic scholarship that allowed me to travel around the country and meet so many different people.  I think all those things happening simultaneously made me realize I wanted a career in the non-profit sector working with people. 

Do you think you were born with the innate qualities to help others or did this evolve over time through travels and life experiences? 

I was brought up in an environment that taught us to stand up for what we believe in, particularly when those moments and movements involve inequality and injustice. I think my experiences have shaped and been shaped by those values, and certainly taught me a great deal along the way.  I think those lessons and the people I have met have given me strength and little more volume in my voice when it comes to working for organizations that help others.  

What lead you to your current position at Frannie Peabody Center? 

I had been living in South Africa for four years running a small community-based non-profit organization that I started in a tiny village on the coast.  When it became too difficult to sustain myself and the organization, I had to make the difficult decision to move back to the States.  One of the issues that really stuck with me after leaving was HIV/AIDS.  When I started looking for jobs in the non-profit sector,  I wanted to really narrow my focus on that issue.  Maine had been my home base while living overseas because my sister, niece, and nephew were all here.  When I saw the job of Development Director come up at Frannie Peabody Center,  I jumped at the chance – it seemed a little too good to be true in the logistical sense; working in the field I was interested in while also being able to be so close to my family.  More than five years later, here I am. I feel very fortunate that I was able to figure out exactly what I was passionate about and have the resources, privilege, and support to call it work. 

Scenes from the 2017 Southern Maine AIDS Walk - Photos By Maine Running & Faces Maine by Maine Magazine || The 2018 Southern Maine Aids Walk/5k Run will be held 5/5/18. Eary bird registration will be available HERE on 2/1/18.


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Katie is passionate - passionate about her work, about advocacy, about that state of the world. She puts 200% of herself into everything she does. I wish I could bottle her passion and share it with everyone!
— Donna Galluzzo, Executive Director at Frannie Peabody Center

Can you explain what FPC is and what being The Director of Development includes? 

Frannie Peabody Center is Maine’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS services organization.  We provide direct services for people living with HIV/AIDS in the form of medical case management, housing assistance, and behavioral health counseling, and we also provide free HIV and Hepatitis C counseling, testing, referral, and outreach services.  We have an extensive history and compelling legacy with Frannie Peabody.  She was a grandmother – in her eighties in the early 1980’s when she lost her grandson to AIDS.  Never one to sit on the sidelines, she was an outspoken and unexpected advocate for those affected by HIV/AIDS at a time when many people would refuse to acknowledge the challenges and urgency of the issue. She rallied people together and was a transformative leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Maine. One of the things I admire most about her, having only experienced the stories second-hand, is how she coupled a very compassionate and loving spirit with being an incredibly strong and determined fighter.  I think that’s something that has carried on at the agency because of her.  Being the development director is traditionally about fundraising – that includes grant writing, events, maintaining the social media and web platforms, responding to state and federal proposal requests, and donor relations.  However, being a small agency under 20 staff members, we really operate as a team.  Non-profits are never working with excess capacity, that’s for sure, so we all jump in where we can across programs and projects. We celebrate the success together, and we feel the hits together. It doesn’t make it easy, but I think it makes us a stronger agency as a whole.

   Frances W. Peabody   (April 18, 1903 – June 26, 2001), known as  Frannie , was an  HIV / AIDS  activist. Her work as an activist began at the age of 80 when her eldest grandchild was diagnosed with AIDS and continued for 18 years until her death in 2001. - Via  Wikipedia

Frances W. Peabody (April 18, 1903 – June 26, 2001), known as Frannie, was an HIV/AIDS activist. Her work as an activist began at the age of 80 when her eldest grandchild was diagnosed with AIDS and continued for 18 years until her death in 2001. - Via Wikipedia

What are your thoughts on state & federal funding cuts on healthcare in general, but specifically HIV/AIDS Testing and Prevention Programs? Has this affected you? 

I think the outlook for social services has taken a devastating blow, especially over the past twelve months.  Funding & policies that negatively impact immigration, housing, education, climate, and so on, have a huge impact on health, and all these factors play a critical role in living healthy with HIV/AIDS as well as preventing transmission.  As a low incidence state, Maine has been dealing with cuts to HIV/AIDS funding for many years in line with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy shifting funds to areas of higher incidence.  From a national and global perspective, of course, we want resources to be focused in a strategic way on the areas that are hit the hardest by the epidemic.  But locally, we know the people that are facing overwhelming challenges every day, so it’s difficult not to get frustrated when resources are pulled away. When it comes to prevention, we’re talking about lowering infection rates and making sure people have the knowledge and tools to protect themselves.  So when these programs are effective, the data often illustrates a decreased need.  The problem with this perspective is that the need is very much still there even when new infections are not necessarily on the rise.  The most obvious and very recent example of this is when the closure of syringe exchange programs in Scott County, Indiana led to an HIV outbreak in 2015. As we continue to see the effects of a growing opioid epidemic in Maine, limited access to HIV prevention services also remains a concern.  HIV/AIDS can be managed as a chronic disease thanks to some incredible developments, but that does not mean it should be dismissed and overlooked. The stigma, fear, and ignorance that was so prevalent in the 80’s is still very much a reality for a lot of people today. As with any public health issue, we have to remain committed to evidence-based strategies, looking at the interconnectedness of different barriers, identifying and addressing disparities across communities.  We have to treat people with respect and understanding, and not become complacent. 

In honor of #GivingTuesday, CFCWEAR (Catalyst For Change -- clothing that creates change) collaborated and donated 100% of profits from BRAVE shirts to the Frannie Peabody Center.

What is one challenge and lesson you've learned from your role(s) in leadership?

One thing that I continue to face is that sometimes no matter how hard you work, you will not win every battle.  I grew up thinking that as long as I worked hard enough, nothing was out of reach.  And sure, you will come up against the “you can’t do that, you’re too [insert condescending insult here]”, but I was taught I could do anything I put my mind to. My sister and I have a bit of a joke that the second you tell one of us we can’t do something, well, then, we’ll definitely do it. That kind of determination will definitely carry you through some trying times, but in the tumultuous waves of legislative policy, executive power, money, medicine, and the occasional “not a chance in hell”, you have to accept some failure.  Not to rain on my childhood parade, but I think that lesson helps with getting back up and holding on to even more hope and fire as you face the next challenge.  

What is one invaluable resource that has helped in the sustainability of FPC?

The resiliency of our staff and clients is what has kept Frannie Peabody Center going for over thirty years.  It’s a pretty amazing place to walk into every day, knowing that you are surrounded by people who are determined, compassionate, and incredibly capable.  

I would be remiss to not mention our supporters who have been with us every step of the way – whether through advocacy or fundraising. Because of so many strong individuals that came before us, many of whom are no longer with us, we have federal funding for housing, case management, prevention services, and effective medication for those living with HIV/AIDS. It’s easy to get bogged down by red tape and funding cuts, but I try to remind myself that we are very lucky to have access to those resources.

What do you like to do outside of work that contributes to your career? 

Listen to a lot of NPR, and run. (the NPR to stay current, the running to blow off steam and think of a plan after hearing about all the bad news on NPR)

What is your proudest personal and professional accomplishment? 

I’m proud that I’ve always tried to put my all into everything, both personally and professionally.


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Katie is generous with her heart, her time and her mind. She is present and accountable in a very purposeful way.
One word to describe Katie: Nimble
— Anne Rutherford, Katie's Sister

I'd like to share one message with the world on your behalf, what should I share? 

Always try harder to consider and understand the challenges that other people face.  Be kinder to each other, but never stop fighting oppression, injustice, and inequality. 

Also, please remember to accept science.  It’s real.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

Not so much a quote but a philosophy and quality – Ubuntu.

 
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Loosely translated, it means “I am because we are”.  It’s a concept that was used as a founding principle in post-apartheid South Africa that focuses on the interconnectedness of people.  It’s something I’ve carried with me for a long time and thought about a lot.  Desmond Tutu explains it as “my humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.” I think if more people took the time to read about and strive for ubuntu, there would be much less division, and much more understanding and accountability.  When you see yourself as part of the whole of humanity, you can’t ignore issues or turn a blind eye.  It helps in understanding that you are made up of all the good and bad that we see around us and forces us to recognize that our actions have ripple effects.

In one word describe yourself: 

goofy

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To Connect w/ Katie & 

 
 

Upcoming Events: 

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Heather Davis - Executive Director of LearningWorks

What is LearningWorks?

LearningWorks is an education nonprofit in Portland, Maine. We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. Our mission is to reimagine learning through innovative programs that help children, adults, and families realize their potential and build thriving communities. We offer five free programs for people who fall outside of traditional education structures. Those include an afterschool program for elementary school students, a community service program for young people facing disciplinary action at school or in trouble with the law, an English language program for New Mainers, an alternative high school program for kids who have dropped out of local schools, and an AmeriCorps program that provides 100 volunteers to struggling schools.

How did you first get involved in working with non-profits? 

My first nonprofit job was at an Audubon Society in Santa Fe, New Mexico! I helped out in the office and worked with kids in an environmental education summer camp program. 

At what point did you realize your passion for education would become a career path? 

After I finished college, I landed a job working as a writing teacher in an afterschool program in Harlem. I fell in love with teaching, with alternative education programs, and with the concept of using my career to serve a community and advance social justice. I was hooked from that point on and have stayed in education nonprofits and classrooms ever since.

What do you like to do outside of work that contributes to your career? 

I like to spend time with my family, be in nature, and read and write. I think all of those things help me learn, grow, and reflect on myself, my work, and my community, which is a source of strength when I’m on the job.

Can you tell us about your most favorite projects?

At LearningWorks, one of our programs is called Service Works. Service Works connects kids who are in trouble in some way – at school, or with the law – with meaningful community service opportunities that help make amends for their behavior and give them a safe, supportive space to reflect on what’s happened and what they’d like to change going forward. The team that runs this project at LearningWorks is really great at coming up with creative and beneficial community partnerships to make this program happen. They do everything from removing graffiti from public buildings and harvesting seaweed for community gardens to serving free community meals at local schools. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a little time with the program at Wayside Food Programs and during a trip to help another nonprofit (Furniture Friends) accept and organize furniture donations for needy families. So much good comes of this work for everyone involved, it always gives me a boost of hope and happiness when I check in with this program.

I’ve also really enjoyed working on our 50 Stories Project to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. We’re partnering with local photographers to tell 50 stories about current and former staff, students, donors, volunteers, and partners who have made LearningWorks what it is today. It’s been so moving to meet all the subjects and learn their stories and the generosity of the photographers and other folks helping this project out has been truly inspiring.

   50 STORIES PROJECT   || "We are excited to announce our 50 Stories project! This project will tell the stories of 50 current and former LearningWorks students, clients, staff, and volunteers who have been and continue to be an inspiration to us. We are extremely fortunate to have teamed up with local photographers who are generously donating their talent to this project and to the individuals who have enthusiastically agreed to share their stories. We hope you enjoy this journey as we honor our past and invite you to be part of our next 50 years!" 

50 STORIES PROJECT || "We are excited to announce our 50 Stories project! This project will tell the stories of 50 current and former LearningWorks students, clients, staff, and volunteers who have been and continue to be an inspiration to us. We are extremely fortunate to have teamed up with local photographers who are generously donating their talent to this project and to the individuals who have enthusiastically agreed to share their stories. We hope you enjoy this journey as we honor our past and invite you to be part of our next 50 years!" 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

This might sound crazy, but here goes. Honestly, the quote that I always come back to is one from a documentary project my friend Molly did with young people at The Telling Room when we worked there together. She helped a bunch of students go out on the street with audio recorders to ask strangers one question and use the answers to tell a story. One group of students asked people if they believed in Bigfoot. The responses were hilarious and moving. One man went on at length and talked about how learning about myths and legends like Bigfoot opens us up to learning about the world around us. He said, “Grab it and grasp it with energy. Be like astronauts of the world. Be astronauts of the forest and the sea.” I always come back to him saying it because it captures ideas that I like a lot. I loved the spontaneous poetry of it and wish that we could all speak that way more often. I loved the idea of being enthusiastic, diving into things, being creative, being bold, exploring, and leading.

In one word, describe yourself:

Real

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To Connect w/ LearningWorks:

Websites: LearningWorks.me  || Learning Works 50th Anniversary

Facebook: @LearningWrks || Instagram: @learningworksmaine

Email Heather: hdavis@learningworks.me

Tom Hooper - Co-Founder of Six03 Endurance in New Hampshire

What is Six03 Endurance?

SIX03 is a team of fun, healthy, and athletic people who share a passion for the outdoors and the social community. Our members range from people looking to run their first 5K to National Ironman finishers to 100 Mile Ultra Marathoners.  We really emabrace our tag line, Not one sport... Every sport. 

What inspired you to become a founder of Six03?

It wasn't really planned. It just sort of happened organically. We thought it would be just a few of us having a few beers after a race and the next thing you know, we have 600 members all through out the state of NH. I guess there was a niche and it just all came together. its been amazing.

What is one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as a founder?

The Retail clothing deal is for the birds! You never can guess how much you need or what will be hot. Something that you take a chance on all of a sudden takes off and you can't get enough of it, or something you think will crush it, sits in a box.

What are your top two Six03 memories?

Thats too tough to answer. I have personal memories for my own accomplishments but I also Love seeing these guys go out of there comfort zone and try new stuff. Watching some one else conquer a hard mountain / trail race for the first time is amazing to watch.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

In one word, describe yourself:

I don't think one word can describe anyone.

Tom Hooper

To Connect with Tom Hooper & Learn More About Six03 Endurance:

www.six03endurance.com

Staci Olson - Program Director of Girls on the Run-Maine

What is Girls on the Run?

GOTR is a unique life skills development program. Volunteer coaches lead teams through interactive lessons that include dynamic discussions, fun activities and creative running games. Throughout the 10 week season season the girls make new friends, learn new skills, build their confidence and celebrate what makes them unique in a safe and supportive environment.

What inspired you to become the Program Director for Girls on the Run?

I first got involved with GOTR in the winter of 2012 when a Steering Committee was formed to bring Girls on the Run to Maine. At that time, Maine was one of a small group of states that did not have a council so a group of volunteers worked together to make it happen. I worked as a volunteer for about a year and was able to help build the foundation of the council. In my role as Program Director I now help communities start teams in their area, recruit, train and support the coaches, visit with the teams throughout the season, and help to plan the Celebratory 5k at the end of the season. This season we have 700 girls at 38 sites across Maine with over 200 volunteer coaches. We look forward to continuing our growth and reaching more girls!

Working for Girls on the Run has had a significant impact on my life. The work that I do is so fulfilling because I have such a strong connection to the mission of our program of empowering girls and helping them to grow and reach their goals. I also feel so grateful to the amazing co-workers and volunteers that I get to work with each season. 

What is one challenge and one lesson you've learned from your experience as Program Director?

One challenge that I have faced is that every community and every team is different so what might work well for one site, might be completely different at another, so we have to build connections with all of our coaches to make sure that they get the support that they need.

One lesson that I have learned actually stems from one of our core values which is to "assume positive intent." We are all involved because we want to have a positive influence on the girls and though logistically sometimes things don't always go according to plan, we should assume that their are good intentions behind the actions.

What are your top two GOTR memories?

I have so many amazing memories but there are a few standouts.

I was visiting with a team in Western Maine and as I was completing some laps with one girl, we were having fun and chatting and then unprompted she looked at me directly in the eye and said "Thank you for bringing this program to my school. I love being a part of it and I am so proud of myself." We know the program is having an impact but to hear a 9 year old girl share her sincere gratitude was a special moment.

The other top memory is one that I have seen multiple times at our 5k events At the end of the 10 weeks, the girls participate in an untimed, celebratory 5k. When the girls enter the final finish line chute they typically get a burst of speed. I love watching that moment when they see their goal in sight. They hear the cheers and support and fly through that finish line. The look in their eyes is one of joy and inspiration and I can never get enough of it!

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"The only requirement of having a dream is believing in it." - Molly Barker

Molly Barker founded Girls on the Run in North Carolina in 1996 with one team of girls. Since then the organization has grown to serve girls in all 50 states and more than 1 million girls have participated. She is a true inspiration to me by demonstrating that one person really can make a difference. For many years I was unsure where I was headed in terms of a career path and the moment I first learned about GOTR was a truly life changing experience for me - I knew this was something I had to be involved in. Because of Molly's initial effort, she has given me (and so many other woman), a place in this world to have an impact and to be a part of the mission of inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

In one word, describe yourself::

Purposeful

  Run with us in support of the 710 girls participating in the Spring 2017 season! OR sign-up to volunteer!

Run with us in support of the 710 girls participating in the Spring 2017 season! OR sign-up to volunteer!

To learn more about Girls on the Run-Maine please visit:

https://www.girlsontherunmaine.org/

or follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GOTR.Maine/

and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/gotrmaine/