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Hero of the Heart: Cristina Carlino
Since the earliest days of the organization, Cristina Carlino has been one of Joyful Heart's most vocal and most generous supporters. Reunion editor-at-large Peter Hermann spoke with Cristina about her commitment to the issues and her new plans for her philanthropic pursuits.
PETER HERMANN: You know you’re being honored in this issue of Reunion as the Hero of the Heart—“our hero” being one of our favorite names for you—so to start out, who were your heroes as you were growing up?
CRISTINA CARLINO: I was always attracted, quite frankly, to doctors. We’re going to go back now, but Ben Casey, Marcus Welby, Julia, all those medical dramas in the sixties and seventies. My heroes have always been people who helped people. That remains the same to this day.
PH: Why do you think you turned out to be the person you are?
CC: I would have to say that it’s a combination of things. My parents gave me the gift of faith in God and the reverence that goes with believing that life has a greater meaning. They also taught me compassion, so I think that also found its way into my DNA.
PH: Can you tell me about your journey with philosophy, about the birth of that company, where it has gone and where you are now?
CC: Prior to philosophy, I had a company called BioMedic that sold primarily to physicians, who then dispensed to their patients. But I wanted something more soulful. Philosophy was almost an anti-beauty company. It was about a woman we don’t pay much attention to in the beauty industry, so it attracted people who were committed to the environment, or global issues, or the types of issues that Joyful Heart addresses—real “feelers.”
It’s been a tremendous journey. I sold the company in 2007, and I’ve chosen to pursue things that I think are going to be more compatible with who I am today, less of a leader and more of a cheerleader for people who are doing tremendous good in this world.
PH: Not everyone sells companies and then decides to dedicate their lives to helping other people succeed. Can you tell me about how you ended up taking that path?
CC: I guess I feel called, very much the way Mariska was called to do what she’s doing. I feel like it’s something I know I can do. I am extremely clear on my limitations, which is why I choose not to sit on boards or get myself completely immersed. I try to take more of a visionary, strategic, outside role with the nonprofits I’ve worked with and ask, “What can I do with my particular set of skills to help this cause?” I just want to help people who are really putting themselves out on that limb. And I don’t put myself out on a limb, by the way. That’s why I so admire people who do.
PH: That’s where [your charity network] Project Miracle comes in, right?
CC: Exactly. It’s really just about supporting others. Whenever I see a person, I’ll think, “Okay, what product would be compatible with this person? What marketing platform makes sense for this person?” When I think of Mariska, I think of her as a mother, and that’s what the Changing Room project for Joyful Heart is about. She’s already been captured as an actress and as an activist. I wanted to capture her as a mother.
PH: You’ve talked about how you’re motivated by a desire to help people. Have there been moments on your journey that have frustrated you?