Originally Posted: August 10, 2013
Growing up in Hingham created an indelible impression on young Tamara, instilling in her an appreciation for historic architecture and later — thanks to a high school program in which the 15 and 16 year olds helped with work “preserving” (read: stripping and removing layers of old paint and wall paper!) some of Boston’s oldest historic residences — she developed a passion for architectural integrity and environmentally safe-practices in renovating historic structures.
After high school, Tamara spent the summer riding her bike 2,400 miles around Europe and then moved to New York City to study stage-acting (with Broadway’s Circle In The Square and the Experimental Theater Wing.) In 1991 she received a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts. Through NYU she studied mask and clown work with the Theatre du Soliel in Paris, and also studied with the legendary circus arts master, Hovey Burgess. She also attended summer semesters at Skidmore and at Dartmouth.
Always passionate about the health and well-being of children, Tamara supported herself through college (1987-1991) by babysitting and nannying for many of the young families within the burgeoning visual arts community in Manhattan.
In 1991 Tamara moved to Marin County, California, and discovered that it was a bit tricky to make a living as a circus arts performer. She decided a career path with a bit more security might be warranted and completed coursework for a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration at the University of San Francisco in 1994. [One day, she hopes to eventually complete her graduate degree! Lol! This is sort of a running family joke, as her plan was to be the first in her immediate family to receive a graduate degree, but life intervened prior to completing her thesis – with just one chapter left to go.]
In 1996, after giving birth to her first son – Colescott, Tamara launched a nonprofit fundraising and special event planning consultancy (“Budgett Consulting”—a play on words based on her maiden name, Tamara Budgett), so that she could work part-time and spend time with her son.
In April 2001 she met her future-husband Leonard Rubin, and they were married—in May! Len and Tamara connected over bicycles, and Len’s equal passion for environmental causes (including what was at that time still considered by many to be a bold dream: to explore and expand the boundaries of an intentionally car-free life in the U.S.—which prompted the small family’s move to the growing bicycle mecca of Portland, Oregon in 2002.) Tamara & Len’s second son, A.J. was born in July of 2002, and Avi (son #3) was born in January of 2005. [Son #4 – Charlie Parker was born later – in 2008.]
Later in 2005, with an expanding family they decided to refinance their home so they could take some equity out and make some home improvements. Their neighbor and mortgage broker told them that, in order to get the best loan, they would need to repaint the exterior of their home so that it looked good for the appraisal. After interviewing nearly a dozen contractors, the Rubins chose a painting contractor who said he was certified in the lead-safe work practices that were required to safely repaint the exterior. Unfortunately, he lied—they later (too late) learned he had failed the lead-safe work practices certification exam; in fact, he used the most dangerous methods possible to prepare their home for painting (open flame torch burning, dry scraping and pressure washing) and their children were instantly poisoned…
Tamara has since become an internationally recognized, award-winning* lead-poisoning prevention advocate and documentary filmmaker. In 2008 she began her personal advocacy site, mychildrenhaveleadpoisoning.com. In 2011 she founded the nonprofit Lead Safe America Foundation and began working on the documentary feature film MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic.
Since then Tamara has created an unprecedented web and media presence (including Social Media) for the cause of lead-poisoning prevention, in an effort to bring this message to the world: lead-poisoning was not “solved” with the 1978 ban on lead in residential paint. She is committed to educating every parent about this wholly preventable environmental illness that causes permanent brain damage in young children yet still today conservatively costs the United States more than $50.9 Billion annually!
Through her advocacy work, Tamara has personally helped thousands of families create safer homes and environments for their children.