Critical thinking and conciseness are a cornerstone of providing a useful data analysis

I’ve got Gantt charts and dashboards a’ plenty
I’ve got pivot tables and pie charts galore
CRM exports? I’ve got twenty (gazillion)
But who cares, no big deal, I wannntttt mooorrreeee
(thank you business Ariel, I’ll take it from here). Side note: my daughter and I just watched the new Little Mermaid movie and I often have a hard time decoupling work life and home life

Prefaces Data with a Nice Tidy TL;DL Version

I know there are seemingly infinite data tools; I depend on so many of them. This isn’t a commentary on products or processes. I’m instead reflecting on all those business analysts and data-driven critical thinkers who know how to figure out what the punchline is – tailored to the audience receiving it. I’m fortunate to work with many such people (really good dot connectors). One of the most helpful things I get is when somebody prefaces data with a nice tidy TL;DL version that summarizes the what, why, and what to care about in a few short sentences. Pulling data is one thing; summarizing/visualizing it is another thing; telling the reader what the headline is/why it matters/what to do about it – in simple language – now that is the jackpot.


Here’s the info you were asking about. When you’re ready to dive in, all the supporting data is attached. You’ll find page 3 the most helpful. “TL;DR version – The drivers of the issue appear to be A, B, and C. Don’t worry about D – it looks concerning, but it’s actually immaterial. Issue A is out of our direct control, so let’s focus on B and C which we can influence. If you’d like to impact B, consider focusing the team on thing, thing, thing. If you want to impact driver C, you’ll need a tech or labor solution that does blah.”

Let your curiosity take you to a reasonable conclusion

From here you can have a healthy debate on interpretation from different functional areas, go several clicks deeper into the data to vet/debunk, seek dissenting voices to broaden your perspective, and then – hopefully, do something different in the way you operate that addresses the pain points revealed in the data analysis – the whole point of why we all care so much about data in the first place.

Using a Marketing Automation Platform to Activate on Customer Insights While Delivering The Right Experience

After scores of customer insight research and data analysis across our business last year, our organization spent a great deal of time and energy to understand what questions and content fuel our customer’s journey at each phase of decision-making. For context, our customer is a prospective or current student pursing an advanced education (typically online) at one of our partner universities.

82 Questions – And That’s Just the Beginning!

We have millions of communication touch points with students each year. An analysis showed that there’s roughly 82 common questions being asked before a decision is made to submit a university application. Our next question: How do we best deliver the answers? Enter the solution of one of the leading Marketing Automation Platforms. I’m not going to focus on the specific platform or technical integration in this post, my intent is just to highlight a few facets of the high-level strategy.

Marketing Automation and the Customer Experience

We built our business through a highly consultative personalized approach that predominantly happened over the phone. These 1:1 student conversations let us deeply understand the motivators, roadblocks and overall student journey in a powerful way (and they still do today). But, anyone answer a call from an unknown number lately? Anyone routinely spending 45 minutes on the phone to make a buying decision? These are the changing higher-ed market conditions we need to contend with. Phone appointments were historically the format by which the answers to those common questions typically got answered. So how to do you retain more than a decade worth of customer insight but uproot the delivery methods both internally and for your customer?

We shifted to an approach that empowers the customer to communicate in the method that best meets his/her needs. The Marketing Automation Platform provides a consistent, customizable, trackable, testable and scalable tech-enabled experience with a high degree of governance and analytics.

Automated email and SMS campaigns communicate important info instead of waiting until there’s a phone appointment (proper audience segmentation is key to ensuring the right stuff is being shared at the right time). Centralized and automated delivery of content provides a critical assist to the work streams of enrollment services (AKA your sales team). This doesn’t mean phone is dead; we have many students who still want to connect in that way, along with automated chat bots, live chats, messenger, emails and texts – or some combination of any/all of these during their journey.

Success is More Than Functioning API Calls

This is what makes tech adoption so multi-faceted. Functional integration of the marketing tech stack is one thing – and it’s a big thing – but successful implementation that drives toward your business objectives is so much more than functioning relational tables and API calls. It’s re-imagining your business processes with clear vision. It’s deep, meaningful collaboration with stakeholders, it’s training, it’s an investment, it’s resourcing, it’s change management – and it’s a powerful revenue-driving initiative when done right.

The Bottom Line

To state the obvious, I’ll say that marketing automation (in general) is intended to be a revenue driver and it was certainly a piece of our decision. Here’s one example, we had an audience segment that took up more than 20% of employee time – yet the ROI of this particular audience segment was less than .02%. YIKES! We moved this to an automated campaign and the ROI is the same with a tiny fraction of the time – and we get some bonus insights to boot (like an automated loss analysis survey).

So, what do you do with that 20% of time reclaimed? Focus it on higher converting audiences and activities that are more satisfying. The same group of talented employees are now re-deployed on a more fruitful set of priorities.

The Strategy in a Nutshell

In our case, the strategy behind using a Marketing Automation Platform was to help students receive relevant, real-time, consistent, decision-driving digital experiences – delivered through an ecosystem that’s efficiently managed. Also, its aim is to mitigate manual, repetitive, un-scalable and unfruitful tasks so our talented teams could instead focus on the good stuff.

Literally Judging Employee Innovation

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 12.30.33 PM.pngObviously, innovation is really important; we all know that. I’m fortunate to work at a company that not only values it as a core principle, but has also built a really legit employee program around it.

The Gist

The Innovation Challenge allows folks to creatively solve an existing problem or to expand into new opportunities. Bonus – it’s a great way to increase an employee’s visibility in the company. It goes something like this:

  • Form your team
  • Develop your idea
  • Submit your proposal
  • Pitch the panel
  • If selected, watch your idea happen (for real)

2017-06-07 09.31.53.jpgThis year I was lucky enough to be on the judging panel. ‘Lucky’ because I got to detach from meetings, emails, and memos (awesome) to watch employees at every level, from across the globe, share their ideas to enhance or grow the business that we all work for (super awesome).

Brave Moments at Work

Beyond the ideas themselves, was getting to watch people bravely walk into a room, some of whom have never done a presentation – let alone to executives, who used the platform to make their place of employment better. That takes guts and pride of ownership. For those of us who present on a daily basis, you can forget how nerve wrecking it can be. It was a great reminder that if you are talking about something you truly care about, the ‘presenting’ piece basically takes care of itself. The passion and innate subject matter knowledge shines through.

Challenge To Myself: Get Out and Listen More

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I’ve been climbing the career ladder so to speak since kindergarten. Making it to senior leadership has been incredibly rewarding and challenging; but if I’m being totally honest, it can also feel a bit isolating. That’s why I really appreciated being a judge this year. It afforded me the unencumbered time to listen to colleagues at every level around the business. Of course the business is better for it, but so am I personally. I listened, I learned, I pondered, I got energized, and I got inspired.

WCET Webcast: Strategic Portfolio Development Maximizing Course Offerings While Lowering Costs

WCET Webcast Recap from Thursday, April 20, 2017

Strategic Portfolio Development (SPD) is a forward-thinking program planning approach that helps institutions position themselves to more efficiently operate in today’s market while preparing for tomorrow’s. It identifies the most strategic and scalable market-centric digital program anchors, concentrations and certificates to create a series of “suites” that build off of each other, interconnecting current and future content and program areas.

Benefits of the Strategic Portfolio Development Approach

The modular nature of this approach provides schools the ability to attract a larger section of the market to their digital offerings, maximize their use of resources, quickly increase their number of market interesting programs offered and ultimately grow a more robust and long-lasting digital presence.

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 9.48.56 AM

Panel Speakers

How SPD Works:

SPD involves analyzing trends in the market and understanding where the educational gaps and opportunities exist, not just to identify students, but also to help students prepare for jobs. By doing this, institutions can build efficient, flexible, and relevant online curriculums.

Connect with Wiley Education Services to learn more.

SPD helps institutions:

  • Maximize the courses they offer.
  • Quickly address changes in the market, without having to redesign an entire program.
  • Bridge outcomes with workforce expectations.
  • Identify employment needs/gaps to offer programs that will provide students with strong employment opportunities after graduation.
  • Make program planning and development more efficient.
  • Increase enrollments as students often prefer programs that allow them to focus on a specific, market relevant, specialization.

Strategic Portfolio Development – A Marketer’s Point of View

The approach of Strategic Portfolio Development influences marketing in two main ways:

  1. First, is the University’s value story in the market place
  2. Second, is the economic benefit to the marketing budget

Let’s start with unpacking how a University builds its value story. We have things like history, mission and credentials – these are long established macro-level brand ingredients. The value story is further made by factors that are rapidly evolving – program differentiation, outcomes, and the online environment itself.

The Intersection of Institutional Competency and Today’s Student Journey.

So where does Strategic Portfolio Development come in to this? In effect, it helps the school become a center of excellence in a set of scalable disciplines, which in turn, helps build competitive differentiation. While SPD has great internal benefits for the school, it’s also a student-centric approach. I like to say that it’s the intersection of institutional competency and today’s student journey. When an institution can market a depth of experience that gives students meaningful choices, the value story further grows in the marketplace.

At Wiley, our strategic marketing direction starts with a solid understanding of the product portfolio and the markets it can serve. We’re immersing ourselves in the university brand and looking to understand the in-depth details of the programs. A competitive analysis is paired with this information to provide perspective on the landscape. It gives us a feel for where to position the program, department, or university at large, that allows for market differentiation. As much as I’ve used the word market differentiation, it’s most meaningful if that is arrived at from the student’s perspective. Gone are the days of using course catalog descriptions to sufficiently describe the program. Gone are the days of the online modality being unique. Students want to know the outcomes and the ROI. If there’s a set of related choices that can better speak to the nuanced need of a chosen career path, it helps build confidence.

Impacts the Efficiency and Scale of Budget

Let’s move on to the way Strategic Portfolio Development impacts the efficiency and scale of budget.

At The Onset of Research, Not Every Student Knows Exactly Which Degree to Pursue

Sometimes there’s an assumption that every graduate student knows exactly which program they want to pursue. The reality is, many of the initial searches higher up in the funnel are very broad. Students start looking for program comparisons. This often leads to uncovering a specialization, or even a different program, that the student didn’t know existed. I’ll give you an example. I was recently looking at search index that compared the terms ‘accounting masters’, ‘accounting MBA’ and ‘business masters’. On average, there’s 76% more searches for the broad term ‘business masters’ than searches for an ‘accounting masters’. And, ‘accounting master’s has 147% more searches than typing in ‘accounting MBA’. {for all you data scientists, I know you can slice the data in infinite ways and there’s conversion impacts at every level – this stat is to help get a broad point across}.

Now let’s imagine that the school could compete with any of these phrases. That’s exactly what happens with SPD if there’s a program suite that can be co-marketed today. Even if it’s messy internally because the programs come out of different colleges, there is real strength in marketing relevant choices together. Instead of building many one-off marketing assets that support a single program, you can consolidate. The speed to market is quicker because you can add a tangential option to an existing set of assets and marketing campaigns rather than start from scratch. From a paid media perspective, digital marketing efforts can be initially targeted to a larger audience which can result in a lower cost-per-inquiry.

See a Real Example of SPD in Action

Check out the WCET Webinar to see how this plays out in Scranton’s real world portfolio example. In the marketing section, we talk about how to market at the individual program level while bringing down costs in aggregate by marketing the suite at large. Market demand then dictates how inquiries shake out by program.

At Wiley, we underpin this strategy with sophisticated media technology that allows performance targeting and conversion modeling – but that’s a webinar for a different day.

Proudly Announcing That I’m a Recipient of Wiley’s Global Pacesetter Award

What’s a Pacesetter?

Wiley’s Pacesetter Awards program honors colleagues who have made significant contributions to Wiley’s success. They are issued semi-annually on a fiscal year basis at the individual and team level. I’m so excited to share that I’m one of two recipients at the individual level.

 Winners are chosen for achieving one or more of the following criteria:

  • Significant impact on Wiley’s financial results and/or strategic goals
  • Identification of opportunities that result in acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures or alliances
  • Significant cost savings/expense reduction
  • Resolution of critical problems and obstacles to achieving goals; responsiveness to unforeseen circumstances
  • Outstanding technological innovation that increases revenue and/or reduces cost
  • Outstanding creative effort
  • Extraordinary level of intra-company service through demonstration of professional capability, strong interpersonal relations, cooperation and helpfulness
  • Extraordinary level of external customer service and leveraging of sales through customer relationships
  • Significant improvements in products, processes and workflow, or quality orientation (should result in increased revenue or reduced costs)
  • Other achievements or results involving specific objectives, projects, activities or tasks which significantly advance progress towards department, business or company goals

So what are my thoughts on all this?

Reflections From an Overachiever

High performers need their tenacious drive and skill to be cultivated, nurtured and course-corrected to reach their maximum potential. Coming to Wiley Education Services has provided that in so many ways. I am surrounded by incredibly talented folks from whom I am learning so much from. It’s been a foundation for growth and a catalyst for mentorship upstream, down and peer-to-peer.

Since day 1, I have felt empowered and championed for across the entire organization – which has in turn cemented my commitment to our collective success. The standard for performance is high, but what I find so compelling is the intangible dedication to professional development. It goes beyond formal reviews; it unfolds every single day organically by the culture (for those who seek it). This seems like a good stopping point to plug this quote:

“We need to stop telling [women], “Get a mentor and you will excel.” Instead, we need to tell them, “Excel and you will get a mentor.”
― Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

I am also acutely aware that there is no story to tell without the efforts of my entire team. Whether they’ve helped me develop our strategic direction, or activated upon it with passion and commitment, the results are indicative of our collective strength.

Are you in a leadership role?

If yes, then I encourage you to truly invest in the talent around you. I am the byproduct of so many people investing in my academics, career and character over the years – and there’s been a lot of course correction needed along the way.  Those hallway conversations, random phone calls, late night skype sessions, impromptu brainstorms, 1:1 meetings and informal mentoring make a really big impact on folks.

Are you the spouse or partner of a woman in leadership?

I know it feels like I’m doling out some sort of Oscar speech. Believe me, I’m not taking myself too seriously here. It’s just that the recognition has given me some time to reflect on my path. This is where I have to give thanks to my #1 supporter – my husband Cam.

“When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
― Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Nostalgic 1950’s Family Life – The Hathaways Take You Back a Simpler Time

The Hathaways invite you to enjoy this dreamlike sequence of a simpler time. Step inside the nostalgia of 1950’s family life. It is indeed those simple little ordinary things that imprint your heart with tender joy.

Remembering when…

…when an RSS feed meant Rise, Shine & Smile for breakfast
…when ‘face time’ happened around the table
…when a ‘like’ was a compliment paid in person
…when’ lol’ was truly laughing out loud
…when a ‘social share’ was when you split a coca cola
…when work and home rarely intersected
…when we pledged allegiance to more than 15 minutes of fame
…let us all remember that our simple moments will end up being our most treasured

“Remembering When” playfully relies on words that haven’t changed, but whose meaning has transformed in the wake of a new generation. The imagery draws upon the nostalgic (and very real) memories indelibly stitched in our childhood DNA. It’s the delectable Thanksgiving dinner smells permeating grandma Margaret’s house, the creative Halloween costumes hand made for Cam by Nana Penny, the green pancakes Christmas morning with papa Chuck, learning to ride a bike with Paw Paw Jerry, Nanny’s cookies that simply can’t be duplicated, arts and crafts projects with grandma Charlotte – and then there’s the Coca Cola legacy. Cam’s grandpa dedicated his entire life to working at the plant. Coca Cola wasn’t just a kitsch brand, it was a way a life. This is something our friend Ray has dedicated his collection to proving, so his home became the backdrop of our video.

It all started with a pink cherry apron

It started with a single point of inspiration: a pink cherry apron handmade by my neighbor for Madeline and me. From the moment I unwrapped the mommy / daughter cooking treasure, my mind was transfixed on old Betty Crocker ads. I had visions of the tender moments of a simpler time. Then there was the dress: Modcloth’s Comedy Hour Dress in Solid Red. I came across this stunning vintage dress and the concept unfolded.

Anyone who knows me has come to witness my love of written articulation of concepts that capture a slice of life; anyone who knows my husband has come to witness his relentless pursuit of visual elegance. So, when a writer marries a designer – this is what happens. Simple family photos take on a life of their own! (you should have seen our wedding 101 guide)

The concept

The concept is about re-framing our sometimes impersonal, technology-driven, family-fragmented, overworked lives and simplifying it down with a visual antithesis from days long gone. The irony is that Cam and I met online, both work in technology and my career aspirations are executive leadership.

I’ve been stuck in a paradox since the day I was born; I listen to Jazz, my favorite show is Bewitched and I adore device-free Sunday dinners. Come Monday morning, I want back in the conference room and thrive under tough business challenges. None of that takes away from the quest to slow down – even if it’s only for a photo shoot.

The talent behind it all

We’d like to sincerely thank the following folks for bringing this vision to life. Our industry is filled with extraordinary talent.

Building the Building™ – A Construction Simulation Demonstration Program

Online learning has secured its place as a leading knowledge-transfer vehicle. During my tenure as Director of Client Services at Intellavia, I led quite a few e-learning projects. They ranged from financial association credentialing courses to hospitality courses for travel agents to adequately sell and role play to construction fundamentals.

This post refers to an interesting project aimed at young students. I was heavily involved in every aspect of the coursework and then developed the PR surrounding its launch. Here’s an excerpt…..

Commercial construction veterans Timothy H. Bernardi and Jose D. Amaya selected the orlando-based multimedia experts at Intellavia to create a unique construction simulation e-learning platform.

BUILDING THE BUILDING is a web-based, interactive education program teaching the fundamentals of commercial construction project management to a middle school thru high school audience. Using a rich multimedia environment and a challenging Construction Simulation Experience, students are introduced to commercial construction – learning the language of the trade and gaining an understanding about the day to day challenges that come with the management of a commercial construction project.

To bring the concept to life, the BUILDING THE BUILDING (BTB) team turned to Intellavia, a company with a proven track record in developing software programs that combine target-appropriate graphic design with high functioning usability. Though important with all digital communication initiatives, e-learning programs (in particular) require a well thought out user experience. BTB owners Timothy H. Bernardi and Jose D. Amaya conveyed their real-world wealth of process driven knowledge to Intellavia to create a multi-media knowledge transfer that would resonate with youngsters, teachers and the construction industry as a whole.

“Our goal was to create a young person’s guide to commercial construction project management, ” commented Timothy H. Bernardi, a BTB partner. “The cornerstone of the Building the Building program is its academic credibility.”

Jose D. Amaya continued, “The program’s content has drawn from our professional experience in commercial construction. We’ve just completed the demo and are now engaging Intellavia to build out additional portions of the program.”

The simulation demo is complete and the phase 2 academic portion is in progress. Once the full program is deployed, students will receive a comprehensive evaluation of their performance.


Building the Building – An Introduction to Commercial Construction Project Management ™ Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction of this demo by any means without the consent of Timothy H. Bernardi is prohibited. Contact Please Note: This edition of Building the Building – An Introduction to Commercial Construction Project Management™ has been published for demonstration purposes only.

Our Open Adoption Documentary

For the benefit of our daughter, the birth parents, and our entire family, we have been chronically our story all along the way. We’ve captured our remarkable journey through photos, videos and blogs – beginning with our first miscarriage all the way through forging a relationship with a teenage couple considering adoption and the two years that have since past. We have nearly a half-decade worth of trials and tribulations that have been whittled down to 15 minutes. If you have 15 to spare, we invite you to catch a glimpse into our lives…

Documentary Overview

A heart-warming story of two families who opened their hearts to one another and the precious little girl who continues to melt everyone’s heart all along the way.

A Perfect Plan

This story is a celebration of little miss Madeline Brooke who was adopted and the uniquely loving way in which she is being raised. It recounts two families who unknowingly, but desperately, needed one another and how God wove a perfect plan together for all those involved. ‘Perfect’ in this sense does not mean without hardship, heartache or healing – but it does mean the way in which hindsight eloquently articulates that something bigger than yourself is at work. It’s the kind of perfection that comes along with the messiness of life – when you can look at your deepest, darkest seasons of hurt and sorrow and genuinely feel that you’d endure it infinitely over again to wind up at the exact same outcome – because on the other side, one bear hug from a one year old is indeed all the perfection you need in life.

It is in no way a stance on the ‘right way’ to do things. After all, ask any parent if they have found the foremost expert on the single right way to parent and you’ll find no two answers alike. Every child is different. Every family dynamic is different. Every circumstance is different. This shared testimonial is simply ‘our story’…and what a story it is.

At the time of video production, Madeline is about one and half years old. She has a brother who is also one. {More on that in the video!}. None of us know what the future has in store for us – but neither does any family. All we know is where we’ve been and what we have today.

So what was the catalyst for doing this documentary (other than being giddy and parents and wanting to brag about the cutest kids on the planet)? Well, we (the adoptive parents) tell our story all the time as does the birth parents. We have scrapbooks, blogs and all sorts of storytelling tools. But there was something that sparked a beaming pride that just couldn’t be ignored. At our last adoption visitation outing, our birth-mom told us about her senior class project. She decided to take up teen pregnancy adoption education whereby she speaks to other pregnant girls who are faced with an excruciating circumstance. We couldn’t believe her maturity and compassion for others. Here we all were, side-by-side, watching Maddie and her brother giggle ferociously as they navigated the water spickets in a community park. The birth-dad was picking up Maddie’s pink sippie cup for the millionth time off the floor, the birth-mom was telling us about her college plans and senior project and my husband and I were taking video to capture the beauty of life’s messiness. We couldn’t help but silently praise God for his incredible grace on all of us. Did any of us think we’d be strong enough to do this? Did any of us think it was even possible? There’s a pair of baby blue eyes –  that with one look – will indeed show you that all things are possible….

We hope you enjoy our story!

Production Credit

A big shot out to the incredibly talented team at Reel 9 Studios for capturing our story. It was filmed on 2 Sony Z1U cameras and edited on Avid MC by Caleb Mixon, CEO. He was amazing to work with and we highly recommend him!

If you are interested in our story, or would like to learn more about our documented footage, feel free to contact me. We hope that our story inspires others to the blessing of adoption. What once felt so unfamiliar is now the very core of our lives.

Developing a web-based submission for The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program®

Executive Summary

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) officially granted Florida Hospital for Children Magnet Recognition status, as part of its Magnet Recognition Program®, which honors hospitals for excellence in nursing. The Magnet designation makes the Walt Disney Pavilion the only hospital in Central Florida to receive this prestigious recognition. Moreover, only seven percent of the nation’s hospitals have earned this distinction. The Magnet Recognition Program honors the outstanding contributions of patient care clinicians as demonstrated through excellence achieved in leadership, clinical practice, innovations and positive outcomes. In addition to the Magnet recognition, Florida Hospital for Children was also cited for exemplary status in six areas, including community and educational partnerships, and analysis and tracking of nurse satisfaction.

The Challenge

In previous years, the 700+ pages of the documented submission were compiled and delivered in hard copy format. For efficiency, the hospital wanted to streamline the delivery process without sacrificing quality or the incredible amount of hard work that goes into preparing the tangible documents and meticulous compilation of corresponding resources.

The Solution

Intellavia was contracted as the technology partner that developed the electronic version of the Magnet submission to the ACNN. Intellavia quickly understood the magnitude of the project and worked closely with the Magnet Leadership Team to ensure all technical requirements were met. This included developing a highly-organized content delivery system with an index that followed all guidelines – along with a one-click PDF export for printing. There were over 700 pages of text and nearly 500 corresponding resources and digital assets.


Intellavia leveraged the proven techniques and philosophy of User-Centered Design (UCD) to create effective web-based business solution. At the heart of this, and every project, was ensuring usability goals were met – a critical undertaking with the organization of 700+ pages of content. Ultimately, Intellavia created a highly searchable, user-intuitive, secure and protected website to deliver materials validating the outstanding contributions of patient care clinicians at Florida Hospital for Children.

Multimedia Links

Grateful Patient Campaign: The Gibbons Family Story

Client: Florida Hospital Foundation
Service: Copywriting for Trifold Brochure
Campaign: “Generosity Heals”
Desc: Patient Testimony
Project Overview: Project started with me interviewing the family one-on-one and asking them questions that I developed to create their story. From there, I listened to the audio file of the interview to draft the text in support of Florida Hospital Foundation’s campaign entitled: Grateful Patients.

“My heart goes out to those who are suffering from any illness, but I highly encourage you to never give up. Trust that your time of healing will come.” If anyone is able to passionately convey these words, it’s Ivana Gibbons – wife and mother of what many refer to as “the miracle family”. Their true and inspiring story recounts the pain and heartache of several life-threatening medical challenges and describes the wondrous triumphs and victories they encountered at Florida Hospital.

It all started with Gabriella, the oldest child, who was born via emergency c-section 14 weeks premature. New dad Michael Gibbons was faced with every new parent’s worst fears. “I had been conditioned by movies to believe that the doctor’s delivery of news of a recent birth was always a joyous occasion. I will never forget the first words the neonatologist told me – ‘your daughter has a 50% chance of survival and she weighs only 1 pound 10 ounces’.” Gabriella was placed in the level III NICU at Florida Hospital, where she stayed for 3 months. The doctors, nurses and clinical staff became like a second family. Their trust in the medical team and strong faith carried them through and their prayers were answered with Gabriella finally coming home.

Several years later, Gabriella became a big sister to Rafaella, another beautiful daughter who was luckily born after an uneventful pregnancy. When news of a third pregnancy revealed a son would soon join the family, the Gibbons were ecstatic. But the excitement would soon end when Elijah, the youngest child, was diagnosed with a large tumor at 17 weeks gestation. “Our Florida Hospital perinatologist told us to ‘keep praying whatever you are praying’ and that’s exactly what we did”, commented Michael. After being given a 50% chance of survival, Elijah was born at 34 weeks with a football-sized tumor. “Right before surgery, I leaned down and felt the warm soft skin of my son’s abdomen on my lips. Then they rolled him into the operating room and I was left to pace the floor wondering whether that kiss would be our last”. Fortunately, their prayers were once again answered and that kiss turned out to be the first of many.

11 months after Elijah’s tumor was successfully removed, Ivana – who at the time was a 37-year-old healthy mother of three young children – suffered a debilitating stroke. Though she knew something was very wrong, she was surprised to hear the diagnosis. “How can I have a stroke at such a young age”, she wondered. Ivana was transferred to the neurological wing of Florida Hospital, where she had to learn basic skills like walking and eating all over again. “At the time I was not sure how, but I knew I had to come home to my children. So, I put my faith in God’s healing powers and trusted my medical team as I had done so many times before.” At the time of her discharge, her body was weak but the spirit within her was strong, and so with hard work and months of rehabilitation, she overcame yet another major obstacle.

Gabriella and Rafaella are both now honor roll students who delight in playing dress up, Elijah is an adventure seeker with a heart of gold; Ivana is engaged as a full time home maker and Michael continues to practice law as a partner at a commercial law firm. Collectively, they are grateful patients who truly understand the power of faith. For this reason, they give back to Florida Hospital in support of the organization’s mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ. “Through the transforming challenges that we experienced, we learned the meaning of faith, hope and love. We hope we can inspire others to have strength despite long medical odds.”