becky ortyl

Executive Director, Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation, Owner, Olive + Oak and Clover and the Bee, Mom to Isla, Oakes + Esme

what does confidence mean to you?

Feeling really comfortable, exactly where you are.


So much of my story right now has to do with motherhood. Motherhood and grief. But it’s a beautiful story — a redemption story.

My oldest daughter Isla introduced me to Motherhood. My second child, Oakes introduced me to congenital heart defects. After a short and intense life of 15 months, Oakes also introduced me to deep grief, but also an inner strength that I had no idea I possessed. Later, our third child Esme was born — and her energy is pure joy and naughty coming at you like a tornado. In 10 years of parenting we have seen such highs and have felt such lows.

During Oakes’ life, my husband Greg and I were inspired to start Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation (MOHF), which I have been leading for 8 years now. At MOHF we help families who have children with congenital heart defects. We know first-hand how hard it is to have a critically ill child, especially one with a heart defect and our greatest wish is that we can keep families together during this time.

We help families across the country every year in really profound ways — paying their mortgages, rent, utility bills, helping buy medical devices, paying for travel and lodging expenses — whatever we can do to keep a family together during their stressful time, that is what we strive to do. Because we know through Oakes’ life, that the best medicine a sick kid will ever receive is the love from their parents. So that is our goal — keep families together, and help distribute lots of love.

My background is in design. I studied Furniture Design at SCAD. I could not be any further from where I planned to be in life, but I know in my heart that this is EXACTLY where I need to be. Of course, I’d trade anything to have Oakes living under my roof with his two crazy sisters, but at the end of the day my heart is full. Oakes is still with us. He is in our hearts and has been the catalyst for helping thousands of families across the country.

"I could not be any further from where I planned to be in life, but I know in my heart that this is EXACTLY where I need to be."

When is your first memory of feeling confident?

As a very young child, I would dress myself in a combination of play clothes and costumes — and I loved it. I’m so thankful my Mom rolled with it and let me be exactly who I wanted to be — sequins and all!

When is your first memory of feeling insecure?

When I was in third grade I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Leading up to that diagnosis was lots and lots of tears, frustration and shame. At school, I was painfully aware of my differences in learning and was so embarrassed. I struggled when I was asked to read out loud for years (I still don’t like to do this as an adult), reading of any kind felt like a punishment and test taking was never my strength. 

What makes you feel most confident now? How has this changed?

 I feel most confident now when I’m doing something creative. This could be creative problem solving at Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation, planning a fundraiser, storytelling — about the work we do at MOHF, interior design at one of our restaurants, or simply baking or working on a little craft with my girls.

What is something you’re most proud of?

My kids. All three of them. They are incredible — with their own gifts, interests and paths. They have all taught me so much and I feel lucky to call them mine!


First, I would give that younger Becky a huge hug. I love that girl! Then, I’d assure her that she has everything that she will need to navigate the road ahead. (I can’t believe how strong I have been when really pushed to be!)

Last, I would plead with myself to always circle back to myself. Check in and ask “How I am showing up for me?”. For too long I had taken care of so many people, and I wasn’t always taking care of myself. I wish along the way that I would have given myself permission to take better care of myself – to hire more babysitters, to make that massage appointment, to go on the girls trip, to stay in, go to bed early, to say no, to speak up when I was holding back.

How are you using your platform to make a difference?

I think from the beginning with Oakes, I refused to be consumed by everything that scared me. When Oakes was living in the ICU, I was originally consumed with fear, but pretty early on I started searching for good news, good moments, or any signs of beauty and pretty soon I started seeing it everywhere — despite the struggle we were in. It was life changing. When Oakes was just 4 months old, we established our organization as a 501c3 nonprofit, and started helping other families. Our mission hasn’t changed in these last 8 years — we want to help others, we want to change lives, we want to put huge doses of love into families so similar to ours — who really do need a little help.