We are inspired by these women who, in addition to balancing their work lives and home lives also make time to volunteer in leadership roles for our organization. So often we see their names or pictures on our website or in our magazine, Notebook, or in our email publication Multiple Messages or at our annual convention conducting the business of the organization but rarely do we get a chance to read their story about why they make the time to serve our organization. This series of profiles will help our members get to know their leaders’ personal side and their motivations for being a part of Multiples of America. You may read something that resonates with you, your family or your life. It’s these connections that bind us all together. Since our organization is made up of many volunteers, we urge you all to consider volunteering for our organization…start small and grow big. Many of the skill sets learned while being a volunteer, like leadership, communication, and organizing, have been useful in growing careers.
Research Vice President, Olivia Hare
My multiples are too young for me to volunteer is not something that Olivia Hare ever said. Her twins are 4 and she is already serving on the Board of Directors. Please read on to find out what motivates Olivia to serve.
Name: Olivia Hare
BOD Position: Research Vice President
Children’s Ages: 4 years
Club Affiliations: Triangle Parents of Multiples, Raleigh, NC
Why did you join? Honestly, I was looking for a base of friends with kids. We were the first of my friend group to get married and then to have children and it just made sense to find a base of people that had twins too. I’m not going to lie our consignment sale was another benefit. Our members shop early and then can invite guests. I shopped pregnant as a guest and knew that I had to be in line to shop as early as possible at the next sale!
What made you stay? I found that base I mentioned before. I have a great group of fellow MoMs that I can bounce ideas off of, vent to, and laugh at crazy stuff our kids do together.
Why do you serve? I serve because I have a passion for helping out those that were in my position of “I need people who get me!” The ride of an identical twin pregnancy is something that only those of us who have been scanned, checked over and over, and prodded every week or two completely understand! I want to help lend an ear and make others know that it’s possible to live a normal life after multiples!
Professional Career: My degree is in Child Development and before my boys I taught preschool. Right now I’m enjoying staying at home with them and will revisit the idea of returning to work once they enter school.
Something Non-Multiple Related: I love to cook, honestly that is my number one passion! It’s my stress relief and I look forward to spending time in the kitchen daily! I grew up in a household with a dad that’s a culinary chef and ran a bakery most of my life and can say that my skills come naturally most of the time!
Membership Vice President, Terri Gillis
Terri has done it all serving in many leadership roles at the local, state and national levels. She has enjoyed a demanding professional career alongside her volunteer career with Multiples of America. Proof positive it can be done and her journey has given her many gifts of cherished friendship along the way.
Name: Terri Gillis
BOD Position: Membership Vice President
Children’s Ages: Twin Daughters – 44 years old
Club Affiliations: Greater Orlando Mothers of Twins and Triplets (GOMOTT) and Flamingo Mothers of Multiples (Flamingo Moms)
Why did you join? When my girls were 6 months old a neighbor I did not know saw my stroller and insisted I attend a mothers of twins meeting with her. From that night on, it was all about the friendships and connections that became a major part of my social life.
What made you stay? The friendships and connections I made. My closest circle of friends today are from those early days. I also immediately volunteered which kept me active. By the time the twins were in school I had become a State volunteer which kept me active in my local club so I could be a state volunteer. And later as I moved on to National as a volunteer, the local club continued to be the conduit for my volunteer efforts to continue.
Why do you serve? I am a leader versus a follower and volunteering allowed me to naturally grow in that area. I found that my work skills offered value to my club work at all levels; and, that my work at the State and National level actually allowed me to deepen leadership skills that transferred back to my job. I love being a mentor to others and having mature twins and a deep knowledge of my local club has allowed me to guide others in both parenting and club related matters.
Professional Career: I recently retired after 47 years with SunTrust Banks, a major banking corporation. I was the corporate incentive/sale administrator responsible for implementation and ongoing administration of compensation plans for over 15,000 employees. Title: Senior Vice President/STI Incentive Administration Manager. Background in banking also included managing Consumer Training, Starting the first Telephone Banking Unit, and Sales Management which included event planning, sales training, and quality service training for Consumer Banking.
Something Non-Multiple Related: I am the Gramma to Emma 3 and Landry 6. What Joy!
Secretary, Misty Young-Smith
Remember that life that you led before you had multiples? Yeah, that one. There are probably not too many of us out there that can say they were a professionally trained chef and ice carver. Misty Young-Smith, our current Secretary, can say exactly that. Read more about her journey to serving MOA and the small menagerie that her family has.
Name: Misty Young-Smith
BOD Position: Secretary
Children’s Ages: 11, 5, 5
Club Affiliations: York White Rose Mothers of Twins & Triplets Club
Why did you join? Twins do not run in my family. We were told the girls were mono/di and that twin A had a velamentous cord. We were scared, excited and overwhelmed. I was checking out our local hospital maternity ward and saw the group’s flyer and took a card. I emailed them and received a quick response. Some questions were answered immediately and I felt understood and accepted.
What made you stay? Seeing how close our HOTT (has older twins and triplets) Moms were and hearing the stories of what the club used to be. When I joined there were around 5 active moms in the group. All had older twins. I decided to make growing the club my mission. We are now 4 times that size after 5 years of me being a member. I am so happy I stuck around. I have a wonderful support and group of friends, so do my kids!
Why do you serve? If it were not for the club, there would have been many times I think I may have lost my mind. Between personal, family, health and just mindset in general, my club has always come through. I immediately jumped in to my club as Secretary and was quickly nominated and voted in as president. I am now serving my final year as president, as we are only allowed to serve 3 consecutive years. It is bitter sweet. When my club asked to send me to Atlanta, GA National Convention as a delegate, I was thrilled! I went and was blown away by Multiples of America. The whole concept and business end intrigued me and I could not wait to help out. I found myself being nominated as Marketing Coordinator and then decided to take on an Executive Board role as Secretary. It is a decision I absolutely love!
Professional Career: For 5 years I was a professionally trained chef and ice carver. After moving back to PA from NC, I changed careers and began the process of acquiring my Graphic Design and Multimedia Communications AS Degree. I worked as a graphic artist for about 5 years and then, due to logistics, had to quit and find work closer to home. The girls came about and we decided I was going to take some time off to stay at home with them. I am now preparing to work as Office Manager at my friend’s family-owned appliance company.
Something Non-Multiple Related: My husband and I are huge animal lovers and have 7 (working on 8) cats and 2 dogs. We also have a guinea pig and a salt-water fish tank.
Education Vice President, Ellen Johnson
While not a parent of multiples, our next BOD member is a twin herself and mom to a singleton son. Please read on about Ellen Johnson’s unique reason for staying involved and volunteering for Multiples of America.
Name: Ellen Johnson
BOD Position: Education Vice President
Children’s Ages: 6 year old son
Club Affiliations: Westside Mothers of Twins Club, CA
Why did you join? I joined the club my mother belonged to. I came with her to meetings and attended club functions, State Conventions and National Conventions with her and wanted to continue to do so.
What made you stay? When my mother passed away, I needed to maintain the connections I made with the club members (my “other mothers”) and continued to attend National Conventions. I had the chance to maintain friendships developed when I would come with my mother to club, State and National functions and to make new friends.
Why do you serve? I am a twin and not a mother of multiples. I serve to give back. I have attended so many conventions since I was a little girl with my mother, a past member of the Board of Directors. As a shy child, I was presented with a wonderful example of leadership from so many smart, dedicated and talented women. It has been a great joy to give back to the organization that has given me so much.
Professional Career: I am an attorney practicing Family Law in California.
Something Non-Multiple Related: I was a music performance major in college, playing the French Horn. I play in a local community group and it is my outlet. I also bake cheesecakes.
Advisor, Kelly Willenberg
Are you or your spouse currently serving in the military or have a job that moves your family around the country? Well, Multiples of America has you covered in support with our many clubs around the United States. Kelly Willenberg, current Advisor, reveals how clubs around our country were a constant lifeline of support for her and her family as a military wife.
Name: Kelly Willenberg
BOD Position: Advisor
Children’s Ages: 30
Club Affiliations: GEMS, SC
Why did you join? I was a military wife at the time and twins club was my lifeline. We moved a lot until the girls were 5 so twins clubs gave me an instant connection everywhere we went.
What made you stay? The friends I made once I went to a convention. Nashville was my first and I left there on the BOD. I never looked back.
Why do you serve? I believe in what this organization’s foundation was to begin with. As a mother of twins, the support I received from club membership was enormous for me as a military wife with no family near me. I am back serving on the BOD after time away and I am happy to offer my longevity of wisdom and my business intelligence.
Professional Career: I have a Bachelor’s in Nursing, and a Masters and Doctorate in Business. I have owned my business for nine years.
Something Non-Multiple Related: I speak nationally on numerous topics and I love to teach. I love to read and read mystery novels!
Executive Vice President, Diane Graves
Name: Diane Graves
BOD Position: Executive Vice President
Children’s Ages: 22,20,20
Club Affiliations: St. Louis MOMs (MO), Primetime MOMS (IL)
Why did you join? I was scared to death! When I found out I was having twins, I was already 20 weeks along, and I wanted to find out all I could and immerse myself with whatever information I could gather. Meeting face to face with women that went through the same situation was very calming for me.
What made you stay? The friendships I developed have been invaluable. My first convention was in my hometown of St. Louis, and I met women from across the country and was totally awed by their knowledge and they truly inspired me.
Why do you serve? To give back to the organization that provided so much to me as a young mother. I have always had a volunteer spirit, and it just seemed the natural step for me to step in and learn as much as I could about this organization.
Professional Career: I have a Bachelor’s in Food Science and Nutrition, and currently manage a middle school kitchen.
Something Non-Multiple Related: I am a National Garden Clubs Accredited Flower Show Judge, and have volunteered for both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for over 15 years.
Education Chairman, Donna Kuni
Being the first to do anything can be daunting and being the first to have children in your friends group can be a challenging step. Good thing that Donna Kuni, Education Chairman had a ready-made support group waiting to help her navigate uncharted territory. Read on to learn more!
Name: Donna Kuni
BOD Position: Education Chairman
Children’s Ages: 11
Club Affiliations: Triangle Parents of Multiples (NC)
Why did you join? When my kids were born, social media platforms did not exist. TPOM, then TMOTT, used a forum system. I joined in my second trimester to find support online before the twins were born. Once they were born, and I finally made a meeting, I realized not just how friendly and helpful these members were anonymously online but how much they offered by way of supporting the “whole” parent.
What made you stay? The support is unparalleled. I did not have any friends that had twins. I was one of the first of my group of friends to even have children. The friendships that came out of membership, attending meetings, and having a night out to socialize without guilt was my survival strategy. It was my only outlet with other adults for a long time.
Why do you serve? Our club gave me so much in that first year by support and friendship, that it seemed natural to want to do the same. I always have had a sense of service and this was a way to continue to give back to an organization that is one of a kind! I am also social and enjoy meeting new people. I was “recruited” to the board of my local club when my twins were only 1 year old and have continued to be involved.
I attended my first convention in Charlotte when I was president of TPOM (then TMOTT), and knew I wanted to volunteer at the level of “National.” I wanted a voice and to learn more about how the organization works. As I aged out of events appropriate for my kids locally and many of my friends drifted off from the local level, I continued to find a connection there but also needed to seek out the next stage of service. Multiples of America became that for me. For 5 years as the Special Needs Coordinator, I felt a kinship across the states with parents I’ve never met and may never meet. It’s very rewarding. This has continued into my current position.
Professional Career: I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst working with children and adolescents with autism using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I have been in the special needs field for 20 years and have had a wide range of a journey. I worked part time while the kids were little, allowing me to stay at home with them while working when they could be home with my husband. Through this, I found the credentials and path I wanted to follow, adding courses and fieldwork toward the title of certification I know hold. I love the field of individuals I get to work with and each one provides me a learning opportunity and an understanding of the pureness of the heart.
Something Non-Multiple Related: I love to scrapbook and read. My husband is a band director and plays the trumpet. I played the flute from elementary school through college. I no longer play. Going to see theatre shows and concerts are a favorite activity when we can!