Being prepared to make crucial shifts in life are critical to success, whether in a child’s life or as an adult. Adam Nugent speaks with Kim Fischer, vice president of communication and national spokesperson for the nonprofit organization Waterford. Together, they discuss her time as a local TV anchor, how Waterford helps children across the nation prepare for kindergarten and beyond, as well as her personal story of overcoming childhood abuse to live a fulfilling life.
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Kim Fischer is an award-winning journalist, author, and influencer. In this podcast excerpt, she talks with Adam Nugent about her work with Waterford, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young children with learning, and shares of her most meaningful news stories.
AN: Tell us about Waterford.
KF: Waterford is awesome. It’s an education nonprofit that looks to help children from pre-K all the way up through sixth grade, and our basis is literacy. We really try to get children from that crucial shift of learning to read, to reading, to learning. So we work in the school as kind of like a tool for teachers to help them pinpoint areas of difficulty for children. And then they can work with the children with our program to help them grow in those areas.
Then at home, we have the Waterford upstart program, which is done with four year olds a year before they go to kindergarten. And, same thing, we’re a tool here for the parents. Most parents want to help their children learn. They just don’t know exactly how or what that looks like. Our program is 15 minutes of adaptive software that the child uses, but then we give parents a coach.
AN: Awesome. And how long have you been involved with Waterford?
KF: Almost two years.
AN: What was it about it that got you involved in the first place?
KF: Prior to starting with Waterford, I was in television news for 16 years. At the end of my last contract, I was kind of thinking, “Okay, this job, in order to continue to grow, you have to move, go to a different city.” In the seven years that I had been at that station, I had gotten to the point where I was the primary anchor, so there was no room for growth there. I also had met someone and I got married. And he’s not moving. He owns a restaurant, and so I thought, “Okay, well, that’s, that’s just not a viable option for my life now.” I thought, “If I’m going to do something, I want to do something with a nonprofit.” I found myself, especially toward the end of my career, really being focused,more on stories that had to do with women and children and issues that mattered and wanting to make a difference. I saw nonprofit, I saw education, I saw it was local. I saw it was growing. I saw their mission of wanting to help all children succeed. And I said, “Yes, sign me up!” And we just happen to be a really good fit.
AN: Is there a news story or interview during those 16 years that stands out in your life?
KF: The Kristy Appleby story that I did when I was in San Antonio, Texas, I think is going to rise to the top here because it made the most impact on the community after the fact. Kristy Appleby, unfortunately, was shot and killed by her boyfriend’s ex wife. And she had been trying to file for a protective order against this woman because she was crazy for quite a while.
There was not a law in the state of Texas that said third parties could be protected, so if you were in a relationship, you could be protected, but if you’re a third party outside of the relationship, like a new girlfriend or a new spouse, you couldn’t be protected from that other member. This woman had been harassing Kristy for a while. She showed up at her vet clinic where she worked and shot her.
I was able to meet Kristy’s sister through this process. I grieved right along with them and thought, “There has to be something that we can do.” So, I ended up introducing Kristy’s sister to the district attorney in San Antonio, who then introduced them to legislators who wrote the Kristy Appleby bill. And that year, legislature was just kind of starting to wrap up. And so it didn’t make it all the way through the process, but the next legislature in the state of Texas, they brought it again and it did pass. So now, thanks to the work that the Appleby family did, there’s a law that protects people who are in a relationship with somebody who has an ex that is not exactly all there. It gives me a sense of pride to know that I had a small hand in that.