Heather Soriano serves on the board of Single Not Alone, in the position of president. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she works in finance, roots for the Crimson Tide, and raises two very active and athletic children, along with a menagerie of adopted animals.
From an early age Ms. Soriano saw how vital social connectedness and support were to a family's health and wellbeing. She grew up in a small town in Mississippi, one of six children raised by a doctor and a nurse. In that home she learned a deep commitment to family and community, and saw daily examples of how strong family and community networks worked to protect and nurture each individual.
As a daughter of a Filipino immigrant, Ms. Soriano and her siblings were taught to love everything America has to offer. This planted the seeds of her enduring patriotism, which ultimately led to her work with American Gold Star Mothers, AMVETS, and even a tour with the USO.
Ms. Soriano studied pre-med at the University of Mississippi before going on to work in medical sales, real estate, and corporate finance. A two time Miss Mississippi, she came late to pageant life, embracing it as a way to further causes she cared about--such as children's literacy--and connect individuals and groups who could do more good by working together.
Ms. Soriano got an early start in philanthropic fundraising, especially around the issues that support literacy, family health, and wellness. Most recently she has worked with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society, CASA, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, a variety of children's and adult literacy programs and agencies, and raising money for Alzheimer's treatment.
With Single Not Alone Ms. Soriano has built a non-profit around all the aspects of single parenting she herself found most challenging. Research has shown the key element of parenting a healthy child (regardless of the number of adults in the household) is being able to maintain regular, emotionally validating quality time. But in her experience it is very difficult for a single woman to reserve the time necessary to provide her children the emotional support they require, while still maintaining a career that can provide the healthcare and resources necessary to support the family.
Unfortunately, Ms. Soriano has found that many systems intended to support single-parent households fail to meet their most pressing needs in a way that helps those families to stand on their own. Worse yet, these programs are often structured in a way that inadvertently increases a family’s dependence upon them or pushes them back into harmful relationships.
With Single Not Alone, Ms. Soriano is working to help single mothers gain more consistent access to the support they need the most without compromising their own wellbeing, or that of their children.
“I firmly believe that it is easier to raise a healthy child than to fix a broken adult. Investing in children now—the values they’re taught and the habits they form—will define the world we'll be living in within the next 10 to 15 years."
Stacy Turley is the vice president and executive director of Single Not Alone. She studied marketing at the University of Mississippi before going on to work in corporate HR and real estate, where she discovered a knack for business development, embracing projects, molding them, growing them, and removing obstacles so that each can flourish. Her current entrepreneurial endeavors focus on health and wellness, especially seeking to support athletes and frontline workers.
Stacy Turley's non-profit work has primarily been associated with the NFL, working with groups like Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. Ms. Turley's husband is former NFL offensive tackle Kyle Turley, noted for his advocacy around player health, and especially neurological issues arising from careers in pro football (including his own). She's seen first hand how a workplace injury can shatter an otherwise healthy family.
“At any time any parent could become a single parent. My husband and I have been together 20 yrs," Ms. Turley explains, "[Being close to NFL families] I’ve seen a whole lot of really, really good women end up being single. I’ve seen what this sport does to men … and families. So I’ve seen what it’s like for a woman to instantly become single, losing support, losing insurance, and all of that immediately falls on the shoulders of women and children.”
With Single Not Alone, Ms. Turley is particularly excited to leverage opportunities to connect after-school sports programs and children participating in sports with sources of necessary equipment. As the wife of an ex-professional athlete, she's often lamented how much unused (or never used) equipment goes to waste--and as the parent of two athletic children, knows how prohibitive the expense of equipping children for sports can be.
She's also extremely passionate about family mental health. Even as an increasing body of research recognizes how household strains affect children--especially in single-parent homes--as policy and programs lag behind.
"The mental health challenges faced by children and parents in single-parent homes are huge, and aren't properly acknowledged. There needs to be more outlets for both single parents and their children to talk to professionals and work through everything that gets thrown at them. With Single Not Alone, we're going to find the best ways to connect families with this help and support."