Mara James | Passionate About Children’s Mental Health & Wellness

Mara James is the Founder and CEO of The Extraordinary Lives Foundation (ELF). She established ELF to create an awareness around mental health challenges, with a focus on children. She felt there was a need to address the topic to be able to support children suffering from mental health conditions and help them recognize and talk about their emotions. ELF has won several congressional awards

 A High Five for Mental Health Celebration at a Padres game at Petco Park in San Diego.

A High Five for Mental Health Celebration at a Padres game at Petco Park in San Diego.

ELF recently started a national movement in the USA to honor and recognize May as National Mental Health Awareness, as proclaimed in the United States since 1949. The awareness started with the “High Five for Mental Health” celebrations held at Major League Baseball stadiums. ELF formed an alliance with various mental health foundations, as well as CHOC Children's Hospital, to expand their reach and efficacy.

Mara has organized several fundraising events and is a past board member of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation in New York. She prides herself in co-chairing the Foundation’s annual Neiman Marcus sponsored luncheon for two years in a row.

 Mara James and the popular Piggie Bear, who is a character she created to empower children, teach them self-love and how to identify and calm their emotions.

Mara James and the popular Piggie Bear, who is a character she created to empower children, teach them self-love and how to identify and calm their emotions.

Mara is the author of “The Power of Piggie Bear”, a book that serves as a therapeutic tool to support and empower children. Piggie Bear is a loveable character who will not only bring love and light into children’s lives, but will help children experience self-love and acceptance that they are perfect just the way they are. Children can easily identify with Piggie Bear, making the process of self-acceptance easier while boosting their self-esteem.

On a personal level, Mara James was born and raised in Long Island, New York. She graduated with double majors in Psychology and Economics from the University of Rochester. After graduating, Mara worked at Drexel Burnham Lambert, Swiss Bank Corporation then Credit Suisse First Boston where she was Vice President of Foreign Exchange Operations.

In January 2007, Mara and her family relocated to California. Together with her husband, they established Laguna Beach OBGYN Inc., a private OBGYN practice specializing in women’s health care and Midwifery Services. Mara worked as the Office Manager for seven years, until she experienced a manic episode and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in May 2014 which changed her life forever.

You too can make a difference. Visit “Support Empower A Child - Piggie Bear Improves Children's Mental Health” for more information.

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Piggie Bear - Mara James

What professionals have to say about The Power of Piggie Bear:

I find Piggie Bear quite enthralling. Such a great piece of work. Very creative and in terms of mental health, it is very significant. The images and terminology used definitely align with the kind of work that we, the Children’s Bureau Mental Health department, do here.
— Antonio Salgado, Mental Health Outreach Specialist, Children’s Bureau Los Angeles, California
This is such a cute and meaningful book. If we can get books like this in children’s hands at a younger age, it can help them deal with their feelings in their later years.
— Lea Romo, Director of Development, Child Abuse Prevention Center
We have so many opportunities to share your amazing product with so many children that could greatly benefit from your amazing message of dealing with feelings and self-acceptance in the “The Power of Piggie Bear.” We could easily provide 5000 books and stuffed animals with 2000 in Spanish and 3000 in English. I hope you are able to find a funder that will support this endeavour as many children will be extremely happy and excited to learn about their feelings in such a creative and innovative way.
— Valerie Brauks, MA, FAPA, Director of Community Services Children's Bureau, Anaheim, California

 Mara and Tipper Gore, Former Second Lady of the United States

Mara and Tipper Gore, Former Second Lady of the United States

 Mara with Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City

Mara with Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City

 With Patrick Kennedy, American Politician

With Patrick Kennedy, American Politician

Up close and personal with Mara James:

1. What are the key factors that got you to where you are today?

Faith, visions, hard work and great team members!

2. What has been some of your greatest achievements?

Writing The Power of Piggie Bear and having Build-A-Bear make the Piggie Bear prototype.

We have successfully held National Mental Health Awareness events in California, New York and Atlanta, and we plan to expand to all stadiums Nationally.

3. What business principle is of core value to you?

Surrounding myself with great people with positive attitudes and making sure to have fun while working hard together.

4. What advice can you give women who want to start their own businesses?

If you have a desire in your heart to start your own business, then you can do it! Work hard, have patience and trust that the Universe will provide for you.

5. How do you overcome rejection? What advice do you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?

Rejection is part of the process, however expect positive outcomes. Keeping a positive mindset will help manifest things into reality and if something doesn’t happen, then know that it was not meant to be.

6. How do you stay motivated and what keeps you going?

I follow my visions and celebrate each small accomplishment.

7. What is your favorite quote? Why?

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

God puts desires in our hearts and helps us to achieve them. Know that things will occur in God’s time and God’s way. Learn to let go of control…

8. What does success mean to you?

Success to me, means doing what you enjoy and achieving the outcomes that make your heart smile.

9. What is your key to success?

Trust, having faith and patience and doing hard work with a smile on my face.


Get in touch with Mara James:

WEBSITE www.el.foundation EMAIL mara22elf@gmail.com

FACEBOOK Extraordinary Lives Foundation INSTAGRAM el.foundation

ELF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)