Women's health and public education are both issues close to my heart. Growing up, my aunt Helen Greico, was the executive director of NOW, the National Organization of Women. I watched her champion women’s empowerment, appearing on major talk shows as well as leading demonstrations as far back as I can remember. Her advocacy helped me develop my own value as a woman in the world.
I discovered the Women for Women organization on a volunteer trip I took to New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I was there with a group of artists for an event called V Day, a powerful benefit advocating for survivors of sexual violence. At the event a man named Denis Mukwege, (who coincidentally received a Nobel prize for his work just this year), was being honored for devoting his life as a surgeon to helping heal the women of the Republic of the Congo who had survived unimaginable sexual violence. I was so moved by his speech, I knew I needed to find a way to support these women. In my google search, Women for Women popped up. I started sponsoring women from the ROC that day, and I have everyday since. As the years went on, I have sponsored women from many different regions of the world as well. It’s an incredible organization that not only gives women a safe space to learn new vocational skills, but economic and social ones as well, connecting them with the proper resources and empowering them to build the lives they envision for themselves and their children on their own terms.
From the moment I became a mom, people started to ask me where I would be sending my son to school. The amount of anxiety that new parents have about this is insane! I was so concerned by how competitive the whole thing was and decided to start doing my homework to try and get a grasp on what was really going on. I found out that we actually had an incredible local public school right under our noses — one that had actually been there for over 100 years. As it turns out, it’s the only public school option for non-sighted kids in all of LA. In recent years it had been suffering, mostly from a lack of community support and parent involvement. I decided that even though we had been one of the lucky ones who "won the lottery” as they say and got into all of the coveted local charters, that we would support our local community public instead. That decision has turned out to be one of the most rewarding of my life. Myself and a few other families have been working hard over the last few years to give all of our local kids the very best school experience possible. It’s what all kids everywhere deserve. No matter where you come from or how much money you have, you deserve a quality education — that’s the American dream I believe in. That’s what public education is here to do: To lift us up. It gives me such joy knowing we are helping create and sustain that reality for every child who comes through that school door. Every program we are able to bring in, every garden project, every mural has meant the world to me.