Amy McConnell and Cara Lespron

Best friends Amy McConnell and Cara Lespron grew up in Mesa and now run East Valley Moms.

Amy McConnell and Cara Lespron were best friends in junior high and high school. 

Both attended Red Mountain High School in Mesa and had their Sweet 16 birthday parties together. 

After losing touch after graduation, they reunited at East Valley Moms, a community blog connecting area moms and families to events, parenting resources and to each other. 

“East Valley Moms has been a social media platform here in the East Valley for about seven years,” said owner/chief curator McConnell, mom to 1-year-old Maverick. 

“It was started by two local moms. One was a recent transplant from Southern California. The other one was newly divorced. They came together to create a mom community they were both craving,” she continued.

“The transplant from Southern California was looking to get to know her new state a little bit more and a new area of town. So East Valley Moms was born.”

It’s not a typical blog since it’s a community of mom writers who are volunteer contributors with children of different ages, some with developmental and disability issues.

“In early 2020, I was pregnant with my first baby and I applied to be a contributor, a volunteer writer,” said McConnell. “Cara had already been a contributor writer for the blog for a number of years. She had moved up to become their editor. So, I applied to be a writer and was accepted.”

After six months as a contributing writer, the founders announced they were selling the business and McConnell bought it from the two founders in September 2021. 

Sometimes you just say ‘yes’ when opportunities come if they make sense,” said McConnell, a former journalist and media spokesperson for the City of Mesa. 

“This was one of those opportunities I wasn’t searching out. I wasn’t looking to buy a business or to have my own digital media platform. But it just checked a lot of boxes for where I wanted my work to go as I transitioned into new motherhood.”

Added Lespron, who is site manager and editor: “When Amy took over, I think the first thing I said to her when I found out she was buying it was, ‘Don’t fire me.’” 

Lespron, mom to 6-year-old Braylin and 4-year-old Joel, does all of the backend duties and most of the editing. 

“I’m more of a details person,” she said. “Amy has the big ideas, the connections, and is really good at the creative part of it. I’m the one that figures out how to get there. I do the proofreading for everyone.” 

Lespron left her medical career in 2015 to be a stay-at-home mom when her husband’s job relocated them to Tucson. After her daughter was born and 10 months of the  “daycare shuffle and just never seeing her, I craved that,” said Lespron.

Eventually, her husband’s job moved them back to the valley and they landed in East Mesa where she was born and raised. 

“I had never lived in Mesa as a mom,” Lespron said. “I had only lived in Mesa until my high school years. I was just craving a way to reconnect with the East Valley and meet moms. Since I was the first of my friends to have kids, I was kind of lost.”

That’s when she applied to be a contributing writer for East Valley Moms and was accepted in 2018. 

“Then in 2020, their editor was taking a step back,” explained Lespron. “No one else really wanted the job. I wasn’t working and thought, ‘I can do that.’ So, I got thrown into that and learned WordPress and all of the fun stuff that comes with editing and managing a group of contributors and deadlines and feeding out content.

“It was kind of a whirlwind. I never thought I’d be in this line of work but I love it. It’s been really awesome.”

McConnell said, “When I took over, we kind of took a step back and really honed in on the editorial direction and what was working and what are readers were responding best to.” 

“We made a lot of changes to just localize the content a lot more and make it more news you can use for moms instead of more ‘Dear Diary’ posts. Since September when I got keys to the kingdom, we’ve increased page views to the website by 28 percent and the average session time of someone actually reading the blogs has increased 33 percent and we’re so proud of that. We’ve also grown exponentially on Instagram.”

McConnell’s government experience helps in connecting moms to services the City of Mesa offers, such as free bicycle helmets for kids through the Bike and Pedestrian program. 

“Small resources like that really break or make a motherhood experience when you feel like someone’s in your corner…There are so many rich resources government offers to young families they don’t know about.” 

In-person events such as Moms Night Out are also slowly returning. 

Applications for contributing writer are during the fourth quarter every year. Contributors sign on for the next year.

 “We have found that creates more of a community than having an ongoing, rolling entry period,” McConnell said. “Our dozen contributors right now – the relationships that have been formed — are so rich. We’re also looking for more diversity in our writers. That’s something really important to us.”  

Most of the writers are moms juggling parenthood and a job. Many are entrepreneurs with a growing business. 

East Valley Moms also accepts guest ideas and submissions.  

McConnell hopes in the next year to bring more local parenting news to the blog and make more of an impact on local families.

 She also hopes to get the brand known more for being a helpful resource in making parenting easier and happier. 


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