When Gisele Barreto Fettman, wife of Pennsylvania Senatorial candidate John Fettman, invited me to the Holland Project – she was in 2018 in the Braddock women’s co-working space that I helped build – when I met her – I was instinctively uneasy on a cold workday in early October. Memories of The Wing (RIP)’s intensely professional atmosphere surfaced, and I almost plucked up the courage to ask her if we could meet in a more personal place.
As it turns out, I don’t have to worry. The Holland Project – an incubator for women-owned businesses whose field members include a social work office, a nonprofit dedicated to the recovery of sexual assault survivors, an in-demand eyelash extension technician, and a Tattoo removal artists who specialize in helping women get rid of gang tattoos at an affordable price — have a lot in common with the glossy, functional Wing, just as a cozy home-owned independent coffee shop might be as big as the Starbucks of the era Square.
There’s probably no better place to know who Gisele Fetterman is. As we sit in an idle office during a rare break in Giselle’s schedule, it’s about 40 minutes before she’s going to pick up her three kids from school (she graciously deferring this on my behalf) ), I was impressed by her apparent pride in the Holland space: “The work people do here is very complementary and non-competitive.”
It’s nothing new for politicians’ wives to have humanitarian careers, whether it’s Laura Bush helping recruit and train school librarians or Michelle Obama exhorting children to be active, but rarely encountered Such people—in politics or outside of politics—seem to have their personal ethos deeply guided by the concept of service. There’s Holland, and her food insecurity nonprofit 2018 Food Rescue, or the volunteer-run free store Feltman helped create, where she and her family spend their time. So much time passed that it earned gold a place in their family legend: She was there to give birth with her youngest child. “I broke the water in the free store,” she said with a laugh. (Charming enough, Feltman is also a reputable member of Lasagna Love, which helps self-proclaimed Lasagna moms provide home-cooked meals to families in need in their own communities.)
After John Fetterman and now Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf were elected in 2018, the Fetterman family made headlines for declining to move into the lieutenant governor’s mansion, choosing instead to remain in their own home (a renovated loft in Braddock, a former car dealership), and uses the luxury home for a veterans program. While Gisele Fetterman doesn’t suggest that giving up the mansion was particularly hard for her—”Why should my kids grow up in a mansion?” she asks—she admits that when she realized they’d miss out on the ensuing She was in pain while swimming in the pool. Undaunted, Gisele created what she calls a “people’s pool” so kids from all over Allegheny County could enjoy the water, while also trying to address startling racial disparities in child drowning rates. As Gisele Fetterman tweeted last summer when the pool reopened: “If I can’t take you with me, I won’t.”
“John is definitely the biggest pusher,” joked Gisele, adding: “It’s not that I need that much. structures, but I’m trying to cultivate them for the world. I want them to be the antithesis of all the bad things we see in the world; I want them to value happiness and be good people, no matter what they choose to do for their profession .” Sometimes chasing that joy is like taking a day off from school — “perfect attendance isn’t real life,” Gisele argues — and sometimes it means spending their rare vacation with their parents doing their best work. favorite activities. Giselle has a small free time the next day, which she is using to make candles with her daughter. “Then we’re going to have boba and sushi.”