Jo Ann Thrailkill is the co-founder of The Pablove Foundation. For the 15 years prior to Pablove’s inception, she was an Executive Producer in the music video and television commercial industry, guiding a roster of directors through hundreds of jobs with bands, record labels, and ad agencies. She produced many award-winning music videos, including the Grammy award-winning ‘Learn To Fly’ by Foo Fighters.
The mission of The Pablove Foundation is to invest in underfunded, cutting-edge pediatric cancer research, inspire cancer families through education, and improve the lives of children living with cancer through the arts. The Pablove Foundation is named after Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz, the son of Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz and the little brother of Grady Gallagher. Pablo was six years old when he lost his valiant yearlong battle with bilateral Wilms Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer. With the love of our community, The Pablove Foundation’s vision was forged: helping kids with cancer live—a love-filled life today, and a cancer-free life tomorrow.
How did you get into the non-profit industry?
Working in the nonprofit sector had not been my intention...but my world changed in an instant when my five-year-old son Pablo was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer. Our family's community rallied around us in a big way, and we wanted to share that love. Our eyes were opened to the scientific progress that still needs to be made, and the lack of resources for kids and families fighting cancer. Pablo lost his battle after 13 months of treatment, but we still had a lot of fight left in us. So, my husband Jeff and I channeled the momentum of our community's support into starting The Pablove Foundation.
Tell us about the Pablove Foundation.
The Pablove Foundation’s mission is based on our own journey with childhood cancer: our impassioned desire to support finding a cure, our search for information as parents trying to make informed decisions about our child’s treatment, and our desire to allow Pablo to still be a kid while he was in treatment. Our mission is to invest in underfunded, cutting-edge pediatric cancer research, inspire cancer families through education, and improve the lives of children living with cancer through the arts.
(Pablo with Family)
What differentiates Pablove Foundation other non-profits?
Childhood cancer is a complicated problem. On the one hand, scientific progress desperately needs to develop safer, more effective treatments for kids diagnosed with any of the 12 childhood cancers. On the other hand, there are many kids and families who need support right now...not just with treatment but with access to information and resources that improve their lives. You can't solve a complicated problem with just one easy fix, so we tackle the issue from multiple directions. It's all about helping kids with cancer live–a love-filled life today, and a cancer-free life tomorrow.
Under your leadership the Pablove Foundation has grown drastically, what marketing strategies/partnerships helped you accomplish this?
We're lucky to live and work in one of the most exciting cities of the world–Los Angeles. I worked as an executive producer in music videos and commercials before heading up The Pablove Foundation, and my husband Jeff is a leader in the music industry. What's worked for us is finding things that people already love–music, art, adventure–and helping others make an impact on our cause through those means.
(Pablove Across America 2013 Peloton)
What makes a great philanthropist and what inspires you to become a better one?
A great philanthropist is a brave philanthropist. Just like in business, the concept of "no risk, no reward" holds true. To really break through the barriers that hold back society we've got to try new things and take some chances. As for inspiration, it's impossible to not feel driven when your mission is based in an experience as personal as ours.
What is your proudest moment as Co-Founder/President of The Pablove Foundation?
Our signature program is called Pablove Shutterbugs, a photography course for children living with cancer. When we launched our pilot program in Los Angeles, one of our student's moms stood near me as I observed the first day of class. Her son had just received his camera bag, and was beaming ear to ear as he explored the world through a lens for the first time. With tears in her eyes, she said, "Look at him, he's smiling! He hasn't done that in months." That was it for me. That was when I knew that we were doing it right.
How do you give back personally?
We have a fun tradition as a staff at Pablove HQ–a few times a year, we take a break from our desks and go work on a service project for another cause. It's an amazing way to build our team and get inspired on how we can better accomplish our mission. We recently went on a retreat to care for native plants in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. It was a blast.
Favorite travel destination?
New Orleans, my beloved hometown! There is absolutely nothing like it. The energy of a Saints game, the scent of beignets outside Cafe du Monde, the deep-rooted tradition. If you haven't been, drop everything and go. Turn your phone off and just experience the city.
Role model - business and personal?
What literature is on your bed stand?
Ha! Right now there is a Domino Magazine, The Glitter Plan, and The Bell Jar.
What's next for The Pablove Foundation and yourself personally?
The Pablove Foundation continues to grow in amazing ways–and I don't use that word lightly. I really am amazed by our team, by our community, by our impact on children's lives on a daily basis. Right now we're expanding our Pablove Shutterbugs photography program to more cities across the U.S., and the researchers we're funding through our Childhood Cancer Research Grants are generating results that will qualify them for support from the National Cancer Institute - our goal and vision realized! I am so honored and proud to keep guiding us along this path!