I am passionate about making Americans smarter about the world, especially young people who are hungry to engage with the world around them. I started BYkids with the belief that we can understand the world’s challenges — and how to best meet them — through the personal stories of young people.
BYkids is a global movement that uses storytelling through film to inform, engage and inspire action. BYkids provides kids around the world with the training and the video cameras to make short documentaries about their lives. Renowned filmmakers mentor these young people in the art of filmmaking. Once shot and edited, our films are streamed into half the schools in America and are for sale on Amazon.
As a print journalist at The New York Times, I saw how many stories don’t make it onto the front page. As a documentary filmmaker, I saw the potent ability of film to move people. As a mother, I learned first-hand that kids tell honest stories. Working for George Soros with his After-School Corporation, I saw how you can change a life just by listening. When my husband – who is thankfully fine – was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s and started chemo, it both scared and inspired me into getting on with my life. I started BYkids and it has been a crazy ride of good fortune ever since.
When I was young, I dreamed one day of becoming a trapeze artist in the circus. Then I wanted to be the lion trainers like the couple in Born Free. As a teen, I wanted to be the editor of an international cultural magazine.
I would like BYkids to become an international brand. I also hope to be successful in sparking an educational revolution that helps teachers use moving image in every classroom in America. This is how kids learn and there is currently a dangerous chasm. I call it the textbook divide.
Organized, curious and generous. A lot of hard work helps, too!
Success is the ability to help make the dreams of your loved ones come true and to be a meaningful part of making the world a better place. Personally, it means having enough time every day for quiet reflection and putting things in priority.
Failure is ever saying, “I’m bored.” Failure is being too afraid to try. Failure is not understanding that everyone has a story and you have to ask enough questions to get that story.
Of course! But that is how you learn.
As the Business Section’s graphic editor at The New York Times, we inherited a story late in the day from the Foreign Desk about the Japanese hunting the Minke whale. I had to create a graphic in record time for the front page. The reporter gave me the coordinates of where the whales were being hunted and the art department made a map. A full graphic a photo, the map and details was finished minutes before the paper closed and went out to New Yorkers. I exhaustedly returned to my desk to mentally check everything. 4 coordinates, but with the equator couldn’t that be up OR down? I called the art department and they verified my suspicion. Reporter agreed. We had the hunting going on in the Antarctic and it should have been the Arctic! For the second edition of the paper we were able to fix it, but I was sure I would be fired. The only word ever said, was one of the top editors passed me and softly said, “boy those Minke sure can swim.”
Other than that, I always ask lots of questions and am willing to take risks, which would be a big mistake not to do.
My kids. When they say I am a good mom — that is the ultimate compliment.
I would tell her two things:
1) To travel non-stop.
2) Be fearless. I believe that fear is the only thing holding anyone back. Turn off any voices in your head of doubt and replace them with voices of “if not now, when? If not you, who?”
When you are passionate about what you do, it’s not so hard to balance these two parts of your life. Having a loving family, a yoga practice, a bike and a steam also helps keep the balance. Having dinner together every night helps. Finally, I bring my family into many aspects of my work. My daughters are on our national Junior Committee and help with our annual benefit. My husband helps with the business side of BYkids. And, when I am not working, I am off. I am not a phone addict, so my family gets full attention.
The Dot by Peter Reynolds. It is a manifesto to bravely make a creative mark and see where that leads. We all have the creative spirit!
Vashti’s art teacher says, “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Vashti sits paralyzed in front of a blank piece of paper thinking she isn’t an artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. “There!” she says. That one dot is the start of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery.
One husband, 2 kids, tall mountains to hike or deep blue oceans to swim. I like learning on vacation so anything from climbing Kilimanjaro to a yoga retreat at Esalen.
1) The MET (New York)
2) The Prado and Reina Sophia (Madrid)
3) The Gold Museum (Bogota)
4) The Louvre (Paris)
5) District Six / Robben Island (Capetown)