SmartFem publisher Lea Haben attends the 12th Annual Teaming Up for Girls Luncheon and writes about her experience sharing a table with keynote speaker Elizabeth Smart during the Florence Crittenton fundraiser.
I love my job as a writer and journalist but sometimes I find it intense and painful to witness especially when children have been involved. My heart is forever broken when it comes to JonBenét Ramsey, Polly Klass, Adam Walsh and countless other children who have been the victims of such senseless violence. The Elizabeth Smart abduction really affected me in 2002 as I have a daughter about the same age. At age 14, Elizabeth was only three years older when she was taken from the presumed safety of her bedroom. I remember praying for her safe return and I spent many nights thinking about her poor family and the agony they must have felt. The search for Elizabeth went on for nine months and we were all so relieved when she was found and safely returned to her family.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth and see her speak at the Florence Crittenton Teaming Up for Girls Luncheon this week. I also had the privilege to talk to her for a few minutes as I sat at her table.
At times it was difficult to listen to Elizabeth speak as she described her abduction from her family home on June 5th in 2002. We’ve heard the story in the news but coming from Elizabeth directly was so different. My heart stopped when she described that her little sister was sleeping in the same room and although Elizabeth knew she was left sleeping she wasn’t sure if the rest of her family was even alive.
The news and media gave us all the facts but hearing Elizabeth personally describe her recollection of the horrific circumstances made it all too real for us as we listened intently. In person Elizabeth is a beautiful young woman well beyond her years. Her choice to use her experience to help others is very inspiring and quite brave in my opinion.
Elizabeth has penned her memoir; a book called My Story in 2013 with Chris Stewart, a bestselling and award winning author, and has also become an activist. In 2006 she went to Congress to support the sexual predator legislation for the AMBER Alert system and in July of 2006 Elizabeth spoke as the Adam Walsh Act was signed into law. Since then Elizabeth Smart continues to speak publicly and support victims of crimes and other issues involving women and children.
Elizabeth Smart has spoken on human trafficking at Johns Hopkins University and fights for individual self-worth. Last month she testified before the Utah State House of Representative in favor of HB 286, a bill that would create a non-mandated curriculum for use in Utah schools to provide training on sexual abuse prevention.
On a personal note Elizabeth is happily married to Mathew Gilmour, a native of Scotland she met while serving as a missionary in Paris, France.
What I really enjoyed about meeting Elizabeth is that she has used her heart-breaking story to become a champion for others. She is a smart beautiful young woman who will touch everyone who comes in contact with her. I expect we will see more great things from Elizabeth Smart.
The residents of the valley rocked the red carpet this weekend at the 2014 Oscar Experience black tie event hosted at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix. Dressed in sequined gowns and arriving in limos as they entered the event looking like Hollywood movie stars. Glitz, Glamour and Furs…Oh my!
The Oscar Experience evening was elegant and fun filled. Rolf’s Salon style lounge was there to ensure that everyone was ready for their close-ups. The event was attended by Phoenix’s A-listers. ABC15 was the television partner for the evening and ABC news anchor Connie Colla was the hostess of the evening. Connie rocked the podium in a hot pink evening gown and Hollywood vintage inspired hair.
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There were some fun things for the attendee’s of this year’s Oscar Experience such as Rolf’s styling salon where the women could get their hair and makeup touched up. Once camera ready they could try on gorgeous vintage style furs so that they could have their picture taken at the SmartFem Social Media lounge which was sponsored by Evans Fine Furs and Leathers. Among the generous donations were Michelle Parkhurst of Evans Furs and Coye Pointer of Fiat of Scottsdale.
Attendees were able to watch the live Oscar show on big screens and during intermission we were entertained by young dancers featuring dance numbers from some of Hollywood’s best musicals. Although the glamour and lure of tinsel town is always abundant on this evening it was the gallant speech of young Logan Boles, 2014 Juvenile honoree who touched us with his story.
The evening was that of a fairy tale as the women in their beautiful ball gowns gathered together to support the Arthritis Foundation as well as view the nominated films. Oscar night generates so much excitement worldwide, but it is refreshing to see Phoenicians come together to enjoy each other and come together as a community to support the amazing philanthropic work right here in Phoenix.
The Arthritis Foundation was the charity tied to the Black tie Oscar Experience event. Arthritis strikes about 50 million adults and 300,000 children and is the leading cause for disability in this nation.
Most people think of the homeless as disheveled adults with signs next to the freeway ramps begging for a handout. The staggering statistics that we don’t talk about is that 1 in 4 children are at or below the poverty level. There is some good news however; these numbers are changing due to the amazing efforts of some of the valley’s leaders.
Darlene Newsom, CEO of UMOM and Debbie Gaby, of Sleep America Charities met with me to discuss some of the ways the homeless have been able to successfully transition into society again. The idea that the majority of the homeless don’t work simply is not true. The biggest population of homelessness is created by families of the working poor. These families work hard, but due to the low wages of Arizona and the high costs of daycare it renders many incapable of sustaining themselves and their families.
UMOM has an all-inclusive program that not only shelters these families, but gives them the support they need but also the important life skills needed to further advance them into society. These life skills include programs such as counseling, parenting classes, interview skills, and safe daycare for their children. The shelter is almost fully self-contained with a beautiful daycare center, full medical center as well as a culinary school to help its residents learn valuable practices they can use in the outside world. The residents can stay up to seven years in transitional homes so that they can finish their education and gain the necessary skills to become self-supporting.
A great deal of planning and services has gone into the program to ensure the successful transition for its residents. Debbie Gaby, of Sleep America Charities was on hand to discuss her partnership with the UMOM organization. Sleep American Charities and Tempur-Pedic donated an astounding 140 beds. These are some of the most expensive luxury beds on the market and they are also made of hypoallergenic materials. Since dust mites and bed bugs cannot penetrate the mattresses, this makes them perfect for the homeless. The beds may be expensive but they will last longer and they don’t have to be replaced as often.
Homelessness is a problem but it does have a solution. If we all would write a check to organizations such as UMOM instead of giving our cash to the homeless we could actually make an even bigger difference. UMOM has a high rate of success for successfully transitioning the homeless.
Remember the donations that you make can put an end to homelessness and hunger for a child.
My Interview with Mrs. Arizona 2012 Kirin Christianson
These days, it seems that everyone has opinions about beauty pageants and I am no different. My opinions of beauty pageants have always been less than favorable, however I decided to find out more about them. I had met Kirin Christianson, Mrs. Arizona at number of functions and decided to see get the inside scoop on the pageant circuit. I will be the first to admit that I have always felt that pageants focus more on beauty than intelligence and character. Kirin was refreshingly kind and positive about her experience with pageants and did her best to get me to see things from her perspective. Despite my personal feelings about pageants, I would be remiss if I did not mention that two of my journalism heroines are both southern pageant girls: Diane Sawyer was America’s Junior Miss and Oprah Winfrey was Miss Black Tennessee.
As she welcomed me into her beautiful Scottsdale home, she shared the story of pain and cruelty she experienced growing up, being known as the “Ugly Girl.” Having two sisters myself, one of which was a homecoming queen, I also grew up being over shadowed by my more attractive siblings. Kirin explained that she decided to challenge herself and figure out how to change the things that she could and to work hard on her self-esteem and courage. Her story is really unbelievable, she entered 12 beauty pageants before she ever won one. I like to think that I am strong and press on, but I think I would have cut my losses and moved on if it were me! Her happy smile and can do attitude is what I admire about her and the fact that she proved that dreams and beauty don’t have an expiration date.
Kirin sensed that I wasn’t a fan of the pageant circuit, so she explained that pageants are now platforms for women to find their voice. Pageants provide scholarships for younger women and the “Mrs.” pageants are a great way for women to highlight the charities that mean something to them.
Kirin is a busy mom but she uses her story to inspire other women to think outside the box. She encourages women to dream and to get up after falling down. We all have the ability to change how we feel about ourselves. Self-esteem is the one thing no one can give you, it is a gift you must give yourself.
Surprisingly her experience with all the pageants put her on the road to self-discovery and helped her with her never give up attitude. On a final note Kirin signed a modeling contract with Ford at the age of 38 thus proving beauty doesn’t have an expiration date!
It is true that beauty starts from within and radiates outward.
I am always elated when I find a new beauty regime that not only works, but doesn’t break the bank either. I recently decided to try micro-needling at the suggestion of a friend of mine. This is something I have known about for a while but I wasn’t too sure about it, as there are a few different methods of this procedure. Micro-needling is collagen induction therapy which includes non surgical skin tightening that creates controlled injury underneath the skin’s surface, therefore causing the body to create new tissue layers of elastic and collagen fibers.
I went to the Face Place in the Biltmore area and met with esthetician Donna Scelza who explained to me that they use the Derma Pen and not the Derma roller. She explained that the Derma Pen can be controlled and the needles are only used once, whereas the Derma rollers are used multiple times and the depth cannot be controlled. I believe it is important to have a skilled technician who can control such things. I have also heard that the derma rollers can dull occasionally, and they aren’t as sanitary since they are used more than once.
My experience was a relaxing one as I was pleasantly greeted by Augustina and Donna of the Face Place in the Biltmore area. After Donna explained everything to me and cleansed my face, she then began to derma plane my face which she said would maximize the results of my micro-needling Derma planning removes the outer most layers of dead skin cells and fine vellus hair.
After my face had been prepped, a numbing cream was applied to my face for several minutes. Donna then carefully removed the numbing cream and began the procedure. She applied the facial serums and they absorbed into the microscopic little punctures. There was absolutely no pain or discomfort as she worked on my fine lines and a surgical scar on my right check. Micro-needling has been extremely beneficial for people who suffer with acne scars, I don’t have any of those but I was pleasantly surprised with the minimization of my surgical scar. After she finished the procedure she loaded me up with a fabulous post care package, something that I know most places don’t do.
I was a little red and swollen that night, but woke up in the morning the find my face a little pink but very hydrated and supple. The fine lines around my eyes and lips were noticeably softer. This procedure stimulates your body’s own production of collagen so I will continue to see improvement in the upcoming months. Micro-needling needs to be spaced out for six weeks but you can bet that I will be going in again as I want to keep the momentum.
This was a really fabulous experience and the prices are so reasonable, especially since they do so much prep work to maximize your benefits. In addition, the post care kit was so nice. I am usually given some instructions and told to go buy some Arnica.
To find out how you too can get pampered check out their website at www.faceplaceaz.com
SmartFem publisher Lea Haben interviews Scottsdale Mayor W. J. “Jim” Lane and asks important questions about the role of women in the city of Scottsdale now and for the future.
I admit that I prefer to take my politics served light with a lot of humor and cynicism, but the positive optimism and passion displayed by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane during our recent interview was such a refreshing change. I wasn’t quite sure how he would respond to my female centric questions, but his comments about the important role of women here in the valley were passionate and articulate. I later found out that he grew up in a family as the only boy with five sisters so of course he should understand women.
Here is the interview:
Mayor Lane: It’s an interesting perspective; I think that the western cities put far more stock in women than traditional east coast cities. Opportunities and acceptance is long standing in Arizona particularly in politics. That isn’t to say we don’t have our problems but overall, I think we are in a very good state.
SmartFem: Do you think the new Health care reform will hurt or help small business owners in the Valley?
Mayor Lane: Early indications are not too good; in fact I think this will hurt some small business owners. I think it will be difficult from a cost standpoint. I wonder how it will affect or disrupt women who are comfortable with their current healthcare professionals. Still it is still pretty early to predict.
SmartFem: Have you seen a surge in women-owned businesses in Scottsdale?
Mayor Lane: I don’t know that I would call it a surge as I think that Scottsdale has more women owned businesses that those of their male counterparts. I feel that we have always had some pretty savvy women business owners.
SmartFem: There still seems to be a glass ceiling for women in the work force, how can we change that?
Mayor Lane: I think the ceiling still exists and this is one of the reasons women become entrepreneurs. I also believe some women go into business for themselves so they can develop a lifestyle that suits them…that corporate America can’t provide.
SmartFem: While growing up which woman in your life provided the most influence?
Mayor Lane: My sister Liz, I had 5 [sisters]. Liz could do anything [and] didn’t want to necessarily follow traditional roles. She was a professor and pilot and she followed my dad’s lead. She was a strong woman and chose an interesting life.
SmartFem: Who is your favorite female historical figure and why?
Mayor Lane: Barbara Bush, she was involved in very important programs very quietly and gracefully. I admired her for that.
SmartFem: Mayor Lane what changes would you like to see in Scottsdale and in Arizona for the future?
Mayor Lane: The City of Scottsdale has done some great reforms in efficiency but we need to do more. Opening up the city to the younger generation and working with them side by side so that we can balance out some of our differences such as ethnicity, economic backgrounds and bringing people together.
In his own Words… Here are a few things you may not know about Mayor Lane.
The most influential person in my life as a child was…my dad, with an uncanny understanding of people and human nature. He was a great salesman who sold whatever advice he gave us individually as our own.
I believe women can….do whatever they set their mind to.
The biggest challenge being mayor of Scottsdale is….balancing interests and values between the different socio-economic groups.
My guilty pleasure is…an occasional cigar.
My favorite movie of all time is….Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.
One thing no one knows about me is…I cry at the end of the movie A Wonderful Life.
My proudest moment was….winning my second term as Mayor with the acknowledgement of my first term accomplishments. – “Reform, Results, Recovery”
One thing I’ve learned that I want to pass on to the women of the valley is…when working properly and honestly the complimentary psyche of the genders is a great gift to society.
Mayor Lane will be attending the Women investing in Women event on January 11th at ASU Skysong. Click here to register.
We have all heard that stress and worry can wreak havoc with your life but studies show that it can also create long term health issues. It is important for people to realize that embracing positive thinking and changing certain behavioral patterns can transform your whole life in areas such as health, wellness, business and relationships.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet someone who not only talks about the possibilities, but has the experience to back it up. I met Suzie Gasparovic and she shared her story. We all know negative people in our lives… people who are so negative we can only deal with them in small doses. So talking with Suzie was a nice change of pace for me. She is so much more authentic and different from the many self proclaimed “Life Coaches,” that contact me.
Suzie was very candid about her story and the issues she had to overcome. Challenges in life are something we all face, but to lose your mother to suicide at the tender of age of four is something that I can’t even imagine. She also went on to say that her father turned to gambling which resulting in her family losing her home at a young age. How on earth does someone so young cope? She shared with me some of her darkest moments and clearly her life was a difficult journey she had to endure.
I was drawn to her positive happy attitude despite her earlier circumstances. Her earlier dark thoughts had wreaked havoc with her health creating issues including depression and Hashimoto, which is an autoimmune disorder. She briefly told me how her negative thoughts had created her health issues as well as attracted negative and unhealthy relationships in her life. The underlying message throughout her story was bad things happen to everyone. What matters is how you process the negatives and react to them. Susie has had an interesting life and is a fantastic story teller and I found that her Australian accent was a delightful bonus. She has had such a troublesome personal history but shows others how they can change their lives by changing their thoughts and habits.
Suzie Gasporavic will be speaking at the Women of Strength Forum being held at the Scottsdale Hilton on January 9th at 8:30am.
You can register for the event at www.WomenofStrengthEvent3.eventbrite.com
Christmas came a little early this year thanks to Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding event. The Solid Rock Foundation puts on a Christmas show yearly to benefit The Solid Rock Teen Center. The show is always a little different and this year was no exception. This year’s event was hosted this past Saturday December 7th at the Comerica Theatre. It was amazing to see all the rock stars of my childhood come together under one roof to aid Sheryl and Alice Cooper in their quest for keeping teens safe.
This year’s line-up included: Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer of Kiss, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Kip Winger of Winger and Joan Jett. Seinfeld Star John O’Hurley hosted the show, and Bill Engvall was a special guest comedian.
This year’s event was very special as Rock Demarco, the world’s fastest painter enlisted the help of Alice and Sheryl Cooper to help him propose on stage to girlfriend Olivia Haine. Demarco comes out to paint some of the celebrities every year for Christmas Pudding to serve as auction items. This year he painted legendary rocker Joan Jett, and the man himself, Alice Cooper.
It is fun to work with people who are passionate about what they do and give a hundred percent every time. That is one of the things that endear me personally to Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock in addition to Alice and Sheryl Cooper and the entire Solid Rock Team.
The Cooper’s are a very community-minded and gracious couple, and that is why celebrities donate their time to Christmas Pudding every year!
I would also like to publically acknowledge Coye Pointer of Scottsdale Airpark Dodge and Cherylanne DeVita of DeVita International who have been generous Solid Rock sponsors for years, and who I have the honor and privilege of working with on SmartFem.com.
Christmas is a very special time of the year; help Alice and his friends keep teens safe by giving them the gift of music, dance, self-esteem and a sense of belonging. To find out more go to www.alicecoopersolidrock.com.
Also to see more photos of this fabulous event check out our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/smartfem.az
Photos courtesy of Surrealsister Photography
As a skin cancer survivor I found out the hard way that what you put on your skin does truly go in but I also found some information that most people just don’t know. The United States has almost no restrictions on the cosmetic industry and companies can put just about anything in a bottle and sell it. The companies in the U.S. that manufacture these products would be in violation of the law if they were to try to sell these products in Canada or most of Europe. The United States is about 30 years behind when it comes to cosmetics as most of the ingredients we use here have been banned for decades in Europe.
Phthalates are known to cause a broad range of birth defects and reproductive problems when these chemicals are exposed during and after pregnancy, yet companies continue to use them. These Phthalates are also known to have hormone-mimicking chemicals which can disrupt the normal hormone functions and is believed to increase the risk of breast cancer.
My younger sister has suffered from cystic acne all her life and now she is enduring chemo for breast cancer. She expressed to me her anguish as she can no longer use acutane on her face and her acne is incredibly aggressive right now. In addition she cannot use cosmetics either because of the Phthalates and so she expressed her embarrassment with her hair-loss, raging acne and inability to use cosmetics. My heart ached for her and so I called Cherylanne DeVita to see if there is anything that can be done.
Although I am already a raving fan of DeVita Skincare, the founder Cherylanne DeVita has really helped me understand. DeVita is a pure vegan skincare and cosmetic firm and has nothing that will interfere with her hormones or her chemo. In addition to enlightening me she also took my sister’s address and sent her a beautiful gift set with all of the DeVita skincare products.
My sister called me and was so choked up by not only Cherylanne’s generosity but that she said it was the first time her skin felt good in months. She also went on to express how exquisite and elegant the packaging was. DeVita products are amazing and two of the women I love most, my sister and daughter, now use them. It’s rare in today’s world to find a company you can trust. I feel better knowing that there are CEO’s like Cherylanne who will take on the big cosmetic firms and do the right thing!
Letitia Frye has been an entertainer and auctioneer in the Valley and across the globe for over a decade and has raised over a hundred million dollars. She is a busy mom with a unique career and it was fun to catch up with her. Letitia has shared the stage with CEO’s and celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper She will be gracing the stage again on November 21st for Debbie Gaby’s Celebrity Catwalk. I really enjoyed talking with her and found her to be an incredibly intelligent women with great ideas and opinions. I find it fascinating when I meet women who make their mark in a male dominated profession.
Refreshing, interesting, energetic and progressive are the first things that spring to mind after talking to Letitia. I found Letitia down to earth and real and we had a great conversation as she is so much more than just a pretty face. One of the things I like to ask women when I interview them is if they can really have it all? Letitia’s response was dead on, “A woman can have it all if she can achieve balance and be efficient.” “Many women are busy but not necessarily efficient and you have to be mindful of the difference and create systems or procedures in your life that enable you to be productive.”
We chatted about a number of different things such as giving back to your community and also about being socially responsible and voting. I asked her opinion on women voting as we have had that right for almost a hundred years and the numbers of women who don’t vote are staggering. I was impressed with her passionate response. “Get an absentee or early ballot and just do it.” “My calendar changes daily so voting early helps me do my part and I don’t have to deal with the poll lines.
Letitia expressed how excited she was to be a part of the Catwalk this year as her calendar has never permitted it in prior years. It has been really fun for me interviewing these celebrities for the Catwalk and they all have said the same thing as to why they participate… “I love Debbie Gaby!”
Here is a bit more about Letitia in her own words…
I was born… Marin Country General in Marin, CA.
The most influential person in my life as a child was... My mother.
I believe women can… have it all; it just requires balance, focus and understanding the difference between busy and efficient.
The biggest challenge being in a male dominated profession is…. Not letting the negativity get you down and seeking out positive male mentors and guides.
My guilty pleasure is... Tabasco.
My favorite movie of all time is…. The Wizard of Oz.
One thing no one knows about me is… I take harmonica lessons once a week.
My proudest moment was…. The birth of my two children.
One thing I’ve learned that I want to pass on to young women is… To see other women as a positive asset, not a threat. To cultivate her female relationships and guard them as precious gifts for they are priceless as you get older.