(So)(Co) Sit Down with Gretchen Berra

I'm excited to share this week's (So)(Co) Sit Down with you! When I decided to leave Northeastern University and come back to NYC,  my parents rule was that I had to find a job or go back to school. I did both. I was fortunate to secure an internship in the PR department at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and work under Gretchen Berra. I immediately smile and laugh thinking back to those times together. She was an incredible mentor - empowering me to handle the majority of the regional and international press (all while taking PR 101 at Marymount College). She ordered the same lunch from Balthazar everyday and was one of the most routine people I had ever met. What I appreciated the most was that she never treated me like a childish intern - I always felt as though I was truly an integral part of the team.

Gretchen is the Rose to my Sue Ellen. I will forever be grateful for all that she taught me and the number of belly laughs we shared. 



How do you spend your days?

I wake up quite early to go to the gym. While it’s never fun to wake up at 5am, working out gets my mind and body in the right place for the day. I am the Associate Director of Communications and Marketing for Montclair Kimberley Academy, one of the largest Pre-K – 12 independent schools in New Jersey. My responsibilities include managing the internal and external communications, marketing and advertising needs for the school. 

What are three things you are grateful for?

My family and friends -- all of whom I would be nothing without, my mentors (past and present) that I’ve had the honor of working with and learning from, and my iPhone.

Explain your lifestyle in 5 words or less.

Work hard, play hard.

If you were to attend a potluck dinner, what would you bring?

I don’t cook at all, thank god my husband is an amazing chef. I’m also a vegetarian so my taste often varies greatly from others. I do make an exceptional Mexican dip.

If you could gift everyone you meet with one book, what would it be and why?

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. I love historical fiction and this one really resonated with me, it had a little bit of everything, something for everyone.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I put on Bobbi Brown concealer. I don’t leave the house without it. Regardless of what I’m doing, I always want to put my best face forward. I feel better and more confident immediately after applying.

If you could change one thing in your daily routine, what would it be? What would it take for you to make that change?

I would try to drink one less glass of wine at night. I always say ‘I’ll only have one’ but that never happens. I'm not sure I want to know what it would take to change this. And I'm not sure I want to.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Working to feel as balanced as possible, physically and mentally. You must treat body and mind with respect allowing you to be your best self. Everything in moderation.

Have you ever been faced with health concerns that pushed you to change your lifestyle? Explain.

I have not, but my mother recently developed a condition where she is now unable to digest  many of her favorite foods. My mother is a healthy, active woman who all of the sudden had her diet flipped upside down last year. It wasn't easy for her at first but she showed me that although changing your eating habits can be difficult, it is well worth it in the end.  

What song can immediately change your mood in the best way possible?

Almost any Michael Jackson song.

What is one piece of advice someone has given you that shifted your way of thinking?

In business, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Also, be kind to everyone: treat them the way you want to be treated.

What article of clothing/outfit do you feel most empowered wearing?

Jeans. I love a great fitting pair of jeans, they can be dressed up or down.

Complete this sentence: “In order to be happy, I need to….”

Surround myself with those I love and appreciate everything I have.

What do you have going on in your life that you’d like to share with the (So)(Co) Community? (business, upcoming event, book launch, new product etc.)?

As the first step in a new strategic planning process for the school, we will conducting a globe-spanning, ground-breaking online conversation called a 'JAM'. A JAM is a moderated, online exchange that is part creative brainstorming, part active dialog and part focus group. It will involve the whole MKA community in an exploration of strategic priorities. We’re using the MKA JAM to learn what our constituent groups think as a key part of mapping our school’s future.  We are very excited for this initiative which we have developed a comprehensive communications plan around to promote participation.

Gretchen studied Communications at New York University in the Steinhardt School of Education.

She worked for over eight years in Bobbi Brown Cosmetic's Public Relations Department, helping to develop, execute and maintain a strategic and comprehensive communications plan that would promote both Bobbi Brown the brand and person, effectively increasing business.

She then segued into the field of education and now works at Montclair Kimberley Academy, one of the largest Pre-k - 12 independent schools in New Jersey. She began at the school in the Alumni Relations department, utilizing her skills to help develop programs that resulted in alumni engagement and participation. Currently, she works as the Associate Director of Communications/Marketing, managing, and strategically aligning, MKA's internal and external communications, marketing and advertising initiatives.