Thankful for the SNPA staff
The three people who guide SNPA daily – Edward VanHorn, Cindy Durham and Paulette Sheffield – have dedicated many years to serving you and our industry.
Like us, they love our business and work hard every day to help us and ensure our success.
As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I'd like you to get to know them a little more and be sure, when the opportunity rises, to thank them for everything they do.
SNPA responsibilities: Executive Director
Length of service with SNPA: This is my 41st year at SNPA. 17 years as Executive Director.
Hometown: Morehead City, N.C.
Favorite place you've visited on SNPA business: The Breakers, Palm Beach – the first place I went on SNPA business, when I was 23 years old. I was dazzled.
Funny memory of your time at SNPA: An editorial writer at an SNPA Foundation seminar on "Violence and Terrorism" started a fist fight with the lead speaker after a late night poker game. The speaker was famous for his opposition to violence. The editorial writer lost the fight.
What do you enjoy most about working at SNPA? I work for – and with – extraordinary people who have always been extremely supportive.
What are you doing when you're not on the job? Planning my "Next Great Adventure," studying Spanish, and enjoying the quiet of my home.
Most famous person you've ever met and under what circumstances did you meet? I've met presidents, politicians, pundits and TV personalities by the dozens, but none were as inspiring as Jim Knight, Carmage Walls, Claude Sitton, Jim Boone, Katherine Graham, Gene Roberts, Ruth Holmberg and Walter Hussman. They are giants in our industry, and all of them have been engaged with SNPA.
What do you find that members seem to value most about SNPA? It's the "secret sauce." If you are engaged with SNPA, you quickly discover a unique camaraderie among publishers that sparks dynamic networking and builds enduring professional partnerships and personal friendships.
If you weren't working at SNPA, what would you be doing? I'd most likely be a college professor or a think-tank policy wonk.
SNPA responsibilities: Assistant Executive Director
Length of service with SNPA: I have been with SNPA 37 years. I joined the staff right out of college.
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Favorite place you've visited on SNPA business: Cuba. This was my first trip outside the country and I loved having the opportunity to accompany a group of SNPA members on a people-to-people educational trip last year to Cuba. View photos of the trip on the SNPA Facebook page.
Funny memory of your time at SNPA: On our last evening in Cuba, our tour guide told us there was a problem with the bus that had been scheduled to take us to dinner, but told us all "not to worry" – she was working things out. A few minutes later, she asked our group to gather on the front steps of the hotel and pointed to two rows of classic American cars that Cuba is famous for: pink cars, white cars, blue, purple and more. She told us: "Those are your drivers tonight. Two people to a car, please!" We were like little kids in a candy shop, as everyone was jumping into their favorite old-time American cars. One taxi driver was blaring Frank Sinatra's New York, New York – as our Cuban car parade made its way from the hotel to the restaurant. I know the Cuban people who were watching as we passed by had to be thinking: "those crazy foreigners," but it was a fun time none of us will ever forget.
What do you enjoy most about working at SNPA? I have the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people who are passionate about the newspaper industry! I could not ask for a greater group of newspaper executives and R&D partners to work with. And, our staff is more like a family than a group of co-workers.
What are you doing when you're not on the job? Lately, I've been burning up the road between Atlanta and Birmingham, as I'm a new grandma! I also am very involved with my church family, as co-coordinator of the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), and an evening Bible Study group.
Most famous person you've ever met and under what circumstances did you meet? I put publishers of SNPA member newspapers among the famous people I have had the pleasure of meeting. You each hold a famous spot in your local community and – by virtue of doing your job right – are loved at times and raked over the coals at other times. Keep holding to your ideals. Our nation needs the voice of truth that your papers speak.
What do you find that members seem to value most about SNPA? Different people look to SNPA for different things, but – time and again – people say that the personal connections are most important. By coming to SNPA conferences, members have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with other publishers and group executives. There's nothing that tops being able to pick up the phone and talk with another member who you've met at an SNPA event, and get some added perspective on something you are wrestling with.
If you weren't working at SNPA, what would you be doing? I have a sister who keeps encouraging me to write children's books, and I could see myself getting more involved with Adult Faith Formation. And, I do love to cook. So, lots of possibilities there ...
SNPA responsibilities: Membership Director/Office Administrator
Length of service with SNPA: 28 years (29 in February)
Hometown: Plymouth, Massachusetts
Favorite place you've visited on SNPA business: San Antonio – I really enjoyed experiencing the food and the atmosphere on the River Walk.
Funny memory of your time at SNPA: Looking back over the last 28 years, there are so many funny memories ... it's just that those memories should never be put in writing!
What do you enjoy most about working at SNPA? It goes without saying I enjoy the people I work with at SNPA, both the staff and the SNPA members. I also enjoy the opportunities available to me which allow me to grow and take on new responsibilities – working at SNPA never gets old.
What are you doing when you're not on the job? Camping and traveling with my husband, family and friends. In addition, I spend a lot of my free time learning to paint by experimenting and taking online painting workshops.
Most famous person you've ever met and under what circumstances did you meet? Growing up in Massachusetts the Kennedy's were like royalty. As a young child, I remember JFK's portrait hanging on our wall. While visiting the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC with my husband, I literally ran into Joe Kennedy II on the steps of the Senate. He was kind enough to take a picture with me. It was actually a bigger deal to my mother, who got so excited when I gave her the picture.
What do you find that members seem to value most about SNPA? Members definitely value the working relationships and friendships they have formed by being actively involved in SNPA. Throughout my years at SNPA I have heard members repeatedly state the value of the relationships they have formed through SNPA is priceless.
If you weren't working at SNPA, what would you be doing? I'd be a struggling artist! On a serious note, if I could go back in time I would have followed my dream and attended law school, so I'd probably be practicing law.