A Day In the Life: Hannah Jacobson Blumenfeld
The April 2017 edition of Inc. magazine detailed A Day in the Life of eight entrepreneurs at the top of their game. CHAMPS was curious; how do our members, themselves local entrepreneurs and business leaders at the top of their game, make it work? Today our series continues with Hannah Jacobson Blumenfeld, the c0-Executive Director at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW). It’s a special someone who dedicates her work in life to the arts and education, and we wanted to know how Hannah balances her day to day. Check it out hour by hour.
Hannah Jacobson Blumenfeld
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
April 27, 2017
After browsing my phone mindlessly, getting caught in the instagram rabbit hole (I REALLY have to stop doing this before bed), head to sleep.
Do a super-quick, 2-3 minute yoga practice to kickstart my day and get my joints moving. I’m a very big breakfast person. I really function so much better when I’m able to cook, sit, eat, and really savor a nourishing start to the day. I try not to read, have my computer out, or be distracted other things during breakfast time–in fact, I usually don’t even really talk to my husband. That’s my me-time to set up for the day. Today, unfortunately, was not that day. I made a big green smoothie with all the good toppings to throw in my bag, along with ingredients to assemble lunch, and rushed out for an early morning CHAMPS Board meeting in Eastern Market.
My commute is between 45 minutes and an hour depending on metro–even though I live and work in the city! Unless it’s bad weather or I’m REALLY running late, I try to walk downtown from my apartment in Adams Morgan in the morning to take the metro, instead of taking the bus to the metro–it’s a great way to and get some fresh air and movement in early in the day. I’m a big podcast and music person, and although I had been on a political podcast kick, I am honestly finding it unsustainable to surround myself with that early in the morning these days–so I often turn to lighter podcasts, like Serious Eats Special Sauce or Call Your Girlfriend, or just listen to some good, happy music. I hop on the metro at Farragut West and use those 15 minutes to read a book or skim through the Politico Playbook–it’s just about the exact right amount of time to get through the whole thing and feel like I have a handle on the major political goings-on of the day. As for books, I’ve been reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith recently, and am currently reading The People and the Books, by Adam Kirsch–recommended to me by my dad.
I got lucky with metro timing (and a little bit of jogging at the end, to be honest) and make it to my CHAMPS Board meeting just a few minutes late (I really hate being late, but with the amount of zigzagging I’m now doing around the city on a daily basis, it has unfortunately become more a part of my daily reality).
Stop by a sponsoring business on my way back to work, and then head down the street to CHAW. I’ve been running around to meetings all week, so this is my first chance to really settle in and check in with staff.
Checking email, doing a bunch of small tasks that had fallen by the wayside due to meetings and some larger conversations throughout the week. I use my emails as a kind of to-do list, so my >100 unread are daunting. I try to tackle as many as possible in chunks of time like this one. We get requests and ideas every day for partnerships, events, and more, and so many of them are worthy and valuable. Keeping all the balls in the air requires some major google calendaring! I am also currently living off of Boomerang, which brings old emails back to the top of the inbox to ping you–it’s a life saver.
Go for a walking meeting with my Marketing & Development Coordinator. We had to postpone our weekly team meeting from earlier in the week, and since today was so beautiful, we took it outside.
Assemble lunch. I always bring from home–I am an avid farmers’ market shopper and colleagues often poke fun at me for my “purse kale”–I am rarely without a garden of vegetables sprouting from my various bags! I eat in front of my computer to keep up with emails. I know this isn’t ideal, but that’s part of why I try to keep breakfast as more “sacred” time. I like to knock out some of the easy but perhaps tedious work while I have something fun (read: delicious food) to do to keep me upbeat!
Work on event promotion for our Paint Bucket Campaign kickoff. This is our largest fundraising campaign of the year, raising $70,000 in 70 days for tuition assistance–supporting our commitment to never turning a student away for inability to pay for an arts class. We’ll be holding the kickoff in partnership with Dacha Beer Garden on May 2nd, so I’m boosting the event on Facebook to reach a different demographic and audience.
Work on event logistics and PR for our major event on June 10th, a 45th Birthday Bash and performance festival, which will include a fun run/walk around the Capitol Hill Alphabet Animal public art project. We’re having 10 businesses as sponsors (one at each animal), so outreach is key. I’m also working on other event sponsorships simultaneously.
I’ve recently moved my workspace (which is basically my laptop and me) down to the first floor to be more accessible to staff and aware of the goings-on in the building since becoming a Co-Executive Director. Staff members poke their heads around to ask some questions, which is always so much easier than emailing or trying to call upstairs to my old workspace, which was in the old walk-in costume closet that I liked to call the Hobbit Attic (!! True story. We try to keep absolutely as much of our building as possible free for the arts to thrive, and space is at a premium!) My Co-Executive Director and I used to work right next to each other and are a bit more spread out now, but we’re basically in constant touch via text and email. We also have different work-from-home schedules, and today was one of hers–so we did all of our work together virtually. We touch base regularly throughout the day–so key for open communication, mutual support on projects, and working together effectively and efficiently.
Kids start coming in for the youth arts program, which is generally when I head out to work some more from home. I tend to do most of my writing from home, when I have sustained projects, because when I’m at the office, I tend to get wrapped up in what we lovingly call the “CHAW Vortex.” There is always so much going on that it can be hard to concentrate fully on just one thing–it’s great to be part of that energy, but less great for higher level writing. In addition, I have a major lull in the afternoon in terms of productivity, so I am grateful that we have a human-centered and flexible work arrangement that allows me to do that. Plus, it gets pretty raucous at that hour (as it should!!), so unless I have evening meetings, I take that time to commute–which is way nicer than trying to get home at rush hour–and it gives me a little space to re-energize at a time I need it most. I check in with staff before I leave to make sure everyone has what they need from me and know where I’m going.
Today, I have a meeting with a board member at Peregrine, so I head over for an iced tea (I am big on tea) and score a table outside! We’re discussing fundraising.
I head to the metro for the commute back up to NW. I walk back from Farragut to Adams Morgan as a way to decompress from the day. I usually use this time for personal phone calls with my parents or friends who work flexible hours–I live in a studio, so it’s nice to have some space to move while I have phone chats.
Hot Vinyasa Yoga! I am a member of The Studio DC and love the community there. I have met many of my closest friends and have really developed a strong affinity for this part of my day. It’s super important for me to do yoga almost every day, when I am at all able. I’ve been practicing for five years now, and it gives me a way to gain perspective, balance, and physical activity in a way that I find personally very nourishing, empowering, and thoughtful. I’ll often go to a 5:15 class, which has the added benefit of maximizing a time of day that otherwise feels less productive for me, but when I’m on the late side, this one works. Today was a planned late class with a friend, followed by dinner.
I head back to my place to put dinner together and eat on the roof with a friend. I cook dinner just about every night. I love being in the kitchen, and I grew up with dinner time as important family time. My husband is currently out of town presenting at a conference, but when he’s home, we mostly sit at the table and try to really talk and catch up on our days. He works from home, but even if we’re around each other for hours, we’re often not really present–dinner time is important for that! Sometimes it’s just a couch-TV-dinner kind of night, however, and Silicon Valley is the show du jour.
My friend leaves, I grab a bunch (or two or three) of grapes and settle in to work. It’s a little later than usual for me to get back to work, but it tends to balance out throughout the week. I turn on the Great British Baking Show for some background white noise and work on the e-news blast.