Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I am from Seattle, Washington. I’ve been on the East coast for 18 years now – I lived in Manhattan for two years and ultimately moved to Wilton 16 years ago – just about 6 months before our first daughter was born.
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I’m the oldest of four – my sister who is exactly one year and five days younger than me is developmentally disabled. She has been the inspiration and motivation behind many of my decisions – especially as a young adult and even before I had children. She is the reason I became interested in cognition and learning differences and went on to seek a higher degree in Educational Psychology. Her difficult education journey and her special needs ultimately drove me into educational non-profit work. In addition to her developmental disabilities, she suffers from multiple allergies, food sensitivities and health challenges and – aside from my children – is a major reason I spend a lot of my “spare” time reading about and trying to understand autoimmune issues such as Food Allergies, Autoimmune Encephalitis/PANDAS, and Hashimotos.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
My husband Voja – who is an amazing partner and is equally as involved in our children’s lives and every single parenting decision, challenge and triumph along the way – despite having a long commute and very demanding profession. I’d also like to thank Lynn Higgins who was the “Fourth Trimester Mom’s Circle” leader at Norwalk Hospital. She is responsible for bringing together a group of nervous brand-new moms and infants at the hospital every week. She was so knowledgeable, calm and helpful and because of her, I met no less than 15 first-time mothers! We went on to create baby playgroups and the support from those gatherings got us ALL through those first years. Thanks to Lynn – many more babies later and now onto teen-age challenges – we are STILL sharing stories and advice and so many of us remain friends to this very day!
Favorite things to do with your kids?
My kids are getting older and our days are soooo busy! As most moms with pre-teens and teens know, in the time it takes to get three kids to and from their various sports, activities and community, school or social commitments you could literally have driven the four-hour road trip it takes to get all the way to Martha’s Vineyard in one evening! We love most of all when we have a holiday or a rainy day and things get cancelled so we can hunker down — cook together, snuggle by the fire and watch a movie. It can take us an hour to pick one with their different ages and interests, but the success of finding a great one is half the fun! We love living where there are four distinct seasons unlike Seattle – because there’s always something new and fun to do as a family. Apple picking and cider donuts at Blue Jay Orchards and a stop at Sycamore’s Diner for car service in Bethel is our Fall favorite. It’s always been Ambler Farm Santa hay rides and hot chocolate in the Winter, Stew’s and a beach cook-out with friends at Compo in the Summers and a hike at Devil’s Den or gelato in the sunny courtyard by New Canaan’s Gelatissimo in the Spring!
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
As a stay-at-home mom I have devoted my time to many causes close to my heart, but few are as personal as my work in food allergy awareness. ALL three of my children unfortunately happen to have severe and complicated food allergies. I served as Co-Chair for the first annual Connecticut Fall Luncheon to benefit FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) in 2017. I supported FARE’s Heroes Walk for multiple years as the 2015 and 2016 Logistics Chair and was captain of my “Wilton Warriors” team raising over $25,000 and gathering more than 30 participants. I am currently the Co-Chair of Food Allergy Connecticut, a FARE-recognized support group offering support meetings, family workshops and an annual Speaker Series to provide education and connect Fairfield County families managing complicated food allergies. I just served as Entertainment Co-Chair for the E.A.T. (End Allergies Together) 5K this fall, and I continue to raise awareness through fundraisers, events and publicity work around food allergies in our Connecticut communities.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Lynn from Norwalk Hospital showed me how important a support group can be for getting informed and feeling connected and supported. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is unrelenting in funding research for answers and treatments and equal access to medication and has provided the resources and the opportunity for leadership! They – along with the community of Connecticut women I have met along the way and who initially started our local support group – showed me that the mistakes I have made along the way can help others and together we can motivate change through advocacy, better laws and policies and with more education and awareness. The New Canaan Library, local public and private schools and Greenwich businesses such as Aux Delice have been instrumental in offering us space and marketing for our speaker events and support coffees!
Editor’s Note: Jenny will be honored for her important work for the food allergy community next Thursday, November 6th at the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) Connecticut Luncheon at Greenwich Country Club. For more information, please visit: