Occupation: My husband Steve and I own The Dojo Karate Training Center in Newtown and Connecticut Martial Arts in Danbury. My son, Jared, who is a fourth-degree black belt, is running The Dojo in Newtown. I have been involved in martial arts for 27 years and have been teaching for more than 25 years. It has been an amazing journey. I am a Pan American Gold Medalist, a Goodwill Games Gold Medalist, and I have competed and traveled all over the world for martial arts. My family and I have trained in Korea, Thailand, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, and Canada. Our students are what drive us to be the best teachers possible. We always want to try to inspire our students and lead them by example. Right now we have a strong group of students who are competing and winning on the national circuit. We love our students, and their success becomes our success and joy. There’s nothing else like leading others and having students move in a positive direction. We always aim to bring out their full potential.
Family: My son Jared is very passionate about competing in the martial arts. He was a Pan American Gold Medalist, too, and at a very young age. My daughter Gabrielle was Miss Teen Connecticut 2016. She is currently ranked third in the world for Creative Forms after creating a form of martial art techniques. She also won a silver medal in Ireland this past January for creative form and for traditional form. My husband Steve and I got married on South Beach. Every year we go back to celebrate, and every year I wear my same wedding dress. I had my dress cut knee length, so now it is a cocktail dress.
Pets: Although Steve isn’t really into having pets, my bunny Oreo has definitely grown on him. She is the cutest, floppy-eared bunny ever.
How long have you worked in Newtown? In March we opened The Dojo in Newtown. We are fairly new to the Newtown area, but we absolutely love this town. My son plans on buying his first home in Newtown as soon as he is able to.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love being with my family. The funny thing, is that even in our free time we usually spend a huge part of it doing something martial arts related. I always say I don’t work, I play for a living. I am truly appreciative and thankful I can make a living out of what I love.
Do you have a favorite book? No Ordinary Moments by Dan Millman. Although I went to New York City for a master’s degree in speech pathology, I stayed true to my passion for martial arts. The book helped me decide which path to follow. Once I took on martial arts as a profession, I never looked back.
What is your favorite travel destination? It would have to be Thailand. My favorite part being there was walking the beach to get to my training center. It is a beautiful place to visit. My stepdaughter, who owns Kick Fit in Ridgefield, even went to Thailand on her honeymoon.
What is the best part about Newtown? The people! From our students to local business owners to the people we have met in passing, everyone has been so kind and welcoming. We all feel at home when we are in Newtown. It is a beautiful town with beautiful people. An example is the Learning Experience in the next plaza over from The Dojo. This amazing day care center had us come in and do a special theme day with the children. What a great facility with amazing staff.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My mother. She is always reaching out to help others, whether it’s feeding the homeless or helping a friend, she is always helping those in need. She is the most selfless person I know.
Who is your favorite musical artist? My daughter, Gabrielle. She sings like an angel. She recently made her first music video combining her two passions: singing and martial arts.
What is something you cannot live without? Training. Whether it’s teaching a class or taking a class. I love working on myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is a never-ending process of improvement.