We’re thrilled to introduce Jen Russey—Director of Communications for YWCA Darien/Norwalk and a New Canaan mom of two busy teenagers. In addition to her role at the YWCA, Jen has been very involved with organizations like the Newcomers Club and NCHS Theatre Department. When she’s not on a sports sideline during the weekends, Jen and her family like to explore Waveny Park and enjoy the many dining options in town. Read more about Jen and her go-to places in the area.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two kids—my daughter Avery is 16 and my son Alex is 13.
What brought you and your family to New Canaan?
We were living in New York, and we came to New Canaan for an Irish dance competition for my daughter. It was hosted by Harney-Pender-Keady Academy. The owners Erin and Kathleen live in Darien. We had dinner at Solé after, and my husband and I fell in love with the town. We moved here a couple of years later.
What’s the best part about being part of the community?
Everyone is so welcoming! I joined the Newcomers Club of New Canaan the year we moved here. They have a Moms with Older Kids group (MOKS) that I made so many great friends through, and it was so much fun to be involved.
Tell us about your role at the YWCA Darien/Norwalk and some of the important initiatives that you have underway?
I’m Director of Communications overseeing PR & marketing and managing social media and website development. I’m currently working with our Advocacy Team on our 14-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge that starts on February 22nd. I am super excited to be part of this initiative, and of being part of the YWCA. It’s an organization of strong, diverse women committed to building better communities. The YWCA takes the issues that are gripping our nation and our community very seriously.
What other local organizations are you involved in?
I always try to help whenever I’m asked, and I’ve done a lot of different things. I really enjoyed being on the Newcomers Board and helping out with the last Holiday House Tour. Currently I’m the sponsorship chair for the NCHS Theatre Department, and I love helping sew costumes for the show.
What’s your favorite family activity to do in the area?
Wandering Waveny Park in any season. We live on the south side and love walking into town for brunch. My kids are involved in lots of different things, so I’m usually on a sideline or in an audience on weekends when it’s not Covid. We love to play paddle tennis. It’s a great winter activity.
Favorite band, book, tv show…
Band: My daughter and I are total Swifties (Taylor Swift fans). We’ve been to four of her tours together. It’s been a great way to bond and have fun over the years.
Book: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (I heard her speak at the Darien Literary Luncheon a few years ago) was really good and I think it’s a must read for everyone; it’s historic and very timely.
TV: My husband and I have binged so much TV this year! Our favorites were Ozarks, The Crown, Undoing, Bridgerton and Outlander. I’m a Bachelor Nation fan too.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
To laugh as much as possible, and stay as present in the day-to-day moments because the time flies. Each stage of motherhood is so different, but they are all awesome. My daughter just got her license and that’s been life changing.
Elm is perfect for date nights. As a family, we love going out to dinner together. South End is our birthday dinner go-to. We love Ramen, especially at either Miyuki or Mecha Noodle Bar in Norwalk. I just had dinner at the newly opened Backend and it was awesome. It’s such a great addition to town. I love all the outdoor dining and hope it stays.
Grab a drink with friends:
Uncorked in New Canaan for fresh margaritas and guac.
Have a date night:
Elm is our date night go too.
Spend time together as a family:
Walks and lunch at Grace Farms, spending a few hours the ropes course at Adventure Park, retail therapy at SONO mall and day trips into NYC.
TOGS is my go-to for dresses and She la la for statement earrings. I love Found—they have a really nice mix of new and vintage items. The Glass House Design Store is great for gifts. Darien Sport Shop is so convenient and one-stop shopping for all of us.
Michelle Oda at Hair on Hope is my go-to for highlights and Belle Visage for mani/pedi’s. Calme for Infrared Sauna sessions, especially in the winter. It’s so relaxing and I always have the best night’s sleep after.
The Adirondack Store has an awesome coffee bar. You feel like you’re on a ski vacation in there.