On the heels of the Mother Funders season finale airing tonight, I got a chance to catch up with Carla Stephens, the breakout star of Bravo’s new reality series. Carla Stephens is President of her Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) at her son’s school and is described as the perfect blend of a Betty Crocker and a drill sergeant who rules with an iron fist.
Carla dished about the PTO and her charitable efforts serving the community. I was impressed with Madame President’s top-notch professionalism and business acumen. Read our interview below:
How did the reality show originate? Were the current ladies also PTO members prior to the show?
Carla: What is really amazing about Mother Funders is the concept and internal workings were already happening prior to the cameras rolling. Serving on the Parent teacher organization is something I have done since 2008. Through the years I have worked on several PTO’s to integrate the concept of making fundraising for children a serious matter. The goal was to make good memories for children while fundraising and in my opinion children deserve memories laced in bling and everything nice. With that being said, the network heard about my work with the PTO and a mutual decision was made that people needed to know about the work parents do to be involved in their children’s lives. I am not only talent on the show, but the consulting producer, which was an amazing opportunity to expose the work of parent teacher organizations and to hopefully encourage parents to get involved.
In previous years, all but one of the Mother Funders moms were involved PTO members at my youngest son’s school, however not all had served on the executive board. The other mom was active in the community serving our children in various ways. Prior to the show a few of us were elected board members of the PTO board at my son’s school and the rest were appointed to the board. As for our super volunteers, they have been around the school for years serving the students and staff.
After the premiere episode aired, the Henry County Schools temporarily dissolved the PTO. How did that impact you and the PTO?
Carla: The county disallowed the PTO in my son’s school, which means they basically said we do not want an organized voice of parents serving to raise funds, to create culture, to recognize and reward our teachers and students and so many other things that PTO’s provide to a school system. The impact on me personally in that particular school is nothing compared to the parents that remain at the school, because parents have the right to organize their voice and contribute to education in a less controlled manner. When the decision was made to disallow the PTO at that particular school, a new President and board had been elected and confirmed and I cannot imagine nor speak on the impact this had on them.
The impact on me personally was and is devastating because that was not the goal of this endeavor. When I started this adventure I received every endorsement required and I was given permission to proceed by my administrators.. I am still not completely sure as to why things ended the way that they did, but I have to believe the county did what they believed was best for all that was involved. However, I am deeply saddened for the parents and students who are still puzzled as to the reason, especially since the newly elected and confirmed board members were not involved with Mother Funders.
You’re extremely passionate and you don’t accept failure. That passion is sometimes misconstrued. How do you handle misconceptions about yourself?
Carla: Misconceptions form out of faulty thinking or understanding, it is a fact of life and reality television. I have spent many years doing the work that is required to be me and a part of that work includes knowing how to reject opinions and faulty thinking that does not belong to me. My mantra in life is, “Knowing Who You are Helps You Reject Who You are Not.” I know who I am so I have developed the ability to reject who I am not. It is extremely important to one’s self-esteem to know and understand that some people will not get nor understand your strengths and weaknesses. One must understand that some people will not have compassion for your weaknesses nor joy over your strengths, this is why we must become our own biggest and best fan and learn how to self-heal when needed.
You’ve done extensive charity work, including counseling exotic dancers. What does your philanthropy with the dancers entail?
Carla: Going into the Exotic clubs to be a resource to other women is another area in which I am passionate about. We all are able to transition in life because of the resources made available to us. I simply take those resources for transition into the clubs to those who want to transition physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally and any area that one may need assistance with. I completely understand that not every woman in the club wants nor needs my assistance, but I love the sisterhood that is often formed. It is that sisterhood that allows me to just go sometimes to be a sounding board for them or just to pray with them over everyday things like children, relationships and finances.
What can viewers expect from the season finale of Mother Funders, airing on Sunday, August 9?
Carla: The finale episode features one of the biggest Mother Funding events and is sure to be filled with glamour and dramour! Unfortunately, a pretty dress and fancy decor can only do so much and are no guarantee that your event will be drama free. While I do not have full knowledge of what the viewers will see, I can say, they will not be disappointed with all the elements involved in this episode.
So what’s next for the breakout star of Mother Funders?
Carla: Viewers will have to tune in tonight for more direct details, however I can provide a sneak peek into some of the things I am working on beyond the PTO. I plan to focus now more than ever on giving back and connecting every area of my lifestyle to giving back. I also plan to continue developing my not-for-profit, Moms and Dads Who Fundraise, Inc. so that I can continue to raise funds for education in a less restrictive manner. I have had so many people reach out to me to assist them with fundraising and event planning for all types of organizations, I even have another county wanting me to come and work with their PTO. A few large companies have reached out to partner with me for national and global fundraising opportunities that will give back to children and young girls. I am extremely blessed by the doors that have opened but I am most excited that I get to be the mom of Evan and Ryan Stephens and the wife of Jesse Stephens.
Don’t miss the season finale of Mother Funders, airing tonight on Bravo at 10:00 pm ET.