Meet Cathy Conheim, author of Henry’s World and Founder of The Real Woman Project

Cathy ConheimTell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally. I have worked for 35 years as a change agent in the capacity of psychotherapist, management consultant, radio show talk host, producer of two national nonprofit projects. I am interested in developing public health models that help people to deal with difficult feelings and to cope with life, its joys, and its disappointments.

What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? I enjoy being able to make things happen it would not have been otherwise. I enjoy being able to stimulate thousands if not millions of people to know that they have more potential than they think they have, but just because they can’t do everything, they can do something, and they are not victims of their circumstances. It is a privilege to be able to help people understand that it is not the events of our lives that dictates what happens to us but rather our responses to those events.

Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why? I have developed two national projects in two distinct areas. The real women project, which reached the eyes and ears of over 30 million people, set out to deal with the health-related risks of women valuing themselves in such narrow perspective as their physical beauty. As a healthcare professional, we were looking at all health risks that are associated with starvation imagery and the use of women to sell products.

I am now involved in a project that simply grew out of a most unexpected event, the arrival of a cat that needed an amputation. I have produced three books and other products related to this project called Henry’s world, or the Just Me Project. These are true stories told through the eyes of a three-legged cat and the black poodle that she lives with. The books and materials are not presented as about amputation or disability. We use the workbooks Kibble for Thought to talk about social and emotional learning. We are getting thousands of the books and workbooks to our wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. With military folks we do not talk about injuries and wounds we talk about choosing to be a hero in your own life no matter what your circumstances. We seek to make appealing products that have embedded in them profound messages for healing. I work about 50 hours a week on this project. It is a total nonprofit effort with all funds going to help the families of our wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 9.3 million chronically ill children and their siblings, and in school systems to teach emotional learning.

What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome? To be nobody but myself and the world that invites me to be everybody but myself. To go out on my own, do what I believe in, and let the marketplace decide whether I was good enough to do what I believe in.

From where do you draw inspiration?  Who have been your role models, mentors, etc? My inspiration is drawn from looking at the vast unmet needs of so many in this country. I have many role models and mentors, most of whom you would never have heard of. I learned a lot from animals.

How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization? Since it is hard to get grants in this climate, I am funding things primarily on my own. I probably have upwards of half $1 million in this project. I have probably sold myself 33,000 books, bringing back about $350,000. We are not in one bookstore, the project spreads through publicity and word-of-mouth.

What one thing would you like to learn this year? How to engage millions of people on the Internet to understand what a difference they can make if they’ll all do a little. I want to learn how to use the Internet in a more viral way.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 70 years old and still, hopefully, being a powerful change agent and catalyst.

What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment? Think of new projects, connect people, produce interesting things. Music, books, theater, are all fun

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Each one of us can do way more than what we think.

Which, if any social networking sites do you belong to (feel free to include links)? Facebook, sort of only a not very good at it.

For information on Henry’s World visit: http://www.henrysworld.org/

For information on the Real Woman Project visit: www.realwomenproject.org/