Contributor: Keri Herndon-Brown
I have a confession to make: I do not make female friends easily. I tend to be hesitant or even reluctant to engage with women I don’t know. I’m not exactly sure why — I have two female besties that I have been rocking with for 10 and twenty years, respectively — and I have always sought out women’s organizations that are empowering. I enjoyed my time as a Mocha Mom and now I’m really proud to be a member of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. Maybe it was thought that I would be meeting with women who are rising reality TV stars. Recently, moms + women + TV cameras in Atlanta can be hit or miss, but I was curious about Mother Funders and I was determined not to let any preconceived notions deter me from learning more about their show, their personalities and their mission.
Mother Funders revolves around seven moms here in the Atlanta area who are passionate about their school’s PTO. Committed to the school district where live and love, they have set out the ambitious goal of raising $100K for the local elementary school. As we all start thinking about our back to school to do lists, these women have already jumpstarted the process. Whether it’s money for teacher supplies or class trips, their collective organizational skills are impressive. Their show launched on Bravo TV this June and is a true example of how moms and wives have to juggle it all AND make sure they’re making significant financial contributions to the place where their kids are learning.
I was asked to attend a media event last Friday by another blogger friend, Kia Morgan Smith of CincoMom. I didn’t know what to expect but was open to learning more about this show that I had seen twice.
As I made my way into the city, I was already excited because it was a Lunch & Learn style meeting with 3 bloggers and 3 of the cast members : Carla Stephens, the PTO President; Lashon Thompson, the PTO Secretary; and last but not least Amber Bryant, the PTO Volunteer Coordinator. We met at Community Smith restaurant located inside the Renaissance Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.
Now you know me, and you know that I always lead with the ambiance of the location, the music and the FOOD. Everything looked great on the menu but I think you can always tell a lot about a place when you try an old faithful and see if they can nail it. Sometimes the easiest things are the hardest to nail in the kitchen. The Executive Chef, Timothy Magee and his staff are doing an excellent job. My Community Smith cheeseburger was cooked perfectly and served with fries, as well as the Chopped Lettuce salad and Roasted Cauliflower. Everyone enjoyed their meals and we were so full from chatting and nibbling that most of us had to take home doggie bags. Much more a cozy lunch than a press junket, the “roundtable” including TheSistahChick & AMomWhoBlogs and the three cast members. We were all appropriately dressed – summer stylish with a hint of stepford wife’ish which I actually liked. (Nothing wrong with Ann Taylor and pearls!) And overall it was great to be around women who were excited about their new venture for their kids and willing to share their lives with all us. Such a good way to get recharged for the upcoming school year.
What impressed most about Mother Funders is that they run this like like a business. Professional, thorough and goal-driven. Carla Stephens is “Madame President” and has the real-world entrepreneurial experience to make this machine hum. A fellow foodie, she actually owns a trucking business with her husband and a budding apron apparel line. She calls it ‘Serving Up Sexy’ and it’s a way for her to keep her husband happy in the kitchen and in the bedroom. Yes, I will be wearing one of her designs soon on one of my Periscopes and maybe even after the kids go to bed…..Carla is no nonsense but a ton of fun. She’s focused on her task and woman on the move like her deserves to watched. With edits on the show and filming reduced to 60 minutes every week, she can sometimes be portrayed as a “mean girl’ however in person she comes off just the opposite. She’s passionate. She’s focused on a mission to save the lives of women living unconventional lifestyles…and she’s passionate about providing the best educational opportunity to ALL kids.
Lashon Thompson is the PTO secretary and the “ultimate mom-manager”. Making sure her artist sons (actor and rapper) are properly represented, she’s an organizational wizard who has managed to stay above the fray. Asked to do other reality TV shows before, she waited to do this one because it’s the right way and on her own terms. I have so much respect for her risk-taking and love for her boys.
Now Amber Bryant was the gem of the crew. I call her “the strategist”. A Montessori school teacher turned mom-preneur, she juggles a blended family and her own brand, Stiletto Mom. What a name! She was so down to earth and cool, that I’m not sure she has the drama in her for reality TV. But that’s perfect; every show needs balance and Amber can add the reserved and observant perspective to Carla’s more fiery and kick in the door personality.
Collectively these women are fierce and the show is a force.
These women have full plates with roles as wives, moms and Mother Funders. Their show is what we should be watching since it’s real. Our kids go to school and their teachers need help. Money don’t grow on trees thus the lavish fundraising events like Black Tie Gala to a Pajama Party are necessary. These mothers work together and adhere to the strict rules and high expectations of their demanding commander-in-chief. They’re all pulling it off with poise. I am so happy I had the chance to meet them and their perfectly timed show is sure to be a hit.
The ladies all seem to be on the PTO for the right reasons. Being a part of the PTO and being on the show works well for their families. And while they give a lot of themselves to their kids, their husbands and the PTO, each of them are working on taking care of themselves by meditating, taking alone time by going to eat or to the movies, and even taking vacations alone!
Check them out every Sunday at 10/9c on BravoTV and I’m sure that you’ll be able to see yourself in these ladies.