Mary McNealy Czarnecki ’00 grew up in a New Jersey suburb and describes herself as “an East Coast girl,” but for the last seven years, she has been living in Newberg, Ore., population 22,000. In a small town, “you really end up knowing everyone,” from the mayor to the mailman, she says. This is especially the case for Czarnecki, who helps her husband, Chris, run the restaurant that his great-grandparents started. As executive chef, he works 12-hour days at the 50-seat Joel Palmer House and at the second, more casual restaurant the couple recently opened nearby.
Czarnecki has her hands full at home. The mother of two boys, a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old, she consults on strategy for WebMD from her dining-room table while the kids play with the babysitter. “We have French doors, so I wave but make the motion ‘Mommy’s on the phone,’” she says. She travels to New York City once every couple of months to visit clients.
On the side she runs her own website, White Table Crafts, which sells baby products such as blankets and changing pads that she sews by hand. Friends are amazed at her output, but she thrives on the chaos. “I’ll sew like crazy for 12 hours one weekend a month,” she says. “You always think you’re super-busy, and then later you think, ‘Wow, I had so much free time!’”
Living near family — her in-laws are down the street — helps her manage it all. And small-town life, she says, makes parenting a bit easier: “When my kids are teenagers, everyone will be looking out for them.”