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…
Unwilling to settle living with the pervasive societal ignorance around everything related to childhood lead poisoning (and unwilling to see future generations of children poisoned as her children were) Tamara vowed to change the narrative around the issue and increase awareness so that some day in the future all children will be spared this wholly preventable man-made environmental illness.
In the years since her children’s poisoning more than a decade ago, she has become an internationally recognized, award-winning* lead-poisoning prevention advocate, author and documentary filmmaker.
- In 2008 she began her personal advocacy site, mychildrenhaveleadpoisoning.com.
- In 2009 She became certified in using a Niton XRF [see here certificate HERE] and has been doing independent consumer goods testing since that time. [As of the updating of this post (November 2018) She has quite possibly tested more consumer goods than any other person on the planet.]
- From 2009 through the present she created and developed the largest international online network of support and information for parents (about childhood lead poisoning prevention and related subjects) using social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
- In 2011 she began Directing and Producing the documentary feature film MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic. [It is currently in post-production.]
- In 2017 and 2018 she formalized her independent consumer goods testing and lead poisoning prevention advocacy work by creating (and officially becoming) “Lead Safe Mama”.
[Continued below video].
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 often reaches more than 100,000 people online each month and she has personally helped thousands of families create safer homes and environments for their children.