Because of Akoya’s presence in the Washington, DC area, we felt we should contribute to a local charity. I had heard about the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, which in 55 years of operation has offered thousands of disadvantaged DC kids a rare blend of academic enrichment, athletic instruction, and a positive alternative to hanging out on the street. Given the passion that my husband, John, and I have for tennis (which, alas, usually outstrips our level of play) and our willingness to have loads of fun for a good cause, the WTEF’s annual benefit ball seemed like a real “love match.” In May 2011 we headed to the Ritz-Carlton in our nation’s capital for the WTEF Tennis Ball—aptly named not only for the double meaning with tennis equipment, but also because we really had a “ball.”
One of the activities that evening was a live auction. I had been to many before, so I felt pretty confident that I knew how to work the process. I expertly bid up one item to make the eventual winner spend more money for the kids’ benefit. Next, I made the opening bid on a beach house with absolutely no intention of winning. However, it turned out to be the only bid — John and I enjoyed a rather expensive vacation in Bethany Beach that June.
The next morning everyone convened to play tennis. Some tennis celebrities were on hand, as well as some of the kids who’ve been helped by the WTEF. John and our son Will got to whack the ball around with Zina Garrison and Gigi Fernandez. Zina nearly fell over trying to reach John’s serve, and Gigi couldn’t stop laughing at him. All told, the event raised more than $1 million for WTEF programs — the most successful fundraiser in the organization’s history.
We had such a good time last year that we returned for more. In May 2012, I played round robin and got to hit against Todd Martin (once ranked as high as #4 in the world). And, we get to cross one thing off our bucket list by going to the BNP Paribas Indian Wells Tennis tournament in March 2013 (yes, someone cleverly bid me up on this one)!
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solid-State Lighting Program includes market development support to ensure appropriate application of SSL products and avoid buyer dissatisfaction and delay of market development. This week, DOE holds the seventh annual SSL Market Introduction Workshop in Pittsburgh, enabling participants to share the latest insights, updates, and strategies for the successful market introduction of high-quality solid-state lighting products. This workshop is one of three annual DOE workshops designed to explore all aspects of the rapidly evolving SSL market. Annually, Akoya helps coordinate these workshops throughout each stage of the event—from planning to wrap-up—and provides a comprehensive communications package.
As Akoya’s finance manager, my job can be a hectic one. The key to juggling all the moving parts of my work—while keeping my “Mom” hat firmly in place and raising three children at home – is staying focused and maintaining a balance between the body and mind. To help me do that, I’ve been practicing vinyasa yoga for the past 10 years, in a hot (90◦F) studio. My twice weekly workouts at Amazing Yoga are sweaty and frequently exhausting. But, as any practitioner will attest, the hardest part of yoga is keeping your thoughts focused on your breath and letting your body follow. There are always moments when your mind wants to wander, and you lose your “flow” and have to work to get it back. Sometimes you find yourself focusing on matching your neighbor, and you have to get back to yourself. Sometimes your body tells you to push, and other times you need to rest. Keeping your mind focused on your own mat and your own flow is the essence of yoga—and is always a challenge. It’s well worth it, though, because when you reach final Savasana (the rest pose right after the workout), an amazing feeling comes. Your body is completely exhausted—yet you feel totally at peace and absolutely wonderful. Recently, the instructor remarked how great it would be if we could “bottle” this feeling and take it home to use in our daily lives. The starting point to doing that, I feel certain, is to keep our minds focused on our own “mats”—regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.