Happy Birthday, dear MotherBoard.

One year ago, I did something that absolutely terrified me. I took a little idea that had been rattling around in my brain for years, wrote it down, and shared it. And then shared it some more. And then found myself on a stage at Accelerate NEO pitching my idea to a room filled with 400-plus smart, engaged Clevelanders. Accelerate is a civic pitch contest hosted by The Cleveland Leadership Center and it ended up being an experience that would help me redefine who I am, how I might give back to this city I love, and how I might help others do the same.

Jess on stage
There I am, looking confident {and feeling terrified} at Accelerate 2016.

My idea was MotherBoard, a place where nonprofits and small businesses can engage with moms who want to opt back into the workforce or find careers that allow for more space and flexibility in their lives as they navigate working parenthood. MotherBoard is a community of women who don’t simply admire the problems that can come with working motherhood but, instead, set out to find ways to be empowered by the challenge of it all.

I stood on that Accelerate stage one year ago this week, so worried that my idea would sound trivial. Wondering if it would resonate with other moms or – dare I dream – resonate with anyone who understood the joys and struggles of finding the elusive “life balance.”

The thing is, it DID resonate. I meet moms almost daily who want to talk about their paths, their struggles, their successes. I believe we have tapped into a part of our workforce that can lead and execute with strength and compassion, if we can just help ease a bit of the burden of working parenthood. It’s about small changes, common ground, and a desire to be stellar moms and stellar employees.

We are still figuring out what MotherBoard really is. Because I am a working mom, I spend a lot of my time doing just what my job title describes: working and parenting. Sometimes that means MotherBoard takes a spot on the backburner for a bit. But MotherBoard, and the idea of women helping women, is my passion and my purpose. Our MotherBoard team is excited to roll out some new blogs and new ideas in the coming months and see what year two holds. We are also always looking for new ideas and new writers so drop me a line if you want to chat more.

So, happy birthday to us and to all of you who have followed our journey. Cheers to year two and to always doing the things that terrify you most of all.

PS Want to check out Accelerate? Tickets available at the door for tomorrow’s event!


It’s all in the shoes.

Just beyond the bright red door of our cozy little home, a giant pile of shoes tells the story of our days. On Sundays, after an early morning cleanup, the pile is a tidy row of velcro Nikes and ballet flats. By Thursday night, it is a undulating heap of rain boots, broken flip flops, an errant sock, random baseballs, someone’s crusty wet tennis shoe, and swim goggles.

The big, huge, shoe pile.

Each week, we start with the best of intentions and, each week, the shoe pile reflects what our lives are really like: colorful, scattered, adventurous, and nonstop.

Our house is now exactly one month into summer break. We’ve adjusted our schedules, rooted for our Cavs, given up on the one-popsicle-a-day rule, and shivered our way through early morning swim team practice. We have picked berries, hunted for sea glass, played a lot of baseball, and happily accepted Rice Krispies as dinner at least twice. Okay, maybe three times.

Part of me is frustrated – this summer was to be about continuing the momentum of my year, when the kids were in school eight hours a day when I could work and launch MotherBoard, and still be home for the bus every day.

But the truth is that this summer has already become something different.

Continue reading “It’s all in the shoes.”

Welcome to MotherBoard

Follow along as one small group of mom entrepreneurs with one great idea launch a game-changing startup.

The day I became a mom, it was as if the universe picked me up, moved me over an inch, and dropped me back to Earth. Everything around me was the same but I felt just a little bit different about the world around me.

Some parts of motherhood came easily to me, from my ninja diapering skills to the deep, unwavering love I developed for my son. Other parts were not so easy: the lack of sleep, the extra worrying, the fact that it took me 40 minutes to get out the door to make a Target run.

But the hardest part of all was where to put the career I loved and nurtured for more
AUTOMOTIVEthan a decade. If my son was my true north, where did my trusty old true north – the one that wore pinstriped pant suits – where did she go?

I went back to work after a fleeting maternity leave. I needed to work financially and I needed to work because I was not sure who I was without the career that had become an integral part of my being.
Continue reading “Welcome to MotherBoard”