My name is Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle. I am 24 years old and I am the Founder and President of a 501(c)3 Non Profit corporation. I’ve literally been waiting over a year to say that out loud. It feels really good.
This morning I was making some phone calls to verify all of my end of year to-dos as my team and I awaited The Letter. The Letter that would say that the IRS approved our 1023-EZ form and granted Obvi tax-exempt status. Much to my surprise, the woman on the phone told me we were approved over a month ago and should have received our letter already. I could not possibly be more thrilled. What a time to have a piece of lost mail!
This past year we have been working on plans to become a non-profit: what we will do, what programs we will launch, how we will operate, etc. And after all of the planning, long meetings, and daydreaming it is finally happening. While you can all expect a stream of updates to come over the next few months regarding our organization, team, structure, programing, and opportunities to get involved both physically and monetarily, today I just have some peeps to thank. Here it goes.
Obvi, I must start by thanking my family. My mom, who’s the toughest Lady I know, having overcome challenges I would not wish upon anyone. My dad, the Whimsical Male himself, who always encourages me to let my freak flag fly. Thank you both for supporting my goals to make this shit happen, and for never making me feel like I can’t do something I want to do. Wouldn’t be me without you, literally and figuratively. Also my brothers, aunts and uncle, grandparents, and cousins, who take time to ask me about how Obvi is doing, read it, talk about it, and share it. It means the world to have everyone’s support.
My boss, Kevin, for being the best first big-girl-job boss you could ever ask for. Thanks for giving me the realest advice, taking me seriously, and taking the Obvi mission seriously. The past few years of my life would be really different in a bad way without you. You’ve taught me not just how to be a good worker, but how to be a good and respected leader and that’s really important to me. Also, thank you Annie and Lisa for putting so much time and brainpower into our Lady to Lady program. Can’t wait for it to begin.
Thank you, Mr. Bush, for inviting me to your classroom last October. It was that experience, and the enthusiasm of the students, that inspired me to get the ball rolling with the Lady to Lady program.
Thank you, Erin, for sharing my vision from the beginning, and all of the time and passion that went into making it all real. I can’t wait to have you back on the reg. Seriously. To Aylin, Sarah Maguire, Jordan, Lisa P, Carly L, Alison, Mere, and Jenika for stepping up at one point or another to be our boss ass Editors, answering last minute emails, and dedicating your time to putting out the best personal essays on the internet (imo =)).
Thank you, Smalls, for taking on the Instagram challenge. For creating the image that gave us our first taste of “anything can happen” with Reese and the Oscars, and every pretty picture, and minute of your time to come after.
Thank you, Alison, for being like “I want to help can I pls do this?!” and then doing it. Thanks for hopping on as many early morning Google Hangs as we hop on late night ones, and thanks for your joyous smiling face. (I only picture you with a big open-mouth smile on.) I’m grateful that you took on a bigger role and that we have been able to grow close and that finally getting to hug you irl was just the best moment ever.
Thank you Kara and Jessa, for jumping on the Obvi Board. Kara, I’m so friggin proud of you for taking on the law school challenge. And Jessa, you have been a go-to, a mentor for me for a long time and I’m very grateful for you, your ear, and your brain. Both of you are so talented and smart. I learn from you all the time and I couldn’t be more grateful to have people I trust so much on this journey with me.
Sarah Elabdi, for (also) being a part of the Obvi Board, and for bringing your brain to our Lady to Lady project. Thank you for being able to see it as big (and sometimes bigger) than I could. It’s that kind of thinking that is going to make this work. I’m so happy you’re here and both of our life adventures led to moments that led to other moments that led to other moments that led to us both being here at the same time and “doing the stuff.”
Also thank you Jack! For jumping in and saving the day in what we still call the Economic Crisis of 2016. We weren’t lying when we said we both cried in that moment. Your support for us is a gift.
Thank you Haley, Alanna, Rachel, and Gen for contributing your art and collaborating with us to create brilliant photos and videos to share with our content. The photoshoot days are still some of my favorite Obvi memories.
Thank you Chelsea and Sophia. Chelsea, at the time I emailed you nearly 2 years ago, I may have well been emailing a celeb as far as I was concerned. Just agreeing to meet made my day. You have been such a role model to me as a writer and woman since I began reading your pieces on Thought Catalog. Chunks of our conversation have become vital parts to our Obvi brand, and I could not be more grateful. Thank you for continuing to set an example with TFD. I hope you know you are so appreciated. And Sophia, I cannot describe to you what our quick breakfast meant to my team and me. Having someone who I have admired and looked up to for such a huge portion of my life not only feel excited about, but be able to see potential in what I’m doing is truly one of the most incredible feelings I have ever experienced. You’re a light, and I cannot wait to work with you more.
Thank you, Becky, Colleen, Molly, Brandy, Megan Cox, Megan Convey, Sahar, Hannah N, Mimi, Katie Simpson, Lisa H, Katharine D, Sarah Muzzillo, Caitlin Z, Genny, Heather, Amber, Ashlynn, Alysa, Hannah B, Kathleen, Kara, Kaitlin O, Marissa, Glenna, Becca S, Rachel, Anna, Julia, Alexandra, Lily, Diana, Kelsey, Sarah W, Chelsea, Autumn, Bailey, Carly M, and Katy C, everyone who has ever written for Obvi, for sharing your journey with me and the team and the world. This is happening because every single one of us knows what this is and I couldn’t be more fucking grateful. Keep it up, it’s just getting started! Also, I’m grateful that this year I have gotten the opportunity to get to know so many of you more personally. Katie, I’ll literally cherish having a 2016 election buddy forever.
Finally, thank you Mads, the Ilana to my Abbie, and the Leo to my Jeb. Thanks for coming back to Chicago and seeing Obvi’s potential beyond what I was able to conceptualize at the time. Thanks for taking charge of the things you did that allowed Obvi to grow to this point. Thanks for answering my hard questions and letting me spew strange facts about things I learn on the internet at you. Thanks for figuring out how to put Mandy Moore on when we’re in the backyard at a cool party and I have Birkenstocks and socks on and it’s all I want to hear. Thank you for sticking up for me, for trusting me, and for being my best friend. This past year is one I know I will never ever forget because it was one of the best ones in a while. I love you so much.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this year. There were big ups and big downs, big changes and some big bores. I’ve realized I have a special, small bit of people in my life who are like those cosmetic mirrors that magnify your face 10xs. The people who shoot back all of my dreams and all of the things that make me happy but 10xs bigger than they exist in my own head. It’s that little group of people that have allowed me to take the steps to make this happen, and not let it live as a fantasy.
You guys, I am so happy. Again, we will be sharing more detailed updates in coming weeks, because there’s some really cool stuff happening in 2017, but we couldn’t keep this announcement in any longer. It’s too damn good!
All the thanks and all the big bear hugs,