Mamas in Charge: Meet the Shanghai Mamas Executive Committee

By Angela Cruz

It’s an exciting time to be a Mama! Sharing resources and advice, bringing together international families, and connecting Shanghai Mamas across the world is as relevant as ever and our growing team is eager to keep the conversations and fun going.

While our grassroots efforts are mostly led by individuals chatting on WeChat or at our gatherings, there is a team of Mamas who keep the content flowing, events coming, and platforms chugging along to best support international families in the city.

Our Fearless Leader – Laetitia

As our Chairperson, Laetitia leads this team of Mamas to think through how we can best serve the community. You can find her…everywhere…on WeChat: “I remember all of the questions I had when I first moved here, so I try and be active in our groups and other Shanghai Mama groups in pointing people in the right direction.“

She’s quick to remind us that she gets as much as she gives to the community. “Very recently my 18-month-old was hospitalized for an extended period and I can’t tell you how many people reached out to me to express their well wishes or to ask how they could help in some way. This is what the Shanghai Mamas community is all about and I’m happy to contribute in any small way to keep it going.”

Kids’ ages: 1.5 and 5

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2016

Shanghai Mama since: 2016

Shanghai Mama Exec since: 2017

Ask her about: WeChat groups of all kinds. “I’ve racked up so many WeChat groups, cleaning contacts, buy/sell groups (I may regret saying that), eye glass sellers, bag sellers, beauty spas, airport drivers … you name it, I’ll be able to connect you.”

The Co-Founder – Melanie Ham

Melanie Ham has been in Shanghai since 2003 and was one of the Original Shanghai Mamas. Yep, she’s been here since the Yahoo group days. She’s in charge of the money and legal stuff to make sure we stay in the black, pay our taxes, and stay out of (real) trouble!

The range of the good times to be had with the Mamas is summed up perfectly when she explains, “The generous spirit of our members is so inspiring and energizing, whether it is fundraising for orphanages or disabled children, collecting supplies for forgotten schools in western China, or helping organizations supporting migrant children’s education. It has been an incredible experience to be involved with an organization with such a commitment to making an impact in our community. I’ve also loved getting involved with coffee mornings, Shanghai Mamas Talks, parties, and of course our infamous (tequila shot) Book Club…”

Kids’ ages: 12 and 16

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2003

Shanghai Mama & Exec since: 2006

Ask her about: Breastfeeding/lactation issues, volunteering with various NGOs/community organizations in Shanghai, mental health awareness, parenting teens in Shanghai, school options in Shanghai, gender equity, book club, bullet journaling

Long-timer – Jessica

“I had already been in Shanghai for many years when I became a mom.  Only one of my friends at that time in Shanghai had a kid, and she lived in Pudong, which was quite far away from me at the time. Also, it was before WeChat so basically what was I going to do, text? But, she told me it’s worth it to take the time and fill in the registration form (which was much longer back then) and to get on the website.  When I went on maternity leave before giving birth, I went to a coffee morning and met a few people.  It was fab.  Back then the forums on the website were incredibly active (no WeChat!) and I spent so much time on it, I eventually started volunteering to help monitor and run the website.  Once my son was born we did coffee mornings, play dates, and met fantastic friends through Shanghai Mamas. It started to become our community.  I joined the executive committee because I wanted to give back and also, to learn new things.  I had never organized events like the parties, or run a website and it gave me an opportunity to learn and grow professionally.  A couple of website revamps and some massive events later (the first YCIS party??? OMG, that was a lesson!) and I feel like I’ve grown so much in my ability and also the confidence to be a leader.

My son is now 7 and so many of his life events are Shanghai Mamas related in one way or another.  It’s been truly life changing for me and I’m so glad I took that first step and filled in the form!”

(If you haven’t officially registered [www.shanghaimamas.org/sign-up], it’s your ticket to getting connected to our Facebook group and invites to WeChat groups relevant to your interests.)

Kid’s age: 7 (and A HALF)

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2004

Shanghai Mama since: 2012

Shanghai Mama Exec since: 2014

Ask her about: Food, yoga, and wine. Middle school and all its glory.

Mama of All Trades – Hannah

Hannah has filled many roles for Shanghai Mamas. Many of you will know her from her amazing digest email introductions and leading the Lujiazui coffee morning, but she was also running the show behind the scenes as our administrator in 2018 and 2019. WeChat, events, sponsors, emails, and more, she kept us organized and active.

“Shanghai Mamas helped me feel at home in Shanghai. I met all my friends via Shanghai Mamas, and together we’ve shared laughs, tears, many a drink and a meal, holidays, births and meet ups all over the world.”

Kids’ ages: 5 and 8

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2013

Shanghai Mama since: 2012

Shanghai Mama Exec since: 2017

Ask her about: The importance of afternoon naps, what to do when your parents-in-law move in with you, Pudong

International Mama – Lisa

Lisa has lived all over the place. The list of cities is ridiculous: Bay Area, Orange County, California, Ermatingen, Ascona (CH), Lausanne, Hong Kong, Florence, Stockholm, Toronto, Bangalore, Shanghai. So even though she’s pretty new to the city, she knew finding support systems and a community early on (before she even arrived!) would be critical to life in a new place.

“The newcomers group helped me get organized before I even moved to China. I was able to get questions answered about ayis, apartments, neighborhoods, schools and more! Being able to do all this made my transition from India to Shanghai so easy and knowing I was speaking from other expats who also have been through the same experiences was so valuable!”

To join the latest newcomers group (we start a new one for each calendar year), add ShanghaiMamasOrg on WeChat.

Lisa is our Volunteer Manager. If you want to join our volunteer pool, add her on WeChat!

Kids’ ages: 6 years and 3 months

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2019

Shanghai Mama since: 2019

Shanghai Mama Exec since: 2020

Ask her about: Danish baby brands

Behind the Scenes – Xinxin

From China to England to Belgium and back, Xinxin is both locally savvy and understanding of international family concerns. She recently joined the team as our Operations and Marketing Coordinator after years of experience in the non-profit and social enterprise sector in Shanghai. Currently our only official employee, in between watching her boys and menagerie of pets, she maintains our website, WeChat, email, and much more!

“Shanghai Mamas offered me a meaningful job when I was in need of feeling connected again with the world out there after months of COVID-19 isolation. It makes me feel proud as a stay home working mama!”

Kids’ ages: 4 and 10

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2007

Shanghai Mama and Staff since: 2020

Ask her about: How to stay sane when your kids are practicing Beijing opera in the house and managing your time when you have 2 kids, a dog, a cat, fish, a turtle, and a busy husband!

The Newbie – Joyce

One big vacancy we were feeling coming into the summer 2020 was an Events Manager. We needed someone experienced and organized who understands what international mamas are looking for. Enter: Joyce. We were so lucky she saw our recruitment post and wanted to bring her years of Shanghai event planning to the Mamas!

Even though she has an infant, like Lisa, she was keen to give back to Shanghai Mamas as a member of the Exec. “It connected me with other mommy friends while I was the only mommy employee in the company I worked for. It provided me a few nursing tips when I just get back to work from my maternity leave.”

Kids’ ages: 2 years and 5 months

Year arrived in Shanghai: 2009

Shanghai Mama and Exec since: 2020

Ask her about: Street food and museums

Click here for our opportunities page to see what other vacancies we have available. There’s still more room on the team for talented, generous Mamas to join! We are especially in need of a volunteer Marketing Manager to join the Executive Committee.