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WHM: Colleen Curtis, The Mom Project

By lindsay

March is Women’s History Month.  BCB salutes the MANY women throughout history who have gotten us to this point today.  But, throughout March 2021 we are celebrating and sharing MOMS who are making history RIGHT NOW.  As we know, moms are basically super human, super heroes.  We tackle so much at once, are the queens of multitasking and at the end of the day—we are almost always putting others’ best interests ahead of our own.  So as we look to the future, we want you to meet some incredible women, all of who are making sure brighter days lie ahead for all.

Name: Colleen Curtis

Age: 38

Kid(s) and Ages: Isaac (7), Cyrus (2)

Where do you live? Suttons Bay, Michigan (temporarily)

TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO MAKE HISTORY RIGHT NOW. 

I’m doing everything I can to help other moms survive during this time. At The Mom Project, we are fully aware of the issues and stigmas facing moms in the workforce, and they have only been multiplied by the ongoing pandemic. We work with more than 300,000 professionals and 2,000 mom-friendly companies to provide flexible work opportunities so women don’t have to choose between their families and their careers. Unfortunately, the pandemic is forcing that decision for many, and we’re doing whatever we can to help, whether it’s through some of our programs like Rally, Unity, Resume Rev and RISE or through funding like the Stronger Together Fund.

DO YOU OWN A BUSINESS/COMPANY OR ARE YOU THE FOUNDER OF AN ORGANIZATION?  IF YOU DIDN’T TALK ABOUT THIS IN THE FIRST QUESTION, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT IT.

I am an early employee of The Mom Project and joined the Founders at their seed stage to build a better workplace for the future, with caregivers and mom at the center.

WHO IS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN YOU KNOW?

My mom. She was a full-time working mom in the 80’s in a leadership position. She manages with grace, style and compassion. She is an incredible mother and grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and more. She’s just the best and I am so grateful to have grown up with such a wonderful role model and influence.

THE THEME OF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH 2021 IS:  REFUSING TO BE SILENCED.  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU AND HOW DOES IT PLAY OUT IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE?

I value this not only personally, but professionally. As a mother of two, I experience the pressures put on working moms during the ongoing pandemic so it’s important to speak up about the current situation. As the Chief Community Officer at The Mom Project, I encourage women and moms to be more vocal with everything they do, whether it’s speaking up about issues in the workplace, requesting more help and support as they balance home and work life, or just generally about their own self worth.

We’re in such a unique time where many people whose voices have been silenced or disregarded are fighting for more airtime—and are finally given a chance to be heard—so it’s crucial women and moms continue to speak up, not only for themselves, but others. Diverse voices and opinions will lead to varying perspectives and thus fresh ideas to hopefully enact positive change for all.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WOMEN FACE TODAY?  HOW WILL YOU HELP IMPACT AND CHANGE THIS FOR WOMEN IN THE FUTURE THROUGH YOUR WORK AND/OR PERSONAL LIFE?

Where do I start? Women are fighting to be considered equals to men, especially in the workplace, so that means equal pay, support and opportunities. That’s been an issue for years. Look at these telling numbers: in corporate America, there are seven times as many male executive officers as female executive officers. At the CEO level, men outnumber women by almost 17 to one. This needs to change. Period.

Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic is only going to make this discrepancy even larger with so many women being forced to leave the workforce. With more than two million women already gone since February 2020 and more expected—according to McKinsey, 1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers—women will be further behind the eightball when it comes to opportunities and promotion. The pandemic is causing a decade’s worth of workplace equality to vanish.

While the government is putting politics before people as it votes on a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package, they need to understand who are the hardest hit by the pandemic and provide support and opportunities for them, which goes beyond a one-time check every few months.

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ONE WOMAN THROUGHOUT HISTORY, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Amy Poehler, because she’s an unapologetic and hilarious (semi-awkward, too!) female, but also does great things to encourage girls to be smart, adventurous and fearless. She’s given me my single best piece of life  advice when I became a parent: “Great for her, not for me.” Zaps any guilt at the core and reminds me to be confident in my choices and that everyone has their take on life, no need for judgment in either direction. It extends beyond just parenting but to any situation. “Hey, you’re doing your best and so am I…so let’s go get scones or matcha lattes and not be mean to each other.” That can be very powerful in terms of supporting the rise of other women, I’m totally on board with that 100 percent. We need more of that.

WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO KNOW OR LEARN ABOUT YOU?

I used to be petrified of public speaking!

HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO BALANCE BEING A MOM, WORKING AND HELPING TO CHANGE THE WORLD ☺  IS THERE SUCH THING AS BALANCE?

Screw the balance! Kidding, but I do redefine my idea of balance daily, sometimes hourly. Who says what work/life balance is? Some days I’m geared on a great idea or project and I can crank it out for hours on end. Other days I need to do some self-preservation and recharge my batteries with some serious time devoted to myself or family. I also have an incredible husband, a great team at The Mom Project, and an extremely long term view on happiness.The flexibility and self-awareness to rejig that balance means I feel that I’ve got the right balance for me. Let’s reframe “having it all” and let’s reframe to “work-life integration.” This is always going to be recalibration exercise that is deeply personal.

WHAT IS ONE SILVER LINING THAT HAS COME OUT OF THE PANDEMIC?

In a recent study, Werklabs (research division of The Mom Project) discovered that 66% of women feel more confident speaking up and advocating for the flexibility they need at work. I think this is such an incredible ray of light, because it didn’t become a “nice to have” it became a “must” and women feeling confident is a great thing. For me personally I was able to spend the past year in Northern Michigan near my family, specifically my dad who was battling cancer (he’s doing really well now!) This past year has really forced us all to reevaluate and prioritize what is most important.

See here for a recent study by The Mom Project and WerkLabs on the Silver Linings from the pandemic.

HOW DO YOU THINK THAT THE PANDEMIC WILL CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR WOMEN?

As I mentioned previously, workplace equality is being set back at least a decade, if not more as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Rather than advancing their careers, women are being forced out of the workforce in order to take care of their families. So when/if things stabilize and they’re able to get back into the workforce, women will be starting over on the rigorous climb up the corporate ladder rather than where they left off. The discrepancies between men and women in managerial and C-suite positions is already massive, and it’s only going to expand as a result of the pandemic.

RAPID FIRE……

Last show you binged: Bridgerton

Last book you read: Call Your Daughter Home

Go-To Family Dinner: Baked Chicken, Potatoes and Broccoli (so boring, but always good!)

Favorite Beverage: Always coffee.

Favorite Take out: Slim pickings up here, but in Chicago it was Parson’s!

Favorite Dessert: Anything chocolate + peanut butter!

Summer or Winter? SUMMER

Dream Vacation: Hawaii (I’ve never been!)

#1 Beauty Product you can’t live without: Ice Roller (for your face!)

App you can’t live without on your phone: Gmail!?

Stay tuned as we feature Moms Making History RIGHT NOW every day in the month of March.   Follow us on Instagram and Facebook  for more.   Do you know someone we should be talking to?  Email us to let us know at info@bumpclubandbeyond.com.  You can also meet more Moms We Love, right here. 

©2020 Bump Club & Beyond, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Bump Club & Beyond® is a registered trademark of Bump Club & Beyond, Inc. and is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.