When we look for moms who can recommend their parenting essentials for this here Momsessed column, we often turn to celebrities. They do get access to the coolest things, after all. But this week, we wanted to go in a different direction and highlight a mom whose name you may not recognize, but whose work — raising billions of dollars for children’s health care and research — we are all thankful for. Emily Callahan is the chief marketing and experience Officer for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; that is, when she isn’t driving her kids to games and sports practice.
We’re so grateful Callahan had a minute to share her favorite books, the healthy snacks she feeds her kids, and her skincare secrets, as it’s a pretty exciting time for St. Jude and ALSAC. She’s behind the scenes of Inspiration4, the first-ever all-civilian mission to space, set to launch later this year. Mission commander Jared Isaacman, the CEO of Shift4 Payments, is taking along three other civilians to raise awareness and money for St. Jude’s. His first announced crew member is Hayley Arceneaux, a former cancer patient at St. Jude who is now a physician’s assistant at the hospital.
Back here on Earth (Memphis, to be precise), Callahan will be managing her inspiring work along with raising daughter Emerson, 11, and son Jennings, 8, with husband Jason. Here are some of the products, services, and pastimes that make her mission all come together.
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The podcast I have on repeat
When it comes to podcasts, I veer down two paths: self-care and true crime. For the former, one must-listen is Unlocking Us from Brené Brown, whose data-meets-humanity perspective I’ve be drawn to since I first learned about her work. On the flip side, when I need something to escape into for long drives, there’s nothing like a riveting cold case, true crime podcast like Serial, S-Town, or White Lies. As a storyteller, I appreciate that these podcasts specifically provide robust context about the time, place and people involved.
The books my kids are obsessed with
My son, Jennings, likes the time-traveling world of the Magic Treehouse series. My daughter, Emerson, is into the Wells & Wong detective series, which is a bit intentional on my part in that it exposes her to two strong, smart, school-aged female protagonists as they solve mysteries at their boarding school.
What I’m currently reading myself
A favorite for parenting guidance that I keep within arm’s reach is Screamfree Parenting by Hal Runkle, who also wrote the Self-Centered Marriage. Both books feature the same smart principles but applied in totally different ways. I also can’t recommend enough Untangled by Lisa Damour, PhD, for insights and guidance around pre-teen and teen girl behavior. I recently finished Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, two social-justice books that resonate personally as well. (I’m proud of the inclusion and equity roots of St. Jude as the first integrated children’s hospital in the South.) I’m also a big fiction fan, and just read and loved The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, which whisked me away to Victorian England. It’s not quite Bridgerton, but it was a lot of fun.
The snacks I always keep on hand for the kids
When they aren’t snacking on red bell peppers or apples, the store-bought snacks that hit the spot for them with flavor (and for me with nutrition) are Chocolate Mint Zone Bars and Chocolate Brownie Clif Kids ZBars. I’m also not sure when or if we’ll ever outgrow the utility of Organic Goldfish Lunch Packs.
The beauty product I never leave the house without
Cetaphil face lotion. More than makeup, I’m big into skincare. It was recommended by my dermatologist, and I like that it’s safe for kids as well. I also swear by Cetaphil soaps for the same reasons.
The apps that make my life as a parent easier
Amazon and Target apps are the go-to for school projects, kids’ costumes, and generally last-minute needs. I appreciate that the Target app is tied to Shipt, which I also use for grocery deliveries. Like many parents, I also rely on the YouTube Kids app for safe programming.
The parenting accounts I love to follow
When it comes to gorgeous family and fashion life goals, I check in with Khadeen Ellis who is one of the most down to earth and funniest moms I have the honor of knowing, thanks to her amazing work as a St. Jude ambassador.
The non-screen activity that keeps my kids occupied for hours
Sports! Both are such great athletes, and my husband and I love and support their drive. They both play competitive softball/baseball and soccer, as well as basketball when in season and safe to do so. That means we can be busy nearly every night of the week and most weekends with their sports, but we don’t mind as long as they are loving it.
The TV shows I actually enjoy watching with my kids
You’ll find us at home screaming together as a family at sports on TV. We love to watch live sports events together (Go Memphis Grizzlies! Go Baylor!). We also work hard to find family-friendly movies beyond cartoons, especially ones with a good life lesson or sports themed. My daughter and I are also loving watching The Vampire Diaries together.
The kid-friendly music I don’t hate playing
We love our Alexa at home and Sirius in the car and play a wide variety of music — except for anything with too-explicit lyrics. On any given car ride, you might find us all rapping along to Missy Elliot or singing to Garth Brooks. I’m guessing at some point when they are older, they aren’t going to think this is cool, but for now I am cherishing these fun, carefree moments.
My favorite subscriptions for the kids (and me)
The Raddish Kids cooking box was gifted to us, and we have so much fun digging into it. I‘m a long-time Stitch Fix subscriber, and the kids, who love fashion and shoes too, are interested in trying Stitch Fix for Kids. But 90 percent of their life is spent either in school uniforms or sports clothes. It’s on the list to try next!
The skin-care and bath products my kids love to use
It’s funny, because our friends make fun of us for being super clean people — all four of us. Our shower product game is strong, from CeraVe and Cetaphil again because they both my kids had tough skin issues as babies. Also Theraplex products, which saved us when they were small, with Aquaphor used as a back up. Also everyone loves a good bath bomb by Buff City Soap, which is a local Memphis maker. And my daughter, who has long, beautiful hair loves Raw Sugar hair masque.
The clothing brands my kids love
For boys and men’s swimsuits, I count on eco brand Fair Harbor, especially since my son was having terrible rashes with other brands. ASOS, Lulus, and H&M are solid options for my daughter, as she’s growing into women’s sizes, and the accessible and trendy offerings give us more options in extra small to try out.
How I keep my wardrobe on point
I love fashion, but I don’t spend a lot on clothes. I like to have fun and mix it up. I live for a good Target find and can’t wait to check out the Levi’s drop, one of my go-to brands for their classic and perfectly fitted denim jackets, but also their longstanding commitment to positive societal change. I just discovered local Memphis chainstitch embroidery designers We Tight Knit, so I’ll reach out to get some of their edgy patches, which would look killer on a jean jacket. I really enjoy my Stitch Fix boxes for fun options too — Margaret M pants and skirts and Pistola pants make work dressing easy. The best jeans for me are AG jeans, which have the perfect amount of stretch (not too much, not too little), sit at the waist, and are manufactured sustainably. I get mine at the adorable Indigo Boutique in Memphis, which also sells some of the coolest shoes — my weakness! — like glitter drenched sneakers from P448. Finally, to know me is to know that no outfit is complete, even a casual one, without statement earrings, usually an edgy metal sculptural design. I’m proud to own several pairs by local Memphis designer and one of the most stylish guys I know, David Quarles. His line IV features museum-worthy pieces that manage to work with an LBD or a white tee-jeans jacket combo!
These celebrity moms make us all feel better when they share the highs and lows of parenting.