We are so excited to welcome Lydia Storie to the team as our new Senior Culture Change Manager. Lydia brings nuanced entertainment strategy thinking and amazing story development chops to Caring Across. And, to highlight Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Lydia shares her experience raising her son, Leo, and how it brought her to this work. Read on to learn more about Lydia!
What drew you to Caring Across, and what does our work mean to you?
The moment that put care at the center of my mind as an issue was when I started looking for childcare for my son in early 2021. I realized how decentralized care is; there’s no system of finding options for care. There are no resources, and no easy infrastructure to access. How many people become parents every year, and how many people need to find care for their children, while they work to earn a living to support their kids’ lives? It got to the point where I actually had to hire a service to find a daycare with availability in my local area.
After that, I started reading about how COVID had devastated the childcare industry. I ended up sharing how frustrated I was with a friend; they had heard of Caring Across, and that’s when I found out about the organization. While I know that our mission and our primary lane of work is long-term care for adults, the care infrastructure that stretches across our entire lifespan is so broken and lacking. Even if we start by fixing just one piece of it, that can roll into creating a better social structure for all families going forward.
What is your new role, and what are you most excited to dig in to?
I am the Senior Manager of Culture Change, taking the lead on our behind-the-scenes Hollywood strategy. I come to Caring Across from a long career on the inside of the entertainment industry as a creative executive and producer.
I’m really excited to bring my expertise and relationships with storytellers on the inside of the film and TV industry to help shape storytelling in ways that bring more visibility to care. We want to uplift the types of care that are happening in millions of homes across America, but that we don’t actually see on our screens at nearly the level that it exists in reality. What are the shows that people love where we see opportunities for care to pop up, in an organic way? How can we strike the right balance between entertainment and our message, and really move people to see care as a social priority?
I’m looking forward to thinking about content development in a mission-oriented way. I still get to be creative, but in service of the care agenda that I find so personally important. And I’m thrilled to join the community of people who are helping define what culture change work looks like within the context of the entertainment industry. It’s an exciting moment to sit at the intersection of advocacy and content creation.
What kind of work have you done in the past?
I started out as a development executive, working predominantly at independent production companies. I got to work from the ground up with different concepts. My role would be coming up with an idea, or working with a writer who had an idea, or finding any kind of article, play, or book that my company saw potential in adapting, then working with creatives – writers and filmmakers – to adapt it and sell their vision for what it would look like as a movie or TV show. That’s what I loved most about my work in entertainment: digging into the creative process and adapting material, seeing what we could add by translating something from one format to another.
And I think that’s relevant to the work I will be doing at Caring Across. Whether it’s specific individual caregiver stories, or issues that a lot of American caregivers go through, my job will be helping people in entertainment see how that fits into film and TV and storytelling, and helping them see the potential for drama. Care can be a motor for storytelling, or can show up in ways that we may not have thought of already. We see caregiving represented only in limited ways in entertainment, and I’m hoping to rely on my past development and pitching experience to help writers and other creatives in the industry to see the potential for care to exist in a variety of ways in film and TV content.
March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month, and that’s a personal issue for you. Can you share your experience?
My son Leo is now two and a half years old. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we realized that he had been falling behind on certain milestones and had him evaluated. In April 2020, he was diagnosed with hypotonia, which is a physical and neurological disability that affects his muscle tone and ability to acquire motor skills. Over the past two years, we’ve been fortunate that we have had access to a lot of early intervention therapies. The biggest concern that we’re dealing with at the moment is that his speech is very delayed. He’s doing five therapies a week, and two of those are speech related, to try to get him caught up before he hits the generally recognized preschool age of three.
It’s interesting, because I didn’t think of myself as any kind of special caregiver, aside from being a parent, until I joined Caring Across. Internally, we’ve been talking about all of the different types of caregiving stories, which is what I’m here to help people see more of. But I realized that my husband and I have direct experience managing care that involves the long-term interventions that our son needs. I’m super grateful that that exists, and that helping kids catch up early in life is a big priority in our society. But it’s also a great model for what we at the organization are hoping to build toward for people later in life too.
Is there any other experience that you’ve had with care that you’d like to share? How did it bring you to this work?
I haven’t had the experience of directly caring for someone who is aging, but I have seen my parents and my parents-in-law do it. I’ve seen the different ways it can go, and how hard the decision is to put your loved one in a facility, and how hard it can be to find and retain home care simply due to the availability of workers.
Since I’ve become more integrated into Caring Across, I’ve also started to notice how many of my friends are in the position of having to reorient their lives around helping their parents age or helping people in their families who are ill and require additional care support. It’s so amazingly present, and it’s been such an eye-opening moment for me. I’m hopeful that I can help other people have that same eye-opening moment, and they can realize that this is happening all around us all the time, every single day. It’s something that we’re all going to have to experience in one way or another.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time on playgrounds! But when there’s not a pandemic, I love to travel, and I’m very excited to be planning a vacation to visit some friends in the Pacific Northwest later this year. I also like to cook, read, and do yoga. My favorite way to recharge is to read a good book. And, of course, I love to watch TV.