|The Magnificent Deborah Brooks|
I thought it only appropriate to begin a new Den series by setting a high bar. Meet Deborah Brooks. She's the co-founder of the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Attentive Den readers across six continents (and counting) may recall a post on my favorite movie experience: The English Patient with two charming ladies I'd only known a couple of months. Deborah was one of those charming ladies. Our great mutual friend "Loveable Linda" was the other charmer.
|Delightful Deborah (on right) vamping at a MJF Foundation fundraiser.|
Our Mrs. Brooks is one of the most extraordinary people I've ever met and hers is a story that must be told. The Den's modus operandi is to tell these stories of wonderful people (especially women) that are smart, talented, stand for all the right things, make good things happen, and offer a shining example of a well-lived life. Unbeknownst to Delightful Deborah, she also offered a painful reminder that if a man has the capacity to do great things then he should do great things.
|My Favorite Movie experience of all time remains seeing The English Patient |
with Delightful Deborah and Loveable Linda.
Prior to revolutionizing the philanthropic community, Deborah was a star at Goldman Sachs for 9 years but knew the demands of that lifestyle would never allow her to achieve what was far more important than material wealth. She left Goldman Sachs to return to graduate school, got a 2nd master's degree and entered the non-profit world. She was on the cusp of her late 30s and desired to get married and have children. She had an unusual upbringing with an absentee father and bohemian mother and I gathered she felt like the only grown-up in the family even as a young girl. She wanted to provide a loving stable home to children and marry a man who would be a devoted husband and father.
Soon after we saw The English Patient, we had a standing 'date' that we'd go see a movie together on Sunday afternoons-just the two of us. I vividly recall that I was starting to fall for Deborah and there was this moment when we were watching a charming little movie she picked, Love Jones, and the time was coming when I either was going to act on my romantic inclinations or forever hold my peace. During the movie, our shoulders touched creating a frisson of excitement and moment of truth that had my mind racing. I quickly did a self-assessment that could only lead to the painful conclusion that I was unworthy of such a wonderful woman and my duty should be to make sure a piece of garbage like me never wastes her time. With my shoulder making a shame-faced retreat, I resolved to help Deborah find someone worthy.
|Moment of truth. Charming little movie during which GSL came to a painful realization.|
Deborah later moved to Boston to run the Harvard Eating Disorders Clinic and we talked regularly by phone and she always told me of the new men in her life and wanted to hear my perspective. After a couple of years of meeting men that weren't quite what she was looking for, she phoned to tell me of this new guy she kind of liked. She called back after she had a wonderful day with him on a clam dig and wanted my perspective. After several minutes of penetrating GSL cross-exam, I told her: "He's The One Delightful Deborah! No guy is going to kill a day clam-digging with a gal if he's not dead serious."
He was The One. He's still The One. Mr & Mrs. Brooks soon thereafter got married. After a couple of years of trying to have children of their own, they adopted two beautiful sisters and have provided a stable, loving home and perform the highest calling there is...to nurture and instruct young children.
The day Goldman Sachs went public was a huge business story as it was the largest IPO in history. Partners would net at least $100 million each. From everybody I've talked to at Goldman Sachs, Deborah was certainly on a Partner track. We shared a giggle over what she walked away from but I think she made the deal of a lifetime.
I ended that phone call just like I always do by saying "Some day Deborah, I'm going to make you proud of me..."
That day has finally drawn near.
Happy Birthday Deborah!!!