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The Schmooze

‘Leaning in’ to marriage: Sheryl Sandberg announces engagement to Tom Bernthal

Sheryl Sandberg may be the queen bee of Facebook, but to reveal her upcoming nuptials she turned to the platform favored by cool kids worldwide — Instagram.

On Monday, Sandberg announced her engagement to strategic consultant Tom Bernthal in an effusive post that could have been ripped from a Valentine’s Day rom com.

“You are my everything,” she said. “I could not love you more.”

Comments immediately flooded in from the likes of Ariana Huffington, Katie Couric, and — in a very meta social media move — Instagram’s official account itself.

Sandberg was previously married to Dave Goldberg, who died suddenly in 2015. Left to raise two young children on their own, Sandberg relied on her husband’s family, with whom she retained a remarkably close relationship. Sandberg has said that her mother-in-law encouraged her to consider new relationships, promising to dance at her wedding should she marry again. It’s a promise she’ll have to keep thanks to Rob Goldberg, Sandberg’s former brother-in-law, who introduced her to Bernthal last spring.

Since 2012, Sandberg has been Facebook’s most recognizable leader besides its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. She’s presided over the platform’s growth into a multi-billion dollar corporate octopus with tentacles in every online pie; and she’s endeavored to protect it at all costs (even by hiring consultants who smeared proponents of tech regulation, like George Soros, with anti-Semitic slurs).

One of the most prominent women in the Silicon Valley tech bubble, Sandberg has also branded herself as an advocate for all women in the workplace. But her 2013 book-slash-movement, “Lean In,” garnered criticism for placing the burden of breaking glass ceilings on female professionals alone, ignoring the myriad factors besides individual determination that prevent women from achieving careers as illustrious as hers.

In “Option B,” a 2017 memoir about grief and resilience, Sandberg focused on a different kind of individualism, encouraging women to mourn — and move past mourning — at their own pace. She frankly acknowledged that this was easier said than done: Sandberg herself embarked on a new relationship when she felt ready to do so, ten months after her husband’s death, only to receive a flood of hateful messages on the social media platforms she’d helped create.

“Men date sooner, men date more, and women get judged more,” she told the Guardian.

Before founding his consulting firm, Kelton Global, Bernthal worked for the Clinton administration and NBC News, where he won an Emmy award for his production work. People reported that he proposed to Sandberg after a hike and picnic lunch. And while Sandberg can clearly put as many diamond rings on her own fingers as she wants, he gave her an engagement band set with five diamonds, representing her two children and his three.

Irene Katz Connelly is an intern at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected].

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