I'm so tired of political ads. Except for this one. THE Steve Martin decided he wanted to help a friend win an election. So he put his face in front of his phone cam and talked about something else entirely.
When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.
Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.
"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."
Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."
That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."
When I first saw the preview of National Geographic's documentary about Anthony Fauci, I was confused. My assumption was that the documentary was made to profile his role in the COVID-19 pandemic response as that's how he became a household name. How did the filmmakers know they would need to get footage of Fauci at the very beginning of the pandemic, when no one knew yet what it would become?
The answer is: They didn't. This film was never intended to be about this pandemic at all. The profile of Anthony Fauci was planned by award-winning filmmakers John Hoffman and Janet Tobias in 2018 and they began filming in the fall of 2019, several months before anyone had even heard of SARS-CoV-2. The filmmakers originally planned to highlight Fauci as a lesser-known public servant, focusing primarily on his work throughout the AIDS pandemic.
What they ended up with is parallel stories of Fauci's AIDS work and Fauci's COVID response, and their "lesser-known" subject becoming a superstar during the making of the film. In fact, the press release for the film included the following, which is an unusual disclaimer but one the filmmakers felt necessary in the current climate: "Dr. Fauci had no creative control over the film. He was not paid for his participation, nor does he have any financial interest in the film's release."
Fauci | Official Trailer | National Geographic Documentary Films www.youtube.com
The film flips back and forth in time from the '80s and '90s to the past two years, showing us the work of a much younger Fauci beside his current, impressively spry, 80-year-old self. Here's what stood out most to me:
The man is the epitome of a dedicated public servant.
Regardless of what the whackadoodle conspiracy theorists think, Fauci's dedication to his work is unparalleled. While he is paid well—at $418,000/year he makes more than the president—his salary is not outrageous for a doctor who has been working for decades, and seeing him in his home, it's clear he's not living an opulent lifestyle. He says he feels a "very deep sense of responsibility" in his work, which is clear when you see his career play out in this film.
He's not afraid to tell the truth.
Fauci is a tough cookie in the best way. He knows he's "the bad guy" to a certain subset of the population. "I represent something that's uncomfortable for them," he says in the documentary. "It's called the truth."
President George W. Bush told filmmakers that when Fauci meets with you, you know he's going to lay out the facts no matter how they might affect the politics. "Tony Fauci doesn't come into the Oval Office to make you look good," he laughed.
During the first year of the COVID pandemic, Fauci found himself in the unique position of having to fact-check the president in real time. He also faced resistance from within. The film actually opens with Fauci on the phone being told that the White House had declined TV spots about COVID vaccine development because the president wanted to focus on the economy. When the filmmakers asked Fauci about his meetings with the president early in the pandemic, he gently laughed and said, "Yikes." That pretty much sums things up.
Fauci has served under six presidents and always with the goal of keeping the science at the forefront. As a government employee, he has to deal with policy, but as we see behind the scenes in his work with the AIDS crisis as well as the COVID pandemic, he doesn't care about politics. He cares about science—and he cares about people.
His empathy is what makes him effective in his work.
What was most striking in seeing Fauci's career play out is how often he talks about putting himself in other people's shoes and seeing things from their perspective. When AIDS activists protested the National Institutes of Health's handling of AIDS treatment, he didn't dismiss them. He listened. He went to activist meetings and dialogued with them. He thoughtfully explained what they were wrong about, and also thoughtfully acknowledged what they were right about.
"My weapon, in addition to the science, is speaking to the American people," he says. People who saw him as an enemy grew to admire him. In fact, one AIDS activist who had led protests outside the NIH during the AIDS crisis said he has been regularly checking in with Fauci to see how he's doing with the vitriol and threats he's received during the COVID pandemic. (Fauci is a level-headed guy, but we see him drop an angry f-bomb when his daughters were being threatened.)
As a disease specialist, Fauci is brilliant. But he has an intuitive finger on the pulse of human nature as well, which makes him ideally suited to the work he does.
Fauci hasn't changed. Our society has.
Seeing certain people call for Fauci to be fired and accusing him of lying, covering up research, causing the pandemic or [fill-in-conspiratorial-Tucker-Carlson-talking-point-here] feels utterly ridiculous. The man is 80 years old and has dedicated his entire life to fighting and treating infectious diseases. The idea that he would somehow suddenly become some kind of evil player in a global conspiracy to control the masses or whatever inane idea people have come up with is ludicrous.
Fauci was vilified early in the AIDS pandemic, but it was nothing compared to what he's experienced with COVID-19. "The whole atmosphere strains your concept of what normality is," he says in the doc. Our divisiveness can't continue if we hope to be prepared for the next pandemic, he says. It just won't work. And we have a common enemy—the virus—which should be uniting us.
That goes for Americans as well as our global society.
"When you have a global pandemic, you need a global solution," says Fauci. "To think you can just take care of yourself ... is just folly."
As the film shows, we got there with AIDS. The life-saving AIDS cocktail was developed in the United States, $15 billion was invested by the second Bush administration to distribute the medicines to vulnerable populations across Africa, and Democrats and Republicans united to back the investment.
Much of the success of AIDS treatment is owed to Dr. Fauci. And I am 100% sure that history will be much fairer to him than many Americans have been during this pandemic.
"It's always the sustained investment in science that rises to the occasion," says Fauci. Again, always putting the spotlight back on the science.
"Fauci" can be seen by all Disney+ subscribers on October 6, and you can read more about the making of the film here. Definitely worth a watch.
When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."
"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.
The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.
"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."
Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.
Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.
Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.
She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.
Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.
Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.
"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."
"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.
Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.
"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.
"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."
"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."
"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."
"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."
Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.
That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."
Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."
To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!