“I think an outstanding mother is someone who is a good teacher,” says Caylei Vogelzang, editor-in-chief of Cancer Wellness magazine and director of business strategy at Vogelzang Law. “I think it really comes down to the ability to teach and train the next generation in a positive way.”
On May 1, the American Lung Association (ALA) will host the first of four Outstanding Mother Awards, honoring three Chicago women for their ability to balance professional and personal success while making a positive impact in their communities. A partnership with the National Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, the ALA will also host these awards next month in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, and Honolulu. Caylei is one of three Chicago honorees, nominated for her commitment to creating a better world for her son. “I’m not going to be around forever, but we should be taking steps, whatever steps we can, to do better,” Caylei says.
At the law firm and the magazine, Caylei oversees general operations as well as charitable initiatives and community outreach. Working long hours to enrich her community, Caylei doesn’t hesitate to share that finding balance between work and home life isn’t easy. “Because the world of children can become a bit narrow, as can the world of business, […] it demands some perspective,” Caylei says.
When she’s not in the office or meeting with community leaders, Caylei’s favorite place to be is with her husband, Nick, and their eight-year-old son, Chase. She is happy to be able to share her love of travel with her son, which allows her to take a much needed step back from her career to focus on family and to gain a better sense of how she can use her platform for the greater good.
Caylei practicing yoga at her home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago
“Just a few days away can lend a lot a lot of perspective. [Traveling] gives me an amazing amount of gratitude for what I have and respect for people I’m lucky enough to work with,” Caylei says. She continues, “I think [we] sometimes lose that—when we get caught up and think our worlds are getting very small [we can] take a step back and make sure you’re getting some head space [to] see how lucky you are [and how] capable.”
Caylei is a frequent traveler, flying across the world every few months for revitalizing spa and yoga retreats. Her desire for adventure was fostered by her parents, and she hopes to introduce her son to similar experiences. “I’d be dragged through Europe in the back of a Peugeot with a vat of nutella and a couple of baguettes, crumbs everywhere,” Cayeli recalls. She has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, traversed the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, and trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.
It is this sense of adventure that allows Caylei to thrive at Cancer Wellness magazine. “There’s certainly never a dull moment, and I find that exciting,” Caylei says. Under Caylei, Cancer Wellness collaborates with local charities and organizations that make a vast network of resources more accessible to an increasingly broad community of those affected by cancer, including fighters, survivors, and supporters. “[There’s] not necessarily a ton of red tape or bureaucracy standing in front of you [inhibiting] where you want to go or initiatives that you want to pursue,” she says. Partnerships with Chicago charities like American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Chicago, Imerman Angels, Wellness House, and others bring Cancer Wellness magazine into the mainstream.
Initially, the magazine was intended as a resource for the clients of Vogelzang Law (a law firm specializing in cases for victims of the rare cancer mesothelioma). “Over the years, we found that many of our clients didn’t feel like they had access to resources,” says Caylei. Cancer Wellness publishes original reporting about new developments in cancer research, but also features fashion spreads, information about local events, the latest news in the clean-beauty movement, and much more. The magazine is an all-encompassing resource for those affected by cancer to realize they are more than their diagnosis. “Whether that is fitness or shopping or travel or spending time with family and figuring out how to make time [for these things], part of it was feeling that whether you have cancer in one situation or another, you shouldn’t be denied some of those human luxuries,” Caylei says.
Juggling her career, family, and personal charitable initiatives means Caylei’s schedule is sometimes intimidatingly full. “I feel that women have to do almost twice as much in the work world to gain respect, and I think that we can feel a little bit compounded sometimes—you’re kind of required in one way to do [a good job at work] and to be a good mom,” Caylei says. But she’ll always retain her sense of adventure, which offers that much-needed perspective about what is most important in work and at home. “We should go out and explore,” Caylei says. “[The world] should be our playground. [That] is very important to me.”
Caylei in her home