Keri and Nick Clavin, MD haven’t been in Charlotte long, but they sure have put their stamp on the community since they arrived from New York in 2013. And last month might have been their busiest and most impactful on record. Keri co-chaired the Mint Museum Auxiliary Room to Bloom Spring Symposium while Nick competed in Dancing With The Stars of Charlotte for The Pink House.
Nick, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with Levine Cancer Institute, also serves on the board of Charlotte Lab School where their children Hudson and Harper attend. If you happen to mention his name within earshot of one of his patients, they’ll tell you - unsolicited - how he’s changed their lives forever. Trust us, it’s happened to us twice.
With such an intimate understanding of how breast cancer affects the lives of Nick’s patients, Keri also serves on the board of Carolina Breast Friends. Here, she shares with us how they balance family and community, their Charlotte role models, how they try to model and infuse gratitude in their children, and why we should take an Amazon break when we can…
How did you become involved in the Mint Museum Auxiliary? Why is it important to you?
When we moved to Charlotte almost 6 years ago, I was introduced to the Mint Museum Auxiliary through several friends who were involved. I initially attended events as great way to meet new people here in Charlotte, but after digging a little deeper I soon came to realize what an important role The Auxiliary plays for The Mint Museum. Events hosted by The Auxiliary raise funds that support amazing programs such as the Grier Heights Community Youth Arts Program as well as help fund exhibitions and acquisitions for The Mint’s permanent collections. I truly enjoy helping make art accessible to all as it is essential to the fabric of any community.
Your husband just participated in Dancing With The Stars for the Pink House and was a lead fundraiser. What was the nearly year long experience like for you all?
Carolina Breast Friends has been an organization that has been indispensable to so many of Nick’s patients. As a plastic and reconstructive microsurgeon who focuses on restoring women affected by breast cancer, he understands that physical reconstruction is only part of the process. I am also a member of the Board of Directors at CBF and have seen first-hand the impact the organization has on the lives of breast cancer survivors. The Pink House serves as a place where women and men of our community can find support, education, and friendship during any stage of their journey. Nick welcomed the opportunity to be part of this event when he was nominated. It was such a wonderful experience on all fronts. Fundraising is always challenging, but for such a great organization it was incredibly rewarding. It was truly amazing to see how many friends and colleagues were willing to rally for such an important cause. On a more personal note the diligence and commitment necessary to prepare for the performance were things we highlighted to our children. We wanted to show them that with hard work and grit (even when something seems insurmountable) that just about anything is possible. To see his hard work culminate on stage was a gift that we believe they will carry with them throughout their lives. Nick winning “Crowd Favorite” was just the cherry on top!
You all have a full plate with your community involvement, family, and careers. How do you determine what to say yes or no to when it comes to time and energy commitments?
Trying to choose where to focus our energy and attention has been very difficult as there are so many amazing opportunities to give back here in Charlotte! Maximizing the time we get to spend with our children is our first priority as they both are still at ages where they want to hang out with us! With this in mind, we try to put our time toward organizations where we feel we can have the most impact. My husband Nick has served on the Board of Directors at our children's school (Charlotte Lab School) for the last three years. It has been an honor to play a part in decisions which can positively impact the educational experience of so many children. Charlotte Lab School is an asset to our community and we are both very proud to be a part of it. While there is a myriad of wonderful ways to stay involved in our community, we do make a regular effort to not over-commit ourselves. We try to keep in mind that spreading ourselves too thin can backfire and make our efforts less impactful.
Your family moved here from New York a few years ago. How did you discover and learn about different Charlotte organizations?
When we moved to Charlotte almost 6 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Laura Philipson. Laura and her husband Stephen are incredibly involved in our community and frankly are some of the greatest people we know. Laura introduced me to the Mint Museum Auxiliary as well as Opera Carolina both of which I continue to be involved with today. Having role models like the Philipsons helped to give us our first road map to getting involved here in Charlotte. I also remember getting our first Giving Book which gave me immediate insight into how many amazing organizations and opportunities there were here in Charlotte.
What is your earliest memory of giving back?
Growing up my parents were involved with a number of charities. One of the organizations they supported was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As children, my sister and I were inspired by their generosity and would set aside a portion of our allowances, so we too could donate. As a college student I had the opportunity to work with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters. This organization opened my eyes to the unfortunate degree of wealth disparity we had and continue to have in our country. The experience showed me how so many children had little to no access to so many of the essentials I took for granted. For the first time I was directly exposed to the fact that children in our immediate community did not have regular meals or permanent places they could call “home”. It was definitely a turning point where I became aware of how important it was to give back to your community.
What ways are you trying to instill generosity and interest in the broader community in your children?
Our efforts to help our children understand how they can take active roles in their community starts with us leading by example.We feel it is paramount that our children see our involvement in the community. Whether its Dancing with the Stars, being on the Board of Directors for nonprofit organizations, or simply volunteering for the school book fair we want to lead by example. We also work hard to focus on gratitude. We want our kids to understand how fortunate they are and with that comes responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. Every evening we go around the dinner table and each one of us talks about what we are grateful for that day. Sometimes we’re grateful for having a roof over our heads, other times we’re thankful for doing well on an exam, and sometimes it’s just for the delicious yogurt at breakfast. There is something to be grateful for every day. I want my kids to know how incredibly blessed they are.
We also use our travel as an opportunity to really teach our kids about being global citizens. For example, a few years ago, we traveled took to Cambodia with the kids. Leading up to the trip we had the children save their allowances so that they could purchase food for children in a poor village. They were able to deliver this food directly to the children and experience first-hand the joy in giving back. We want them to truly understand that wherever they go in the world that there are always opportunities to help others.
What are you favorite local businesses?
Charlotte has so many amazing local businesses. In fact, shopping at locally owned businesses is an easy way for anyone to support their community. While it may be easier to get everything on Amazon both Nick and I feel strongly about supporting the businesses in our backyard whenever possible.
Park Road Books is a gem! My kids devour books and going here is a real treat! I walk in blind every time asking for a good book recommendation and they have never steered me wrong!
As a family we all love the 7th Street Market- we enjoy having lunch here because there is something for everyone (from sushi to crepes to pizza!). Afterwards we can hit up First Ward Park and enjoy some gorgeous Charlotte weather!