Adrienne Penake: 5.15.16


Adrienne PenakeCFA, CEO, Founder, Speech Buddies, Inc.



BCM: What was the best parenting advice that you received? 

AP: One of the best books I have read, which is not really a parenting book per se, is called “The Secrets of Happy Families” by Bruce Feiler. In it, he talks broadly of the importance of the family unit and shares ideas, adapted from many different types of organizations, on how to increase communication and function within a family. I love his ideas on strengthening the entire family unit and respecting that everyone – parents & children alike – should have a voice in how their family operates.

BCM: What parenting advice would you give to a new mom? 

AP: I have two – the first is a practical tip: try swaddling your newborn for sleep! For both of my kids, it really helped them rest more soundly as infants.Next, try not to pay too much attention to all of the well-meaning advice that you will be given by everybody on how you should parent your children. Over time, you will come to know your kids better than anyone else and learn to trust your instincts to guide you. Not some list of “should” and “should nots.” I wish I had understood that sooner!


 Adrienne Penake

BCM: Congratulations on your success at Speech Buddies! Tell us how you found your position and what Speech Buddies is all about.

AP:  Thanks! Speech Buddies’ main goal is to improve access to care for speech and language therapy so children can get in and out of treatment more quickly and go back to being a kid! We have built the first ever marketplace for speech services, called Speech Buddies Connect, that allows parents to choose from the best local speech therapists, schedule next-day appointments, and have a $25 initial evaluation that gives them peace of mind that they are on the right track with their child.

I didn’t come into this field through a traditional path. I actually started my career on Wall Street and had been working in the finance industry for many years. Speech Buddies started as a product company, driven by the desire to invent technology solutions in a field that traditionally has had none. As our first product, Speech Buddies Tools was launched, one of our co-founders, Alexey Salamini, reached out to me to help him build out our commercial business. He famously said to me (as I had just had my first child) – “This is an opportunity to help thousands or even millions of kids! So come join me and let’s build this together.” I then got tapped to step into the CEO role and launch our expansion to Speech Buddies Connect 18 months ago.

BCM:  Please share some tips on what we should look out for in terms of a speech delay in our children.

AP: Most concerns about speech delay will start to arise when a child is 18-24 months. This is a rapid period of language expansion for young children and when “red flags” can start to appear if they are not progressing as quickly as developmentally appropriate. If, by 18 months, your child is having difficulty “communicating” with you – she can’t say at least 10 words, or will not point to something she wants – you should begin to pay closer attention. Between 19 & 24 months, children should learn about one new word per week and by 2 years of age, should be able to begin joining two words together, such as “me want,” or “eat now,” to communicate.

BCM: What is one item you always have in your diaper bag?

AP: A change of clothes for my kids. You never need it until that day that you do….

BCM: What has been your favorite vacation as a family?

AP:  We had an incredible opportunity to go to France as a family in 2014. My husband had to go for work and we had been invited to a wedding around the same time, so we all made the trip and it was one of the best experiences we’ve ever had as a family. My daughter still talks about the croissants in Paris (we guiltily ate them EVERY DAY we were there) and the fresh cherries she picked in Provence. Just thinking about it again makes me want to go back!

BCM: What is your go-to family meal? 

AP:  My kids both love pasta, so that is definitely a go-to when we don’t have much around the house. On the weekends, we often go to our local Farmer’s Market and we’ll let each of our kids pick out something they want to try, then incorporate that ingredient into lunch or dinner that day. Sometimes we wind up with honey sticks or popcorn, but other times they have experimented with a new fruit or vegetable (purple cauliflower and pomelos were two recent choices!) that they wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

BCM: What product could you not live without? 

AP: I loved carrying my kids around in our baby Ergo. I’ve used it as both a front and back carrier and it was great.

BCM: What is your perfect family weekend activity? 

AP: We all love being outside, so one of our go-to family activities is driving out to the beach near the Pacific Ocean and just playing for a few hours. It’s not usually very warm, but we’ll dig in the sand, hunt for seashells or sand dollars, or just chase the seagulls down the beach. We all come home refreshed and relaxed.

BCM: if you had an hour to yourself, what would you do?

AP: Go to a yoga class.

BCM: How do you manage work time and family time? 

AP: This is always a work in progress! I am a person who juggles a lot, but in terms of work and family time, my husband and I have really taken this one on together. We split up the pick up/drop off duties between our kids to best accommodate our work schedules and share all of our household tasks. One little thing that really helps me try and balance is that when I get home from work, I put down my phone, don’t answer calls, emails, or texts for the next two hours and try my best to really engage with my kids. We have limited time together on weekdays, so I try to make the most of it.




Favorite beauty product:


Favorite form of exercise:  

yoga, running & dancing

Favorite app:


Favorite Kids Store:

The LEGO store

What’s on your DVR?

Homeland and Project Runway

Favorite San Francisco restaurant?

This is a tough one – there are so many good choices! One of my top choices is Nopa – great combo of delicious food & a fun atmosphere.