Lori Mihalich-Levin, who lives in Washington, DC with her amazing husband and their boys often says that she wears three main hats in life:
1. She is a health care lawyer
2. A CEO and Founder of Mindful Return, a program that supports new parents in the transition back to work after parental leave
3. And, a mom to two wonderful redheaded sons (ages 9 and 11)
Tell us about your life before the venture/ leading up to your venture?
Before launching Mindful Return, I was a risk-averse Medicare reimbursement lawyer. Having two children and returning to work full time completely changed my life, and I set out to create resources I wished had existed for myself when I became a working parent.
Tell us something about your organization. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?
Mindful Return supports new parents through the personal and professional identity transition that happens when a baby enters your world. We run online, group-based courses for new moms and new dads, to help them transition back to work after maternity or paternity leave in a more calm and empowered way. We also work directly with employers, to help them retain their new parent top talent.
We offer global programs for new moms and new dads, as well as for parents of special needs children of all ages, and we also have chapters of our program for new parents in the UK, India, and South Africa. Our Spanish language versions of our new parent courses launched earlier this year, and our Portuguese language course for new moms will be out this fall!
What has been the response of the consumers towards your venture?
At Mindful Return, we have built a global community of working parents that our course participants say was absolutely critical to their ability to stay in the workforce. New parents tell us that they feel heard and seen, and they are relieved to find a community of non-judgmental working parents. As one mom recently wrote, “I can’t say enough good things about this class! I was so worried about how to transition back to work from maternity leave but this course gave me the tools I needed to feel confident. I was able to share my concerns and fears about going back to work and get advice and practical tips not only from Lori and the course coaches, but other moms in the group.”
We are also incredibly proud of the ways our program helps employers to retain their new parent talent. We ran a study of the first 1,000 individuals who took a Mindful Return course, and we discovered that over a 5 year period, 85% of these course participants were still with their same employer, and 93% were still in the workforce. This retention data differs dramatically from national average new parent retention rates (which are, for example, around 64% for new moms in the United States). We are committed to correcting the problem of the leaky women’s leadership pipeline and are humbled that our work is having an impact.
How has your life changed because of your venture?
Because of Mindful Return, I have gone from being a risk-averse lawyer, to a creative and happy entrepreneur. Though I still practice law (for about 20% of my work week) and really enjoy that, I am now able to spend most of my time creating community, advocating for working parents, and leading an amazing team of coaches across the globe. I no longer go to an office and have the freedom to design my days and weeks as I see fit. Mindful Return has changed my life completely, and for the better.
Give a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.
Starting any venture is all about baby steps. In the early days of founding my company, I was working a full time job and had 2 small children at home. I was only able to devote small increments of time to what was, at the time, a “passion project. 15 minutes a day was the most I could manage. But over time, those little increments add up.“
As the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you have a passion for something or see a change in the world you’d like to see come into being, take that first step. And then one more. And then one more. Don’t tell yourself it’s unrealistic or can’t be done. Just act.