10 Sep Mom of the Week – Kaile Josephs Zagger, Healthcare Executive & Force Behind the Greenwich Committee of T.E.A.L.
What do you love to do with your children? How old are they? And what is your greatest wish for them?
Geralyn Grace (GG) will be 5 this November, hard to believe! She is 4 going on 30 and just amazes me every day. She is smart, kind, a ball of fun and a beautiful little soul. I love our relationship and how much she wants to talk about real world things now. It’s a very special time with her.
Colton (Colty) turned 3 in May and will forever be my baby (even when he’s 30). He is sweet, inviting, kind, intelligent and loves being with people. I live for his smile, giggle and his deep belly laugh.
They are the loves of my life.
We have so much fun together. We love to explore new things, go on adventures during the weekend to new places, play tennis, cook, garden and swim together. We love to spend time with friends, the beach, going for walks and enjoying our frozen yogurt treats at Rosie’s. When we are not on an adventure, my favorite time with them is at home… relaxing together, watching a movie, reading books, jumping on the trampoline in the summer, playing in the snow in the winter, or simply playing in the playroom or in their rooms with them. I can’t get enough of them.
My greatest wish for them is that they will aim high, and reach their full potential. That they embody Michelangelo’s belief of, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” I wish for them, that they will grow up to be empathetic, worldly, humble, well travelled and well-read, find true peace, and that they will combine knowledge and wisdom to make an impact in this world. That they will challenge themselves to be the best that they can be, each day of their lives because “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” (Henry Ford). My wish is that they know they are deeply loved and cherished, and that they find roots and strength in that knowledge. With that rooting, they can grow and do anything. I wish for them that they are great community members, understand the importance of connection, of people, relationships and of giving back. I wish for them that they understand that they have a choice – and that choosing (and being prudent about those selections) the right people to surround yourself with and then dedicating yourself to them is one of the most important things you can do in life.
I recently met someone that taught me to “make sure your servant’s’ towel is bigger than your ego” and that “pride is the burden of a foolish person,” and he is so right. Serving others is where we become centered and find our footing, I wish I had learned that in my earlier years.
I wish for them that they shoot for the stars, and that they believe good isn’t good enough if it can be better and better isn’t good enough if it can be best. I wish for them that when the waters get rough, and they inevitably will… that they have the strength and courage to stand… and to keep standing. No matter how rough the seas get, they keep standing. That they find their internal fortitude, they have the courage to be vulnerable inside the strong support system and community they have built, they learn to lean and never give up. I wish for them that as life gets complicated and missteps happen, they will understand forgiveness – whether they need to forgive themselves or others and that by forgiving, they will release themselves and continue to grow.
I wish for us, that we have enough years together that I may share the failure, trials and tribulations of my life with them, and that they may learn from my mistakes in hopes that they can be just that much wiser.
My final wish for them is that they will live a life in which they do not judge, they are kind, embody temperance and empathy above all else, that they value and serve others, that they understand it’s never wrong to do the right thing, that how you do anything is how you do everything, that the simplest things are the happiest things, that they listen (really listen) to that inner voice inside and let it guide them, that they trust in God, and that they believe people and relationships are important to invest in. I wish that Geralyn and Colt will find true love, deep friendship, fulfilling careers, that they will see the world, and work inside their communities to leave this world just a bit better for their children.
Who has had the biggest influence upon you?
My mother’s memory will always have the biggest influence on me. She is always with me, I know that. Day to day, my aunt, Patricia Thacker and my friend of almost 3 decades, Erin Rooks, hold the keys of persuasion over me.
What quality do you most admire in a mother?
Acceptance, love, affection and the ability to keep things in perspective.
Besides motherhood, what other careers/opportunities have you enjoyed? What do you like about your current job?
I have been so lucky and blessed with my career. I love what I do each day and feel very fortunate for the experiences I have had.
I started my career in General Electric Capital Division, as a member of the Global Leadership Development Program for the first two years out of college. It was a demanding and rigorous program and proved to be a great foundation for the future. After completion of the program, I left GE, to pursue my dream of a career in healthcare, because in order to move from Capital to Healthcare within GE, I would have had to go through another 2 year program and did not have an appetite for that at that point. I have been fortunate to work for amazing companies such as Guidant, Boston Scientific, St. Jude Medical, Intuitive Surgical and now Royal Philips – all in varying spaces of healthcare such as electrophysiology, cardiac rhythm management, neuromodulation, robotic surgery, and diagnostic imaging.
Currently, I am the Region Vice President for Royal Philips New York and Connecticut zone, responsible for all Philips business and deployment commercially. I was asked to come to Philips to help improve performance of the Region, as I have a passion for working closely with teams, studying the markets and problem statements and formulating change management strategy in order to obtain forward progression with the team. I know it sounds nerdy, but I love changing processes, instituting new structures that will allow the teams to be successful and watching something go from struggling to thriving. Anything is possible… even the worst of situations may just need a fresh set of eyes and a course correction. In just a year and half, the team has successfully completed a turn around and sits at the top ranks of the worldwide charts.
What are your strongest qualities?
It’s always easier to talk about your weakness! I would say, perseverance, intuitiveness, my belief in people and my strong desire to keep learning and growing (especially on the heels of mistakes or failures).
Were you happiest in elementary, middle high school or college? Please explain why.
Oh my gosh! I loved high school – it was my most favorite time. Interesting though, because it was a really difficult time for my family as my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer when I was 13, just entering high school. It’s a testimony to the woman she was that she made those years complete magic and never missed a beat. We built the homecoming floats in my front yard, decorated the pep rally posters (30+ feet long) on my street, my house was “the house” that everyone wanted to come to because Marilyn would cook for us and wanted to be with us. It was an open door for all, and a place where you knew how much you were loved as soon as you walked through the door and into her arms. She never missed a tennis match, a Friday night football game, a school event, was always there to support homework, and support the greater community. We all loved her and she really made those years something to be cherished. I was lucky to have amazing friends, who I am still very close with today and great teachers. It takes a village, and we had a special one.
What do you like to do for fun and what is your idea of a perfect day?
I love exploring new things – whether it is places, food, books, people. It’s amazing to me that after 38 years, this world still has so much to offer.
My perfect day – wow, ok. I would study the night before about something interesting we could do the next day. Check the weather, and pack up the car with everything we may need. My kids and I would jump in the car early in the morning, go to our tea cup diner for breakfast and then be on our way for a new adventure. Maybe it’s taking a weekend trip to DC and going to the space museum, maybe it’s to NYC to go on the boat tour (which they LOVED by the way), maybe it’s to Boston to walk the Freedom Trial, maybe it’s to the Catskills for a fall hike, or heading to a new area of Rhode Island, where my Aunt Pat, and cousins live, to be with family. Even better, we would get a few friends along for the ride, and enjoy the adventure, together.
We love to explore, love to enjoy something new and there’s nothing like the look on Geralyn and Colt’s face when they are introduced to something for the first time. They have done so much in their short lives and look forward to expanding their horizons to include international travel and experiences, once they are a bit older.
What is one of your favorite books? Movies?
I have actually gotten into foreign films in the past few months and have an appreciation for films that come out of Bollywood. I love the Indian culture – it’s top on my list to visit with the kids once they are older.
For favorite movies… anything with Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan as the lead actors, are a favorite for me! I’m not sure what it says about me, that my two favorite actors are the past James Bond stars :).
Unfortunately, it’s been awhile since I have read a book that wasn’t either a parenting or business book, but you have inspired me to put that as a to do, on my list. I need the days to be stretched to 26 versus 24 hours!
What is your favorite type of food and what do you love to cook?
I have fallen in love with cooking all over again and am working my way through a French and a Greek cookbook currently. I enjoy cooking French food and experimenting with sauces, love making curry and Thai dishes with vegetables and coconut milk.
I enjoy trying totally new cuisines or meats that I haven’t tried before and figuring out ways to get my children to eat healthy things, like kale without them knowing :).
On the flip side, I have an aversion to cooking anything that is considered American or Italian cuisine (I have had too much of it in my lifetime)!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Impossible question for me as I love to travel, and haven’t really in years and completely starved for it – my destination list keeps growing! Here are my top picks that I hope to do with my kids, as soon as possible.
2. Galapagos Islands
3. India and the Maldives
4. South Africa
Where is your favorite place to Party with Moms in Greenwich and what’s your drink of choice?
That all depends on who is organizing and what time of year it is! I adore the women in my life and cherish the time I have with them.
The venues are wide spans… but I would actually say that we really love to just be at each other’s homes the most, in yoga pants and baseball hats. We really have graduated to mom mode! If we were to go out, we would probably end up at one of the following places – East End, Little Pub or Bruce Park Grill.
My drink of choice in the summer is a glass of Sancere and in the winter, a glass of left bank Bordeaux. My favorite after dinner drink is a Baileys on the rocks!
Kaile Zagger has joined forces with T.E.A.L. to bring ovarian cancer awareness to Connecticut. The Town of Greenwich will proclaim September Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in honor of Kaile’s mother, Marilyn Trahan Josephs, who succumbed to the disease at age 46 in 1999.
“My mother was 40 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. She was a beautiful woman, wonderful mother, and the picture of health. In just one day, life unequivocally changed. My mom was in a hospital bed, with a dim prognosis and a terminal disease. No signs, no symptoms, no family history and no warning… at least that is what I thought at the time. I know now that the signs were there, whispering to us, but we didn’t recognize them. Our hope is that this September, we will teach the families and medical community how to hear the whispers, so we can help save the next amazing lady that may have been impacted by ovarian cancer.”
Upcoming Local Teal Events
The Greenwich Town Hall will change their exterior lights from white to TEAL when the proclamation goes live on September 17th at 6:30 PM.
TEAL is also sponsoring a walk for Ovarian Cancer in Litchfield CT on September 22nd and a lecture on “How to Prevent and Survive Ovarian Cancer” at the YWCA Greenwich on September 26th.