Health & Wellness Coach and Advocate, Autism Aide, Behavioral Therapist, Personal Trainer, Personal Attendant, Board Member, Speaker, Teacher, Provider, Caregiver and Patient. Grand-daughter, daughter, sister, aunt, niece and a believer that close friends are chosen family.
Midwest nice with an east coast bite; an appreciation for southern hospitality and a lover of laid back west coast living.
I was born somewhere in the middle of Missouri (Ava to be exact), mostly grew up in St. Louis (with detours to Conneticut and Illinois), had the priceless experience of living with my grandparents my last two years of high school and ended up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for undergrad. I have had about twenty three different addresses in seven states and regardless of where I live or what coast I am on my family and friends (all scattered from coast to coast) are and always will be my rock, my motivators and my inspiration.
Meaningful Observations and Real Experiences (M.O.R.E)
I always wanted to be a doctor or a nurse and was passionate about the healthcare industry at an early age. It was engrained in me that real life experiences as well as observing and listening to others in the industry would be critical to a successful career in the healthcare field. At thirteen, I began volunteering for the disabled and elderly in nursing homes and at fifteen I was in scrubs and a mask as a doctor’s assistant for oral surgery. I remember my freshman year advisor at UW’s Physician Assistant program drilling in me that it did not matter what my GPA was and that I would not be considered without hours and hours of real hands on experience. And so I began shadowing, volunteering and working three jobs…
I was a personal attendant for an individual with muscular spinal atrophy, shadowed occupational and physical therapist, was a behavioral therapist for children with autism and became a personal trainer. In the midst of all my jobs, I grew a deep love and compassion for those with chronic conditions; I developed a deeper understanding of everyday living, caregiving and the management of long term care; and I became passionate about helping these individuals improve their health.
After college, I moved to California and attempted two jobs : more home-based autism therapy and personal training. My niche in the training world was the “masters” (65+) and in the world of autism, I became focused on their health & wellness (and lack of resources and focus on addressing diet, exercise, sleep, etc). I then combined my passions and started, FITBuddies, small group training for teens and adults with special needs. I eventually established BuddiesInACTION with a focus on improving the health and wellness of individuals with Down Syndrome, Autism, and similar intellectual conditions.
Over the course of ten plus years, my experiences at jobs in various health related settings, my observations in the homes of caregivers managing everyday care, and my close relationships with clients who had a variety of chronic conditions, also opened my eyes to the good, bad and ugly of our healthcare system. And most of what I learned was from a very unique perspective – an everyday outside the system perspective. In the process of learning some of the toughest realities of managing everyday care for those with chronic conditions, I was also now in the middle of silicon valley personal training clients who were entrepreneurs, CEO’s, VC’s and so on.
Overtime my passion evolved from wanting to be a part of our healthcare system to wanting to be a part of changing our healthcare system. At the same time, my entrepreneurial spirit grew and my knowledge of the startup world expanded.
I am not an entrepreneur who has been searching for the right idea for years. If you had asked me ten years ago if I would ever stop providing health and wellness services and instead begin changing the way care is provided, I probably would have said not a chance. I am an entrepreneur who has experienced the problems of managing chronic conditions first hand as a provider, caregiver and as a patient, and I am passionate about not only improving the management of care but most importantly improving the overall health and wellness of those with chronic conditions.
I do not have a MBA, I have M.O.R.E. I did not go to medical school but instead spent 11 years accruing years of experience as an everyday health provider outside of the medical world. I do not have co-founders, I have a great team. I am a proud female leader ready to make disruptive, much needed healthy changes…by the billions.
This blog is my professional and personal perspective from outside the medical world. A Healthy Billion is an initiative, a commitment and a community effort to make everyday changes, by the billions, from the outside in.
Are you ready? I hope so. Step one – start here.
I look forward to sharing the journey, tackling challenges and paving a new healthy path with you.