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Eye Interview

TWE INTERVIEW: Sociologist Marika Lindholm On Empowering Solo Moms

Marika Lindholm founder of ESME, Empowering Single Moms Everywhere

Marika Lindholm and her two younger children on their farm in the Hudson Valley, New York

By Patricia Caso/June, 2018
Photos: Circe

There is nothing average about Dr. Marika Lindholm, a sociologist, professor and writer.  Because she lived the life-changing experience of being a single mom, Marika is using that experience and academics to become an outspoken advocate for solo moms. In 2015, Marika started a social movement, Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere, with ESME.com.

“I’d made a vow that if I ever had the opportunity, I would help other moms as they navigated parenting alone.” Marika Lindholm 

Currently there are 15 million children (younger than 18) being raised by a solo mom. Any mom knows that there is nothing easy about and little more rewarding than raising kids.

Now Marika has co-edited an inspirational anthology We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart and Humor. I wanted to get to know more about Dr. Lindholm’s motivations and insights on this often overlooked and critically important group, solo moms… [Read more…]

TWE TALK: Grammy-Winning Music Teacher Melissa Salguero Believes Every Kid’s Dream is Possible

Melissa Salguero, 2018 Grammy Award-Winning Music Teacher

2018 Grammy Award-Winning Music Teacher Melissa Salguero

By Patricia Caso/May, 2019

In 2014 Ellen DeGeneres’ television show featured Melissa Salguero, a music teacher at the challenged elementary school P.S. 48 in the South Bronx, New York. Ellen invited her after seeing a Youtube video of Melissa and her students seeking funds to replace stolen instruments from a recent burglary at their school. Ellen gave them $10,000 worth of instruments plus a $50,000 check!

Melissa is also the 2018 Grammy Award-Winning Educator of the Year, 2019 Finalist for World Teacher of the Year, 2013 Lincoln Center Teacher of the Year to name a few accolades.

“When my students see my recognitions and where it’s all gone with their help, they see that anything is possible. I tell them all the time that nothing is impossible.” Melissa Salguero

Melissa considers her 675 students her most important prize. Intrigued by her unconventional approach and obvious passion for the kids, I wanted to find more insight beyond her hard won awards.

Melissa took time out of her “off” week to speak about her creative efforts that have led to success in and out of the classroom and how that video came to be…. [Read more…]

TWE INTERVIEW: Award-Winning Producer Stacey Reiss On Her Passion for Filmmaking

Stacey Reiss, filmmaker and producer

Filmmaker Stacey Reiss/Photo: Richard Shepard

UPDATE 5/29/19: New York Times Review “The Perfection”– A Thriller in the Key of Crazy

By Patricia Caso/March, 2019

When we last spoke with filmmaker Stacey Reiss she had just produced the award-winning movie The Eagle Huntress. Since that time we noticed that she’s been very busy producing three fascinating films that have been receiving a lot of attention: Daughters of the Sexual Revolution, The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders; The Perfection; and her most recent HBO release, It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It.

“As a producer, I always want to make films that are engaging, entertaining and cinematic – whether they are shot in Mongolia or behind prison bars.   I’m often drawn to stories from people whose voices are underserved…”  Stacey Reiss

TWE wanted to catch up with Stacey to find out more about the challenges of producing her new films and the current popularity of documentaries like RBG and the Academy Award-winning Free Solo[Read more…]

TWE Interview: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha On Her Fight for Justice Beyond the Flint Water Crisis

The Women’s Eye contributor Patricia Caso talks to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician and author of “What the Eyes Don’t See–The Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City,” about her fight for justice during the Flint Water Crisis and why she still advocates for change.

TWE Interview: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha On Her Fight for Justice Beyond the Flint Water Crisis

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician and author of “What the Eyes Don’t See–The Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City,”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, author "What the Eyes Don't See"/Photo: Courtesy Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha/Photo: Hurley Medical Center

By Patricia Caso/September 5th, 2018

What could be more important for communities and children than clean, drinkable water? Pediatrician and Professor Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is known for bringing her research and unrelenting call for change in the lead-poisoned Flint, Michigan water to the nation’s attention.

Lead is a neurotoxin, affecting young children most severely. There is no safe level. To date, 140,000 people have been impacted from the 18-month ordeal.

“This is a story about how all of us, no matter where we are, what we do, or how we came to this country, have the power within us to open our eyes, to be awake to these injustices all around us, to get involved, to be active…” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

In Dr. Mona’s new book What the Eyes Don’t See–A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, she writes about how she came to find high levels of lead in her young patients’ blood. With the help of the community, she then courageously confronted  government officials  demanding a change back to healthy water. I caught up with Dr. Mona to learn more about her determination and why she sees that her advocacy is just beginning…  [Read more…]

TWE INTERVIEW–Katie Blomquist Is Going Places with Joy and Bikes for Kids

Katie Blomquist – Going Places Non Profit

Going Places Non Profit – Bikes for Kids

The Women’s Eye contributor Patricia Caso talks to Katie Blomquist, founder of Going Places, an innovative nonprofit supplying bikes to children in Charleston, S.C. area Title 1 schools. The bikes are for kids who never had the chance to own one. Katie explains how she started GP and what a difference it’s making.

Katie Blomquist, founder Going Places supplying bikes to kids in Charleston, S. Carolina/Photo Courtesy Katie Blomquist

Katie Blomquist, founder of Going Places/La Tasha Bellamy Photography

By Patricia Caso/June 5, 2018

Thanks to former teacher Katie Blomquist and her foundation Going Places, 1,000 kids and counting in the Charleston, South Carolina area, get joy in the form of a bike. Ninety percent of the families in Title 1 schools there live at or below the poverty line and can’t afford this childhood pleasure.

 “A child doesn’t choose their walk of life, parents or situations. Yet, if there is a little bit of joy, I believe it can change the outcome of a person’s life.”  Katie Blomquist

When I read about Katie’s inspiring efforts, I thought of my own adventures on a bike as a kid. We all had so many exciting places to go. Katie is determined that her Going Places Foundation will be an investment for improving lives of a future generation.

I spoke by phone with Katie so I could find out more about her and her ingenious idea based on joy and bikes… [Read more…]

Award-Winning Director Jessica Yu Spotlights Heroic Journalist Gladys Kalibbala’s Passion

Jessica Yu, author of Garden of the Lost and Abandoned, and Gladys Kalibbala, and subject of the book/Photo: Michael Wawuyo

Gladys Kalibbala and director/author Jessica Yu/Photo: Michael Wawuyo

By Patricia Caso/April 22, 2018

In Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: An Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves, author Jessica Yu follows heroic Ugandan journalist, Gladys Kalibbala, who uses her energy, creativity and meager resources to rescue lost and abandoned children.

Her column, “Lost and Abandoned,” has drawn attention to the plight of hundreds of forsaken children. Gladys routinely faces many difficult and dangerous situations to help them.

“What Gladys does is hard. But the cumulative impact of her deliberate – not random – acts of kindness, and the joy she takes in them, reminds us that we discover our humanity when we engage. And if we persist, things happen.” Jessica Yu

Intrigued with Gladys’ life-saving deeds, I began researching more about her life and discovered Jessica Yu’s own multi-faceted story. Not only was she an award-winning director in television, documentaries and films, she’d just written her first book, Garden of the Lost and Abandoned. And, what a compelling changemaker Jessica brings to readers.

I caught up with this Academy Award-winning filmmaker in Los Angeles by phone in between her busy commitments to find out more about Gladys’ exceptional acts and Jessica’s perspective on her own career… [Read more…]

ENCORE Interview–Designer Coleen Christian Burke On Decorating the White House for Christmas

 

Coleen christian Burke/author Christmas with the First Ladies/Photo: Coleen Christian Burke

Coleen Christian Burke at the Winter Wonderland themed tree,
East Room, White House, 2014

By Patricia Caso/December 11,2016
Photos Provided by Coleen Christian Burke (@ByColeen)

‘Tis the season for wishes to come true. One entrepreneur, blogger, designer and author, Coleen Christian Burke lobbied for four years to get the chance of a lifetime to help decorate the White House for Christmas.

“I could never have planned this life out. If I were a little girl saying I am going to be a designer and design the White House for Christmas and then I’m going to install it and then I’m going to talk about it, it just would have been so far fetched.” Coleen Christian Burke

She got that first opportunity in 2008, and other years have followed since. These experiences inspired her to write a fascinating book, Christmas with the First Ladies: The White House Decorating Tradition from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama (@SimonBooks).

Intrigued with her almost-magical story, I caught up with this former television producer just as another busy holiday season kicks in to find out just how Coleen’s hunches turned into  successes…   [Read more…]

TWE Interview: Breast Cancer Survivor Dara Kurtz Shares Her Crazy Perfect Life

Dara Kurtz – Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Crazy Perfect Life

Dara Kurtz – Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Crazy Perfect Life and Crush Cancer: Personal Enlightenment from a Cancer Survior

Dara Kurtz – Breast Cancer Survivor and Author of Crazy Perfect Life and Crush Cancer: Personal Enlightenment from a Cancer Survior

Dara Kurtz, author blog Crazy Perfect Life

By Patricia Caso/December 5, 2017
Photos Courtesy of Dara Kurtz
TWITTER: @crazyperflife

At 42, Dara Kurtz’s perfect family life and career as a successful financial advisor were upended with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Admittedly she cried, was shocked, scared and a mess.

“When I was finished going through treatment and it was time to go back to work; I knew that I wanted to find my voice.”  Dara Kurtz

Dara chronicled her journey by pulling together her honest insights into handling cancer’s downs and ups in a blog, “Crazy Perfect Life,” and her best selling book, Crush Cancer: Personal Enlightenment from a Cancer Survivor.  What struck me about Dara’s story is how she came to her wonderful uplifting choice to “live life in color rather than black and white.”

I caught up with Dara by phone to find out more about this now unabashedly grateful author whose mission is to be others’ companion through the toughest time in their lives…   [Read more…]