The Gift of Intergenerational
Conversations and Connections
Kate Jerome (DCI 2015) is an award-winning children’s book author and senior publishing executive who believes in the power of meaningful conversations. So much so, she used her DCI Fellowship year to research the benefits of intergenerational communication which led to her co-founding Little Bridges, an innovative company that designs family activities that both entertain and encourage special moments of connection that shape young minds and strengthen the bonds between generations.
Children’s book author and publishing executive Kate Jerome’s career has always been about communication. First as a high school biology teacher, then as a science publisher, Kate crafted programs and products that helped millions of kids develop their science and literacy skills. But that, according to Kate, was just the beginning.
Growing up in a small town in Northeastern Ohio, Kate says she was always surrounded by supportive family and friends. However, she remembers a casual conversation with her grandmother that had a particular impact. “Nana told me that I could be anything I wanted to be…and, although I’d heard that before, she said it with such conviction and empathy that I believed those words for the very first time” says Kate.
The power of that intergenerational conversation stuck with Kate. And, as she continued to develop her award-winning books for kids, she expanded her own definition of literacy to include communication.
“It eventually became obvious to me that reading opens doors for kids, but it’s conversation that gives them the courage to go through them” Kate says.
Determined to encourage both literacy and conversations, Kate turned her attention toward developing book series that encouraged conversations between kids and their favorite adults. Then, in 2015, Kate accepted a year-long fellowship as part of the inaugural cohort of Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute–an experience that Kate says was “life-changing.”
During her fellowship, Kate discovered Stanford’s Center on Longevity. Part of the Center’s work involved research on the benefits of intergenerational connections. Because of her experience in the field, Kate was invited to be part of the team that shaped the Center’s monograph called Hidden in Plain Sight: How Intergenerational Relationships Can Transform Our Future. Immersing herself in the research was the key to unlocking Kate’s enthusiasm for more.
Whenever she found an opportunity to mentor students on Stanford campus, Kate volunteered. “Mentoring is such a two way street,” she contends, “and its true value is only found through conversations that benefit both the mentor and mentee.”
When her fellowship was complete, Kate did a TedX talk on the value of intergenerational connections and accepted a position as President of Insight Editions, a publisher known for its award-winning pop culture books, collectibles, and art and nature conservation titles. Working with a widely diverse age range of individuals was a tremendous opportunity for Kate to apply practical applications in an intergenerational workplace.
All of this experience ultimately led Kate to co-found a new company called Little Bridges which creates entertaining activity kits and products that inspire meaningful dialogues between family members.
And Kate is thrilled with the result. All of the products in the Little Bridges line have won awards, including a Toy Insider and several Mom’s Choice awards.
“It’s so gratifying to translate cutting-edge research into practical products that benefit kids and families in so many ways!”
Not surprising, Kate credits her DCI experience for helping her bring mentoring and advising front and center in her life which keeps her connected with the people and causes she believes in.
Kate enjoys meeting with her young readers.
Kate with her favorite beta tester, her grandaughter Lily!
Kate is currently a Director Emerita of the South Carolina Aquarium where she actively promotes ocean conservation. She is also a former Board member and current Advisor for Reading Partners, a program dedicated to helping children master essential reading skills. As an Ambassador for the Stanford Center on Longevity’s New Map of Life program, she promotes the importance of reimagining life in the 21st century and beyond. At the University of Chicago, Kate lends her expertise as an Executive Mentor for the Leadership and Society Initiative to help Fellows explore various pathways for driving social impact. She also fosters future global change-makers as a Social Innovation Coach for the Dalai Lama Fellows.
A staunch advocate for STEM, Kate is in the process of launching a new children’s book series on ocean conservation for elementary students. OceanX Adventures, which is being done in collaboration with the Dalio Foundation’s nonprofit internationally renowned OceanX initiative.
Kate says “DCI reminded me that we all have the freedom to explore new ideas in new ways—you don’t have to stick to any one path just because it’s what you’ve always done. And once you internalize that notion, there is no limit to what you can do.”
That’s why Kate is hard at work on her first novel for adults.
And you can just bet “the farm” that intergenerational connections will be part of the storyline!
To learn more about Kate’s ventures, visit her website at katejerome.com