Born and raised in San Diego, Shaney Jo Darden's first experience with the desert was traveling to visit her grandparents who lived in Palm Desert. About ten years ago, Shaney Jo started coming to the hi-desert to visit a friend, who owned Rimrock Ranch in Pioneertown. Rimrock became a place for Shaney Jo to bring her staff for annual employee retreats: learning about new programs, receiving training and enjoying some off-site downtime hiking, taking in a sound bath at the Integratron or having a social night out together at Pappy & Harriet’s.
After a number of trips to the hi-desert, spending more and more time here and meeting the community, Shaney Jo began to realize this was a special place for her. Having spent nearly 10 years in Los Angeles, Shaney Jo was ready for a change and recognized moving to the desert would not only change her surroundings, but would also be the place to fulfill one of her big dreams: to build a wellness center for cancer survivors.
Shaney Jo is the Founder and Global CCO of Keep A Breast . The organization empowers young people around the world with breast health education and support and sparks conversation around prevention, early detection and self-checks for young women. This includes art and education programs as well as programs for survivors. In this episode, Shaney Jo takes us through the formation of the organization, from it's humble beginnings as a fund-raising art show, to the international organization it is today, celebrating 20 years of good works (2020).
Last year, Keep A Breast was part of the annual local Highway 62 Art Tours, breast casting nearly a dozen local women whose casts were painted by local hi-desert artists and available for viewing during the third weekend of the tours.
With their new headquarters completed and staffed in Yucca Valley, Shaney Jo is looking to offer the KAB lounge space for a cancer survivors group to form and is now turning her attention to the development of the wellness center of her dreams. Actively in the planning stages on property in the Rimrock area, this achievement will bring Shaney Jo’s desert journey full circle.
As Keep A Breast began to rapidly grow and change, Shaney Jo found herself looking for help to responsibly guide the organization. She found it in the form of a book titled, ‘Let My People go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman‘ by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and one of the founders of 1% for the Planet. Shaney Jo recommends this book to anyone running a business or non-profit who is looking for a better way to lead their organization and take care of its staff.
Prior to founding Keep A Breast, Shaney Jo worked in the apparel industry - another lifelong dream realized - with designers like Tommy Hilfiger in NYC, before returning to the west coast to work in the surf/skate apparel industries – Shaney Jo’s fabric of choice is denim.
Check out all the links and, if you're inspired, make a donation to this worthwhile organization.
Photo: Lindsey Burns