All posts by: Elizabeth Heubeck

UMD Students Deserve Better

Originally published in the Baltimore Sun on December 13, 2018. Like countless other parents of college-bound high school seniors living in Maryland, I started steering my daughter toward her state’s flagship university last year, when we began talking about college options. The

University of Maryland, College Park, with its strong academic reputation — it touts itself as “one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities” — and reasonable price tag, seemed like a no-brainer. But in light of recent preventable student deaths there, I’ve begun to feel that by pushing for my daughter to attend College Park I’m leading her into the path of a formidable safety hazard. It is almost impossible to live in Maryland and not have heard of the tragic death this summer of

Jordan McNair, a former College Park student and football player who collapsed during a routine practice and died two weeks later. Had the adults in charge of the players’ health at that

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Office Catnaps

Originally published August 6, 2009 in the Baltimore Sun.

Late one afternoon during a particularly stressful week at work, LaWanda Stone Abernathy did what most

officeworkers only dream of - she stepped away from her desk and into a dimly lit room, kicked back on a futon and fell asleep for a few minutes. "Before I went in there, I was feeling totally overwhelmed," recalled Stone Abernathy,

corporate

communications manager at Med-IQ, a health care company based in Catonsville. "When I woke up, I was able to complete what I had to do that day. Otherwise, I would have been just spinning my wheels." Med-IQ calls it the wellness room. Other companies that provide similar amenities tend to label them quiet rooms, or refreshment rooms. Most companies steer clear of the term "nap room" since they're not quite comfortable with the implication. But regardless of what they're called,

employers

design them for one

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Workplace wellness programs work best when bosses buy into them

Originally published on Washingtonpost.com on November 27, 2018 Reebok employee Dan Sarro used to worry that co-workers would look askance at him if he arrived at work at 9:30 a.m. Then, as part of a company wellness overhaul, senior management at Reebok established “core” business hours. Meetings aren’t held before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., and employees set their work schedules around those hours according to personal preference. Sarro, the company’s senior corporate communications manager, who plays pickup hockey a few mornings a week before beginning his workday at 9:30 a.m., welcomed the change. “When I first started at Reebok, I had to be careful about when I worked out,” he said. “Now, it’s just part of who we are.” Studies have shown that successfully adopting a culture that promotes health and wellness can help companies reduce health-care costs, cut absentee rates and perhaps attract top talent. One decade-long analysis by the research organization Rand Corp. of a

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At the theater with Lucinda Merry-Browne

Originally published in Annapolis Home Magazine in November 2018. Lucinda Merry-Browne, an energetic visionary, is rarely at home. Her demanding job as founding artistic director of Annapolis’ nonprofit theater, Compass Rose, keeps her on the go. When she’s not raising funds for a new building for the theater, she is directing plays where she takes pains to nurture synergy between professional actors and child-actors-in-training. Currently, the 11-year-old Compass Rose has no fixed address; recent performances have been held in area hotels to rave reviews. But the theater’s temporary “homelessness” has not deterred Merry-Browne from guiding the theater’s intense and steadfast mission, which is to provide evocative and entertaining theater while maintaining the utmost educational and artistic standards. We recently caught up with Merry-Browne to learn more about her deep roots in theater and how they continue to expand throughout Annapolis.  It seems as if acting is in your blood.

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Midwives Could Be Key To Reversing Maternal Mortality Trends

The Connecticut Childbirth & Women’s Center in Danbury is a 50-minute drive from Evelyn DeGraf’s home in Westchester. Pregnant with her second child, the 37-year-old didn’t hesitate to make the drive—she wanted her birth to be attended by a midwife, not a doctor. DeGraf believed midwifery care to be more personal and less rushed than that delivered by obstetrics/gynecologists (OB/GYNs). She also knew an OB/GYN would deem her relatively advanced maternal age and previous cesarean section history too high-risk to attempt a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean section. But she had to drive roughly 35 miles to find a midwife because there aren’t many of them. Despite the fact that an estimated 85 percent of women are appropriate for midwife care, midwives attend about 11 percent of births in Connecticut, said Holly Kennedy, professor of midwifery at Yale School of Nursing. By contrast, about half of all babies in England are delivered by midwives, according to National Health

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What’s the Payoff — Love or Money?

Some of these profiled artists received highly specific training to pursue their endeavors. Others fell into them. For those who earn their living from their art, most agree it’s getting increasingly harder to do so. Nevertheless, all feel passionately about their work, and they’ve got impressive pieces to show for it. A sample of Jill Orlov’s work. (Handout photo) Jill Orlov Jill Orlov, 49, counts “The Borrowers,” a book-turned-movie about a tiny family that lives in the walls of a Victorian house, as one of her artistic work’s primary influences. Seeing her exquisitely crafted, minuscule rooms made of metal, it’s easy to understand why. Shortly after earning a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and starting her career, she left the profession and took a welding course, which led to a near obsession creating mini-vignettes from steel and other metals — some as dioramas in vintage wood boxes or drawers, others set within full-scale table

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Filmmaker Follows Baltimore Step Team in New Documentary

Amanda Lipitz grew up loving musicals and learning how to give back. These passions — plus a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, an internship at Nickelodeon and a post-graduate job with a Broadway producer — put the 36-year-old Owings Mills native on the entertainment industry fast track. By 24, Lipitz had produced Broadway’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” followed by the Tony Award-winning “A View from the Bridge” and “The Humans,” also a Pulitzer finalist, among others. Lipitz also created and produced the groundbreaking MTV series “Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.” But Lipitz’s foray into creating documentaries led to her most significant achievement to date. The feature-length documentary “Step,” directed and produced by Lipitz, follows the first graduating class of an all-girls high school in inner-city Baltimore as they compete on the school’s step team and strive to be the first in their families to

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Treating Women “Down There”

Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Her Mind magazine. After being widowed suddenly at the age of 35, Ellicott City resident Janet Weise approached each day in survival mode. Balancing the equally demanding jobs of a single mother to her son with her career as a college administrator, the former Division 1 college athlete admits that her personal health needs came last. “You can say I was a hot mess,” jokes Weise, who over the years had become inactive and, by her own admission, “pretty severely obese.” Then came the wakeup call. At the time they met, Janet Weise, left, promised Dr. Amanda Fader, right, that she would lose 90 pounds. The two have since become friends and walking partners.  Two years ago, at the age of 53 and post-menopause, Weise noticed bleeding. She mentioned it to her gynecologist who performed an internal ultrasound as well as an endometrial biopsy, by removing a piece of tissue from her uterus. Weise was diagnosed with

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Two-Sport Wonder

Originally published in the Towson Times on September 5, 2018. Of the nearly 8 million high school athletes in the United States, only a small fraction — about 2 percent — will earn a college athletic scholarship, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Then, there’s Towson native Julia Dorsey, a rising 12th-twelfth grader at McDonogh School. She falls into a category of high school athletes so unique that statistics reflecting her circumstances don’t even exist. Dorsey has been recruited to play both lacrosse and soccer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Division I athletic powerhouse. Extraordinary talent and commitment on two different playing fields have earned her this rare place in the world of collegiate athletics. That she’s managed to navigate the youth sports culture on her terms, not succumbing to the push so many young athletes feel to “specialize” in a single sport, makes Dorsey’s feat even more remarkable. Her parents,

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The Kavanaugh allegations dredged up bad memories. But it’s my teen daughter I worry about.

Originally published on September 27, 2018 on Washingtonpost.com It has been 30 years. I thought I had moved on from the painful memories of what I endured in the late ’80s as a student at a small, private college. But my own experiences with sexual harassment and attempted sexual assault — both hazy and razor sharp — have been dredged up along with accusations about Supreme Court justice nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. I am okay now. It is my 17-year-old daughter I worry about. As she embarks on the college search process, I wonder how closely the environment and the male attitudes at elite universities where she is looking resemble those of the 1980s. I certainly was not prepared for them. Before enrolling in a college whose setting could be described as overtly insular and attracting predominantly children of extreme privilege, I hadn’t been exposed to the smug and elitist attitude that festered there among many of its male students. I attended an all-girls’ Catholic high school

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