06 May Moms of the Week – Graci & Hagar! Greenwich Academy Alums, BFFs and Co-Founders of Bruce Contemporaries
What do you love to do with your children? How old are they? And what is your greatest wish for them?
Graci – I have a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. They crack me up all day long and constantly keep me on my toes! And as for my greatest wish for them, like any parent, I hope they grow up to be happy and confident and, of course, have wonderful lifelong friendships – Hagar and I have been best friends since we were 12 years old!
Hagar – Not only have Graci and I been best friends since we were 12, but we plan our children together too! I too, have a 5-year-old son and a 3-year-old boy (who is Graci’s godson and was born weeks apart from Graci’s daughter, my goddaughter). I love to take them out with me and talk to them like little adults, they’re so entertaining. And my wish for them is that they always be happy, healthy, and surrounded by love.
Graci – You put that in such a lovely way, I want that for my kids too!
Who has had the biggest influence upon you?
Graci – My parents have always had a really strong influence on me and that has actually grown since I moved back to Greenwich six years ago. Their dedication to family and the community has inspired me in so many ways, even down to some of the organizations I volunteer with like the Bruce Museum and Greenwich United Way!
Hagar – I’m with Graci on this one – my parents absolutely had the biggest influence on me. They taught me to be honest and hard-working, and as immigrant parents (from Lebanon) they instilled in me pride and a deep love for the United States. I’ve always loved giving back – whether it’s serving the American public or getting involved in my community.
What quality do you most admire in a mother?
Hagar – I would probably say wisdom. Mothers are always so wise – it’s like we have a natural instinct that kicks in when our babies are born, and that wisdom only grows over the years. Moms know best!
Graci – Patience. I think it’s a quality that any mother of 5 and 3-year olds could use as much as possible!
Besides motherhood, what other careers/opportunities have you enjoyed? And what are your strongest qualities?
Hagar – I worked in the U.S. government over the course of 12 years, in different national security and public affairs positions at the White House, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. I now run my own communications consulting business called Greenwich Media Strategies, and am a TV commentator on national security issues. I would have to say my strongest quality is talking and public speaking! I guess strategizing too, but mainly talking.
Graci – And let me tell you, Hagar is good at talking! I am always in awe of her when I see her discussing such complex issues on MSNBC or Bloomberg – she’s amazing!
For me right out of college, I worked for UBS for more than 10 years mostly managing the firm’s corporate sponsorships in the US. I loved getting the chance to work with museums, art shows and orchestras all over the country. Managing all of those partnerships and projects helped me really develop my communications and marketing skills, which I use every day volunteering with several non-profits around town.
Were you happiest in elementary, middle high school or college? Please explain why.
Graci – I’m not sure I can choose! Hagar and I went to Greenwich Academy for middle and high school and I loved GA – I’m still active now as a member of the GA Alumnae Board. Greenwich Academy really helped shape me into the person I am today. That being said, I went to Duke University and I am a very proud Blue Devil! Duke was the perfect choice for me and I loved every single day I spent on Duke’s campus. I even met my husband there as we lived in the same dorm my junior year!
Hagar – Hands down, my happiest schooling experience were the 8 years I spent at Greenwich Academy (clearly, since it led me to Graci)! I now serve on the GA Board of Trustees and am so happy to actively be part of the GA community. There are so many reasons but if I had to narrow it down, GA is like a permanent extended family – a group of teachers and staff who empowered us, supported us in all our endeavors, nourished our individual talents, and gave us the skills to face the real world as strong women with good characters. I loved every minute.
What do you like to do for fun and what is your idea of a perfect day?
Hagar – I mean, if I’m being honest, my perfect day would start with shopping and end with a glass of champagne at the spa! Kidding (and not kidding) aside, I love to workout (mainly Pilates & Zumba), listen to opera (a newer obsession), and travel.
Graci – I love going to the beach! Growing up, it was Nantucket and we still go every summer and the kids love it as much as I do. And now living in Old Greenwich, we are so lucky to have Tod’s Point so close as well. We will be at the beach all summer!
What is one of your favorite books? Movies?
Graci – Hagar and I love a good dinner and a movie girls night – romcoms only.
Hagar – Hear, hear! I really only go to the movies with Graci and no, I’m not kidding. And yes, romcoms only. My absolute favorite movie is Father of the Bride… and the list goes on.
What is your favorite type of food and what do you love to cook?
Graci – Sushi! Luckily, my kids love it too, although they are currently more into dumplings and edamame part of the menu. For cooking, I’m pretty good at the basics – anything beyond that and I’m going to need some practice!
Hagar – Sushi and Italian. We’re so lucky to be in the NY-area, where Italian is so good (spoken like a former Washingtonian)! And actually, I’m not a good cook for most things other than Lebanese food – probably because that’s what I grew up watching my Grandmother make.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Hagar – Oh wow, one place? Sometimes I love being in an airport, because it means I’m going on an adventure (if it’s not a work-related trip). I’ve been to a lot of cool places but would love to visit Australia and New Zealand. Graci, girls trip?
Graci – Definitely – I’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand and they are at the top of my list! I’m in!
Where is your favorite place to Party with Moms and what’s your drink of choice?
Hagar – As Graci will tell you, I pretty much live at L’Escale! But I recently went to a birthday at The Spread and had such a fun time! I almost always order Prosecco.
Graci – There are so many great restaurants in town, but in particular on my side of town, Le Fat Poodle and Lugano are my favorites! And, especially with the summer fast approaching, rosé is my drink of choice!
What’s your favorite local activity for parents?
Graci – Hagar and I are part of a group of local moms who co-founded the
Bruce Contemporaries with the Bruce Museum last August. The Bruce Contemporaries is a really fun group of young members, ages 25-45, who get insider access to special events, networking and education that the Bruce Museum is in a unique position to provide. We host lots of curated events throughout the year ranging from a cocktail party at the Bruce Museum Seaside Center at Tod’s Point to tours of local private art collections and local artist’s studios. We’ve even taken trips to NYC for private tours of the Basquiat exhibition at the new Brant Foundation space in New York and of the Outsider Art Fair. Our next event will be an Art Gallery “Crawl” down Greenwich Avenue on June 13. We have a lot of fun and we’d love you to join us, so visit bruceContemporaries.org and also look through our blog to see all of the great events we’ve hosted so far!
Hagar – The Bruce Contemporaries is actually one of the few local activities I find that works well for both spouses. Not that the gents can’t come to the Greenwich United Way Sole Sisters Luncheon, for example! (Which Graci did a fabulous job chairing this year and for which I was on the committee.) It’s fun to be active with the Bruce Museum as both an adult and a parent. As an adult, the Contemporaries offers really fun, engaging, and exclusive events – the kinds of events you would normally have organized by museums in New York City. And as a parent more broadly, the Bruce Museum for kids is just amazing. In a short trip I was able to take them to the Andy Warhol show, for example, or Toulouse Lautrec. My kids particularly love the science wing and the fish tank (and of course, a visit to the Park and ice cream truck afterwards)! The Bruce Museum is an incredible resource for our community.