Meet Board Member Chanel Cathey
Chanel Cathey joined our Board of Directors this spring. As the founder and CEO of her own PR agency — CJC Insights — she brings her love of communications and storytelling to the Wellness in the Schoolstable. She is a contributor for Fast Company, on the Advisory Board for the Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Workplace Series, and has been named to Forbes and The Observer lists, among many other accolades. Her kind presence has certainly been felt alongside her talent, where she recently played a significant role in the launch of the inaugural Chefs Council Below is an interview with Chanel.
What brought you to Wellness in the Schools?
Friend and fellow Board Member Alexia Brue (Co-Founder of Well+Good) introduced me to Wellness in the Schools. She told me all about the mission and her support of the organization over the years and I was honestly so thrilled to learn that an organization like this existed. I remember my own school meals (deep-fried and sugar-coated) and I can relate to learning much later in life about my nutrition and establishing a fitness routine. I took the initiative to teach myself healthier ways to make my favorite meals. I was delighted to learn that WITS brings this type of wellness programming and exposure to students nationwide. I met Nancy and Bill and their passion for this work inspired me. I’m honored to collaborate with them, the entire team, the chefs, and the community.
Why are you so passionate about wellness? What does “wellness” mean to you?
Wellness means so many things to me, and we all have different definitions (as we should). It’s about embracing what makes you whole and happy. My definition has evolved and matured over the years, now I prioritize taking care of my physical body and mental health and there’s always work to do. I have to admit, I grew up almost proud of the fact that I sidelined taking care of myself to focus on work and other priorities. Not resting and overcommitting myself to exhaustion, I wore it like a badge of honor but being busy is never an excuse to ignore your health. We have to take time to nurture our own wellness. Now, I fully recognize the importance of personal wellness because I can’t take care of others if I can’t take care of myself. It’s important to build healthy families and healthy communities but it starts with me — with us.
What has your experience been like founding your own PR agency? How does it apply to your experience at Wellness in the Schools?
I took a leap of faith starting CJC Insights, a communication, strategy, and PR agency based in NYC. I built a practice by leveraging my expertise and tapping into everything I’m passionate about to help brands, founders, and thought leaders. I love to support brands that I believe deeply in and in many ways that commitment applies to WITS. I believe in this programming. We are all partners in this work driving it forward to reach more young people, and families to transform lives.
What are you most looking forward to doing on the board in the future?
All things communications! I’m excited to work with the leadership team and the Board to build greater awareness of the organization, the vision, and the growing impact. I have been a board member for only a few months and it’s been such an incredible and unforgettable experience so far. Joining the host committee to help with the annual gala’s return and helping to amplify the news of the Chef’s Council in partnership with the Mayor of NYC to roll out WITS programming to every single public school in the city. I am really proud of what the team has built and everything to come.
What is your favorite wellness practice?
I have a bunch but I love acupuncture, body massages, and discovering new boutique fitness classes on Class Pass. My favorite workout obsessions are Harlem Cycle, Rumble Boxing, and an entry-level Pilates reformer class.
What is your favorite meal or healthy snack to make?
I love to take my time and cook meals from scratch. I always try to find ways to make my favorite southern and Cajun cuisines a bit healthier without losing flavor. When I’m on the go in the morning, I love to grab a fruit smoothie with almond milk. I love to use dates as my natural sweetener.