As you may know, Linda Stefani recently joined our team as our new Operations Coordinator! In the position, she’ll be leveraging her corporate experience and organizational skills (as well as her experiences parenting her own preemies) to grow Graham’s Foundation’s reach and influence.
Our communications director, Christa Terry, recently had a chance to chat with Linda about her background, her thoughts about our organization, and what she hopes to accomplish in her new role.
Q: You’re a preemie mom yourself – what was your journey like?
My twin daughters (now 3.5) were born at 32 weeks, 1 day weighing in at 3.7lbs and 3.3llbs. I had a relatively easy pregnancy up until 28 weeks when I went for a routine ultrasound that landed me in the hospital with contractions. They were able to get them under control and sent me home on full bed rest. I lasted another 4 weeks and 1 day until my water broke.
After an emergency C-section due to my little ladies being breech, I was given the most amazing gifts – two beautiful tiny princesses, Skylar Ryan and Avery Dylan. By the grace of God they were both born breathing room air and were referred to by the NICU team as “feeders and growers.” They remained in the NICU from January 10, 2013 until February 13.
Skylar and Avery are now both very happy and healthy. That’s not to say we haven’t had some roadblocks on our journey. Skylar was born with a dislocated hip, so at 6 months old she received an open reduction and was in a spica cast for 12 weeks. Skylar has a significant speech delay and Avery has mixed receptive expressive language disorder, hypotonia and fine motor delays. Both are now in preschool and receiving speech services, and Avery gets OT services as well.
Q: Why did you want to become a part of Graham’s Foundation?
During my daughters’ stay in the NICU I felt very much alone. I had no one to reach out to when I had questions, concerns, for assurance or just someone to simply vent my feelings to. From then on I vowed to never let anyone I knew feel like they were going through this journey alone. Eventually I stumbled upon Graham’s Foundation’s website (and wished I had found it years ago) and I saw the valuable work they were doing.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing Graham’s Foundation does?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one initiative in particular, but what I like about Graham’s Foundation is that they target all aspects of prematurity. They offer support to everyone on this journey whether it be in the form of a care package, a message letting parents know “Hey, we were just thinking about you and your children and wanted you to know that we are here,” or the Preemie Parent Mentor Program that offers guidance and support for a wide range of issues.
Q: How are you bringing your previous experience to Graham’s Foundation?
I come with a background in Finance on both the operational and sales ends. I’ve always been a team player and hope to bring my organization skills and expertise along with some fresh ideas and suggestions to help Graham’s Foundation continue to grow and prosper.
Q: What do you hope to help the organization achieve in 2016? How about in the next five years?
I hope to help the organization just grow and grow and grow. I plan to work alongside each team member and help them continue to enhance their areas of expertise whether it be increasing the number of care packages we send each year to hiring more mentors for the peer support program to helping reach more individuals through social media. I would also like to help create new relationships and sponsorships and work on new fundraising ideas.
We can already tell that Linda is going to be an amazing asset to our team and hope you’ll give her a warm welcome.
Before we sign off, we wanted to remind you about our current research survey, which examines how parents of preemies hear about Early Intervention and other post-discharge services, how they access these services, and whether they felt like they were given enough information about post-discharge services as they prepared to make the transition home. It only takes a minute and your answers
may help more parents and their preemies gain access to these vital services in the future.
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