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Wiggle Your Big Toe

Season #1

The Special HALFWAY Episode with Filomena Fanelli!

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It’s week 26! The halfway point of the year. For this week, I’ve been working on something special to mix things up while I celebrate the 26 weeks and gifts we’ve done so far.

This week’s recipient is joining me on the podcast! My guest, Filomena Finelli, the CEO and founder of Impact PR and Communications located in Hudson Valley is here! Their clients include consumer brands, banking, construction as well as mission-based nonprofit organizations.

She has a compelling story that I think everyone could benefit from hearing. She’s an incredibly accomplished businesswoman and one of my dearest friends.

Gift of the Week

This week’s gift came from the Foundry in Staunton, VA. That’s where I saw a painting with a quote from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, “Wiggle your big toe.”

Filomena shares that the message is something she can look at any time she feels trapped or out of sorts. She shares that she’s recently been through a challenging time that started with some odd physical issues. She kept chalking up the warnings to being busy, being tired, and growing older.

It was confusing and very humbling. She checked with her mom who encouraged her to go to a doctor and get checked out. Initial tests were not conclusive, and her doctor suggested she talk to a rheumatologist.

A diagnosis followed after more blood work. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and Filomena’s doctor shared that she may have likely had this predisposition and it showed up when other factors came into play.

Suggestions when you aren’t sure what to do.

Filomena shares that her own version of research and googling ended up scaring her which wasn’t helpful.

Instead, she suggests getting information that’s appropriate for you specifically from your doctor and other reliable resources. She also shared that she made changes that weren’t easy. You’ll relate when she shares how she had to give away some of her favorite high heels. In true survivor mode, Filomena took her power back by giving away her shoes to friends and told them what they didn’t want, they should give away or donate.

Hear how and why she decided to be open about her diagnosis. It’s inspiring to hear how she wants to create the space for others - especially her work team - to be okay with anything they may be handling in their own lives.

Donation of the Week

Of course, this week’s donation went to the Arthritis Foundation. It meant a lot to me to be able to make that donation in honor of my friend Filomena. The organization sent a letter to let Filomena know and she (at the time) was unaware and was touched.

Hear how small donations really matter and why it’s more important than you know.

More about Filomena:

For nearly 25 years, Filomena Fanelli has enjoyed telling clients’ stories through public relations and continues to apply that enthusiasm in her role as the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications, Ltd., an award-winning public relations firm. Based in the Hudson Valley, the nine-year-old agency has a three-state footprint and clients that include top-selling consumer brands, key cultural destinations, prominent banking, construction and real estate development companies, mission-based nonprofits and more.

Filomena got her start in the PR business at Rubenstein Associates, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become a vice president. Recognized as a top publicist, she worked on some of the firm’s major real estate and financial accounts, many of them household names. Today, she channels that energy to lead her own agency and help a diverse array of clients plot memorable events, secure speaking engagements, land leadership articles, craft sharp website content, engage in meaningful ways on social media and, of course, get their names in the news.

Filomena has been lauded for her professional achievements and community involvement alike. A handful of her accolades include: being named an ATHENA Leadership Awards honoree, as well as one of the “Forty Under 40” by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce; gracing the cover of Hudson Valley Magazine as one of its celebrated women in business; being recognized with a National Philanthropy Day Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Mid-Hudson Valley; and having her firm named a “Top Women-Run Workplace of the Year” by the Stevie® Awards, an international recognition.

An involved community member, Filomena enjoys volunteering with various nonprofit organizations. She serves on the boards of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation. She was on the executive leadership team for American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign locally, and was also the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse’s One Too Many 5k chair and, subsequently, co-chair. Filomena spent many years on the executive committee of the Public Relations Society of America’s Counselors Academy and is past conference chair, conference co-chair and membership chair of that industry group. Previously, she sat on the board of the Women’s Leadership Alliance and Hudson River Housing, and has served on committees for The Arc of Dutchess, Family Services, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and Special Olympics New York. Filomena was also a founding committee member of HDSA Team Hope Walk – Hudson Valley, a community advisor for The Daily Voice and hosted’s video news show, “Business Newsmakers.”

Filomena is the professional advisor for Marist College’s Public Relations Student Society of America, and a former adjunct professor and regular guest lecturer at the college. A frequent speaker, she has given talks for Senator Sue Serino’s Women’s Forum and presented at the prestigious 92nd Street Y in New York City, among other venues.

Recently, Filomena has added another important descriptor to her resume, behind mom, wife, PR agency CEO, leader and volunteer: rheumatoid arthritis warrior. Diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder in Spring 2023, Filomena, with the support of her friends at the Arthritis Foundation New York, has made it her mission to keep moving, one step at a time, and to openly share her story of living positively with arthritis with her friends, family, colleagues and community to help raise much-needed awareness and funds to further scientific advances and treatment options.


The Foundry Pop Up

The Arthritis Foundation 


Show Notes provided by Sound Advice Strategies


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