The Gift of the Giving Buzz


This has been a year of stepping up. One in which we gave on so many levels. Some in an effort to course correct, to right the wrong path that seems omnipresent and toxic, to protect ourselves and future generations from what threatens and scares us. And some, simply to remind ourselves that we are not at all helpless as long as we can support and share with each other.


We have voted, marched and given of ourselves  – connected with others in a desire to create change.


And, on a more personal level, we have loved, nurtured, advised, and shared the joy with those who mean so very much to us. We have mourned, wept and lost by their sides as well. And we have generously given our support to those who fell to a lousy blow of fate or timing or some larger force we cannot explain.


We have been there. We will be there.




There is a buzz to giving. It has its own adrenaline. Something that demands relatively little but gives back so very much.


In an interview this week, we spoke a great deal about authenticity. And to me giving is just that, an authentic gesture of care, one that requires nothing – no reciprocation, no quid pro just a simple “thank you” — easy enough.


I saw a woman give another woman directions last week. Simply put — take a left, take a right and your destination will be on your right (no it was not Waze, this was person to person contact). As the woman began on her way to take that first left, I noticed a smile blossom on the face of the direction giver. She had the buzz.


It is the buzz that gives us hope and reminds us that we have each other. And for that we will all remain generous and grateful as there is truly a gift in giving.


Here is to all of us. Our capacity to love and to create. And our desire to care well for each other.


Happy Thanksgiving 2018.


Happy 20th Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington

What an amazing accomplishment. The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington celebrated 20 years of providing support, community, classes, care and all the hacks a new mom needs. The center, now in newly expanded space on 19th Street, NW offers more series than ever – Washington’s parents have never been more fortunate. I am proud to sit on the board and help pave the way for future generations to come.

Some highlights from the day:

Thank you to my remarkable panel!
How about that nipple cake?

What a Pumping Room at Work Should Look Like for Mothers, and Why

This article was originally published in the Washington Post on January 24, 2017


Breast-feeding is a very personal choice. However, the realities of breast-feeding and, later, returning to work as a pumping mother present a new set of very real challenges for a woman.

Workplaces that support a mother in her return to work by bringing her back with ease always win. Committed employers are not only supporting infant health, they are also establishing a powerful statement of collaboration, underscoring how much they value their employee. Although the repeal of the Affordable Care Act might mean organizations no longer legally have to provide the space or time for women to pump at work, many companies know that providing this is not only kind, but also simply a smart business move.Birch Box, for example, offers hospital grade pumps, snacks and a comprehensive booking system for its growing population of mothers in the workplace.

Lauren Pfeiffer was out for 12 weeks after the birth of her second daughter. When she returned to New Jersey-based Association Headquarters, she was greeted with brand new private “mother’s room” that held comfortable seating, a sink, refrigerator, a mirror and even a shared calendar for booking the space. The space made her return to work much more seamless, and the fact that her company set it up made her feel supported and grateful. The room was set up for quiet but also allowed for Pfeiffer to catch up on emails as she pumped breast milk for 20 minutes two to three times a day.

 [Did you or do you pump at work? Tell us about your experiences below.]

It is this piece of the puzzle that is my focus at the It’s Working Project. Not only do we gather and share stories of how parents in the U.S. transition back to work, the project also partners with workplaces to help them establish easy-to-execute programs to support working families.

As was the case with Association Headquarters, not only was the pumping room a wise thing for her company to do, but it’s also the law.

Washington D.C. has recently passed legislation and joined 18 states to pass enhanced pregnancy and nursing protections that offer strong protections (and also serious penalties for offenders) for a wide range of workers and situations. Many of these state statutes, including D.C.’s law, also clarify and strengthen the rights of nursing mothers.

“Unfortunately, there is still a tremendous amount of confusion about the rights of pregnant workers,” said Dina Baskt, co-president of A Better Balance, an organization that works with lawmakers to enact legislation to help pregnant and nursing workers. “Thankfully, a growing number of states and localities, including D.C., have stepped in to guarantee pregnant workers a clear, statutory right to reasonable accommodations — the same standard in place for workers with disabilities. Many of these statutes also clarify and strengthen the rights of nursing mothers. Ensuring that pregnant workers and new mothers can avoid the impossible choice between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy is undoubtedly a win-win for women, families and our economy,” she said in testimony.

But smart businesses are many steps beyond just compliant. “We know it can be a challenging for parents to transition back to work and want to do everything we can to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Annie Lavigne, human resources director at Edelman Inc. This is “one of the reasons why we are committed to providing a pumping space for nursing mothers that is private, clean, and comfortable. The happier our employees are, the more likely they are to stay. We can’t achieve our business objectives without retaining our talent, and our employee’s ability to manage family and work effectively is a key part of that equation.”

So how do you get what you need at work?

“Employees should emphasize the bottom-line benefits to employers of providing first-in-class benefits to nursing mothers,” advises Baskt. “These programs increase retention and productivity, while also demonstrating the company’s commitment to working families.”

It takes very little for an organization to move from simply compliant to best is class. And the effort and results in a high level of return in the form retention and continued commitment.

What does a pumping room look like anyway?

First, and most critical —

It does NOT look like a bathroom stall, not only is this not legal it is disgusting.

So, what does “compliance” mean:

  • Private — NOT A BATHROOM
  • Clean — sanitary space
  • Close to workspace — not in a separate building or floors away
  • Reasonable break times — enough to pump and get milk stored and parts cleaned

And what about best in class:

  • Locking Door — BOTH SIDES
  • Comfortable Seating
  • Clear Surfaces
  • Ottoman
  • Outlets for pumps
  • Sink for cleaning pump parts
  • Refrigerator for keeping milk — separate from general staff fridge
  • A place where mothers can display images of baby
  • Mirror
  • Personal storage space
  • snacks and water
  • sign-up system

We checked around to learn where some of the best pumping rooms could be found:

Julia Beck is the founder of the It’s Working Project and Forty Weeks. Beck is based in Washington, D.C., where she is the matriarch of a blended family that includes a loving husband, a loyal golden retriever and four children — all of whom are her favorite. 

There’s an App for that: IBM’s New Policies are a Win for Breastfeeding Moms

Pumping breast milk can be hard for some moms. Shipping said pumped milk (aka liquid gold) is a colossal pain for ALL moms—refrigeration, transport, and TSA regulations, oh my! That is, unless you’re a breastfeeding mom who works for IBM.

Solidifying its nearly 30-year place on Working Mother’s list of the 100 Best Companies, the tech giant is rolling out a program for nursing moms that makes other companies’ breast milk shipping reimbursement programs pale in comparison.

The Washington Post has the details.

“We do all the work so the mother doesn’t have to think about any of the details,” Barbara Brickmeier, vice president of benefits at IBM, told The Washington Post.

Indeed, nursing moms planning travel simply download the app, enter accommodation details, estimate amount of temp-controlled packages needed, and voila—thanks to the marvels of modern technology and a corporate commitment to bringing working moms back to work with ease, as a matter of course, and with a sense of pride—pre-addressed and pre-paid shipping packages will be ready at the hotel for overnight shipment.

Nothing says, “we care about retaining female talent” like a no charge, no hassle way to facilitate being a great mom and a great employee. Way to show the rest of them how it can work, IBM!

Wish your company would step in line with IBM or just want to commend them? Tweet #ItsWorking #IBM #NursingMomsTravel.

A Happy 4th of July: Triple Mat Leave for US Navy & Marine Corps!


With memories of apple pie and our star-spangled forefathers still fresh in our holiday weekend’s mind, we have found yet another reason to be proud to be an American: 18 weeks paid maternity leave for US Navy & Marine Corps troops.

Sure, the US is lagging behind most industrialized nations when it comes to its maternity leave (keeping company with Papa New Guinea at the bottom of the list), but this is a huge step forward in a place you might least expect it.

While women currently only make up about 7 percent of the Corps, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wants to increase that number to 25% (a 1 in 4 ratio). And he knows there’s no better way to show talented female troops his commitment to their ability to serve both their country and their families, than to make it possible for them to come back to work with ease, as a matter of course, and with a sense of pride. We couldn’t agree more!

If you’re proud of the US Navy & Marine Corps for this progressive new policy, snap a photo in front of an American flag or landmark #ItsWorkingInTheUS.

Hello world!