Charity Meets: Rebecca Thorsen
Occupation: Business Development, Thorsen Construction
Twitter Handle: @beccathorsen
Motto: You have been treated generously, so live generously.
What are three words that best describe you? Aesthete, wit, bon vivant.
How do you describe Thorsen Construction? Thorsen Construction is a luxury builder and remodeler in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia. We work with incredibly talented architects and designers to produce amazing projects and homes.
What inspires you most about your work? I am inspired by the finished products. Growing up, and today, my favorite magazine was Architectural Digest. I have always been interested in the architecture, design, and interiors of living spaces. Operating a business is such a valuable learning experience; I look forward to getting more involved with the design process and being able to utilize my creativity.
What experience in your career are you most proud of? I am not only proud but baffled that I have survived working so closely with my three brothers while maintaining a close relationship with them. Really, I am proud of the systems and processes I have implemented within our company, and the growth and efficiency of our operation as a result.
What advice would you share with those still in school? Life is a long process; don’t put too much pressure on yourself to figure out what you want to do with it. Your aspirations may change but being disciplined will always be at the foundation of anything you do, so work hard.
Why is giving back important to you? It’s important to take yourself out of the picture from time-to-time and focus on the needs of others. There are so many people who are in need, even if it is not obvious, and everyone is in a position to help in some way or another.
How has giving back helped you? Giving back gives me a much needed priority shift and puts everything in perspective. Having a grateful attitude carries over to other areas of your life and helps you to focus on what is important. Attitude is everything, and I definitely need mine checked once in a while, being generous is an effective practice.
How do you incorporate giving back into your life and your business? Just maintaining a generous spirit and being willing and ready to help-out whenever the opportunity presents itself is important.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? I love what Make-a-Wish provides for children and their families. I have friends who were recipients of wishes; it is incredible to hear their stories. As a nation we were all touched by the “Bat kid” wish provided by Make-a-Wish to a young boy in San Francisco. I am also the co-chair of Give Back Alexandria, which focuses on funding local non-profits, and community involvement.
When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back at and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help? I went to New Orleans to gut houses three months after Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps it seems like the most impactful effort because I was so involved first-hand. Being able to talk to the homeowners and hear about how our efforts helped them, and seeing them so grateful had a huge impact on me.
What is the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across? The most creative and popular fundraising ideas today are those involving clothing and fashion lines that benefit a cause. That seems to be the charitable thing of the moment.
What are some must-attend charity events for you? I am a huge supporter of any event in support of Make-a-Wish, specifically Make-a-Wish Mid-Atlantic.
What are your favorite shoes? I’m thrilled about the style evolution of the athletic shoe and where it is today. I wear Nike and New Balance for J. Crew kicks fairly often.
What brands do you wear most often? I am human; therefore I wear mostly J. Crew.
What is your favorite beauty product? All YSL beauty products are so light and have amazing coverage; the colors and tints are perfect. Plus, they smell amazing! The whole line is incredibly thoughtful. I especially love their lipstick colors; they have the best pinks. FYI: Tom Ford has the best reds.
How would you describe your home décor? I don’t have a set décor. My style process for everything is to just stick with things I truly love and try to maintain a certain taste level.
What is your secret for hosting a great party? Pretty flowers, nice stemware, and plenty of bubbly booze.
Favorite food: I have a very high-low palate. I love the whole gamut of delicious, rich, French food and wine; but on the other hand, I love Mexican food with a cold Dos Equis. I refuse to choose, I have an equal and long-standing love for both.
Favorite cocktail: French 75.
Favorite restaurant: Dining-out is my favorite past-time so this is will be difficult to condense. In DC my absolute favorite restaurant is Blue Duck Tavern. Other favorites include Bistro du Coin, Le Diplomate, Brasserie Beck, Bourbon Steak and a late-night Orca platter at Old Ebbitt. This little spot in Old Town, Fontaine, has the best steak frites ever and I can’t leave off Los Tios in Del Ray. A trip to Los Tios is more of a “must-attend” event in my book.
If you could host a dinner party for 8, who would you invite living or dead? I would invite eight strong-willed and interesting women from history, including my 2 grandmothers. Molly Brown would probably be in the mix as well.
Favorite vacation spot: Riding a horse on the turquoise trail outside of Madrid, NM with cowboy John C. Wayne.
Favorite TV show: I don’t have my TV connected to cable. I have an apple TV almost exclusively as a way to repeatedly watch 30 Rock on Netflix. I have seen every episode about a million times, now that I think about it; I would want Jack Donaghy to attend my dinner party for 8.
Favorite movie: Titanic.
Favorite song: Oh, the usual; anything by Celine Dion, Jay Z, or Hillsong.
Favorite book: Unbroken, A Moveable Feast, anything by Oscar Wilde, and Head and Shoulders, a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Favorite apps: Instagram. It has become quite the problem. I’m on a temporary, self-imposed Instagram ban.
iPhone or Android: iPhone.
Favorite workout: A long walk to dinner.
Where do you get your news? I follow all the news sources on Twitter pretty indiscriminately. TheSkimm is an easy read in the morning. I also really enjoy reading the WSJ on the weekends.