How old are your kids and how long have you lived in Westport? I have two amazing kids – Geralyn is 7 and Colton is 6. Added to this human mix is an equally amazing English Goldendoodle, Blaze, who’s only 1 year old. We’ve lived in Westport for the past two years.
How did you end up where you are now in terms of your job, or whatever passion project it is you might be doing? I lost my mother to ovarian cancer in 1999, when I was 19 years old. She had vague signs and symptoms for years but they were dismissed not only by her, but unfortunately by her doctors as well. Ovarian cancer is known as “the disease that whispers” because the symptoms are so subtle that they are easily dismissed. Although my mother fought valiantly, she lost her life to ovarian cancer at the young age of 46, just 6 years after her diagnosis. In 2018, I had the great good fortune of meeting Dr. Elena Ratner of the Yale University School of Medicine who became a close friend and partner in the fight against ovarian cancer. We could see that there were missing links in the current ability to detect this disease in the early stages. Specifically, there’s a lack of understanding on the part of healthcare providers about the relationships between ovarian cancer and family history, genetics, and other cancers such as breast and colon. Healthcare providers are also too often dismissive of those subtle symptoms of ovarian cancer that patients bring to their attention. Which means that by the time patients are finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the disease has progressed to the late stage, when prognosis is very poor. Dr Ratner and I co-founded a foundation to educate the non-oncologic healthcare providers about detection strategies for ovarian and breast cancers. It’s known as MAT Designation and is named after my late mother, Marilyn Ann T. It was a very special time building this organization together and was quite the feat for two career mammas working to build a not-for-profit from the ground up by night after we had finished our day jobs. In the summer of 2020, my working world and my personal mission world converged when I accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer of Aspira Women’s Health, a public company focused on early detection of gynecological disease, beginning with ovarian cancer.
What was your best memory from 2020, a strange year we know…I loved the time with my children and the wonderful simplicity that became our lives for a year. For as difficult a time as it was, I truly cherished the time at home with them and enjoyed our downtime together so much. We became huge board game fans, chefs, bakers, and crafters. Life has always moved so fast since their births, and there has been something beautiful about slowing down, breathing, and appreciating——which is what 2020 has taught us. I like to think that we will take these lessons learned—-not just the new skills we’ve acquired, but the ability to slow down and appreciate life—-into 2021 and beyond.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022? I hope to begin traveling with my children internationally next year! There is so much I want them to see and explore and would love to make up for the lost traveling due to the pandemic. We have our wall map and pins ready to go, and as soon as things are relatively safe, we will begin our global adventures.
What’s your favorite app right now- for you- and for your kids? Ha! Amazon, of course 😊
What is one food you could not live without? One! Only one?!? Well, in that case, it would have to be….chocolate. But right behind that is cheese, sushi, and sourdough bread.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?I am relatively introverted…shocking to most as I spend my days out in front and talking. I love being with people, but look forward to recharging in a good book, writing, or just quietly relaxing. I spend most of my days talking and sometimes it’s absolutely refreshing to enjoy those comforting quiet moments and stillness. Im not a TV watcher and relish in the peace and quiet, at the start and the end of the days.
If you had 24 hours to do whatever you wanted to do, what would it be?I would soak up every minute I possibly could with my children, transport us to Italy, and have the most amazing day exploring the streets of Florence together….eating way too much pasta and gelato!
What was your most memorable family vacation and why? We loved our week in Turks and Caicos this summer. It was so much fun being with them on the island, snorkeling, boating, and taking in the beautiful beaches together. I have so much fun with my kids. They are amazing souls and such a ball of fun. I feel like any vacation with them is a blast, but this one was most memorable and special for us.
Are you a morning person, or a night owl? How does sleep fit into your life right now? These days, I feel like I am both! I love the quietness of the early mornings and late evenings and try to ensure I capture both when I have the energy to do both. I find that these times are both regenerative and key to letting my mind relax and explore new possibilities for my family, for work, for society and life in general.
What is the first thing you do when you walk in the door after a long day? Walk in the door….you mean come downstairs? Ah, the COVID days. I have loved working from home and getting to run down and snuggle my kids when they are home in the morning and afternoons. Best gift of COVID is the time with family and friends that has increased. As well as the gift of realizing how special these moments are and how we must appreciate and cherish them.
Who in your life was – or is – the greatest inspiration for what you’re doing today? My mother is definitely my greatest inspiration. My Aunt Pat is my rock and someone I admire implicitly. And Erin, my friend from grade school, is not only an inspiration, but the sister I never had. It is hard to believe that we have been friends for so many decades and continue to grow closer together. They inspire me, motivate me, and energize me. My idol, and the one person I wish I could have met and been friends with Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I absolutely adore her and all she did to progress society in an elegant way.
QUICK THIS OR THAT:
Cake or Pie? Cake
At a movie: Candy or Popcorn? Candy
Pancakes or Waffles? Pancakes
Iced Coffee or Hot Coffee? Iced
Beach or Mountains? Beach
Puzzle or Board Game? Board game
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Reading or writing? I love both!
Ketchup or mustard? Ketchup
Watch or play sports? Play (TV is my LEAST favorite thing!)
Winter or summer? Summer
Comedy or Drama? Drama
MORE ABOUT KAILE + HER MISSION:
- Mother of Geralyn (7), Colton(6) and Blaze (1) English Goldendoodle
- Warrior for Women and Children
- Greenwich, CT Town Hero
- Co – Founder and CEO of the Foundation, MAT Designation
- Chief Operating Officer, Aspira Women’s Health
- Recipient of Two Proclamations Awarded by the 1st Selectman of Greenwich
- Noted “Top 10 COO” of 2021 in Healthcare
- Transformational and Inspirational Leader
- Private Equity Advisor, Board Member & Public Speaker
- Volunteer and Advocate in the fight against Domestic Violence and Coercive Control
- Committed to the mitigation of late stage detection of Ovarian Cancer
MEET Kaile Zagger–mother, friend, advocate for women and children, business executive, Westport resident, community volunteer, and, thanks to these last 18 months of Covid-19, a much better baker (and eater!), board game pro, and crafter, but most importantly, a much more appreciative person of the blessings in life. And while I may not be able to maintain that “pro” status in regards to baking, crafting, and playing board games, she and her children are “pros” at being appreciative of the people in our lives, fighting for a greater society and progression for humanity as a whole.
It’s really the “who” rather than the “what” that’s important in all our lives. The people we hold dear, family and friends. And that’s what leads us to do what we do, whether it’s fighting for a cause, working for a company that’s making a difference in the world, volunteering to help others, raising a family, supporting our friends. Especially during this pandemic and of course, beyond. Kaile believes strongly in working to leave this world a better place than she found it and lives her days trying to do just that. Her children are her world, in fact it is rare to meet an executive until now, that prioritizes her children above everything else.
“I am the lucky one. Geralyn and Colton are such an incredible gift in my life. They are two wonderful souls and it is truly the pleasure of a lifetime getting walk this journey of life with them.”
Many people don’t realize that women worldwide have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not just in terms of their families, but in terms of work. Although the 21st century has seen many women finally shattering those glass ceilings—-and there’s still much more “shattering” that must be done—we, unfortunately, may lose that momentum. It’s been said that 1 in 4 women is considering leaving the workforce or downshifting her career. Especially affected are minority women and women in senior management. It’s imperative that companies revamp ‘business as usual’ in order to achieve gender parity in education, family planning, women’s health, and digital and financial inclusion. This is a goal that all of us—women and men— can surely get behind. If we don’t, we risk a gender regression scenario that could impact GDP by almost one trillion dollars by 2030. “My children and I often talk about this together and I am so inspired by their overwhelming desire to help people and make a difference in this world.”
“It has been a difficult road. Losing my mother at a young age to a horrific disease like Ovarian Cancer was traumatic and something one never truly recovers from. With very little support and resource, following her death, it was really up to me to try and make something of life. Life is competitive and difficult. I have learned so much through mostly, my failures. I understand the hardships facing women and girls, especially in the face of the pandemic, and want to help. Access to healthcare has been compressed, domestic violence has increased, womens careers are at risk and are being driven to poverty at accelerated rates. I have faced many of these situations in my life and understand the devastation. I also understand that you can pull yourself up and out of anything with enough strength, the right support system and belief that you can do it. We are in a difficult time and I am hopeful that the trials and tribulations of my life can lend hope to those that are suffering. You can and you will rise above – anything is possible with hard work, belief and a plan.”
“I’m inspired by not only my mother and her valiant but ultimately unsuccessful fight against ovarian cancer, but by women everywhere. We really are a “family” of women. It doesn’t matter our age, our color, our religious and cultural beliefs, our economic status—we really are in this all together. And by “this” I mean leading a productive and caring life, whether it’s evidenced by the work we do, the families we raise, the causes we embrace. Women need to support each other and by so doing, we can initiate great changes.”