2 posts tagged Sally Kuhlman
Celia Graterol is a kick. I can say that because I know her in real life, and it’s true that she is a very funny, wild & crazy woman. When I asked Celia for an interview, I was thinking about the two businesses she owns; her impressive education; the fact that English is her second language, yet she has done very well in this country as a gay woman entrepreneur… I’d forgotten that she was once a Catholic nun, and I didn’t think she’d mention how she met Sally, her partner…but it’s all here, so keep reading!
Bio: Celia Graterol, MPH, Founder & Principal of Graterol Consulting Group, has been conducting cutting-edge, web-based evaluations and strategic planning for more than 10 years using the Graterol Logic Map™ methodology. Celia assists non-profit organizations and funders with program and organizational development. She conducts single or multi-site, multi-cultural, community-based evaluations, assessments, and facilitates strategic planning efforts using web-based technology combined with traditional methodologies to engage stakeholders, facilitate learning, and bring clarity throughout the process.
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and after living for over 20 years in the Bay Area, Celia is bilingual English/Spanish and bi-cultural. Celia received her Computer Engineering BS degree in 1989 at the Simón Bolívar University, Caracas, Venezuela. In 2001 she received her MPH in Community Health Education at San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, with the Graduate Student Award for Distinguish Achievement. Celia resides in Marin County with her partner and wife Sally Kuhlman and her dog Poncho. She practices yoga several days a week and rides her mountain bike all over the trails in Marin where this exhilarating sport was born.
Peggy: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Celia: I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and lived there until I had my first child when I decided to emigrate because I did not want to raise my children in an unsafe country with such levels of political unrest. My home got broken in three times within the last year I lived there. I moved to the US, Marin County, 22 years ago and for the last 17 years I have lived in Tam Valley near the beautiful Headlands trails. Since I moved to Marin, I had two more wonderful children and got divorced when I fell in love with a sweet woman from Orange County who happened to be my former sister-in-law. But that is another story.
Peggy: Whoa…I guess that is another story! Maybe next time. OK, you have two different businesses. Please tell us about them.
Celia: My main business is Graterol Consulting Group. We assist non-profits and their funders with organizational development services including evaluation, strategic planning, and program design.
My other business is Mountain Biking Marin. We offer mountain bike tours around the Bay Area and bike skills clinics for people who want to improve their riding. Most of our tour clients are visitors from Europe either here on business or vacation.
Celia: For most of my life I have been self-employed. I became an entrepreneur to have more choice in what I do. Working toward a fair system that offers equal opportunities to get ahead in life has been my passion for as long as I can remember. When I was 18, inspired by my interest in addressing social and health inequities, I became a nun to do social work in small villages in Venezuela. As an adult, my social justice values deepened when I immigrated to the US as I learned that being a “gay woman of color” means belonging to a second or even third class citizen group. Despite these challenges, I have had many successes. As I completed a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in Venezuela, when I immigrated, I brought with me useful skills. Here, I earned a Master’s degree in Public Health. Both degrees combined with my experience as an evaluator allow me to integrate web-based technology into my research.
Peggy: What were you going to be when you grew up?
Celia: I wanted to be a famous singer, an Olympic champion, the president of a country or the CEO of a corporation. I am the founder and president of Graterol Consulting Group so I am pretty close to one of my dreams.
Celia: Yes and no at the same time. It has been a challenge but it has also provided me opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. Learning another culture and language has been fascinating. I love how accepting the people are in Marin County and the Bay Area. One of the challenges is that I am always seen as different, even though I have lived my whole adult life here. Professionally, my accent is sometimes a barrier because people often make the assumption: if you don’t pronounce a word correctly you are not smart, despite the fact you speak two languages fluently. Also, the evaluation field is mostly dominated by Whites so it has been challenging for me to break in to this profession; I have to work harder to prove my credentials. However, being bi-lingual and bi-cultural have given me a foot in the door to obtain evaluation contracts concerning programs with minority populations because there is a belief that I can better relate to the communities involved thus be a better researcher.
Celia: I am very proud of the evaluation methodology I developed, the LogicMap, used to integrate traditional research methods (site visit observations, surveys, focus groups, storytelling) with on-line tools (websites, photographs, databases, social media, bibliographic references). This methodology has built-in data collection and features for on-going program reporting and monitoring. The LogicMap facilitates affordable yet rigorous evaluations and effectively demonstrates program results on-line. This new evaluation tool increases learning opportunities for program officers, clients, and grantee staff about what works.
Celia: I was a morning person during my nun days when I had to wake up really early for meditation and mass service so I was also able to be on time to my college classes. Waking up around 4 am every day for about 2 years made me a night person when I quit being a nun. And I continued being a night person for many years until my partner and wife Sally started working early hours. So now I go to sleep early and wake up early to be on the same schedule as her. It works out nicely because I drop her at the bus stop on my way to early morning yoga and meditation. Talking about closing circles in life!!! I probably won’t become a nun again as I am a bit old for that, but I am going back to my spiritual practice. And instead of mass I do yoga.
I get 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
Peggy: Is there something you do every day that helps you stay grounded?
Celia: I practice yoga about 5 days a week and mountain biking about 3 times a week.
Celia: The fastest way for me to get out of a funk is to get out in nature and do a technical, scary, adrenaline rushing mountain bike ride. In other words, I am an adrenaline junkie.
Celia: Dark chocolate truffle or dark chocolate with salt. I also love Toblerone milk chocolate and I have a weakness for milk chocolate Hershey kisses dipped in espresso.
Peggy: You have 3 adult children. How did you balance motherhood and business when your kids were younger?
Celia: I wouldn’t have been able to work, get my masters degree in Public Health, and take care of three kids, without Sally; Sally has been the most nurturing parent for my kids, always making sure they had everything they needed and never expecting anything in return. Not only was she, and still is, another mom for the kids but she also helped me to be a more present and better mom.
Peggy: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
Celia: I am very proud of my three wonderful children who are now all in college. My youngest one just left to NY and the other two left to LA. I am adjusting to the empty nest feeling. It is bittersweet. Thank you for interviewing me.
Peggy: Namaste, Celia. I am grateful for your time.
How do I introduce @Sally_K? I have to use her Twitter handle, because that’s how I know her! Sally was one of the first local people I met on Twitter, over 3 years ago. Through TweetUps, which Sally organizes, we became friends IRL (in real life). In fact, we have quite a close-knit tribe of friends here in Marin County, and we all met because of Twitter and our TweetUps. I thought this would be a fun time to interview Sally because she recently went on an exciting whale-watching excursion with our friends @Charleegee and @Brainmaker. I’ll let Sally tell the story…
Bio: Besides blogging and organizing TweetUps, Sally Kuhlman is passionate about supporting local, independently owned business, spending time with her friends, hiking with her dog, and cooking healthy, tasty meals. Sally is also a big supporter of marriage-equality-for-all. Sally has been with her partner, Celia Graterol (www.graterolconsulting.com) since 1995 and they have recently survived raising 3 teenagers. In 2010, Sally went on a new adventure and took on a J.O.B. in the financial world of San Francisco. She now tweets from the bus while commuting to and from work over the Golden Gate Bridge. She also takes some really cool photos from the bus and considers herself an iPhone photographer.
Peggy: You recently went on a spontaneous trip to Mexico in a 4-seater plane to literally hug whales. How exciting was that?! How did it feel to touch a whale?
Sally: The trip was incredible! Touching a whale was a surreal and magical experience. I had no idea how loving, graceful and gentle those creatures are. They came right up to the boat and the boat didn’t even rock when they swam under and around it. [More info + pics on Sally’s blog.]
Sally: I go back and forth between being super practical to adventurous and impulsive. Some of the best and most memorable experiences in my life were when I said yes to things that were out of my comfort zone. Flying to Mexico, in a small 4 person 1968 Bonanza, with 2 people I met through Twitter, to go on a little boat and see whales, was definitely out of my comfort zone! I believe, if you want to have a great life you have to create it. I try to tell that to the young people in my life who seem to just be sitting around waiting for life to happen. I want to say, get out of the house (i.e. your comfort zone) and go make yourself a life! I also want to say that to all the older people in my life who are miserable and complain all the time. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If you never get out of your comfort zone things probably are not going to change much.
Sally: I did not put a lot of thought in to it. The whole thing happened so fast, I didn’t have time to be hesitant. We did have very high winds in Mexicali but thanks to our expert pilot, @Charleegee, we had an exciting, yet smooth landing. I never once felt nervous flying with him.
Sally: Wow, I do not know where to start with answering that question. Twitter has brought so many great things in to my life: education on sustainable eating, amazing adventures, close friends and a community. Thanks to Twitter I have a tight community here in the Bay Area of people I can rely on in the good times and during the challenging ones. The people I have met on Twitter have also reawakened the creative side of me that was squashed in high school by a “bad” art teacher. I’m writing more and spending more time doing art. For instance this past weekend I went to a Vision Book Workshop led by Marilyn LoRusso at the Bean Up the Nose Art Studio of Tamara Holland; two amazing women I met on Twitter who have inspired and brought my creative side back to life.
Sally: Thank you. I would not have been so successful with the Marin TweetUp organizing if it wasn’t for you being adventuresome enough to be the first person to respond to my TweetUp idea back in 2009! I have always been a people connector. I love connecting people. People are what make the world go around. You never know who the person you meet may know. The person standing ahead of you in line at the grocery store might introduce you to your next client. The woman sitting next to you on the bus could be your next boss.
Sally: I started my first official blog in 2006, Virtual Simplicity for my Marketing & Social Media consulting business. Before that I was blogging on MySpace. (Don’t laugh!) I started Sally Around The Bay in 2009. Sally is actually a play on words. Besides being my name, sally means to go out on an adventure or excursion. This is why I started the blog. At the time, I was working from home and feeling fairly isolated. I started the blog to get myself out of the house. The original mission of my blog was to discover hidden gems around the Bay Area and to blog about them. I wrote restaurant reviews, interviewed local, independent shop owners, and blogged about hiking and biking places and other fun things to do around the Bay Area. In the last year or so since I have been working outside of the house in downtown San Francisco, my blog has turned more in to a place of Sally’s rambles and thoughts. I philosophize about life and share my adventures, such as hugging whales, with my readers.
Sally: I think I have always been a positive person. I remember in 5th grade getting ‘Student of the Month’ because of my smile. Probably what inspired my optimism most in life was a tragedy I had in high school when my boyfriend took his own life by suicide. It was a huge wake up call for me to not take people or life for granted. I learned at an early age that the person in front of you might not be there tomorrow.
Sally: When I am in a funk it probably means I am tired and need some quiet time. I can usually get out of a funk if I can get some down time. I enjoy putzing around the house, organizing my office and going on hikes with my partner and our dog. I also have a list of happy songs that I play when I need a pick me up. Of course, a nice chunk of dark chocolate always cheers me up.
Sally: I am definitely a morning person and I do NOT get enough sleep. In a perfect world I would get 8-9 hours of sleep. I generally get 6-7 hours.
Sally: Dark! My favorite chocolate ever was the dark chocolate truffles from Lyla’s Chocolates that used to be here in Mill Valley. Growing up, I loved Godiva. My sister introduced me to Godiva when I was a teenager so I always think of her when I am enjoying a piece of dark chocolate Godiva truffle heaven. I’m a member of the Godiva Chocolate of the Month club. Another favorite which I recently discovered thanks to you is TCHO Roasted Cocao Nibs!
Sally: I am eating Chuao dark chocolate Caracas bar with almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios while completing this interview. Thank you for interviewing me. It is truly an honor to be included on this blog with all these incredibly amazing and successful chocolate-loving women!