Inspiring Women – Amy Green

by Karen Floyd

AMY GREEN is a wife, mother, philanthropist, global ambassador, former (sports) journalist, and one of New York’s most fashionable women. She was born in California and attended Ohio State University. After graduation, she was offered a job at (Wyeth ) and went to work with (Chiron) before seizing an offer from FOX (Sports) Network to have her own show. She attracted national attention—and the attention of the man she would marry: American businessman and entrepreneur Gary M. Green, CEO of Alliance Building Services. The couple founded the Green Vision Foundation, a philanthropy that brings together like-minded organizations to collectively support conservation and humanitarian global initiatives. These include Tusk, an innovative conservation action in Africa under the patronage of the HRH Prince William, The Prince of Wales; ACCF (the African Community and Conservation Foundation), an umbrella organization for initiatives such as the Rwanda Project and the Malilangwe Trust in Zimbabwe; and here in the United States, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, and the 100 Billion Meals Challenge. The couple regularly hosts star-studded galas at their homes to support these, and other, causes. ELYSIAN publisher Karen Floyd met Amy at her family’s home in midtown Manhattan, high atop One Vanderbilt, Manhattan’s newest skyscraper, near Grand Central Station.

Amy, thank you for inviting me to witness this breathtaking view. What a breathtaking view! What floor are we on?

We are on the 50th, but the building itself has ninety-three stories.

Can you tell our readers about the building?

This is One Vanderbilt, at the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, and it is Manhattan’s newest high-rise. It opened just three years ago, in 2020, and it’s the fourth tallest building in the city. It was developed by SL Green Realty, which my father-in-law, Stephen L. Green, founded in 1980. He’s retired now but serves as Chairman Emeritus, so he stays very much connected to things. The company is the largest owner of office buildings in the New York metropolitan area and One Vanderbilt is the architectural jewel in our family’s crown. I feel very proud to be a part of the SLG legacy and Green Family. I am also grateful for my daughters to grow up knowing their Grandfather Stephen Green and Grandmother Nancy Green built such an incredible legacy from hard work and unwavering dedication. It’s absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it!

Yes, it is. Who was the architect?

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed the building. They’re one of the largest international architectural firms and have been around for a long time—since 1976. The firm is based in New York, but they design buildings all over the world. The simple lines of One Vanderbilt make me think of Picasso in his Cubist period. But what excites me most about KPF is its commitment to sustainability and the environment. Take One Vanderbilt, which was designed to harmonize with Grand Central Terminal, and is immediately to the east. One Vanderbilt has an entrance to the station and the subway. There is an observation deck on the top floor and a beautifully landscaped, lit pedestrian plaza on the ground floor. There also is a tremendous amount of glass, which allows for sunlight and gives a feeling of airiness.

You know, Amy, I have interviewed thousands of women over 30 years and one of the questions I always like to start with is, ‘Tell me something about your first job?’

My first job, I worked in a chocolate shop, as a teenager in high school. It was an amazing chocolate shop near where we lived, and I worked on weekends and during summer break. They made these fantastic chocolates, baked cupcakes, and catered chocolate parties, which was a new thing back then. Working there really appealed to my creative side. Besides, I love chocolate.

Are you originally from New York?

No, I was born and grew up in West Hollywood, California.

Tell me about your parents.

My dad was an orthodontist and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. They were divorced, though, when I was very young. My Mom remarried and in fact, she and my stepfather have been married for thirty years.

Was your parents’ divorce traumatic for you?

I cannot say it was traumatic. I was fairly young and my family on my mother’s side is very large and very loving. My grandparents always made sure I knew that I was loved. They are Italian, and Italians show love through food, so I have many happy memories of wonderful family dinners, lots of food, and lots of laughter.

Are your grandparents still alive?

I wish they were. No, my grandmother passed away just before my older daughter was born. She lived long enough to know that I named her great-granddaughter after her—Giada Viola. You see, my grandmother was a very special person. She was beautiful, inside and out. Giada, my firstborn, has her eyes.

So, your grandmother came from Italy?

No, her mother came from Italy. My grandmother was a first-generation Italian-American. Her family came from Positano. My grandfather was also a first-generation Italian-American. His family was from Sicily.

Family is important to you, isn’t it . . .?

Absolutely. Growing up, not only did I spend a lot of time with my maternal grandparents, but with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, too. When we had family dinners, there were always 50 or 60 of us. We never measured wealth in money; we measured it in love.

Did you go to college in California?

No, we moved around a lot. I had always wanted to go to a big ten school with my great love of football when I was a young girl. Ohio State university had a fantastic Bio Chemistry program which I also had a great interest in. That is my nerdy side.

What did you study?

I graduated with honors from high school in biology and science and was interested in biotech, so that’s what I majored in in college. After college, I was offered a job at Pfizer and later went to work at Wyeth. My specific area was pediatric vaccines. I was excited by the science behind it and the advances in technology.

Did you pursue postgraduate education?

I did not because I felt the amazing job I was offered right after graduation, in my area of interest, would be an education in itself—and it was. When I started, I was the only woman in a division of sixty men. Being sort of a trailblazer helped build my self-confidence.

So . . . sports journalism . . . how did that come about?

I have always been interested in sports. My father used to take me to games. When I lived in Denver, I attended all the Colorado Avalanche NHL home games and, of course, the Denver Broncos’ football, and the Denver Nuggets’ basketball games. That is actually how my profession in broadcasting started. I would talk about sports all the time with my friends, and finally, they said, “You know, you should start a podcast.”

So, I did and began interviewing friends who were professional athletes in between working my regular job. Then Fox Sports got wind of my podcast and asked me if I wanted an on-air job and that turned into my own show. I wasn’t married back then, and Fox was offering me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so although I loved my job, I said yes.

Did you really love it?

Yes, I certainly did. But I didn’t just want to report on the games. I wanted athletes to tell their personal stories and for fans not to just see them as athletes, but as “real” people who happen to lead extraordinary lives. That is the direction I took my show. It was amazing how they opened up about their lives and talked about what was important to them apart from the game.  Some of the stories were truly inspirational. Anyway, my show became very popular.

So fast forward. What is your life like today?

You know the saying: you can have it all but not at the same time. Looking back now, I do have it all and I am so very grateful for the long and winding road.

How did you meet your husband?

I was living in Los Angeles at the time and of course Gary lived in New York. He had just acquired his first baseball team, and I was doing my show. A mutual friend who worked for ESPN called me up one day and said, “I want to introduce you to Gary,” and I replied, “I don’t want to date someone who lives on the other side of the country,” and she said, “Amy, I promise you, you have so much in common. You’re both professionals, you both love sports, you are both really good-looking, and I think you would be perfect together.”

So, she introduced us by phone and we talked for about three weeks before we actually met face-to-face. The first time we met was at Super Bowl XLVIII. That was 2013 and my home team, the Denver Broncos, was playing the Seattle Seahawks at the Meadowlands, just across the Hudson from New York City, in New Jersey. I will never forget our first date!

When you saw him for the first time, did you know he was “the one”?

No, not at first. Remember, we were not teenagers. I did know immediately that he was going to be something special in my life. We had this wild chemistry.

You mentioned before we started the interview that Gary had been married before . . .

Yes, he was divorced when we met and had two teenage children from his previous marriage. They were good kids, and we worked hard to create a happy home.

What is the age difference between you and your husband and how does that play in your marriage?

Gary is ten years older than I am and it is a real asset. He is an incredible man who has done so much already with his life and has achieved a lot. We are fortunate. Coming into our marriage as mature adults with professional backgrounds, and with the experience of dealing with all sorts of people, helped us understand one another and support one another. I don’t think we could have achieved as much as we have as a couple and individually if we had not been able to build such a solid foundation for our marriage.

What is most important is the respect we have for one another. I am a firm believer that when you respect your partner—like I do Gary, and he does me—then the world is your oyster. You have a companion who you can enjoy life with, and is there, by your side, to help you over the hurdles that life puts in your way.

You and Gary have two beautiful daughters together. You told me you had difficulty carrying children. Can you tell our readers about that?

I was already in my late thirties when we decided to start a family. I always wanted children. But the first time we tried I suffered a miscarriage. We were devastated. The doctors examined me and said, among other factors, that I had a tipped uterus, and it might be difficult for me to get pregnant and carry a baby to term. They suggested I undergo in-vitro fertilization. I was so excited and hopeful when I had my first IVF, but it did not work. Then I got pregnant again on my own about two months later and suffered another miscarriage. We really wanted children together and I desperately wanted to be a mother, so we did not give up. We tried IVF seven times before we accepted that having a baby naturally was just not going to happen for us.

You must have dealt with so much, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Yes, I got so emotional, especially seeing my friends with happy, healthy babies. Several didn’t have babies until they were in their forties. Whenever I attended a baby shower, I had to convince myself that expecting a baby was their happiness, and because they were my friends, their happiness was my happiness. At least, that is what I tried to tell myself. Finally, I decided to give in to the Universe and accept that it was okay that I was not going to be a mom.

Did the Universe respond?

It did. It really did. Unexpectedly, I produced two healthy embryos. The doctors told me it had a lot to do with my change of attitude, and that I had embraced acceptance. But my body had gone through so much that the doctors worried whether I could carry a baby full-term. They said, “Why don’t you have a ‘gestational carrier,’ find another woman who is willing and able to carry your baby?” Someone else carrying my baby? At first, I did not welcome the idea, but I knew I had to get over it if I was to have children at all.

We were very fortunate. We found a beautiful, beautiful gestational carrier. But when the doctors examined her, they discovered she had a dermoid cyst. More tears. We started interviewing again but did not feel the strong connection we had with the first woman. I was in a dark place when suddenly the phone rang. It was the clinic administrator. She said “our” gestational carrier had the cyst removed, it was benign, and she was ready to move forward. We were overjoyed.

Those nine months were incredible and even now, after almost three years, we have retained that special bond. She and her lovely husband have three boys and we stay in touch. When she handed me my daughter within moments of her birth, she gave the gift of birth to me. This beautiful person, going through nine months of pregnancy and delivery, and all she cared about was giving me happiness.

What would you tell other women that are going through similar difficulties?

I would say, if you truly desire to be a mother, then explore all your options. There are many available. If you can not carry your own baby, a gestational carrier—a woman you have carefully vetted and feel a connection with—can be a beautiful experience. Never give up hope! Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game.

What about your second daughter?

I have a deep connection with my first child. She is everything I ever wished for. But when she was about a year old, Gary and I said, Look, we have one more, healthy, embryo. Should we try one last time? We really wanted to give Giada a sibling. We decided to do it. The doctors said we might have a fifty-percent chance—and it worked. My entire pregnancy went perfectly and after nine months, out she came! Gemma is eleven months and Giada is three.

And you have these two lovely children because you opened up to the universe?

Yes, for sure. I can not tell you how much I believe in opening up. If you ask for something that truly matters to you and completely let go, the universe will take over.

You have to accept the universe with your whole self, soul, heart, and your head. I am a very spiritual person, and I believe.

You are blessed. Now let’s pivot, and can you tell me about the 100 Billion Meals Challenge?

Yes, of course. In the fall of 2022, Gary and I met Tony Robbins, the motivational coach and speaker, at the 10th Annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy. Bill and Melinda Gates, Jon Bon Jovi, Warren Buffet, and Oprah were there, among others, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine was presented with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship in honor of the frontline workers of Ukraine. In 2014, Tony formed the 100 Billion Meals Challenge, an initiative meant to bring together individuals, corporations, and organizations to fund 100 billion meals for American families by the end of 2025 and help them from struggling with hunger. Gary and I jumped on board.

As of right now, the Challenge has supplied 935 million free meals. Gary and I recently bought a home in Aspen and in March, and we hosted the inaugural “Fire and Ice” benefit gala to support the 100 Billion Meals Challenge & The Future of Food Initiatives at the ASPENX Mountain Club. It was an enormous success. I enjoyed involving the Aspen community and helping local food banks such as Lift Up. Aspen has such an incredible community. I am so proud to be a part of it. I enjoyed doing this event but my true passion is conservation, biodiversity and saving our planet and the wildlife that roams among us.

Tell me about The Green Vision Foundation.

I can’t imagine my girls waking up one day and all of our national resources are diminished and the animals extinct. It is our obligation to protect our planet for future generations. Our family foundation supports initiatives that are committed to conservation and humanity for the greater good. It has become a passion for me. I am a global ambassador for Tusk, and ACCF—the African Community & Conservation Fund, which was set up in 1990 in response to the poaching crisis in Africa, specifically East and Southern Africa, in Tanzania, Rwanda, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, where tens of thousands of elephants and black rhinos are in danger of becoming extinct.

Last year, Gary and I hosted the Karibu Africa Gala at our home in Bridgehampton, Long Island. Paula Abdul was the celebrity hostess. And last month, on September 1st, we hosted the Inaugural Footprint of Life Gala there, at our Hamptons home, too. The gala was designed around a jungle theme and called “Fifty Shades of Green.” Paula Abdul was our celebrity hostess and Jan Blomqvist performed. The gala raised more than $500,000 for critical conservation projects. This has been my dream for a while to bring together like-minded people and organizations who share a commitment to global conservation and community enhancement—magical things can happen.

As a mother, I understand the importance of this for the next generation. I consider the climate crisis, escalating stats, and irrevocable damage that is being done to our planet and I must be mindful of the world my daughters’ inherit. We cannot continue to ignore the crisis.

You live a very full life. What do you think it takes to live an abundant life?

It starts with taking care of yourself, and that means loving yourself, being happy with who you are, being joyful, and always being grateful. That is not easy in today’s society. We deal with social media, balancing family with work, and an unstable world, and we juggle so many demands. You have to make time for yourself, or you can get lost in the chaos.

How do you take care of yourself?

Well, first I take care of my body. I exercise five days a week—Pilates, yoga, cardio, and I swim. I take care of my hair and my skin and watch my weight. I listen to myself and follow my intuition. I never forget where I came from and who I am. I work hard as I have during my career, to have a family, to ease my husband’s strenuous life, and to make sure our beautiful children are happy and healthy, and I work hard to maintain stability in my life, which allows me to work on things that matter to me by helping others through our family foundation.

The final question I always ask the ELYSIAN Inspiring Women is, if you were to give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay focused on your goals, and never lose sight of what is most important to you. Try to overcome your fears, stay strong. Never hesitate to ask for help, if you need it; or give help, if you are asked. Most importantly, be kind and compassionate. It is amazing how one small kindness can open up someone’s locked heart and brighten their day. Showing people you care about them can change lives—and when you do, it can definitely change yours. ■

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