Kaye Popofsky Kramer
Kaye Popofsky Kramer founded Step Up Women’s Network and currently sits on the national board of directors of the nonprofit membership organization that helps women and girls reach their potential.
Step Up, which began in Kaye’s living room in 1998, is now one of the most sought-after women’s groups in the nation and reaches 50,000 supporters through its networking, professional development, and teen mentorship programs.
Kaye began her career as a talent agent at United Talent Agency, working with talent such as Renee Zellweger and Jim Carey. She segued into production as an executive with Interscope Pictures, serving as associate producer on the award-winning film Kissing Jessica Stein.
Kaye also enjoyed time as head of new business development for Kaufman Patricof Enterprises and as vice president of marketing and new business development at Load Media Network, Inc. As the vice president of online research for Nielsen’s NRG, she launched and supervised the growth of NRG’s online research competency.
She added entrepreneur to her impressive resume in 2004, when she co-founded Nurseryworks, a Los Angeles-based furnishings firm that celebrates the younger generation and design-savvy parents with modern furniture, bedding, and accessories. In five short years, she grew distribution to 300 domestic stores and 12 countries.
In 2010, Kaye sold Nurseryworks to Million Dollar Baby.
Kaye earned her bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Jeremy, and their three children.
Step Up Women’s Network: What made you decide to start Step Up Women’s Network?
Kaye Popofsky Kramer: In the summer of 1998, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being the first in my circle of friends, or so I thought, to be faced with losing a parent to this disease, a group of 30 women gathered in my living room to give their support and talk about what we could do to help in the fight against breast cancer.
It became clear from the dialogue that whether or not the disease had directly affected us each, we all felt the need to take a more proactive role in our community, our wellness, our professional lives and our personal dedication to making a difference. It was time for us to take action and create an entity that could impact our future — and Step Up Women’s Network was born.
Ironically, I was diagnosed with an early breast cancer myself last month. I am so lucky to have caught it early. It serves as a reminder of the importance of community and a network of support.
SUWN: What is Step Up Women’s Network working on right now?
KK:Now in our 14th year of service to women and girls, Step Up Women’s Network is focused on our after-school programming that helps underserved girls become confident, college-bound and career-ready.
SUWN: How do you bring ideas to life?
KK: Step Up is fortunate to have passionate women serving on its board of directors in each of our cities of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. These board members, along with our staff, bring about new ideas by consensus-building with enthusiasm. With our mission constantly on our mind, we’re always willing to try new ideas that will benefit our teen girls.
SUWN: What has been the most rewarding part of creating and building Step Up Women’s Network?
KK: I never would have guessed that what began as a meeting of my closest friends and colleagues would turn into a national movement! In both the Class of 2010 and 2011, all of our Step Up seniors nationally graduated high school and enrolled in college this fall. We’re expecting the same results this school year.
SUWN: What has been your greatest challenge and how have you overcome it?
KK: As ambitious professional women, we always want to fundraise more, grow faster and serve more girls. I always challenge us to stay focused on our mission and do everything we can to make progress each day.
SUWN: What inspires you?
KK: The girls we serve! Step Up teens have experienced extreme hardships – from homelessness, to violence, to abuse. Yet once they enter our empowerment programs, they are drawn to the warmth and generosity of our professional women mentors and inspired by the possibility that they one day could be like them. Our mentors believe in the teens, and that belief inspires confidence and ambitious college and career goals.
SUWN: What do you enjoy doing most during your “spare” time?
KK: I love spending time with my family, which includes three young children – they keep me busy and on-the-go!