Jamie Mittelman: The Female Entrepreneur Who Bears the Flame for Olympians and Paralympians

Jamie Mittelman: The Female Entrepreneur Who Bears the Flame for Olympians and Paralympians
Photo Courtesy: Jamie Mittelman

Meet Jamie Mittelman, the passionate entrepreneur who founded Flame Bearers, a platform that celebrates and empowers female Olympians and Paralympians. Her story is one of perseverance, inspiration, and the courage to pursue what truly matters (at least to her). 

The female entrepreneur’s journey started with tragedy when she lost her father to incurable brain cancer, glioblastoma. A year later, her mom suffered one of the most fatal heart conditions: a type A aortic dissection. 

These events shook Jamie’s world and made her realize that life is too short to do anything that doesn’t align with her passions and values. This wake-up call pushed her to take the plunge and start her own venture, Flame Bearers. “It encouraged me to go big. I was done playing it safe.” Jamie says. 

Showcasing solidarity

Jamie initially devised the company to support and celebrate female Olympians, but her perspective shifted when the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement gained momentum in the United States. There was a lot of discussion around allyship, and the responsibility white people had in actively participating and creating space for these conversations. These discussions, in tandem with a suggestion from her Harvard Faculty Advisor, Dr. Kessely Hong, led Jamie to expand her focus to support female Paralympians as well. “I’m a white person who was born with certain privileges, many of which have been structurally and socially reinforced. BLM made me more cognisant of the opportunities as well as responsibilities that come hand-in-hand with being white. At the same time, Dr. Hong was advising me on my work, and challenged me to apply this learning to support athletes with disabilities. As an able-bodied person, I can and frankly need to play a crucial role in listening to, understanding, and supporting people with disabilities.” Her experience in the media space, coupled with her love for sports, played a vital role in shaping Jamie’s vision for Flame Bearers. She wanted to create a platform that showcases the resilience of female athletes and inspires others to find that same quality within themselves. 

“We focus on resilience, be it in each athlete’s personal or professional life,” Jamie explains. “The idea of getting back up, of pushing oneself, of grit. I want our consumers to see that in themselves – to see that spark in others and turn it into a fire for themselves.” 

Mittelman is the ideal leader for Flame Bearers, as her background makes her uniquely positioned to powerfully support the athletes’ narratives and experiences. Her connections to institutions such as Middlebury, Dartmouth, and Harvard allow her to bring in experts, such as on racial justice, who can significantly contribute to the athletes’ narratives.

Race isn’t a limiting factor in Jamie’s world, nor is ability, sexuality, or religion.. Flame Bearers is not just a platform for Olympians and Paralympians; it’s a place where anyone can find inspiration, motivation, and empowerment. Jamie’s goal is for everyone to see themselves in these athletes’ stories and recognize their potential for resilience and growth. 

“I want Olympians and Paralympians to be mirrors for everyone who listens and hears their stories,” Jamie says. “To say, hey, I have a bit of that in myself too—I can get up and be a better version of myself tomorrow.” 

Betting on women and girls

Jamie has always been passionate about working with women and girls. After graduating from Middlebury College as a Gender Studies minor, she worked as a teacher in Bangladesh at the first liberal arts women’s university in Asia. Her experience there ignited her desire to empower women to tell their stories and become champions for themselves. 

She also chaired the women’s conference at the Harvard Kennedy School for three years, highlighting her dedication to elevating women’s voices and providing them with the skills and tools necessary to succeed. Her background and experience have been instrumental in shaping her work, and she continues to be a fierce advocate for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

But Mittelman doesn’t just want to be the storyteller; she prefers to teach young women the skills to tell their own stories and become champions for themselves. “I’m a believer in the teach them to fish model.” The Flame Bearers Fellowship is a three-month program that aims to do just that. Bringing ten women together from around the world, the free program teaches women how to tell their own stories through digital storytelling including podcasting, video work, social media management, and public speaking. Every week the Fellowship hosts subject matter experts to help participants develop their skills. The vision is clear: teach women to tell their stories, so they no longer need to rely on others.

That said, just being able to talk and share certain stories may be a struggle. Though Jamie is keen to emphasize that she’s been fortunate and has not by any means lived a life of relative challenge, when asked what was most helpful in her ability to move forward, her advice was, “Stop and feel it.” Resilience is not something you can achieve overnight. It’s a multi-step process that requires patience, self-reflection, and self-care. “I needed to feel the ick in order to move on. I couldn’t shove it under the rug.” 

Jamie’s journey from personal tragedy to founding Flame Bearers is a story of resilience, inspiration, and the power of following your passions. Her platform is a testament to the importance of celebrating and empowering female Olympians and Paralympians, and her goal is for everyone to find inspiration and empowerment in their stories. With her focus on resilience, this female entrepreneur is paving the way for others to recognize their potential and pursue what truly matters to them.

Published by: Martin De Juan


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