Ali Landes: Executive Director of the Wendy Walk
Ali Landes in her office at UTA. Photographed by Isaiah Teofilo
You started the Wendy walk to help raise awareness and funds for liposarcoma and other rare sarcomas in order to help save your mother’s life. How did you turn the walk into the major non profit that it is today?
We started the walk to bring light to a dark situation for my family. We wanted to show my mom that there was hope and positivity in the world for her. We wanted to make our own difference and create our own luck. When we started, we were doing this just for our mom, we did not even realize this affected so many other people. As the years moved on and we met more and more families struggling with sarcoma we shifted the focus from our family to their families. Another reason the walk expanded so much was because of our very dedicated volunteers and supporters. Each email they wrote, each post they made on social media made Wendy Walk into the organization it is today. It is because of our committed friends and family telling their friends who told their friends that the organization has grown.
Dealing with the death of a parent can be such a difficult thing to grapple... What were / are some of your coping mechanisms?
I believe that it is important to move through something in order to be able to move on to a better place. For me it helped to talk about my mom and talk about all the ways that she had impacted my life. I decided to think about my mom as still present in my life although she was not physically there. This really enabled me to go on with the knowledge that my mom is guiding me through life. I went to a grief group that met once every two weeks for a year, which was helpful. Reaching out to other’s who had lost parents is what helped me heal the most. Sharing our feelings over mothers day, birthdays, engagements and weddings has been so helpful to me throughout this process.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
The best piece of advice I have ever received is to know when to let go and trust that if I do all the footwork that the results are out of my hands. I also have been told to write down all the things I am fearful about and out of my control in order to clear my head and organize my thoughts, so that I can focus on what I can control.
What do you like most about being a woman?
I like the bond and connection I am able to share with my girlfriends. I feel that being a woman has given me the gift of so many close friendships. I also loved being a daughter and a granddaughter, and all the incredible special and powerful lessons I learned as a granddaughter and daughter in my family I feel lucky to have a sister, and experience the bond of sisterhood as well. I feel that as a woman I can help to carry on my family values and the traditions that are so important to all of us.
What is an ideal woman to you?
An Ideal Woman to me is someone who is sincere, kind, funny, and inclusive.
Who are you currently crushing on?
Growing up I always hoped to be someone who was involved in many different causes, someone who had a large circle of friends, and someone who had a busy career and brought the community together. I learned that from my mom who modeled this behavior every single day for me. She was able to balance family, work, friends, and her own pleasure and enjoyment. She was humble, sincere, and kind and was even able to be vulnerable. She was extremely well educated, but was never condescending or judgmental. She taught me to be passionate, self supporting, compassionate, and above all not to gossip about others. Of course she will always be my ultimate ideal woman.
However, through her I met a woman named Joannie Burstein and she is someone I truly admire. Joannie is a very successful talent manager, although she is humble, down to earth and very easy to talk to. One of the main reasons I admire Joannie is that she has the ability to be a powerful woman, without cutting others down. Her energy and positivity pulsates through her, and she is full of creative ideas and ways of helping other people. I think it would be easy for someone like Joannie to be complacent with her success, and become aloof and distant from young people because she has made it in her career. Joannie is the opposite. She is accessible, willing to teach, to communicate and to help others achieve the success that she has been able to achieve. From spending time with Joannie you can tell that although she works in “Hollywood” she cares more about insides than outside appearances. I admire when someone uses their success to do good and to be a light. Not in a way that is bragging and self serving, but in a way that lifts the people around them up. I feel that Joannie Burstein is an excellent model for working women who are trying to be successful in their careers and in life.
Click here to learn more about Wendy Walk and how to get involved.