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Eye Interview

TWE TALK: Entrepreneur and Podcaster Mai Ling Chan Builds Bridges for the Disability Community

Mai Ling Chan recording her Xceptional Leaders podcast

By Patricia Caso/October 28, 2019
Photos: Courtesy Mai Ling Chan

Women are making change in all kinds of creative ways! I read recently this encouraging statistic: roughly 15 percent of people with disabilities have started their own businesses – from their homes, through franchises, and in start-ups – and the number is growing!

But it’s not always easy to navigate these entrepreneurial waters. Mai Ling Chan, a speech-language pathologist and business strategist, has a passion for helping people thrive and shine in these new arenas with her innovative XceptionalED company, online courses and her Xceptional Leaders Podcast.

“I discovered by tapping into my entrepreneurial spirit, creating online offerings and podcasts and collaborating with other disability experts, I could make an impact.” Mai Ling Chan 

Mai Ling gave me some valuable time to discuss her changemaking ideas, passion to advance the world of the disabled and her unique approach to make businesses focused on those challenged successful… [Read more…]

TWE Interview: Journalist Zahra Hankir Spotlights Arab Women Reporters In Their Own Words

London-based journalist, Zahra Hankir has covered Mid East and Arab political turmoil and violence throughout her career but admittedly not to the detriment of her safety. She was well aware that many women journalists, who live in and report from those diverse regions, face unbelievable odds to get the truth out yet was shocked to notice they received little credit.

Zahrir Hankir/Photo: Daniel Gardine

Zahrir Hankir/Photo: Daniel Gardiner

By Patricia Caso/September 25, 2019

London-based journalist, Zahra Hankir has covered Mid East and Arab political turmoil and violence throughout her career but admittedly not to the detriment of her safety. She was well aware that many women journalists, who live in and report from those diverse regions, face unbelievable odds to get the truth out yet was shocked to notice they received little credit. Zahra stepped up to change that.

I was fascinated by information gathering and dissemination and the idea that the pursuit of truth and its reflection could be a profession. My obsession with journalism and the Arab world persisted over the years, and it culminated in this book.

In Our Women on the Ground, Zahra asked 19 courageous reporters to share the powerful, unvarnished perspectives on their jobs and lives. Zahra took time with me to describe the importance of these journalists, known as sahafiya… [Read more…]

TWE INTERVIEW: How Nancy Rivard’s Airline Ambasssadors Is Making a Global Impact

Nancy Rivard speaking at an international conference/Photo: shfwire.com

Nancy Rivard speaking at an international conference/Photo: shfwire.com

By Wendy Verlaine/August 15, 2019

Photos Courtesy AAI

Nancy Rivard may be one of the most influential and dedicated activists for human rights and charitable giving in the airline and hospitality industry. She is shining the spotlight on human trafficking, the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today, producing over $150 billion annually, according to the Department of State.

“I said, ‘How am I to create change in the largest industry in the world?’ My inner voice just said stop talking about it, start doing it. I will do one thing a month that directly helps a child.”  Nancy Rivard

Today Rivard is founder of Airline Ambassadors International, AAI, a non profit organization committed to fighting human trafficking and educating the airline and hospitality industry to the signs and prevention of this activity.

AAI volunteers have hand-delivered $70 million in aid to needy children and families all around the world.

AAI has also helped establish medical clinics and volunteer medical escort aid that transports patients in need to the US for treatment.

I was fortunate to catch up with this dedicated changemaker and ask her how she discovered her life’s purpose, how uncertainty did not deter her and how she successfully influenced and affected so many people on a global level…

[Read more…]

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…]