Born and raised in Philadelphia, I’ve lived an eclectic and varied life, both personally and professionally. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal with a BA in English Literature and a minor in History, I immediately went to work in book publishing.
Starting as an editorial intern at Running Press Book Publishers in Philadelphia in the late 1990s, I was soon promoted to Assistant Editor, in charge of about a dozen titles per season. My time at Running Press exposed me to a wide variety of nonfiction trade titles, including inspirational books, young adult titles, cookbooks, and those cute Miniature Editions™ titles that you see in every brick-and-mortar bookstore and gift shop.
After about two years at Running Press, I decided to go to graduate school and attended Northeastern University in Boston. There, I pursued advanced studies in History, a generalist program that included hands-on experience in documentary filmmaking and historic preservation. I also gained some early teaching experience through an assistantship in Medieval History, through working at the Writing Lab, and through a semester teaching Writing for the Disciplines on my own.
Throughout the past fifteen years, I continued to work as an editor, both in-house and freelance. I briefly worked as an Electronic Book Editor for Scribe, Inc., a book packager based in Philly that specializes in academic monographs, technical reference books, and religious tracts. Whereas my in-house experience at Running Press taught me a great deal about traditional publishing, my tenure at Scribe was a completely different experience, and their innovative use of XML and scripts in a completely paperless environment is, quite frankly, cutting edge.
In 2001, I joined the George Washington University’s PhD program and specialized in Cold War diplomatic history. While at GWU, I served as a teaching assistant for four years, assigned to both American and European History survey classes. As part of my doctoral research, I visited foreign government archives and presented at several international conferences. I have since left the doctoral program and academia but still plan to recast my dissertation as a trade nonfiction history title instead of an academic monograph.
My interest in politics, especially in US foreign policy, brought me to the National Security Archive (NSA), a nongovernmental and nonpartisan watchdog group. The NSA uses the USFreedom of Information Act (FOIA) to advocate for government transparency. One of my duties as FOIA Coordinator was public outreach, and some projects that I worked on include producing and editing Effective FOIA Requesting for Researchers. As part of my advocacy work, I even ended up on National Public Radio’s On the Media.
During my time at the NSA, I initiated a new social media plan and helped launch a popular blog for the NSA, called Unredacted. Concurrently with my position at the NSA, I also worked as Managing Editor and Staff Writer for Freedominfo.org, an international news and analysis site for global transparency issues. Freedominfo was very much a crash course in investigative journalism and human rights advocacy in a digital world.
So, I’ve been in and out of publishing and academia for the past decade or so, and I’ve seen firsthand how technology has completely changed how we create, share, and consume knowledge. The dominant “shop talk” in both industries has centered on how “traditional” publishers and professors struggle to keep up with the unrelenting digital revolution. Digital distribution, social media, self-publishing—these are both major challenges and exciting opportunities for publishers, authors, and readers alike.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have a career that doesn’t just span the digital divide but embraces it.