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TFDP Founders

Denna Babul, R.N.

denna babul

Photo: Sara Hanna Photography

Denna D. Babul is a R.N., successful life coach, motivational speaker, author, medical expert, Huffington Post Blogger, and co-founder of the Fatherless Daughter Project. After becoming a fatherless daughter at the age of 13, Denna felt called to be the voice for fatherless daughters. She has found her calling in creating a community and support system for fellow fatherless women of all ages as their voice, coach and mentor. Denna has the unique ability to read people and focus in on what is needed quickly. Her approach is multi-faceted. Combining her years of experience in medicine, business, and personal development, she is able to help others transform their lives: physically, men- tally, and spiritually. She has appeared on The Today Show, Atlanta Unplugged, Atlanta & Company. 

  • What She Does

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    She is constantly brainstorming ideas that will enrich the lives of the women she touches. She is an energetic speaker and has earned acclaim in changing the lives of her audiences. She enjoys motivating and encouraging women by speaking to groups both large and small. Her repertoire includes: how to be a working mom while building your own empire, life transitions, how to follow and succeed in your dreams, how not to let your past interfere with the future you desire, how to identify if you are commitment phobic or claustrophobic, how physical and emotional health are intertwined, and so much more. She has been described as a cross between your best friend and your favorite guru on everything fatherless. She is known for using her quick wit, engaging humor, and own unique personal story to engage audiences of all kinds. Amidst all of the exciting activity with TFDP, she still makes sure her family is at the top of her list. Denna is married to Jon, a “saint of a husband” and together they are raising two amazing children: Sophie Bleu, 3 and Weston, 1.

    Next Up

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    Coming in November: “All Things Woman: Mental, Physical, and Spiritual,” a weekly podcast where Denna will use her education, expertise, and humor to speak and advise women of all ages.

    Denna has spent years involved in a variety of charity efforts. As a sponsor of the 2003 Rock and Roll Marathon, she raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia Foundation. She has also volunteered and raised money for Habitat for Humanity, The Atlanta Mission, The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, Wellspring Living, The ALS foundation, and many more.

    Denna is an entrepreneur at heart and has engaged in many successful endeavors over the years. She is a gifted writer, and for years wrote a monthly column on single life for Jezebel magazine. Her husband nicknamed her, “Dear Denna” because even in her off hours, she enjoys analyzing relationships and advising her friends or anyone that seems to be stuck in reverse. Born out of that same vein, she started and ran her own popular greeting card company, Dear Jon Cards, for five years before selling it to pursue other interests. Her popular tagline was “What everyone is thinking but won’t say.” Well, now she is saying it.

    Denna is a doer and finds excitement in taking life by the horns and making things happen. Her future plans involve continuing to write and speak along with starting a global movement for fatherless daughters. It is her hope that through her charity she can provide: mentorship programs, grants and scholarships to aide daughters in becoming exactly who their dreams tell them they can be.

    Denna’s Story

    Sometimes your life is predestined in a way that you can never fully fathom. Many times what you think you want to do and what is meant for your life are two different things.

    It all started when my parents divorced when I was 3 years old. Life as I knew it changed. I now lived with my mother and brother only seeing my father only a handful of times a year. A crack in my heart was starting to form. At 13, my father died un-expectantly. My life changed and the trajectory of who I would become had now taken on a new path. I was a fighter before I even understood what it would mean in my life.

    It was right around Valentine’s Day in 1984. I was eating some Valentine sweet tarts when my mother called for my brother and I to come into her room. “I have something to tell you,” she said, crying, holding a newspaper clipping in her hand. I saw my dad’s name in bold print under Obituaries. “Your father has passed away,” she told us.

    Those words changed my life. It was over. I would never have the chance to make it right with him. I would never see him again.

    Now fast forward 30 years later. I was a successful medical sales representative. I married a saint of a man and had two children, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled. The problem (or, perhaps, the “gift”) was that, outside of my family, something was missing. My fatherless daughter radar was always on high alert—beep-beep-beeping in my head everywhere I went.

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    I was the girl at the dinner party who would be at the end of the table talking to a broken young woman about what led to her recent breakup, which always went back to her father. Seriously. It always did. Every Sunday over breakfast, I would watch Sunday Morning and, if the person they were featuring mentioned being fatherless, I would jot the name down, which is how I learned Patricia Cornwell had been abandoned by her father. Even Demi Moore was abandoned by her father before she was born. Everywhere I turned there was another daughter with another story. Lindsey Lohan wrote a song about growing up without her dad entitled “Confessions of a Broken Heart( Daughter to Father). All I could think when I heard it was…we may all look different, but underneath our pain is the same.

    It was all consuming. I started keeping a running list of fatherless daughters and statistics that I found noteworthy. I wrote on napkins, in notebooks, and in a file on my hard drive. I tucked the facts into my brain, and it often seemed they were all I heard in a day filled with so much other white noise. It became what some might call my obsession, but I believe it to be my passion.

    In 2001, I wrote a manuscript about my fatherless story. But then I realized it was not about me. There was a far more important book to be written—one that delved into how losing a father can impact a woman’s emotional, social, psychological, and professional development. In order to write the best book I could write, I asked my dear friend Dr.Karin to join me. Together, we have embarked on a personal journey to put meaning to the mission in our lives.

Karin Luise, PhD.

karin smithson, founder of the fatherless daughter project

As a plucky PhD and brave Mom of 3, Dr. Karin carries with her a colorful bag of relatability, experience and insight … with a side of unavoidable humor. A compassionate educator on spirituality and wellness, Dr. Karin found her calling after her own losses and a decade of personal reinvention. She is here to meet you where you are. Often called “the therapist who feels like family,” she is known for wrapping the truth up in a hug with a squeeze of inspiration.

  • Where She’s Been

    Dr. Karin is a sought-after psychotherapist, writer, and motivational speaker specializing in women’s issues, transitions, and life purpose. She has worked in inpatient, outpatient, emergency, group and private counseling settings, including DeKalb Medical Center, The Anxiety and Stress Management Institute, Visions Anew and Georgia State University.

    Dr. Karin has earned acclaim as an educator and inspirational speaker at a broad range of venues, including corporate, charitable, and community events. With a background in public relations, television, event planning, professional management, and teaching at the elementary, middle school and university levels, she brings a refreshingly diverse portfolio into the room.

    Dr. Karin received her Education degree from Wesleyan College, her Master’s degree in Counseling from Argosy University, and her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Practice from Georgia State University (GSU), with high honors.

    Dr. Karin combines groundbreaking research on wellness and relationships with personal insight and clinical knowledge to bring a wealth of information to those wanting change and purpose in their lives. Because of her own public and private losses, including her own father loss, childhood trauma, and a painful public divorce, Karin has a deep personal interest in helping others find hope and healing.

    What She’s Doing

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    Dr. Karin blogs for The Huffington Post and has been featured on HUFFPOST LIVE. She has also been featured in USA Today and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. She’s a frequent guest on a wide variety of TV and radio shows across the country, including being the resident therapist for the syndicated The Mulberry Lane Show. Her regular column “Ask Dr. Karin” is featured in Southern Season’s Magazine, and she is a regular contributor to a number of women- and family-oriented websites. She has written numerous national presentations for counseling organizations and has also been featured in cover stories in several publications.

    You can find Dr. Karin’s personal blogs on her popular website DoctorKarin.com.

    For 15 years, Karin has been deeply committed to the mission of the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (ARMHC), where she serves on the advisory board. She has been presented numerous community awards, including the ‘One of 100 Who Make Children Feel Like a Million Award’ by Atlanta’s Child Kind Organization, ‘Atlanta’s Leading Ladies Award’ and ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’ cover story honoring her 25 years as an active community volunteer in Atlanta.

    After her son was born in 2010 with a devastating host of medical issues, Karin has been honored to speak on behalf of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and ARMHC, advocating for families facing medical crises. Her experience as a mother has given her the most surprising motivation to make a difference for family’s today and to lay the foundation for the next generation.

    At Home

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    Karin lives in Atlanta with her 3 precocious kids, West, Elise & Hoyte.

    When she takes a breather, she squeezes in Pilates, photography, crafting at the toddler table, cooking, entertaining or hosting disco-ball dance parties with her 3 children. Karin is especially happy when she gets to enjoy reflective, laughter-filled conversation over a cozy meal or finds herself toe-tapping to her favorite live music.

    And she is not ashamed to admit that her leopard-carpeted closet is dominated by the color orange and more cream than she puts in her coffee.

TFDP Team

Natalie DeMarko, Communications Director

Natalie

Natalie Demarko is a writer, communicator, and public relations professional. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a double minor in public relations and multimedia communication from Georgia Southern University. In love with warm weather and crazy about good old Southern hospitality, she moved back to her home state last May after graduating from Ball State University in Indiana and receiving her master’s degree in public relations. A woman of many endeavors, she works as a creative and social strategy assistant with Mountain View Group and as a member of the Atlanta Hawks Event Marketing Flight Crew in addition to her position at TFDP. Fatherless herself, she credits TFDP to changing her life already in just a few short months.

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The Fatherless Daughter Project