By Bethany Robertson
I’m due with my second child in just a few weeks, so our house is abuzz with baby preparations and half-done holiday projects. The mood is a mix of mostly excitement with a small dash of fear about just what we’ve gotten ourselves into, going back to diapers and sleepless nights after more than four years.
While preparing for this big family transition, I’ve also been laying the groundwork for an exciting work transition—as Justin Ruben joins the ParentsTogether team this month as co-founder and executive director.
I’ve been struck that these two transitions—personal and professional—have a lot in common. Like most transitions, they are exciting, energizing, and also a bit scary. Adding someone new to the mix always changes the dynamic, in ways we can’t necessarily anticipate.
I have no idea what to expect when our new little girl joins our family, but from what I’ve learned about Justin over the past six months, I couldn’t be happier to have him join our team.
Justin’s experience is a great fit with ParentsTogether—through his work with MoveOn.org, he’s led a national, large-scale member organization that has advanced some of the most critical issues of our day. He knows how to build strong online connections and is also deeply committed to building offline community. His brain overflows with creative “what if” ideas, he has boundless energy, and he is dedicated to creating an organization that supports employees in their own work-life balance.
But what makes me really excited about Justin is his passion for being a thoughtful, engaged parent. He balances his drive to create social change with deep involvement with his kids’ lives. Like most of us, there are few things he won’t do to for his kids–whether that’s biking across Brooklyn in the rain and sleet to get his daughter to a great public school or spending 12 hours baking a fondant version of Elsa from “Frozen” in birthday cake form.
So what’s scary? Well – this is a big shift for me. I’ve been working on this project for several years, and I’m turning over the reigns day-to-day. I’ll be on maternity leave for four months, and when I return, I’ll focus on developing parent programs and services and supporting our state-based efforts.
It’s a big change, and a welcome one. Launching a national organization while birthing and raising young kids is hard. A lot of times, I’ve felt like I should be able to do it on my own, but the reality is, that’s not healthy for me or the organization. So I’m making an active choice in this year of new parenthood to change my role. It is the perfect time for folks like Justin–and our terrific North Carolina team–to take on new leadership and have even more opportunity bring their vision to the work.
I’ve been talking a lot with my son—who is four and a half—about what it will be like to have a new baby in the house. The downside, he’s decided, is that “We’ll have to stay home a lot while the baby sleeps.” (Please, let this one be a sleeper!). The upside: “I’ll have someone else to play with.” (Yes, eventually.)
In the end, that’s what makes me excited about growing our ParentsTogether family. For an early-stage organization like ours, it’s essential that we keep expanding the team with people who will help us “play” with new ideas, expand our networks and communities, and bring new energy to our efforts to create this national force of parents.
The pieces are all coming together on the work transition—please join me in welcoming Justin and share your ideas with him for what an organization like ParentsTogether could do.
And if anyone has tips for how I can help my son navigate this wave of change that’s about to hit his young life, suggestions welcomed! That’s why I started ParentsTogether in the first place—transitions like this feel so overwhelming, but I know so many parents have been here before me. Stronger together – ParentsTogether.