June Manley & F4 Capital: Revolutionizing Venture Capital Funding

Did you know that less than 3% of venture capital funding goes to companies with female founders?  I didn’t, until I had the chance to photograph my client June Manley for her next big project.  I’ve been so honored to work with June over the last few years. She is a passionate entrepreneur and industry thought leader with over 15 years of high-tech experience at companies like HP, Citrix, Riverbed, and NetApp. When she came to me for photos and videos to promote her new organization, I was more inspired by her than ever.

After her experience seeking funding for her own startup, Phala Data, June learned first-hand the extent to which VC Funding is not as available to women as it is to men.  Never one to sit on the sidelines, June was inspired to do something to fix a broken system. June founded Female Founders Faster Forward (F4 Capital), a non-profit with 501c/3 status, in 2017 to address gender bias in venture capital funding.  Their immediate goal is to increase the VC investments for Female led startups from 3% to 20% by 2020.

I’m thrilled that we had a chance to talk with June about this important work.  I hope you enjoy our conversation and take the opportunity to support F4 Capital however you can!

-Nancy

NR: What surprised you when you started your first company, Phala Data?

JM: There were a few surprises when I founded Phala Data – a big data analytics software startup. The positive ones were: I thought getting a product developed from an idea in my head was going to be a challenge, but not only did I successful get the product developed, I was able to file six patents along the way. I thought getting my first customer was going to be a challenge but ended up with a Fortune 50 software division with over $3 in revenue.

The negative surprises came when I began seeking venture capital funding. It wasn’t the rejections that were the surprises, it was why I was being rejected. The reasons that I had no control over, it was not because I did not have a viable product in a massive market, it was not because my investor pitch needed improvement, it was because I was a female founder without the right social connections. What surprised me most was less than 3% of venture capital funding goes to startups with female founders. In 2017, nearly $84B was invested in startups, again only 2.2% of the investments went to startups with female founders.

NR: Did you receive venture capital funding? What was is like to try to get
funded?

JM: No, I did not receive venture capital funding. I bootstrapped my startup all the way through product development, first customer and filed six patents. I walked away after I realized that unless I was willing to bring a male counterpart to the VC meetings I wasn’t going to get the funding. That was not how I wanted to get VC funding. If they did not believe that I could bring a product to market, without a male co-founder then I didn’t want their investment.

NR: Without venture capital funding, what options do startups have to establish and grow their companies?

JM: Without venture capital funding there are limited options to establish and grow your startups. According to research conducted by the Kauffman Foundation 80 percent of female founders used personal savings as their top source of funding for launching their new startup. Women go broke, even bankrupt, trying to bring viable enterprises to market. It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine the startups that get left behind due to lack of sufficient funding. They represent lost opportunity, unrealized, positive financial impact, possibly paradigm-changing solutions that died on the vine. These ventures could have changed an outcome in a person’s life, a business, an industry, an economy.

NR: What advice do you have for people who have want to start a company but
don’t know if their idea is viable?

JM: I would suggest leveraging a tool like Business Model Canvas or start
with the questions below to guide your thinking.
1. Who is your customer? For example, if your customer is businesses,
answer: What kind of businesses? How big or small is the typical
business? In a particular market? What is the title of the buyer?
2. What problems are you solving? How does your product solve those
problems? How does solving their problems make their life better?
Does it make them more money? Look better?
3. What are the key features of the product? The features need to solve
specific problems. The more quantitative (e.g. time saved, money
made), the better.

NR: What inspired you to start Female Founders Faster Forward?

JM: Last June when I was reaching the end of the runway for Phala Data,
and I had to shut down the operations and the development effort, I was at
the lowest point in my career. I was looking through a presentation that I
did for the SBA’s Innovation & Investment Office Director back in March 2017, I had a used a tagline: Female Founders Faster Forward. It dawned on me that I had to change how startups got funded. I had to be part of the solution that increased the current 3% of venture capital funding to 20% by 2020.

NR: How can we support the work F4 is doing?

JM: F4 represents the struggles of female and all under-served founders
being systematically shut-out of venture capital funding—not because of
their startup investment viability, but because of their gender, race and
social economic background. F4Capital was founded specifically to help
change the current, archaic, venture-investment model and to help deliver
more venture capital to female founders. Our Startup Investment Model
Index (SiMi) effectively measures startup maturity, opportunity, and risk,
while eliminating bias and prejudice in prevailing venture-funding
processes.

In the simplest of terms, SiMi is like a FICO Score® for Startups. Much like
the impact of the FICO Score on consumer lending, SiMi assesses,
informs, and empowers startup founders on venture investability—outside of gender, race, or other identities. By focusing purely on the state-of-the-startup, SiMi also facilitates smarter investing. Using sophisticated data and analytics driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning, SiMi delivers entirely new levels of funding transparency and benchmarking, creating entirely new positions of funding for under-served founders, whether women or other minority groups. Our effort is not about personal profit. We created SiMi to literally disrupt and revolutionize startup funding, so that more qualified startups succeed, whether founded by women or not. As such, we organized as a 501c3 non-profit.

You can help get SiMi developing by donating today.

NR: You’re an incredibly dynamic person, what do you do to maintain your
energy?

JM: Thanks Nancy. My family and friends have been tremendously
supportive in my journey as a female founder and in leading the effort to
increase the investments for startups for female founders from 3% to 20% by 2020. When you have an ambitious 10-yr old daughter who wants to be an entrepreneur, an innovator and a future female founder, you find the energy to be part of the solution that paves the way for the next generation.

NR: What are you currently reading?

JM: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

NR: Thank you so much, June!

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Dylan H. Jones: Bay Area Author Portraits

Crime fiction. Detective fiction. Mystery. I’m not exactly clear on the nuances that distinguish these genres, but I can tell you that I’ve been hooked for a while.  I’ve fallen in love with eccentric detectives ranging from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, to Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti.  So, you can imagine my delight when I had the chance to photograph Dylan H. Jones, author of the Tudor Manx Mysteries. 

Dylan is a native of the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, where his first book Anglesey Blue takes place, and has been living in Oakland for the last twelve years.  When he’s not writing, he runs his own video content agency, Jones Digital Media.  After our shoot to update his author portrait, he was kind enough to give us a bit of his time for an interview. Have a read and get to know your not-so-local, local author.

Oh, by the way, if I’m not returning emails, I’ve probably got my nose buried in Anglesey Blue; I highly recommend you check it out.  Don’t worry if you get addicted, he has another book coming out in March!

Find Dylan online at: www.dylanjonesauthor.com or go directly to Amazon to buy his books.

-Nancy


Have you always been a fan of crime fiction?

As a kid, I loved reading horror stories then graduated to crime fiction later in life. I’m pretty genre-agnostic. If it’s well written, with a compelling plot and sympathetic characters I’m fully hooked.

Who are your favorite mystery writers?

I love reading the Scandinavian writers like Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell.

On the British side, I never tire of Val McDermid or Ian Rankin.

Recently, a friend turned me onto Dan Choan, an American writer who’s known for his ‘literary crime’ novels, which I think just means they’re very well written!

When you start a new book, do you begin with a clear idea of the plot outline, or does it unfold as you’re writing?

I start with a very general idea of what the story is, then it becomes clearer as I write. Or sometimes, even muddier. That’s the pain and joy of writing.

What do you love about your protagonist, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx?

He’s tenacious, doesn’t take himself too seriously but is incredibly dedicated to his job.

He’s also dealing with many demons and personal issues which keep catching up with him, which add depth and mystery to his character.

What’s it been like writing about your birthplace, the Isle of Anglesey?

It’s been a trip! It’s surprising how much you remember once you start writing about a place you left several decades ago. I still go back most years, but it’s good to write about it from several thousand miles away, it gives me a fresher perspective.

What is your writing process?

Three to four hours most mornings if I can, then the day job for the remainder of the day. I do a lot of re-writing as I go along. I’m not one of those writers who can motor on without sweeping up my work from the day before work and making it better.

Favorite place to write?

Cafe Trieste in Oakland.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea late afternoon. (I know, clichéd Brit!)

What’s next for Tudor Manx?

The next book comes out on March 18th. It’s called Doll Face. Manx faces a twisted serial killer who leaves mysterious, religious texts buried deep in his victims. Not for the faint of heart!

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Adventures in Family Photography

Photographing children and families with children is one of the best parts of what I do…and a great workout; trying to keep up with youngsters is no joke!  Not long ago, I once again had the lovely experience of photographing Shannon, Rachelle, and their growing family — one of the sweetest you could ever meet. And just like all my returning family clients, I am truly honored to know them, watch their family grow, and capture their most important moments for them.  I love these sessions because they feel like a reunion with old friends.

I first had the pleasure of photographing Shannon and Rachelle at their wedding in 2008. Then came pregnancy and newborn photos with darling boy Dylan and, recently, the same with darling girl Ellie. Ellie was still in mama’s belly at the time of this shoot, but she arrived happy and healthy soon afterwards and was absolutely precious in her recent newborn portraits. (Stay tuned for more on Ellie.)

Notice how happy everyone looks in these images, especially little Dylan? Well, there’s a bit more to the story. See that beautiful stone stairway? The minute Dylan saw it, all he wanted to do was climb, and climb, and climb some more. He was on a mission and simply had no time for photos. It would be an understatement to say Dylan was unhappy when we suggested a break from climbing. And he wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings.

 

So how did we get from that state of mind to these happy images?  With a little patience and a lot of fun. Through years of experience, I have learned to quickly build a rapport with young kids and redirect if things start to go awry. For starters, I first spend time just connecting — without cameras and other equipment. I gauge whether a child is in a shy or outgoing mood in order to match their energy. I might even enlist them as “assistants”, asking them what we need to get done and how they think we should do it.

In Dylan’s case, something as simple as a silly face contest did the trick. Before you could say “stairway”, he was all ready to smile for the camera!

Parents often worry that their shoot won’t go well if their children aren’t perfect angels at all times. But no one’s are, and that’s okay. This is supposed to be fun!  Kids don’t have to be perfect to have a perfect family portrait photo shoot. They just have to be themselves, have fun, and we get to make it great!

– Nancy

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Inspiring People: Bay Area Headshots

Stephanie_Gee-0010RTDo you have a powerful sentence that describes your mission in a nutshell? Here’s one to get you thinking….

“Global community advocate building awareness and connections across cultures step-by-step.”

That’s a mouthful, and a meaningful one.  Who does it describe?  Meet Stephanie Gee, a recent client who I found absolutely inspiring.  

Stephanie is a San Francisco native who has witnessed the city change and grow. While she embraces many of the new developments, she also cares about preserving San Francisco’s identity and advocating for those who are marginalized.  After ten years working in Sales at Google, she left the company in early 2016 to travel and to volunteer. Last year, she traveled to sixteen countries throughout Latin America, Asia, and Europe and she’s also been involved in volunteering with various social impact organizations within the Bay Area and abroad.

I thought an interview would be perfect way to share her perspective; read on for some interesting tidbits, and some motivation to find a way to care for others and make the world a better place.

Where were you born? Is there something about that place you carry with you?

I’m a San Francisco native, born and raised. I love the city and its various communities who are willing to stand up and speak out for what they believe in.

Do you have a morning ritual?

Most mornings I’ll take my dog out for a 4-5 mile walk. She needs the exercise to burn off nervous energy, and I use the time to listen to my favorite morning show or podcasts.  

What is your favorite thing to cook?

Hmm.. that’s a tough one. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I prefer to cook recipes that are centered around vegetables. Although, I do have a sweet tooth so I tend to bake more often than cook.

What is your favorite spot in the Bay Area?

My neighborhood, the Mission. There are a number of places where I can meet a friend for a delicious cup of coffee and a tasty treat.

What do you love about tech in the context of social change?

Technology has made sharing and learning about information easier. Individuals can create virtual communities across borders and mobilize action towards supporting causes they believe in more quickly.  

I’ve also been fascinated to see how tech has influenced the way people learn and work today. My homeschooled niece dials into a virtual classroom with other homeschooled children living in other states. I once had a manager whose commute was so long that she worked from home a couple of times a week so she could see her children when they were awake.  Although some of us may have difficulty drawing a line between work and personal time, the presence of tech allows us more flexibility in our schedules to achieve a better work-life balance.

Fill in the blank. Happiness is _________.

… something that comes from within –  it’s all about perspective.

What’s your advice for folks who want to make the world a better place, but don’t know where to start?

I can completely understand that challenge. I suggest that they reflect on which issues move them the most and then start searching for local organizations who are addressing them such as volunteermatch.org and idealist.org.

Who inspires you these days?

My mother is my number one inspiration. Although she passed away from breast cancer 8 years ago, her life left an impression on me because she gave back to the community in multiple ways. She instilled in me the values I still believe in and live by today. When she passed, I started reflecting on what I would care about at the end of my life, and I realized that nurturing relationships and helping others matter the most in terms of a successful and meaningful life.

How did you go from local to global in terms of your advocacy work?

My first introduction to global advocacy was in high school when I participated in mission trips with my church youth group. We had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica and Belize where we worked on construction and taught kids vacation bible school. Then in college, I spent a year abroad studying in Vienna. I enjoyed connecting with the individuals I met with from different cultural backgrounds. Finally, in 2016, I decided to make a major shift in my life. After ten years at Google, I left to travel, to learn more about other cultures, and to volunteer with different communities. I was presented with a number of volunteer opportunities locally and abroad, and I signed up for them. My experiences taught me: need is everywhere, focus efforts on supporting a few issues, and it’s important to engage with other communities. The less we view others as “foreign” and “different,” the more time we have for solving problems and making an impact.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’ve learned too often that life doesn’t work out according to a plan so I haven’t given much thought to the details of my future. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that I would leave the security and comforts of Google without another secure job lined up. However, my wish for the future includes remaining connected to international communities and possibly living abroad supporting a global issue I care about.

What are the top three organizations doing great transformational work that we should all support if we can?

There are three local organizations and one national organization I currently support: SF Achievers, the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF), Refugee Transitions, and the International Rescue Committee. All of them work towards addressing breaking cycles of poverty.

Thanks, Stephanie. I admire the work you do!

-Nancy

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

#Mightybell: The Best Home for Your Niche Community

Mightybell is the latest product for “identity networks” from the community-minded brain of entrepreneur Gina Bianchini. Mightybell provides a blank canvas for “community entrepreneurs” to quickly and simply create a space for a network of people who share a common interest or identity to meet each other, break the ice and build relationships. There, they can nourish the intimacy of a small community, on a large — even global — scale, so they and their peers “can learn faster and make better decisions” in any specialty, profession, interest, cause, discipline, identity, life stage, diagnosis or passion.

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“We’re passionate about unlocking a new breed of community entrepreneurs bringing together people who wouldn’t otherwise meet around the things that are most important to them.” — Gina Bianchini

 …

What do 26,000 craft hairdressers have in common?  They come together in their own “identity” network called Hairbrained, powered by Mightybell, on their own native mobile and web apps. Other examples of a Mightybell identity network are Beyond Type 1 and GENDR. These identity networks are literally changing lives for the better by providing crucially needed community connection and support.

The platform comes in four monthly commitment levels from free to enterprise.  Long gone are the days of the uni-dimensional forum! Imagine having what feels like a custom app without a huge investment or programming skills. Mightybell is making this easy, people!!

A Mightybell network helps you connect with other individuals with similar interests, ask questions to real people with real answers, and encourages you to meet community members near you. I have a few ideas for communities I’d love to build on Mightybell. Build yours too — and invite me!

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I’ve had the pleasure of photographing Gina and the Mightybell team over the last several years.  With a focus on community creation, it is no wonder they’re such great group of people.  It’s always a pleasure to meet new members of the team at their offices in Palo Alto.

Thank you, Gina, for being such an inspiration. Congratulations on the success and growth of Mightybell; I’m excited to watch the platform continue to bring people together effortlessly.  This is the best of tech; empowering human connections and literally transforming lives.  Well done.

– Nancy

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

2016 Best of Oakland & the East Bay!

2016BestofOaklandBannerI’m thrilled to have been voted Best Commercial Photographer in Oakland Magazine‘s 2016 Best of Oakland and the East Bay contest — for the second year in a row! Thank you all so much for taking the time to vote! The flood of kindness (and emails!) from so many of my dear clients and friends warmed my heart.

I feel honored to be a part of a community that celebrate its members; so much that over 175 winners are recognized throughout the East Bay every year! How amazing to be a part of a community that has the diversity to award over 175 different categories, and community-minded patrons who see the significance of shopping local!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the July issue of Oakland Magazine to check out the full list of this year’s local favorites!

Happy summer, everyone!

-Nancy

 

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Mini-Interview with Katie Macks, Your Guide to Glow

Katie_Macks-11-24-14-3097RT

Meet Katie Macks: founder of Get Your Glow On, providing transformational coaching and training to growth-oriented individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Get your Glow On is centered on the philosophy that individual positivity has the power to ripple kindness and meaning well into the universe. And who doesn’t want that!

I was lucky to have met Katie (and all her positive energy) through our shared networking group. Naturally, I wanted to share her effervescent spirit, so I asked her to do a mini-interview for the blog!

Here we go!

-Nancy

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What is the philosophy behind GLOW? Get your Glow On is centered on the philosophy that Glow is the thread that connects all living things on this planet. Our Glow thrives in both our strength and our vulnerability vs defensiveness and arrogance and it thrives in our compassion vs comparison. Glow liberates us from the limitations that we place upon ourselves and others, and is the pathway to freedom and joy through curiosity, creativity and connection!

What does it mean to get your GLOW on? GLOW is an acronym for Growing – Loving – Opening – Willing; it’s a deep dive into personal development focusing on the most important relationship any of us will ever have, the relationship with ourselves. So often in life we are run by our deep-seated beliefs that often unconsciously drive the choices that we make. Many of us don’t even question the choices we make and we wonder why our circumstances are what they are. Do you ever feel like your life’s circumstances run you rather than feeling like you are in the drivers seat of your life? Getting Your Glow On is about liberating your soul’s full expression: moving from feeling like a victim of your circumstances, to recognizing that you always have choices in your life even if your choices are difficult.

What is a simple step that people just don’t take that can really help them get their GLOW on? Pausing and breathing. Most of us have knee jerk reactions to people’s behaviors, events and circumstances. If we pause and take deep breaths we may get a new perspective. Two keys to learning about yourself and others are to be curious and to be neutral. If you can get curious and find out where others are coming from you may learn that virtually nothing others do is personal to you. Most conflict comes from our own interpretation of what is happening around us. If you are to get curious you may very well learn that other peoples actions and behaviors are a reflection of how they see the world not how you see the world. One of my favorite sayings is “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are” -The Talmud. There is so much to learn when we can seek understanding rather than focusing on being “right” about our interpretation.

What’s the most empowering habit people can incorporate into their daily lives? Do your best to not make assumptions and make it a practice to be curious rather than taking things personally. If you are curious you will learn that people’s beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and assumptions are their own and have nothing to do with you. These two things alone can transform your life in unimaginable ways!

What is your favorite thing to cook? Kabocha squash soup.

Find Katie: Facebook | Web

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877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Finalist for Best of Oakland 2016!

2016BestofOaklandBannerI am thrilled to be a finalist in this year’s Commercial Photographer category of Oakland Magazine’s Best of Oakland and the East Bay contest! It was such an honor to win last year, thanks to all of your support!

Voting is easy — no login required. Just scroll down to Goods & Services and you’ll find me under “Best Commercial Photographer.”

I know I’ll be voting for my local favorites before the ballots close May 31st.

Thank you for taking the time to vote! I hope to see you soon!

Warmly,

Nancy

 

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Turning Twenty: A Decisive Moment

Claudia GonzalezIt’s not often that I have the opportunity to photograph a subject I know with certainty is at a pivotal juncture in their life. Just prior to the mark of her 20th birthday, Claudia asked me to photograph her before the end of her adolescence as a gift to her mother.

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Claudia wanted to be photographed outdoors, serene and woodsy, in the way of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It seemed unfortunate at the time that the date of our session — the last date possible — was forecast to rain, with the elements markedly against us. Thanks to Claudia’s sense of adventure, however, the wind and mist presented an added air of spontaneity and mischief.

“The setting was like I always imagined it, even better with the lake.  I was super cold but I’m glad it didn’t show in the pictures!  The wind was a plus!  And I’m glad my ideas for the shoot were all accepted.”

There is a sense of magic at a moment when everything is possible. Thank you, Claudia, for inviting me to share that moment!

I wish you all the best as you begin your next chapter. I hope it is filled to the brim with new adventures!

– Nancy

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877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com

Giving Back: Merideth Mehlberg Organizes Third Annual Holiday Pajama Drive

Holiday Pajama Drive: Benefit for Alameda Midway Shelter

Lorie Curtis, Development Coordinator of Building Futures with Women and Children, along side Merideth Mehlberg, founder of the Holiday Pajama Drive.


 

Three years ago, I was invited to photograph what was to become Merideth Mehlberg’s first annual Holiday Pajama Drive. The event serves to benefit the Midway Shelter, supporting women and children at a time of undeniable need through the donation of funds and basic necessities.

I first met Merideth when she came to me for new marketing imagery for her executive coaching and consulting firm based in Alameda. As our kinship grew, Merideth brought me onto her team to provide headshots to her clients. Throughout my time working with her, I have been endlessly impressed by her positivity, motivation, and ever-generous spirit. She is truly an inspiration!

The Holiday Pajama Drive began with a simple idea. With so much focus on receiving during the holiday season, Merideth wanted to give her kids the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. She had a strong memory of her parents helping a family in need when she was young, and she wanted to continue the family tradition of giving back. She soon learned that the sentiment resonated with others in her community and the wheels began to turn.

Rather than simply gifting checks, guests are encouraged to pick a specific family, who remains anonymous, to shop for each holiday season. Beyond building a spirit of generosity, Merideth’s event creates a feeling of community — with each family who shopped for a family coming to bring their gifts and enjoy an evening together, all in the spirit of giving.

Holiday Pajama Drive: Benefit for Alameda Midway Shelter

Three years from its start, this year’s event raised $1,100 and clothed 115 people, women and their children, across three shelters with fresh new jammies and other comfy clothes. The event featured a delicious spread from Lainie Acacio of Gather & Grub, a performance by the amazingly talented Barefoot Quales family bluegrass band, and a fun Zumba dance session for the kids led by Denise Lum.

This is beautiful event full of kids and parents coming together to care for other kids and mothers in their community. Thank you, Merideth, for continually inspiring us to be our best selves and showing the next generation what it means to be a good neighbor and a good human being!

-Nancy

Merideth Mehlberg is an executive coach based in Alameda. You can find more information on her firm, the Holiday Pajama Drive, and notifications for next year’s drive on her website.

Midway Shelter‘s mission is to advocate for homeless women and their children, assuring their right to live free of domestic violence in a safe and supportive environment. The Network strives to secure adequate funding to keep the Midway Shelter operating 24 hours a day while raising the consciousness of our community. Even though this year’s Pajama Drive is over, you can still help!

Holiday Pajama Drive: Benefit for Alameda Midway Shelter(Top to bottom) Merideth Mehlberg presents a check to Lorie Curtis of Building Futures with Women and Children; proud gift giver poses with this year’s presents.

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com