Author & Founder, The Fifth Trimester
Years as a Camper: 3 as a camper and 1 CILT year
I’m the oldest of four siblings from Atlanta, and we all went to Sea Gull and Seafarer once my parents had found it for me. I had had a bad experience at another overnight camp previously, and my mom worked with a camp advisor locally who strongly recommended Seafarer.
Professional Beginnings: I started out in women’s magazines at New Woman magazine and CosmoGirl in my early 20s and then went to Glamour and stayed there for nearly 13 years in various roles. At heart I’m a writer and an editor but I got to work in TV and events. It was challenging and I was learning new things including being a working mom.
In 2008 I was ill-prepared for coming back to work after having a baby. It was startlingly hard and I couldn’t understand the self-blame and mom-guilt that I see so often. I found that being in leadership I could be honest about the challenges and that they made me a better more authentic leader. I realized that there’s actually a whole Fifth Trimester when the working mom is born, and it is really a time of growth.
The Fifth Trimester Movement and Current Focus: I left Glamour in 2014 and started researching and writing about the return to paid work after baby. I interviewed nearly 800 moms who had all definitions of careers and family to find what we have in common and what we have working against us. I wanted to give readers a collective working mom mentor. My book, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby was published in 2017. It’s meant to be a guide to help individual mothers, of course, but also a resource to help women make the economic case to push for wider progress in their workplaces.
I scaled this work by turning the book into a business. As CEO of The Fifth Trimester, I help private sector companies achieve gender equity through support for working families and caregivers. Most of my clients are finance and tech companies and law firms that need consulting, coaching, and management training to help them attract and retain the best employees. Whether I’m coaching 1 on 1 or speaking to an audience of thousands (thank you, Seafarer for getting me over stage fright at age 10!), my goal, ultimately, is systemic and cultural change and a stronger economy. Dovetailing that, I have a branch of what I do that’s activism and advocacy. I’m a co-founder of the Chamber of Mothers, a nonpartisan nonprofit that assembles America’s moms to change federal supports for our families. Just before dropping my son at camp last year, I got to take him to the White House. Lately, we have been working with the administration on public health emergencies for moms, like last year’s baby formula shortage.
Camp Impact: What I had seen in the leadership at Seafarer as a camper and now see at Sea Gull as a parent, is that the counselors are so exquisitely capable. I always felt safe and seen. My counselors always made me feel included and special and they were very much attuned to the varying strengths of kids. I remember feeling very secure and that the people in charge were fun! There was a silliness and a joy coupled with a feeling of community and safety that was very unique.
Favorite Camp activity: Archery – I got to the highest rank and got to be a CILT in archery. It was probably the first time in my life I was good at something athletic and it felt great.
Camp role model: Cille Griffith – she was amazing!
Favorite Camp song: Whim-O-Way. When my boys were little and I couldn’t think of lullabies I would sing Camp songs to them.
Favorite Camp food: I liked breakfast. Growing up I wasn’t allowed to have sugar cereal and having those little boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch was a plus.
Three words that best describe you: Optimist, earnest and determined.