Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I am originally from Rogers Park and my family slowly migrated more North until we settled in Highland Park, but I spent most of my 20’s in Los Angeles and came back here about 8 years ago to start a family.
Children and Ages? Maya (7), Ari (5) and Rosie (15 months)
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
People that have only known me since becoming a mom and doing this “adulting” thing might not know that I was an actor and singer in a past life. I studied as a theatre major for several years of college and performed in many plays and musicals, as well as a brief stint doing improv and a couple of embarrassing local commercials/student films in LA.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
Happy to say my husband. He is present and makes himself available even with a demanding career. He is hands on, knows how to have fun with our kids, and we share in most parenting and household responsibilities. This greatly reduces the mental stress of being the “house manager.” He subscribes to the motto, “happy wife, happy life.” and I am grateful for that!
My parents are also a huge help. Every week, after we have Friday night Shabbat dinner together, they take our two oldest for sleepovers to spend quality time with them. My mom has also watched and still watches each of my children a few days a week before they were ready to start preschool. It allowed me to go back to work part-time and not worry about finding as much day care.
Favorite things to do with your kids?
I love going on trips with the kids. Although it throws off sleep schedules and we end up eating a lot of food out, it’s a time to experience the world through their eyes. It also allows time to enjoy each other’s company away from the daily routines, errands, and stress.
On a daily basis I really enjoy the quiet time of reading books before bed. It’s the perfect time for snuggles, enjoying stories together, and it’s when my older kids often share their thoughts, worries, and interesting discussions arise organically.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
I am a speech-language pathologist and the clinical director of our family contracting practice, Center for Psychological Services, which has merged with my smaller therapy practice, Midwest Integrative Therapies. We contract psychologists, speech pathologists, and other therapists into school districts across Chicagoland for therapy services, individual testing, bilingual testing, and we also have a mobile transdisciplinary play-based assessment team for early childhood. My father is a clinical psychologist, my mother a school psychologist, and my brother the new CEO. We also have therapists who test and counsel patients in our Northbrook offices. It is wonderful to not only service our community and districts, but to be able to collaborate and see my own family on a daily basis and in a professional manner.
Aside from my professional career and being a mother, my passion has been helping and guiding the high risk cancer community. In 2000, my Aunt died of breast cancer at a young age. We soon found out that she, my mom, and several other people in my family carried the BRCA 1 genetic mutation, which significantly increases one’s risk for breast and ovarian cancer. I saw my mom go through a risk reducing mastectomy and oopherectomy (removal of the ovaries) right after my Aunt died, and found out in my mid 20’s that I too carried the mutation. This significantly impacted my life choices, and I had a risk reducing mastectomy and reconstruction when I was 28, before having children. I chose to undergo the surgery earlier than the recommended age and gave up the opportunity to try breastfeeding, because I felt the surgery was inevitable for me and that I could take care of my health and recover more easily before having children. I have no regrets to this day. I am now 37 and need to decide when to have my ovaries out, which my doctors have said they would like to see done by the time I am 40, which is when the risk for ovarian cancer spikes.
My mom and dad were community leaders with FORCE (Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered), a grassroots, now national non-profit. After a decade of their leadership, I stepped in to help guide support groups and lead events in order to support other individuals and families. Being a peer support leader has given my own experience more meaning and by connecting to the community I have felt much less alone on this journey. Last year I was invited to serve on the board of directors for the JUF’s Chicago Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics, and I have been heavily involved in their BRCA programming and events in order to support the high risk Jewish community, spread awareness, educate, and eliminate past stigmas associated with having a gene mutation.
During my surgical journey I filmed by experience leading up to surgery in order to help other women in a similar situation. I shelved the project for the last 9 years because kids take up a LOT of time, but I have recently began the process of wrapping it up. My goal is to have the film ready for viewing by my ten year surgery anniversary and hope that other women benefit from it.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Although Chicago and its suburbs contain millions of people, we are really a tight knit community in many ways. When I lived in LA, there was a sense of anonymity, because it was so big, spread out and there were so many transplants. Here, you meet families that have been in their small burb for multiple generations. It gives a feeling of closeness and because of that we help support each other’s businesses, endeavours, and are there for each other as moms. That midwestern kind of feeling is one of the biggest reasons we moved back here.