BY PAVÉ THE WAY®
Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with us today! We’re so fortunate that you are an ambassador for Pavé The Way® because you have done so much to create a platform that helps others and not just yourself. Can you start by telling us how you see yourself and why Gene Spotlight is so important to you?
First of all, I would like to say thank you to Pavé The Way for giving me the opportunity to serve as an Ambassador for your beautiful jewelry line, and to benefit my family’s nonprofit Gene Spotlight.
Gene Spotlight is so important to me because I have seen first-hand how treatments for rare diseases save and improve lives.
There was a video I was shown, which I will never forget, of a dog suffering from a rare disease. The dog was barely mobile, and when it stood or walked, it whimpered in pain.
Fast forward to a video from a few weeks later, after the same animal had been given several doses of a new drug—-also available for humans—-where the animal was happy, could now stand comfortably, and had tremendously improved mobility—these treatments really do change lives!
It turns out that the critical research which led to the development of this particular drug was funded through the fundraising efforts of a police officer and his wife by bake sales (yes, bake sales!) and by dedicated friends and supporters who raised this money. Beyond impressive, and inspirational.
It gives me hope that I know I can make a difference in the world. But it also reminds me that far too often, the only money dedicated to research in some of these rare diseases is the money from smaller groups of people or organizations. We need to step up and help them.
I see myself as a connector- connecting friends and supporters to a range of important causes to me and letting people know why it’s vital to consider supporting them. My husband Chip and I are passionate about making great strides in terms of medical advancements, and look forward to being the next generation of philanthropists to continue my parents’ work that started in this area almost 30 years ago.
I know that our hard work will make the difference in the lives of those suffering from a variety of rare diseases. I won’t stop until tremendous progress is made.
How do you think you, who has such a complex and integrated life (i.e., being a mother, Founder, influencer, model, writer, and more) can help other women feel empowered to pursue their passions?
Don’t take on more than you think you can handle. I often used to say yes to things too often, which can distract from family time and other things that are my priority. It’s ok to say no respectfully or help in a smaller capacity (be on the committee of a charity event, instead of co-chair, for example), so you can stay on track of what’s most important to you.
Women are always told they “can’t have it all”, but you seem to have it all. What is the secret sauce? How have you found this balance in your life?
I take on smaller work projects. I prefer one-off projects, and spend a limited amount of time on ongoing long-term projects. Modeling jobs from my agency Click Models Philadelphia are usually one-day or two-day jobs. Intimate charity events are months of planning, the event happens, and then you get a break. I work best when I have a project due with a completion date whether it’s an event or having to review a client document; it’s better for my time management and scheduling for family time.
Tell us about what you were like when you were a teenager. How does how you live today reflect the goals and values you had for yourself before you went to college?
As a teenager, I was pretty well behaved. My parents tell me I was perfectly behaved- but I know that’s not true. (Laughs.) I was very independent and went off to Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school at the age of 16. I’ve always been a rule follower, but I come up with creative ideas within the standard guidelines to excel. This creativity and finding innovative ways to improve on the status quo has been super important, and I still apply it today. Whether I am looking for new ways to attract or retain donors to support my charity Gene Spotlight, or doing social media outreach for my make-up client Embellish Beauty, I am constantly trying to improve and innovate. To do this, I read 600-page books on Google and just completed a Social Media course from MIT, to help grow the nonprofit and brands I represent and work with.
Who helped empower you along the way? Did you have a mentor (or several mentors?) Did you have any ah-ha moments?
My parents are my mentors, they are so selfless, extremely philanthropic, and it’s been instilled in me from a young age to be the same. I see how they have changed the trajectory and lives of thousands of at-risk students, including one who now works at NASA.
You are the perfect representation of a leader and someone who represents passion and action. What is Gene Spotlight and how did you decide on the idea for this nonprofit you brought to life?
Gene Spotlight is a nonprofit my family started to fund treatments for rare diseases. It’s a continuation of the medical research we have been supporting for almost 30 years. Most people don’t realize that over 25 million Americans suffer from rare diseases, and only about 5% have any approved medical treatment.
What would your advice be to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the nonprofit world or become active as a volunteer in the nonprofit world?
Choose something you are passionate about.
Set up fun and manageable opportunities throughout the year for people to get involved at any and every level. We participate every year in various fundraising drives including Give Miami Day and the Million Dollar Bike Ride for Penn Medicine, where we are grateful for every single donation that comes our way – whether it be $25 or $10,000, we let our supporters know that “your donation matters and is greatly appreciated.”
Look at websites of various nonprofit organizations and read their mission statements. For example, some nonprofits fund medical research, some fund family support, there are local vs. national chapters of organizations, etc.
See if you have any friends that have supported or volunteered with them, and if the brands that support these nonprofits align with your viewpoints. If you look at the GeneSpotlight.org website, you can head to the Press section of the website to see who has supported us including Miley Cyrus and Keith Urban (through amazing VIP concert packages sold on CharityBuzz.com), and businesses including De Beers, Christofle, Ann Taylor, and now of course, Pavé The Way.
At Pavé The Way® and The “Y” we always look for conversations of consequence and feel that the jewelry line is individual enough to choose what speaks to you. From all of our products you chose the rose gold “Unlock Your Passion & Purpose” necklace. What about it spoke to you?
The “Unlock Your Passion & Purpose” necklace with the rose gold lock and diamond key is gorgeous and perfect to wear every day. But it’s the message the necklace represents that is equally important, as I am passionate about unlocking cures for rare diseases.
By purchasing this necklace or other beautiful jewelry at Pavé The Way and choosing Gene Spotlight at checkout to receive a cash donation, you are helping unlock a passion and purpose to show those suffering with rare diseases that you care and helping science move closer to a cure.
In closing we always ask “the three Y’s” questions which are:
– Why You Care?
Pavé The Way is a double bonus—You get to buy a gorgeous piece of jewelry & help support vital medical research—It doesn’t get any better than that!
– Why You Share?
I am grateful to companies including Pavé The Way that shares its time and efforts to help small organizations like mine raise money.
– Why You Acknowledge That What You Wear is Showcasing Your Values?
It’s important to wear well-crafted, clever jewelry from a company that cares. Giving back to the community is something that has always been a part of my fiber of being, and I’m so happy that Pavé The Way’s philanthropic values align with mine. Thank you again for this opportunity.
When purchasing jewelry on PTWjewelry.com, at checkout where it says “Registered Charity of Choice/Contact info”, please type in:
Gene Spotlight and Mdiaz@genespotlight.org
so our organization receives the monetary proceeds of your purchase. Thank you for your support in curing rare diseases.