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Nina Collins: The Importance of Connecting Women Over 40

Nina Lorez Collins is a writer, entrepreneur and founder of The Woolfer, an online platform for like-minded women over 40. The community grew organically out of a closed Facebook group she started in 2015 called "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?” Her book, What Would Virginia Woolf Do? And Other Questions I Ask Myself As I Attempt to Age Without Apology, was published in April 2018. 

Last year, The Woolfer was acquired by  Hello Revel, a West Coast based community and event platform for midlife women, where Collins is now the Chief Creative Officer. Before Hello Revel, Collins graduated from Barnard College with a master’s degree from Columbia in the field of Narrative Medicine. She also has a long professional background in book publishing, both as a literary scout and agent. She is the mother to four nearly grown children and currently lives in Brooklyn. 

Collins serves as a trustee of the Brooklyn Public Library and is an independent corporate board member of the publishing house Spiegel & Grau. In addition to all of her work, she manages the literary estate of her late mother, the filmmaker and writer Kathleen Collins.

Tell us about your experience in the Narrative Medicine program—what did you find most valuable about the program, and are you applying what you learned from the program in your work?  

Communication in health care is a huge issue. This affects a patient’s ability to receive proper care, to be heard, to be spoken to, to be tended to. We should all be equally heard and listened to. Narrative medicine speaks to this issue of how doctors receive people’s fears and interpret their experience. How are we coming together to solve these health problems?  

I currently manage the estate of my late mother, Kathleen Collins, who was a writer and filmmaker. She died when I was a teenager and I think I was initially drawn to the Narrative Medicine program because I wanted to explore a lot of ideas around this loss. I wanted to better understand her experience as a mother, a writer, and the trauma of having breast cancer young. All of this drew me to the program. 

Tell us about your career path, and the story of how you founded The Woolfer, and how that evolved into a book?  

I was a literary agent and worked in publishing for about 20 years. Then the Narrative Medicine degree brought together all of the interests in my life that have now culminated into my current business of serving women over 40. I hit a zeitgeist moment, where I wanted to talk about aging and it turned out I was not alone. For example, many women were speaking out about menopause and the difficulties of getting sufficient medical care.  

As I learned in the program, it all comes down to communication, advocacy, and community to a large extent. If you can talk about what's going on for you and get other people's advice and opinion, it’s empowering. 

As I learned in the program, it all comes down to communication, advocacy, and community to a large extent. If you can talk about what's going on for you and get other people's advice and opinion, it’s empowering.

Another key area of the program that has continued over this work is discussing ideas around shame; in not wanting to talk about disability, not wanting to talk about illness or infirmity, or being attractive, or feeling irrelevant. It’s all of these things that are a perfectly normal part of getting older.  

It’s easier for men in our society to age than women and that’s something we are trying to change.  

Tell us about your role as Revel’s Chief Creative Officer and your experience at the Brooklyn Public Library.  

I’m currently the Chief Creative Officer at a company called Hello Revel, an events and community platform for women over the age of 40. The idea is to essentially create an entire universe for women where we can find our tribes and feel heard and be seen.  

In September 2021, I was elected to serve as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Brooklyn Public Library. I have a lifelong love of books and libraries and am thrilled to help this great institution include even more people from all of the diverse communities we serve.