Looking back, I was born to be a journalist. My mother was an English teacher and my father was a journalism major. While my mother fostered my grammar and sentence structure, my father fueled my creativity. My first venture in newspapers was at age 8 — a newsletter for a neighborhood club. Girl Scout newsletters followed.
After graduating from Penn Hills High School, I went to Bethany College in West Virginia with no idea of what I wanted to do. A classmate encouraged me to try journalism. I did. Three years later, I had my first newspaper job as a reporter for the now-defunct Churchill Area Progress and Wilkinsburg Gazette. I also had a stint as public information officer for Wilkinsburg School District and spent several years as a freelancer — mostly for Gateway Newspapers/Trib Total Media and, for a few years, the Pittsburgh Press — while raising my two children.
I returned to Gateway Newspapers as a reporter for the Oakmont-Verona Advance Leader before accepting a feature writing position for the chain that included editing and pagination.
I spent the next decade in what I would term a "dream job" that took me inside many attractions in western Pennsylvania and gave me a chance to learn so much about the area I call home. And I had the good fortune to write several series about its people — from the Larimer Avenue residents who left the city for the East Suburbs in the post-war years, organ donors and recipients, revisiting cold cases in hopes of finding closure for murder victims' families and following a former college athlete through a year after life-saving weight-loss surgery. More than anything, my reward was in the many wonderful people I got to meet along the way.
In 2009, I decided to try my hand as editor of Trib Total Media's weekly Times Express, which serves Monroeville and Pitcairn. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of writing creative, attention-getting headlines. That same year, I also wrote a book, "Remembering Monroeville: From Frontier to Boomtown," which was published by The History Press.
I believe my greatest achievement as a journalist was a year-long effort that started when an African-American resident of Braddock was prohibited from speaking about a personnel issue at a Woodland Hills School Board meeting. Through editorials that accompanied my coverage, the Woodland Progress encouraged the school board to change its public input policy, which it eventually did. The effort earned me the Ray Sprigle Memorial Award, the "best of show" at the 1997 Golden Quill Awards in Pittsburgh. The award had special meaning to me because the late Sprigle, a Post-Gazette reporter, is remembered for writing about his experiences posing as a black man to expose the Jim Crow segregation in the South in the 1940s.
Between 1997 and 2010, I had the honor of receiving more than 80 national, state and regional journalism awards for news, features, series, enterprise/investigative pieces — and even sports and headline writing. But I contend to this day that those awards were earned in part by those people who invited me into their lives and shared their stories or passions so openly with me.
When I was offered the opportunity to join Patch as associate regional editor, I was thrilled to be part of the team. What I love most about Patch is its mix of old-time, small town journalism with the high-tech capabilities we have for communication today.
Aside from work, I have a long-standing interest in public education, and particularly in equitable funding among school districts in the state. I was a founding board member and past president of the Woodland Hills Academic Foundation, which had the mission of supporting, promoting and enhancing public education in the school district where I live today.
I also am interested in historic preservation and readaptive use of Pittsburgh's structures, and I am a member of Preservation Pittsburgh. My other interest is in the film industry in Pittsburgh, especially the opportunity to expand opportunities for young filmmakers here. (I must add that my daughter works in historic preservation and my son is a filmmaker.) And with three furry pets that share our home, I have to admit I'm also a dog lover!
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.