Big Lessons for Little People is a collaboration of many smart and safety-minded folk. Started by 3 moms who care about safety, and their kids, we decided to pull together a collection of resources, topics and information we hope you will find helpful in your crazy parenthood journey. 

We passionately believe conversations about safety should be a part of your daily life, and do not have to be scary or frightening. Rather, if woven into the fabric of your family, they help everyone grow stronger, more confident and most importantly, more aware. 

There is no perfect answer to safety issues, because life doesn't happen by textbook rules. Scary things happen in an instant and there is no insurance against tragedies in life. However, there ARE behaviors we can model, and conversations we can have, and muscles we can all flex to give our kids the confidence and self-assurance to act in their own best interest when you are not around. 

In today's world, safety is about more than not taking candy from strangers - it is about a host of micro-decisions we all make every day around awareness, personal space, privacy and self-advocacy. It is never too early to build the vocabulary and framework for your family's safety conversations. 


Mother of 4 (that's right, 4) kids, Mauren Cavanagh is originally from Chicago but lives in New York City. She recently helped launch Derek Jeter's latest new media company, Jeter Publishing and The Players' Tribune where she is the Creative Director. 

Through the years, Maureen has worked at several newspapers, media companies and publications including Sports Illustrated magazine.

She has a Bachelor's degree in Photojournalism from The Newhouse School of Communications and a Graduate degree in Journalism from Columbia University.


Dawn is a mother of 2 girls and lives in New York City. She began her training in women’s self defense while an undergrad at Wellesley College. An avid athlete, she has close to 20 years of experience in boxing and fitness.

She is passionate about teaching women and children tools to help stay safe and encouraging everyone to exceed their own expectations. Dawn completed an intensive Instructor Certification program in Krav Maga, an Israeil form of self-defense under the tutelage of Gabi Noah (Master II) and Tsahi Shemesh, and received her G1 certification, becoming the first woman instructor certified by IKM in the United States. Dawn also successfully completed IKM Children Instructors Course and she is certified to teach Krav Maga for kids.

She is also the Co-Founder of IAmElemental, a line of action figures for girls which was named as one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2014 by TIME magazine. Dawn currently serves as the CEO of VONK, her new venture, undertaken in partnership with Electric Yarn, which meets at the intersection of on and offline play. 


Rita Mullaney is a retired New York City Police Department Captain who served in the department for 24 years and mother of 2. A life long New Yorker, Rita was born and raised in Brooklyn and still lives in New York City.

As a NYPD Police Officer in the early 1990’s, she bravely worked her beat in the drug fueled Chelsea area of the city, 

A quintessential “Cop on beat” from years ago, Rita stood out as the neighborhood fixture, she followed up on crime victims by visiting them at their homes and instilling a sense of safety within community.

After many years on patrol Rita went into the Detective Bureau Special Victims Unit. She served as a police officer and Sergeant in the Sex Offender Monitoring Unit. As a Lieutenant she was the platoon commander in the 6th Precinct located in Greenwich Village and also attended the FBI National Academy at Quantico Virginia.

She attended SUNY College at New Paltz and graduated with a degree in Sociology.


Kim Dooley Kittay has 3 sons and is a born and bred New Yorker. She is an actress and writer, and has been teaching children dance at The Third Street Music School Settlement on the Lower East Side for over twenty years.   She has been in many television commercials and just finished her second screenplay.

Kim has an MFA in dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts anda BA from Vassar College.


Jennifer Maeder is a pediatric advice nurse and periodic stay-at-home Mom. In between fielding phone calls about runny noses and rashes, she is studying to become a Lactation Consultant. She and her husband live in San Francisco and are doing their best to raise two daughters in a very different world than the suburbs of their own childhoods.