Aerie is celebrating the third year of their partnership with the non-profit organization Bright Pink. Get to know the founder & CEO of Bright Pink, Lindsay Avner, and her inspiration behind starting this amazing organization that is helping out young women across the US.
How would your friends describe you?
My friends would describe me as a fun-loving go-getter who squeezes every drop out of life.
Tell us how the Bright Pink journey began?
My grandmother and great-grandmother died a week apart, both from breast cancer at the ages of 39 and 58, before I was even born. When I was only 12, my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer and 10 months later with ovarian cancer. In May 2005, I underwent a genetic test that indicated I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene fault, indicating I had up to an 87 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to a 54 percent lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer. Finding out I was at high risk was hard but I knew I had to use this information I had been afforded, information that was not available to previous generations of women, to empower me to take action.
At age 23, I made a very personal decision to remove my healthy breasts in order to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer to less than one percent. I was the youngest patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to make such a decision. It was during my journey that I realized the lack of resources for young women in a similar situation—those who were healthy and wanted to be do all they could to reduce their risk for breast and ovarian cancer or detect these diseases at early, non life-threatening stages. Being Bright Pink is all about being bright, being smart, being positive and being proactive with your breast and ovarian health. I launched the original Bright Pink website on January 2, 2007 in order to create a supportive, empowered community for young women and the organization continues to grow at record rates.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part is that every single day is completely different. Some days, I focus more on the overall strategy and operations managing my staff, working with our Chapters to expand their reach, or refining our programs to ensure they are best serving our constituents. Other days, I have the chance to work with our fabulous multi-year sponsors like Aerie to create campaigns and programs that not only raise funds to fuel our mission, but most importantly reach thousands of women nationwide and inspire them to be proactive advocates for their health. I am immensely blessed to have a job I love.
Do you have any cool interest or hobbies?
I am a workout junkie and love group fitness classes. I used to pound out miles on the treadmill, but two years ago I discovered how much fun it is to be in a room with others all working out in synch – the energy pushes me. Currently I am obsessed with Flywheel spin classes and try to attend at least 3 days a week. They play awesome music, are only 45 minutes long, and I leave the class drenched in sweat.
Describe to our fans a typical day in your world.
I am not a morning person at all and when I finally became my own boss, I vowed to only take meetings before 10 a.m. on occasion. I usually wake up around 8 and work from home until about 10 a.m. It gives me a chance to catch up on my projects and my staff the chance to quietly ease into the day. I then embark on what is probably the world’s shortest commute, my 2.5 block walk into the office. I try to spend three days a week with a packed schedule going from meetings to calls to brainstorms back to back so that the other two days a week I have time to work with my incredible staff, reflect, refine, and drive our strategy and vision and get through my sometimes intimidating inbox. I like to leave the office by 6 p.m. to meet friends for a workout or attend an event, but I am always back online for a couple hours around 10 p.m. Unfortunately, the best ideas never come to me between 9 and 5. I always keep a note pad by my bed because sometimes I will wake up at 4 a.m. and the answer to something that I have been stirring about for days becomes loud and clear.
How do you see Bright Pink growing in the future?
We are determined to be THE organization that helps every young woman understand her risk for breast and ovarian cancer, develop a personalized prevention and early detection strategy, and provide support for high-risk individuals. We are looking forward to launching more chapters and ally cities, enrolling more women in our programs, and working closer with medical professionals to ensure they have the information, tools, and resources to best support their young female patients. We also are focusing a lot of effort on working with our multi-year partners like Aerie on more efforts year-round versus just in October. It is exciting to think of all the unexpected ways we can reach young women with these partners and the lives that we can save together.
Where do you find inspiration?
I surround myself with pretty incredible friends and family who lift me up, challenge me to think differently about the world, and give me the courage to be bold and take chances. I read a lot of women’s magazines, follow trend sites ,and other organizations/companies that I think are doing a good job inspiring people to take action or change their behavior. Finally, I have several fantastic mentors who help guide me in my efforts. Whenever I am around them, I try to soak up as much advice, ideas, and direction as possible.
How can everyone get involved in Bright Pink?
Visit us online at BrightPink.org to learn more about our education and support programs, how you can Be Bright Pink and be proactive with your own breast and ovarian health, and how to get involved with our efforts at a local level. Also, be sure to like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/BrightPink and follow us on Twitter @BeBrightPink.
Who do you most admire?
My mom, Wendy. She is an 18-year breast cancer survivor and 17-year ovarian cancer survivor and is the strongest, most vibrant, and lively person I have ever met. She could have chosen to be a victim because she’s been through a lot. Instead, she wakes up every day with a smile on her face, focuses on the good in her life versus the bad, and has dedicated her life to philanthropy and service. She is my hero.
What is your favorite thing to do in your home base of Chicago?
We are a restaurant city! There is always a great new spot that just opened up that I want to try. My favorite place this year is definitely RPM Italian, an Italian restaurant that my friends Bill and Giuliana Rancic opened this past February. The food is great, the atmosphere is very chic, and the staff is wonderful. The restaurant opening raised funds for Bright Pink and 12 of the servers actually formed a team for our Fab-Fest event we hosted with Giuliana earlier this year. Perhaps I am biased, but anywhere that has that much Bright Pink love rises to the top.