Two Conferences + Traveling to Haiti

1376627_10151669054530838_978630771_nI have an extremely busy month ahead of me and I am grateful for it. I haven’t traveled outside of the States yet this year. It’s time!

Next week I will attend SwitchPoint, a global health ideas conference that’s put on by IntraHealth and is held every year in quaint Saxapahaw, North Carolina about 20 minutes from Chapel Hill. I was lucky to connect with IntraHealth last year in Tanzania when I traveled there with PSI and Mandy Moore. IntraHealth was also a partner on that trip and does amazing work with health workers in over 90 countries. I’ll be reporting from SwitchPoint as IntraHealth’s guess.

At SwitchPoint, I will be able to indulge in the work I love best; that is listening to change-makers who are thinking critically about ways in which to make the world a better place. It’s amazing how small the global health world is. I will get a chance to meet Lisa Russell and see her speak. I have been connected with Lisa online for a few years. Lisa is a well-known filmmaker who focuses on women and girls’ stories and talks poignantly about storytelling and narratives. It promises to be two amazing days!

Right after Saxapahaw I’ll be off to Haiti to visit women and mothers to hear and tell their stories. And, then after Haiti I will go straight to New York for Moms + Social Good. Let me know if you’ll be there.

May is going to be jam-pack as well where my work will take me to France and Africa. Looking forward to those trips! But first, SwitchPoint! I have to take one day at a time to maximize my brain to do the best work I can and stay in the moment.

I’m excited to get back to work and traveling!

Why I’ll Be Carrying Bling Sting

It’s a beautiful, sunny, warm Saturday morning. I’m sitting here writing and thinking back fondly on my trips to Johannesburg and listening to one of my favorite South African groups, Beatenberg. For some reason Joburg keeps calling me back.

If you read my blog often you know I travel a lot alone both domestically and internationally. That’s why I decided to review Bling Sting, even though I don’t review many products these days. Bling Sting is pepper spray with a fashionable twist. It’s perfect for me while I travel in the States because you just never know when it will come in handy. It’s better to be prepared than not in my opinion!

SONY DSCI like Bling Sting because it’s bedazzled pepper spray. I received the “Socialite” Bling Sting with confetti rhinestones.

I remember my aunt used to carry pepper spray with her everywhere. This was years and years ago – probably close to 30 years. I also remember the black case that was attached to her house and car keys. You’ve probably seen those cases. This, my friends, is a brand-new day with a much more fashionable pepper spray.

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#TBT That Time I Was This Close to President Obama

End of AIDS Event
Four years ago I attended the Beginning of the End of AIDS event at Georgetown University that was hosted by ONE and (RED). A lot of celebrities were there: Bono and Alicia Keys to name a few. But, it was President Obama who actually came down among us to shake hands instead of just leaving right from the stage, which was nice of him. I was close enough to get this photo of the President even without a great lens. He was that close!


Why I Won’t Be Rushing to Buy the Apple Watch

Watch Hunger Stop WatchI just read and watched a New York Times review of the Apple Watch and it looks pretty phenomenal except for one thing: if I bought one I would have to look at my wrist all day long! I’d never get anything done! I already incessantly use my phone and am addicted to notifications as hard as that is to admit! I can only imagine getting all of my notifications on my wrist. I would look at my arm constantly. It wouldn’t be pretty, friends. And, of course, I wouldn’t get rid of my phone so I would be doubly distracted by my phone and my watch.

I am quite sure (no, convinced) that there will be millions of people who will give the Apple Watch a try and will love it and will rave about it everywhere. In fact, the New York Times reviewer said he fell hard for the watch after a three-day steep learning curve.

I used to keep up with all of the latest technology but somewhere around 2012 I just didn’t care anymore. As long as my phone had every social media app I needed and I could get my email it wasn’t as important to me the type of phone I had.

Who knows: a year or so from now I might feel an overwhelming urge to buy an Apple Watch. But if I’m going to spend a fortune on a watch I’d rather buy the “Watch Hunger Stop” watch by Michael Kors. At $295, it’s not cheap, but for every purchase it will provide meals for 100 people through the World Food Programme.

What about you? Do you plan to buy the Apple Watch? 

Why This Is My Favorite Time of Year


It is always amazing to me how beautiful spring is. After a very long winter all of the flowers and leaves come out and it’s wonderful to see — exhilarating really. Even though the years seem to fly by now and days and weeks blur together nature still reminds us that there is some rhythm to the world despite the changing climate and its effects.

I am really thankful for spring. It sounds rather cliché I know, but I look forward to this time of the year just as much as I look forward to the fall after a scorching summer. And, because time flies by so much (at least to me) I am trying to stop and notice life as it goes by instead of just waking up, working, traveling, writing, going to bed and repeating the routine over and over again. I’m doing this by posting more on Instagram (jenniferjames_) because it’s nice to look at your life in photos. I haven’t always been a fan of Instagram, but last year I realized that, yes, it’s definitely worth my time and a nice tool to help me reflect.

I also love the spring because generally this is the time of year when I start traveling again. My year is oftentimes filled with a lot of travel internationally and inevitably I vow to take months off from even getting on an airplane. So, spring is also my resurgence into traveling again and that makes me incredibly and unabashedly happy!


Beautiful spring day! #nature

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

It doesn't get any prettier than this. #spring #flowers

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

New leaves. #spring #beautifulday

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

Beautiful #spring #nature #love ❤ #flowers

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

Happy Spring! I hope it is getting warmer if you have been through a very, very cold winter. #flowers #nature #love

A photo posted by Jennifer James (@jenniferjames_) on

Tackling the Maternal Health Problem in America

Working on Maternal Health in America
When I travel and write about the global maternal health crisis I typically concentrate on the world’s poorest countries. In those countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, that is where we see the highest maternal mortality rates (MMR). But right here in the United States, there are 18.5 deaths of women during pregnancy and childbirth per 100,000 live births. That is around 1751 American women per year according to the Centers for Disease Control. That number is from 2011 and it has gone up since then. That number may seem low when you think about poor countries’ MMR, but that number is astronomically high when compared to other industrialized countries. In fact, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country in the world, and yet we as Americans spend the most on health care.

Over the past twenty years, the maternal mortality rate in the United States has increased steadily and sharply. In 1997, for example, the MMR in the US was 7.2 per 100,000 live births. Now, it has more than doubled. In part, some of the increase is due to better data acquisition and a general unhealthy population. But that doesn’t account for all of the increase.

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PINK in Bloom

It’s been fairly cold this winter with a lot of unexpected snow and ice, but this week I was surprised by not only warmer weather, but the coming of spring flowers. I couldn’t be happier! I had to go for a quick walk to get up close to the blooms and take a few photos.

It’s funny because the longer I blog the more time flies. My years are marked succinctly by the milestones I blog about. For the past few years I have written posts quite similar to this one where I am happy to see the flowers push forth seemingly out of nowhere after a frigid winter. The next thing I will blog about is an upcoming trip and then the summer and the cycle goes on.

Travel Awaits

This weekend I will be off to Chicago to speak at the IEG Sponsorship Conference. I will join SOS Children’s Villages and Johnson & Johnson on a panel: It Takes a Village to Build a Partnership. I’ll be happy to be in the Windy City again. It’s been quite some time! I have to admit, it’s nice to be speaking again after a long purposeful absence from conferences.

Have a great weekend!


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