Wall Street's Chick Mission Helps Cancer Survivors Make Babies
(Bloomberg) -- Attend enough charity events, and the pleas of the auctioneer start to sound very familiar, always aiming for the right mix of persuasion and pandering to coax money from wallets. I thought I’d heard it all, until I went to a benefit for the Chick Mission and heard founder Amanda Rice say: “Let’s make a baby.”
That this activity was already on the brain in a room of highly attractive men and women who work in finance was one point in Rice’s favor. The black-and-gold decor -- streamers, balloons, feathers -- the music, lounge chairs and bottles of vodka all seemed to chime in: Let’s get it on.
That this proceeded to happen in $5,000 increments owed more, however, to the respect and affection Rice, 42, has earned for turning her experience into a nonprofit to help others. It also didn’t hurt that her job is to raise capital for a hedge fund.
Rice, diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s, faced treatment that would threaten her fertility. She held off so that she could freeze her eggs, an expensive procedure for which she struggled to get insurance coverage.
As director of investor relations and business development at Maltese Capital, Rice had the means. But as she emerged as a cancer survivor with the potential to make a baby in the future, she began thinking about the women without access to resources.
“Most are single, with student debt, and can’t afford $15,000 to freeze their eggs,” she said.
Chick Mission provides scholarships to women to pay for egg-freezing after their cancer diagnosis. It also educates oncologists who work with young women to make fertility preservation part of the discussion. And it’s advocating that state governments require insurance companies to pay for egg-freezing.
“Your socioeconomic status should not determine your fertility future after you come out of cancer," Rice said.
Rice started building a team for Chick Mission over a pedicure at Tenoverten with Laurie Katz, a partner at GoldenTree Asset Management in a similar business-development role. They’d met through work and become friends. One by one, other such women signed on to help, including Emily Fritz of LibreMax, Kristin Cohen of Walleye Trading, Kristen Dinsmore of Palestra Capital, Kara Gula of Third Point and Megan McDonald of Blackstone.
“This is about women promoting women, and also, our approach to the world: If you see something wrong, solve it,” Katz said after greeting her boss Steven Tananbaum, who proudly noted she leads the culture committee and was the firm’s seventh employee.
Other men attending included Robert Pruzan of Centerview Partners (daughter Ali Pruzan, a medical student, is working on a program at Mount Sinai to ensure young women cancer patients get fertility counseling); David Moffitt of LibreMax; Omar Naeem of Broad Peak Advisers; and Jesse Rosenfeld of Riva Ridge Capital.
Was it awkward to go to a party and hear women talking about fertility all night?
“Not at all,” said lawyer Damian Vallejo. “It’s good to hear about it. It makes talking about it with everyone more natural.”
From raising men’s awareness to reducing the stigma of fertility treatment to helping young women grapple with the reality of their body clocks and cancer, a lot of good has come out of Chick Mission.
“To give women that glimmer, that thing to fight for, is amazing,” Rice said before announcing what she’d earlier teased as the “big reveal” of the night: after giving scholarships to 36 women for egg-freezing, Chick Mission has had its first baby -- a boy named Liam.
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