Aspirational Chat with Heather Harvison

Heather Harvison is the Executive Director of Sisters Circle, a non-profit that provides long-term mentoring to foster meaningful and sustainable change in the lives of girls and young women in Baltimore. Heather is a dynamo whose enthusiasm is contagious! I first met her about 18 years ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party when she was just starting Sisters Circle. I began mentoring with the organization and started a friendship that I’m thrilled to still have! 

Her story is too good not to share. In a new house, Heather is looking forward to enjoying her first summer with a pool in her backyard, playing a good old fashioned game of charades and cooking healthy meals.

 {Heather, April (and April’s husband, Rich) at the  Sisters Circle  15th Anniversary celebration.}

{Heather, April (and April’s husband, Rich) at the Sisters Circle 15th Anniversary celebration.}

I arrived at Heather’s new house eager for a tour. As we walked around the house we chatted about the rooms, the renovations she took care of before moving in (new flooring, ceiling repairs and painting), and we looked at a few of her favorite treasures that make her house a home. Here's our chat.


AFP: A new house is so exciting! What was it about this neighborhood and this particular area that you liked?

HH: We are situated near Loch Raven Reservoir—and although it’s not far removed, I feel like I am away. It is open and spacious. I was working in my home office the other day, and I looked up and saw a fox and deer looking back at me. 

AFP: When you first move into a house it can take a while for it to feel like home. Surrounding yourself with items you love makes a house feel like more like home. What are some of your most treasured items?

HH: One meaningful piece from our close family-friend, Rosina, is a gold-framed mirror from Peru. It was on the living room wall behind her sofa and, after admiring it on a number of occasions she took it off her wall and gave it to me. Just like that. Sharing a family treasure—a gift from her father—meant more than I can express. Her kind gesture was such an expression of love. It is the first thing you see when you walk into my home.

 {The entry of Heather’s home showcases her treasured mirror from a family friend.}

{The entry of Heather’s home showcases her treasured mirror from a family friend.}

MirrorCloseUp.JPG

HH: I also have a special piece of art in the foyer; Sisters Circle mentor and artist, Lisa Kyle, gave me one of her paintings of a tree-lined pathway -- along with a beautiful note of thanks for the opportunity to volunteer with Sisters Circle over the years. Not to mention, we go hiking in Maine most summers and it’s a place of serenity for me. 

 {This lovely painting graces her foyer and reminds Heather of the kindness of a mentor and a favorite trip!}

{This lovely painting graces her foyer and reminds Heather of the kindness of a mentor and a favorite trip!}

HH: Speaking of art, I treasure my son’s original dog painting above his bed (a dog-themed bedroom). It is bold and simple…Picasso-like in shape and color.

AFP: You have a great, open kitchen off of your family room. Do you like to cook?

HH: Yes. Nothing fancy but almost always healthy. My family loves my homemade salad dressing. Roasted veggies with olive-oil are also easy yet tasty. I get a lot of requests for my chocolate chunk cookies, too.

AFP: Buying a new home is a big deal. What are you most proud of surrounding the house? 

HH: It took me awhile to find the right house for me—but when I saw it, I knew it was the one. I wanted something that was open and spacious, yet warm, inviting and cozy.

 {Making her house a home is important to Heather. This ottoman in her family room welcomes guests to get comfortable.}

{Making her house a home is important to Heather. This ottoman in her family room welcomes guests to get comfortable.}

AFP: Describe your aspirational life or your aspirations for a warm and inviting home. I know that's a really big question, but what comes to mind?

HH: I was brought up in a home where the doors were always open and hospitality was central; it was an extension of the way my parent’s loved and cared for others. I hope this new home is an extension of me as well—and the way that I want to live my life. There is space for entertaining (pool) with family and friends, space for working (new home office) and space for relaxing and re-energizing (fireplaces, back deck, nature). So your home can meet a need for you, too. 

 {Heather’s home office has a great guest chair in addition to animal views!}

{Heather’s home office has a great guest chair in addition to animal views!}

AFP: What do you do on the weekends to unwind? How you spend your free time?

HH: We keep a pretty active schedule so one of my 2018 goals is to simply read more…for leisure. I read articles and books for work—to learn and challenge myself and to gain new perspectives and ideas—but I also want a really good page-turner; it can be a nice escape for a little while. I also just finished binge-watching The Crown on Netflix.   

AFP: If you were not the Executive Director of Sisters Circle, what do you think you would be doing? 

HH: I love what I do. So I’m not really sure. Maybe consulting, writing, speaking— motivating and leading others to develop and fund their business models and finding their purpose, their voice. I know that sounds ambiguous but I'm pretty entrenched in what I do right now.

AFP: You’ve accomplished so much with Sisters Circle these last 18 years. What is your proudest work accomplishment?

HH: Our first 10-11-year-old girls are now young women in their mid-late twenties with educational and training degrees, jobs and careers, and/or families—and most importantly, they place a strong emphasis on giving back. I think that makes me most proud. We just had a graduate council meeting, and it was exciting to see our alumnae offering programming ideas and helping shape the way we move forward. They want to support the younger mentor-mentee pairs, too. They see the power in what we do.  

We also have graduates on our full-time staff and our board of directors.  Some grads mentor while others assist in leading summer programs and events.  

AFP: Those are amazing accomplishments! Aside from Sisters Circle, what causes do you like to support? 

HH: Education, environment, addiction/treatment.

AFP: You spend your time working to turn around a lot of tough realities. When you're having a bad day, what do you do to unwind? What are your pick-me-ups?

HH: Relationships of depth, trust, and respect are so valuable and meaningful to me, and I can't imagine going through life without that support (on both bad and good days).

Another pick-me-up—though it costs more—are spa treatments. MG at Spa in the Valley is the best. And exercise.

Time for a few fun questions!

AFP: Coffee or tea?

HH: Both.

AFP: Netflix or a movie theater?

HH: Both.

AFP: Heels or flats?

HH: Heels.

AFP: If you were an Olympic athlete, what sport would you compete?

HH: Skiing

AFP: Favorite game to play? 

HH: Good old-fashioned charades. It's my acting outlet.

AFP: Favorite season?

HH: Spring.

AFP: Favorite holiday?

HH: Christmas.

AFP: Well darling, that's a wrap!


Heather’s aspirations are many and knowing her, she’ll achieve them all. I hope her story inspires you!

 

April Pardoe