Mothers in Business: Stacy Valner, co-founder, PHASE ONE
“Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart. Should I? Should I not? Go forward? Go back? Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart. When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape. A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right. Why? because conditions are never exactly right.”
STACY VALNER is the founder of the PHASE ONE Foundation which she created in 1991 after her husband’s battle with stage four cancer. Stacy’s continued work with the foundation includes funding research for clinical trials and ensuring the foundation continues to grow and thrive.
Your foundation, PHASE ONE, was created after your husband’s battle with cancer—something that no one ever plans for, we’re certain. What was your career like before this?
My career experiences began with early childhood education. I was a nursery school teacher. From there I went on to start multiple small business. I imported gorgeous home goods from Mexico, where my husband is from, and I had a gift business where I was the corporate gift buyer for Fox Studios. At the time of my husband’s cancer diagnosis I was a full-time mom to three small children.
Give us more detail about PHASE ONE, and how it influences your day-to-day
Our mission statement sums it up: Phase One Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting phase 1 and 2 clinical research and treatment programs for patients with cancer.
As co-chair of the granting committee, my days consist of finding the best clinical trials out there. This would include speaking with our local hospitals and those departments that work with cancer research. In addition, I help out with day to day operations of running an organization as large as ours. I am lucky to have 2 great women working for us but support them daily in many different areas of the foundation.
How many children do you have, and what are their ages?
I have 4 children, ages 26, 24, 20 and 15. Three girls and a boy in the middle, he’s 20.
How does what you do impact the way that you raise your own children?
My children have been raised in a home that values the importance of living your best life. Do a job that makes you happy, not for the salary you may earn. I do not earn a salary for my work at phase one, and it is a very big commitment, but it makes me happy. It defines my wishes for generations to come. A world without cancer.
Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
I still have one child at home, a freshman in high school. I wake up at 6:45 each day and feed my dog, make lunch, have a coffee, wait for her student driven carpool to arrive (you have to participate in student driven carpools at our school to secure a parking spot), change out of my robe, run to get in a work out, run back home to get in a shower…often my desk traps me for a few hours. Some days I eat at my desk and some days I run off to a meeting…grab my daughter at 3 or 5:30 depending on the day, rush home to make dinner…throw on my famous outfit of sweat pants. Wait for my husband to arrive around 7:30, eat dinner with our daughter, and about 9:30 head upstairs to get in bed and relax in front of the tv.
On any given day, what are the biggest challenges you face in business and at home?
By far the biggest challenge is deciding where to put our donor money. Our donors believe in Phase One and the decisions we make. Carefully we navigate whom to fund, why we would fund them, and ultimately these decisions can benefit patients around the world.
My biggest challenge these days at home are dealing with a naughty puppy!
You can offer a unique perspective to other moms in business, because it could arguably be said that your career chose you, not the other way around. For others in similar circumstances, what would you tell them? How do you turn lemons into lemonade, so to speak?
Yes, I did not choose to have a life revolving around philanthropy. Securing dollars and working for love rather than a pay check is definitely not a choice I think I would have made 25 years ago. This job did choose me, and I chose to keep doing it for 20 years. If you have a passion that revolves around philanthropy my first words of advice would be to find an organization that exists and join them. Staring a 501c3 is challenging every single day. There are some may great organizations out there that need active board members, dedicated team members, and loyal donors. Join them, and help them, bring new spirit and energy to help the cause. If nothing is out that that fulfills your need or passion, then certainly create it. But know it is a long and hard road, and you have to really surround yourself with dedicated partners. There have been a few times over the years we have been ready to move on, but the wonderful board and partners I have motivate me to continue moving forward.
What is your main goal (or goals) for 2018?
We are adding so many events in 2018. I want to see them all get off the ground and have a real value to the community. These include a speaker series, an art event, and some community grants we hope to award soon.
What helps you to unwind?
What is your mantra?
Have a committed heart!
Sara Mauskopf has hopped from one hot tech company to another in her nine years in the Bay Area: From Google, to Twitter, to Postmates. But after giving birth to her first child in June 2015, Mauskopf realized there was a big void in the tech world for parenting apps. So she left Postmates and started Winnie in January 2016, Winnie launched its mobile app to help parents find everything from parks to family-friendly restaurants.
“A lot of parents don’t live in cities,” she said. “It’s really important that our product works everywhere, not just in major urban centers but in suburban environments.”
Sherri was an HR Professional in a Corporate setting and after starting a family and wanting to create work/life balance, she decided to take her skills and experience into private practice in September 2014 and created The People Guru™. Sherri has always been passionate about helping others create their own destiny and fulfill their professional goals- she has created a way to empower people to find their lifes’ purpose. She will take you on a journey of self-discovery and professional growth that will challenge & revitalize you to help facilitate you reaching your target!
Mothers in Business: Jen Cullen Williams, Managing Director, Luxury Brand Group
If you haven’t officially met, some of you have at least seen her busily flitting from place to place at any given jewelry show, her lovely, bubbly personality magnetic from even afar. As the managing director at Luxury Brand Group (LBG), a full-service brand communications agency specializing in fine jewelry, Cullen Williams is indispensable to the industry, connecting brands, journalists, and consumers all together. A beloved figure in the industry, this brand-new mama has plenty of other responsibilities too, from her involvement with the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA), helming a recently-founded local community of moms, and working with her husband on his business, a local branch of gyms. And we did mention she recently had a baby, right? An inspiration to all, this is Jen Cullen Williams.
Mothers in Business: Brandee Dallow
To read the storied history of Brandee Dallow’s career is to take a journey through a number of newsworthy moments in the jewelry industry’s recent history—and the mom of two is just getting started. After years of working for a number of big-name companies (details below), Dallow has started her own company, Fine Girl Luxury Brand Building. Between her budding business growing a healthy list of clients and nurturing a young family, among other activities (did we mention she’s president of the Women’s Jewelry Association?), you could say there is no dull day in the life of Brandee Dallow. Here, she tells us all about it.
Mothers in Business: Amanda Gizzi, Jewelers of America
As a mom to two young boys, any woman would find their days filled with plenty of activity. But Amanda Gizzi isn’t just raising a family— she’s also growing and supporting an industry. As the director of public relations and special events for Jewelers of America, Gizzi works around the clock promoting its members in an effort to help them shine their brightest, and in turn, strengthening an industry that continues evolve. Oh, and did we mention? She also happens to be the president of the Women’s Jewelry Association, New York Chapter.
Mothers in Business: Andrea Hansen
You probably know Andrea Hansen. The industry veteran has an infectious passion for championing the talent of others—something that has been apparent in her work with LuxeIntelligence, her firm that specializes in brand and business development. “Being the best version of you” is a mantra that applies indefinitely: Hansen pushes her clients to remain authentic, while striving to push the limits of their capabilities—be that with technological developments, exploring new design techniques, seeking inspiration in unexpected places, and so on.
Mothers in Business: idazzle’s Monica Stephenson
You may know Monica Stephenson for her brilliant idazzle.com jewelry blog. You may know Monica Stephenson as a passionate advocate through her work with the African gem mining community, or as the brains behind the ANZA Gems project. Or, you may simply know Monica Stephenson as a mom.
Mothers in Business: Barbara Palumbo
The author behind Adornmentality and What’s On Her Wrist. Those familiar with the jewelry industry are no doubt also acquainted with the name Barbara Palumbo. The industry veteran, often the largest presence in the room (in stature and personality), has quickly become a fixture in publications both print and digital, and on the feeds of our social media accounts.
We’ve all been hearing a lot about women in business: We’re fortunate to live in a time where women have the choices and opportunities to grow equally in a personal and professional manner, in industry and in family. But in the age of Lean In, there exists a notion that, not only can women have it all, but that they should—enter a tremendous feeling of pressure for many to succeed at all costs. That’s why it’s so important to Priyanka Kedia, founder and designer behind Ayva Jewelry, to highlight the ups and downs of being not only a woman in business, but a business-owning mom. In our Mothers in Business series, we’ll highlight the successes as much as the failures, go behind-the-scenes to discover what it’s like to get a venture off the ground while simultaneously bringing up a family, and follow women along in their journeys to their own versions of success. And we’ll start with our very own Priyanka, mother to three: Two young children, and her budding business, Ayva Jewelry.