Jennifer Eckert -094



Adoption is a lifelong journey. I don’t know if we are ever fully healed. There is always that missing puzzle piece. – Jennifer Eckert

November is National Adoption Month, so we went searching for a woman who could teach us all about it. Meet Jennifer Eckert, adopted child and founder of Boston Post Adoption Services, a non-profit she created to support individuals and families touched by adoption. Once fully immersed in the field of fashion as a graduate of F.I.T and a marketer for The Limited, Jennifer decided to go back to school in her 40’s and received a graduate degree in social work from Simmons University. An adopted child herself, Jennifer learned through her studies that she had lots of healing to do. She was inspired and determined to know more about how other families handle this life-changing decision, as well as how attitudes have changed around adoption in general over time. Most of all, she wanted to create a non-profit that would support everyone touched by adoption. Her groundbreaking book is called: Adoption Is A Lifelong Journey and is co-written and illustrated by colleagues Kelly DiBenedetto and Katie Gorczyca. In this very personal interview, Jennifer and host Candy O’Terry share their adoption stories and discover startling similarities between the two. The common thread? Secrecy and shame. In her work all these years later, Jennifer seeks to change that. “Kids are super smart. It’s important for adoptive parents to show their children that there is no shame, no secret. There is nothing we are hiding from you. This is our family. This is how we came to be. This is us.”

#adoption @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Grace Kelly -093



My music is a mixture of everything I listen to. It sits in my brain, it stews, and then it spits out GRACIFIED! –Grace Kelly

Have you ever met a prodigy? I have…and you can, too. Her name is Grace Kelly. Inspired by the music of Stan Getz and Paul Desmond, Brookline, MA. native Grace Kelly picked up the alto sax at age 10 and never looked back. Her incredible musical gifts were nurtured by her parents who provided both stability and freedom for Grace to grow as a singer, songwriter and saxophonist. She wrote her first song at 7, recorded her first CD at 12, orchestrated and performed an original composition with the Boston Pops at 14, and performed at President Obama’s inauguration at 16. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Grace was featured in Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women To Watch in 2011 and recently, Billboard Magazine declared “Grace Kelly is making jazz young again”. Now 26, Grace has played over 800 concerts as a bandleader in over 30 countries around the world and is the winner of countless awards including multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards, the Rising Star Award from Downbeat Magazine and most recently, the John Lennon Songwriters Award for her very personal love song Feels Like Home. We brought our equipment into Grace’s family home and spent some precious time with an incredibly humble and gifted young woman. @gracekellymusic @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Debra Doroni -092



My short term memory was gone. I couldn’t multitask. I’d stumble over my words. I was anxious, depressed and exhausted. Chemo brain changed my whole life in a way that breast cancer should have, but didn’t. I had to raise the white flag. -Debra Doroni

As October 2019 comes to a close, we’re wrapping up our series on breast cancer survivors with the story of Debra Doroni. When she was diagnosed with the disease, it was the last thing she expected because she had no family history and no risk factors. Says Deb: “I never thought of cancer as something that could take my life.” As it turns out, it wasn’t the diagnosis, the surgery, or the recovery that brought this successful career woman to her knees. Instead, it was the effects of chemotherapy on her brain, aka: chemo brain. Born and raised in the little seaside town of Hingham, MA. Debra was no stranger to adversity. Her father was murdered when she was twelve years old and her life was forever changed: “I’m 52 years old now, and I still think about it everyday. Losing a parent to violence changes the way you proceed in life.” But proceed she did. Debra was a devoted student, an accomplished ballet dancer, and eventually made her way to Holy Cross, a Jesuit college in Worcester, MA where she majored in biology and later received her MBA in finance from Boston College. Her career trajectory has been steady and impressive with high ranking positions at Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital where she was the Project Manager for the operating room process and eventually was promoted to lead the Department of surgery. When chemo brain sidelined her, Debra created a new and exciting next chapter as an executive coach, earning her certification at the Gestalt International Study Center and now runs her own company: Debra Doroni Leadership Partners, LLC. Her focus is in guiding healthcare professionals including an exclusive coaching relationship with the Boston College Woods College of Advancing Studies Master of Healthcare Administration Program. Says Deb: “I would like to leave a legacy, some kind of impact on the world. Clinical burn out and chemo brain look a lot alike! @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Kate Martin -091



Cancer will take your breath away, like any stressful life event will do. Trust and look inward to the deep well of strength we all have inside of us…and breathe. -Kate Martin

Our salute to breast cancer survivors continues with Kate’s story. She was only 40 when an out of the blue, visible mass appeared on her left breast and she imagined it might be her pectoral muscle. The single mother of two year old Ronan, Kate recalls a mammogram that didn’t reveal the tumor, an ultrasound and then a biopsy. Within days, she had a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis and her #1 concern was for her young son. An interior designer on the sales side and a yoga instructor, Kate had searched long and hard for “Mr. Right” and when he didn’t show up, she opted for a sperm donor and spent months and lots of money trying to get pregnant. “I felt like a mom, but I didn’t have a baby in my house” said Kate in this poignant interview. It is clear that this deeply longed-for child is the center of her world. When Kate’s aggressive treatment plan left her exhausted and struggling to function, her son’s pre-school teacher suggested The Ellie Fund, a Massachusetts based non-profit that eases the burden for women and their families while they are going through breast cancer treatment and recovery by providing groceries, light housekeeping, transportation, childcare reimbursement, and more, all at no charge. Kate applied for childcare reimbursement and grocery gift cards, and within days, received what she had asked for. Says Kate: “The Ellie Fund was part of my village and when I received their help, I had to teach my son what happy tears meant.” With no family history of the disease, Kate began researching environmental toxins and their influence on the body. She is the force behind The Sangha Project, that curates safe, clean, toxin free product kits for women in recovery so they can focus on their well being. Now 42, Kate is feeling grateful and finds great joy as a yoga instructor. Ronan is 4 and has no memory of his mother’s breast cancer. “I have pictures I’ll show him someday, says Kate. I want him to know that he was what kept me going.” @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Alexis Flanagan -090



It’s gonna be a journey, but you still have a lot of life to live. -Alexis Flanagan

Alexis Flanagan was living large. At only 33 her personal life was filled with family and friends and her career in finance was thriving. On a business trip to Florida in 2017 with her mother tagging along for some warm sunshine by the hotel pool, Alexis noticed swelling in her left breast. Her mother insisted she get the lump checked as soon as they returned to Boston. When all of the tests were complete, Alexis remembers hearing the words: “you have stage 4 breast cancer” and then, she blacked out. “I thought my life was over. I thought that everything I had dreamed of was just crumbling away. The hardest part of a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis is that you just can’t see the path ahead of you because you are so scared. You don’t know if you are going to be around in a year.” Alexis applied for and received free assistance from a Massachusetts based charity called The Ellie Fund which provides essential support services to breast cancer patients, just to ease the stresses of their every day lives. Nearly three years have passed since her diagnosis and in this interview, Alexis candidly shares the details of her breast cancer journey. Thankful for the love of her family, she mourns the loss of a chunk of her life when she pressed “pause” and others moved on; getting married, having babies, and celebrating job promotions. A patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute under the care of Dr. Ann H. Patridge and her Young & Strong Program, Alexis receives infusions every 21 days and is not only back to work, but in the gym lifting weights. “I want to show women that no matter what stage you are, you CAN be physically strong again after a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.”   @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Carla Tardif -089



There is nothing more gratifying than saving a life, or lifting people up around you. The ripple effect cause miracles every day. -Carla Tardif

Do you know someone with cancer? Chances are, the answer is “yes”. A cancer diagnosis is terrifying for the patient and the family, but it can also be financially devastating. That’s where Family Reach comes in, providing a financial lifeline for families fighting cancer. In addition to offering immediate financial relief, the organization also provides education and empowerment by giving families the tools they need to survive the most difficult time of their lives. At the helm of Family Reach is Carla Tardif, CEO and “team captain” leading the way with vision and compassion. Last year, Family Reach allocated more than 4.8 million dollars towards their programs, supporting more than 40,000 individuals across 50 states. This is Carla’s latest chapter in a career that has been devoted to work that matters. Driven to do what she does by a sense of purpose, Carla says: “being other people’s voices allowed me to find mine.” In this interview, she talks about her early work for Jerry Lewis and his famous Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, a deathbed promise to a NFL football player Pat Kelly who died of brain cancer, an unlikely collaboration with a very talented guitarist who just happened to be a billionaire car dealer and an invitation to share the good work of Family Reach at The White House. All of these alliances have led Carla to where she is today: on the battlefield fighting cancer-related financial toxicity. A wife, mother and two time breast cancer survivor, Carla says: When you have any kind of cancer, you are constantly being forced to make a decision: do I get afraid or do I get brave? You have to change your mindset. You have to fearless when you face cancer.       @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Nancy Frates -088



ALS is going to take my son away. I have grieved and my family has grieved every day for seven and a half years. We know what the outcome is, but you cannot speak about this journey without acknowledging the gifts we have also been given. -Nancy Frates

You’ve heard of The Ice Bucket Challenge, right? This is the story of how it came about.

On March 13, 2012 Nancy Frates accompanied her son Pete to a doctor’s appointment. Only 27 years old, he had been a superb, lifelong athlete. In fact, Pete had played professional baseball in Europe following his graduation from Boston College. Now living in Boston and making his way in the insurance industry, Pete had been hit in the wrist by a fastball in a summer league and thought he had a pinched nerve. When the doctor said tests confirmed he had ALS, Petes’ mother Nancy admits: “I didn’t know what ALS was. I just knew it was bad.” Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who died of the disease in 1941, ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. There is no treatment and no cure for ALS and the average patient lives 2-5 years after diagnosis. During that time, muscles are rendered useless and ALS is 100% fatal. No one would have blamed Nancy Frates if she shut herself in a dark room and cried for days, weeks, or even months, but that is not what Peter wanted. Instead, he gathered his family and his friends and formed team Frate Train. Using the power of social media, Pete showed the world what ALS was doing to him and was determined to raise awareness and money for research. Pete is the inspiration for The Ice Bucket Challenge, a worldwide fundraising phenomenon that raised 220 million dollars for the ALS Foundation and its global partners. Married and the father of a 5 year old daughter named Lucy, Pete Frates is still alive, experiencing daily moments of joy his daughter and loved ones bring him. His mother remains steadfast in her love for her son and her passion to find a cure she knows will not come in time for him. “My husband and I cry, but we also cry tears of joy because look at what this child of ours has done. Look at the people he has inspired. We are filled with immense pride.” Listen to Nancy’s story for a master class in the power of mother love. #icebucketchallenge  @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Linda Marks -087



My father told me, “music is a waste of a good mind” and I’ve spent my entire life proving him wrong. -Linda Marks

When she was about 3 years old, Linda Marks toddled over to the piano and started to play. She didn’t talk very much…it was the piano that set her free. Ever since that day, this exceptional woman has been singing and writing songs from her heart. What’s really interesting about her life story is that she is also a pioneer in heart centered psychotherapy. A graduate of Yale and the Sloan School at MIT, Linda developed EKP: Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy, she is the author of two landmark books: Living With Vision: Reclaiming the Power of the Heart and Healing the War Between the Genders: The Power of the Soul Centered Relationship. The heart is at the center of everything Linda Marks does, including her music. Now in a very exciting “next chapter” of her life, she is finally able to dive into her music with both feet. Linda’s latest album is titled In Grace and features songs of the heart, and social consciousness. In this interview, she reveals a tragic childhood where every talent, hope and dream was dashed, the demands of single parenthood, and the joy of reclaiming what brings her joy. If you have faced hardship and need a role model, this is the interview for you.      @BWME    #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Margaret Carr -086



We all have chapters in our lives and Margaret Carr is the perfect example of that. Armed with a B.S. in Communications from Boston University, an MBA from Boston College and a doctorate in Education Leadership from Drexel University, she is the National VP/Development for a non-profit known as Read To A Child.  With chapters in Greater Boston, Hartford, Los Angeles, Miami and Metro Detroit, Read To A Child is made up of nearly 2000 volunteers from 130 companies who travel to elementary schools on their lunch break to read to students. The results are life changing. Children in the Read To A Child program experience not only better reading, vocabulary and comprehension skills, they experience a new sense of confidence. The road that led Margaret to this latest adventure has been filled with twists and turns. A single mom for many years, Margaret has worked in healthcare at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and South Shore Mental Health, in higher education at Stonehill College, and as a partner in her family’s real estate business. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Lesley University where she teaches Business, Marketing and Public Relations. With a heart full of wisdom and gratitude for the lessons she has learned along the way, Margaret shares her passion for her latest mission: spreading literacy from coast to coast with Read To A Child Day on October 8, 2019. @BWME   #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions


Susan Cohen -085



I had a dream that I was going to be the Perry Mason of my day.
-Susan Cohen, Immigration Attorney

The topic of immigration is on the lips of millions of Americans, so we searched for a woman who could teach us all about it, based on her real-life experience. Meet Susan Cohen, founder & chair of the immigration practice at Mintz, one of the most prestigious law firms in the United States. Susan took on her first immigration case as a second year associate, back in 1986 and she’s been at it ever since. Raised by a single mother who was a social worker, her passion to speak out against injustice, to do what she can for others, was taught early on and then nurtured during her college experience at Brandeis University where Susan began marching and demonstrating for causes she believed in. Nationally recognized as an expert on immigration law, Susan’s mission is to get people to understand the human side of of the refugee crisis. An accomplished songwriter, Susan is the founder of White Dove Projects and in collaboration with students at Berklee College of Music she has created two music videos that tell the stories of refugees: Beyond The Borders and Looking for the Angels. Susan also serves as a volunteer for the PAIR Project  where she helps refugees seek political asylum. “In countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, young people are forced to enter gangs and if they resist, they are marked for death. Refugees are looking for someplace to be safe. Most people don’t want to flee their homeland. They have to flee for their lives.”  @BWME   #storybehindhersuccess    #16LifeLessons    #mydoveproductions #worldrefugeeday