Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman
Founder/ Executive Director, InLiquid
Partner, Studio Z Design


As the executive director of InLiquid, a non-profit art organization, I spend a lot of time involved in extracurricular projects to help further its cause. At nine months pregnant I started Leadership Philadelphia through the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative. The orientation involved a day of Outward Bound. Luckily, it was the “old farts” version and not the same ropes course that I had participated in at the age of 13. Still, running around in 90-degree weather at the Horticultural Center in Fairmount Park, attached to executives from various corporations, may not have been one of my wisest decisions. Especially considering that Ivan, my firstborn, had arrived three weeks early.

At the same time I was planning our major fundraiser of the year, InLiquid Benefit v.7.0, an art auction at the Crane Building. My hope was that my yet-to-be-born daughter would cooperate and wait until after the event to make her debut.

If Outward Bound and the fundraiser were not enough, my friend’s wife was planning his surprise birthday party at the Crane Building four days before the preview. Never wanting to miss a single opportunity to expand our audience, my staff and I worked hard to make sure that the artwork for the auction was ready to be viewed by the partygoers. As the representative of both InLiquid and the Crane I spent the night walking back and forth from the celebration in the cafe space to the exhibit in the Ice Box. They are at opposite ends of the building, which is the length of a city block.

The following night at 3:00 AM, my water broke. My husband, exhausted and sick from running around like a maniac, and I made our way to the hospital, and Sasha was born at 8:38 AM.

So, two days before our live auction preview I was laying in the hospital with our newborn. I did my best to be available online and by cell phone, begging my staff (with a new employee!) to keep in close touch since I could not be there in person to set up. After one day in the hospital I realized that I would go mad if I could not be at my own event. I convinced my obstetrician to let me go home and rest after my surgery. My husband reluctantly agreed, knowing that he could not stop me. I promised that I would sit in the wheelchair that he spent an afternoon getting for me and not allow anyone to go near the baby.

Everyone was shocked to see me at the auction. Honestly, were they thinking that I could just sit and watch “My Name is Earl” on TV in my hospital room?  It’s amazing what you can accomplish with Percocets and Motrin. My husband and my parents just shook their head in dismay. Their attempt to keep me from doing too much was short lived as I sat unexpectedly manning the registration desk with my new child.

Later that evening, after the auction, we stood outside the Crane Building with our die-hard crew of staff and volunteers and reviewed the events of the night. My volunteer coordinator left due to harassment by a drunken sponsor who is also a good personal friend. One of our donors had a briefcase stolen by someone who broke into her car during the auction. And a young woman voiced her complaints, objecting to the burlesque after-party we hosted.

Ultimately, it was just another year and another auction; my staff did a great job. It makes me wonder what will happen in upcoming auctions and how the crazy world we live in will affect my children’s lives. Hopefully, it will help them to appreciate the level of time, commitment, and sacrifice that it takes to make something happen, and not send them into years of therapy. If nothing else, there will always be a big party for Sasha’s birthday.
Published April 2008