What is a pearl from your childhood?
I learned early on not to allow my struggles to define me but to use them to fuel me.
My educational background is in sociology and psychology. I have been a therapist for 18 years and enjoy working with trauma and anxiety issues.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping others find their peace and joy in life. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the "supposed-tos" of life that I find we forget about enjoying the moment.
What motivates you?
Knowing others are counting on me.
What struggles have you faced in your life?
I am an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. As a first generation college student I put myself through undergrad and graduate school. I am also a single parent living in Charlotte with no family support.
What was it about this field that drew you to it?
My parents started out when I was young volunteering for hospice, and so I grew up in that service-oriented, caretaker, helper environment. Then, my senior year of high school, my parents moved me from New York to Florida. When I moved down to Florida, they had a peer mentoring program for seniors. It just really spoke to me. Just really helping freshmen get acclimated. I thought, “I’m new and it’s hard for me, so I can share my experience with them as well.” I began as a peer counselor, and that really just grew my passion for, “I want to go into a counseling field.”
Why Brave Step?
I’m a survivor myself. My journey took a long time and was very difficult because I have such a close-knit family, just bearing all of that weight of not wanting to be the one to “ruin the family” and tell them what had happened. It wasn’t until I got to college where I was able to seek out counseling to realize that wasn’t my fault, that there was healing after this and that it could be an entire family approach. Even at that point, in college, I still wasn’t ready. It wasn’t until I had children that I felt like it would be a disservice with them to not share my story, to not be open and to not be able to fully heal from it. That’s why Brave Step speaks to me. It’s because I know that process. The name just says it in itself: what a brave step it takes to use your voice and to let go of the shame and the guilt and feelings of responsibility and to be able to truly heal and move forward with your life.
What is Brave Step's vision?
Brave Step's vision is to inspire individuals to take the brave step; educate the person, family and community on the effects of abuse; and provide personalized care that will help them live a life free from the constraints of abuse.
What do you find unique about your career?
It allows me to have an intimate look into the lives of others and help empower my clients to find and honor their strengths.
What are some of your hobbies?
Just being a mom and having fun and being silly with my kids. As a busy single parent, any free time I can steal with them, I try to. But then I also know I need to be an individual, too, and I do have my own self care. I love to be outdoors either on my mountain bike or hiking in the woods. I’m an avid mountain biker! When I don’t have my kids, there is no other place I’d love to be than on my bike in the middle of the woods somewhere. There’s just something invigorating and freeing about flying down a dirty, rocky, root-ridden trail by myself.
If you could meet anyone in the world, past or present, who would you want to meet?
The 14th Dalai Lama. He's pretty darn cool.
What do you find the most challenging day to day?
My most challenging work is a being a parent to young children. There is so much to stay on top of and be informed about to ensure their safety and well being.
Two amazing children, Olivia, age 11, and Liam, age 8. Two furry felines, Allie and Oskar.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
Earning my master's degree and pursuing my career while also raising two bright and socially aware little humans.
Are you originally from New York?
Yes, I grew up in Long Island - a typical American family - mom, dad, AquaNet hairspray and burgers and french fries. My family is very working class; my dad was an electrician. I’m just so fortunate to have the parents I did who were just very altruistic by nature and really instilled that nurturing, giving-back philosophy to me and my brothers.
What do you love about the Carolinas/Charlotte?
The kindness of the people here.
Where do you see yourself retiring?
I hope to be able to retire out west, in Northern California or Oregon.
If money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your time each day?
I would spend my time with friends and family, traveling and volunteering with service projects in underdeveloped countries.
Where do you vacation?
I enjoy weekend trips to the NC beaches or mountains.
Any unique talents?
I can do handstand push ups 😊