It’s not particularly original to say that 2021 was difficult. We all faced another year of coping through a pandemic, of upheaval and unrest. I’ve never wished so badly to be living in UN-interesting times.
ACES: The Society for Editing felt all of that too. The continued spread of COVID-19 forced us to cancel another in-person conference—a disappointment to me personally but also a significant challenge for the organization. The three days of training, networking and celebrating editing are a huge part of ACES’ identity, and I know many of us were concerned about feeling that loss. But the annual in-person conference is also ACES’ primary revenue source, and we took a big hit in 2020 without it. I worried what another year of missing out on that would mean.
But I shouldn’t have doubted our incredible organization. Our staff planned a full virtual conference that managed to replicate the feeling of camaraderie and to deliver insightful and important training. And the revenue generated put us squarely back on the right financial track.
ACES also faced the difficult but ultimately rewarding challenge of personnel turnover this year. Abbi Booth left her role as executive director in March, and Ashly Stewart moved on from her training director position in July. It was very hard to lose two people who felt so instrumental to ACES’ recent success, but we were also excited for who might lead us next.
The ACES board launched a search in the spring for a new executive director, and the candidates were terrifically impressive. We ultimately hired Jehan (Gigi) Sutton, and she has already blown us away.
Gigi came to us with extensive experience leading associations, and that has shown from the moment she started in August. She is working to streamline our organizational systems and update our board procedures, and she’s putting the structure in place to efficiently and effectively run our ever-growing operation.
One of the first things on her list was to bolster our staff. Gigi hired into a full-time role our summer intern, Andrea Skirvin, who is now our membership and administrative coordinator. And after a search this fall, Gigi also hired a new events and professional development manager: Kristin Shoop, who started Dec. 6. Kristin and Andrea join Kim Lawyer, our communication manager, on our staff. We’re thrilled to have all of them on board!
Through the difficulties of this year, our success was made possible because of all of you. As of Dec. 1, our membership included more than 5,070 members—up 16 percent from our 4,253 members at the same time a year ago. Your support has made all the difference, and the ACES staff and board will continue to work to serve you in the best possible way. Thank you so much for being a part of this organization; here’s looking forward to a less interesting but more exciting 2022.
President, ACES: The Society for Editing
It was another memorable year for the ACES Education Fund, highlighted by the awarding of seven college scholarships and the naming of the second cohort of winners of the Richard S. Holden Diversity Fellowship.
The class of 2020-21 scholarship honorees included Andrea Halland-Arms of the University of Montana, the winner of the fourth annual Bill Walsh scholarship. The $3,500 award, named for the late Washington Post copy editor, author, and member of the Education Fund board of directors, is given annually to a college student who aspires to enter the news business. Andrea was the copy chief and digital editor of the independent Montana Kaimin on the Missoula campus and a double major in journalism and English literature.
Lori Sosa of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., received the other top award, the $2,500 Aubespin scholarship, named for Merv Aubespin, an early proponent of the formation of ACES. Lori, assistant managing editor of Friend magazine in Salt Lake City, was completing her master’s degree in publishing. She previously graduated from Brigham Young University.
Five students were awarded ACES scholarships of $1,500: Dana Foley, who was recognized for her achievements as a senior in English and creative writing at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada; Lauren Hakimi, an English and history major at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College (City University of New York); Olivia Loftis, a student in the honors program in publishing at Emerson College in Boston; Steven Vargas, a master’s student in specialized journalism (the arts) at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles; and Andrew Walter, a civil engineering major at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Alex Cruden, vice president of the Education Fund board, and board member Lisa McLendon coordinated the scholarship competitions. The judges for the Bill Walsh award were Bill’s wife, Jacqueline Dupree, whose generous matching gift established the award fund in 2017, as well as Mark Allen, Carrie Camillo, and Bill’s brothers, Kenneth Walsh and Terence Walsh. Longtime ACES volunteers Lindsay Augustyn, Carol Carpenter, Aileen Houston, Jeff Kleinman, and Kari Majewski judged the Aubespin and ACES scholarship competitions.
The Education Fund named six recipients in the second cohort of the Holden Diversity Fellowship. They are Juliet M. Beverly, senior editor with the Society for Neuroscience’s BrainFacts.org in Washington, D.C.; Amarachukwu Chimeka, a book editor and publisher in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria; KaToya Ellis Fleming, editor at Lookout Books in Wilmington, North Carolina, and assistant professor of publishing at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington; Sydney Jarrard, a freelance editor, formerly of the American Booksellers Association, in Hudson, New York; Emily Shi Lee, a multilingual editor and content designer in Honolulu; and Seth McBride, associate editor for New Mobility magazine, working in Portland, Oregon.
ACES, in partnership with the Dow Jones News Fund, announced the Holden Fellowship in summer 2020. The program is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion by advancing early- and mid-career professionals in their work as editors and aspiring industry leaders. The fellowship recognizes the work of the late Rich Holden, who championed diversity in editing as the longtime managing director for the Dow Jones News Fund.
I had the privilege of overseeing this year’s competition and serving as a judge alongside Paula Fuchsberg, an editor at Vanguard and member of the ACES Education Fund board; DeAndre Lipscomb, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Homepoint; and Jared Servantez, night city editor at the Los Angeles Times and a graduate of the Dow Jones News Fund’s summer editing program.
The Education Fund thanks all of its donors for their continuing generosity in a challenging year. A highlight was the annual #GivingTuesday drive on Nov. 30, which raised $7,780 from 78 donors. In addition, the fund raised more than $6,800 in donations associated with the annual ACES conference, including gifts made at registration, donations through the Network for Good portal and tickets to the Spelling Bee.
Benjamin Dreyer won the eighth annual Bee, which pitted the Random House copy chief against fellow ACES notables Steve Bien-Aimé, James Harbeck, Ellen Jovin, Mary Norris, and an unnamed Education Fund president who learned the hard way that there is indeed a “p” in “pterodactyl.” Merrill Perlman of the Education Fund board again organized the event. Peter Sokolowski of Merriam-Webster returned as pronouncer and moderator; Maggie Lorenz of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and 2019 Bee winner Beth Chapple served as judges; and lexicographer-bartender Jesse Sheidlower provided the first prize of a virtual cocktail hour. Lingofy returned as the Bee’s presenting sponsor, generously providing Apple electronics as audience prizes.
Looking ahead to the first quarter of the new year, the Education Fund board will announce the next class of scholars, for the 2021-22 academic year, and open applications for the third cohort of Holden Fellows.
As we prepare to wrap up 2021, I can truly say that I am looking forward to what the New Year brings. In my brief time as Executive Director with ACES, one thing that that has stood out is PASSION. Each member I have had the opportunity to speak with is dedicated and committed to this wonderful industry. I am honored to be in such a committed community. I have a deep appreciation for dedicated and hardworking volunteers and staff. Having worked in the not-for-profit world over the years, I know there is no greater reward than an opportunity to work with passionate volunteers in an outstanding organization.
I am extremely excited about joining ACES: The Society for Editing at a time when we are planning for the 2022 conference in San Antonio, Texas. The year 2022 is going to be big for ACES as we are planning to be back in person for our conference which gives us an opportunity to see our fellow ACES members again. The health and safety of our members is of utmost importance, and with that, we plan to bring a virtual conference to you all in 2022 as well. More details to come after the new year.
I encourage everyone to visit our website and follow us on our social media channels. What matters most is that we serve you better by keeping you up to date and engaged with what is happening with ACES: The Society for Editing.
In the time I have taken on the role as your executive director, we have hired key staff members that play an important part in the organization’s growth. We hired into a full-time role, our summer intern Andrea Skirvin, as our membership and administrative coordinator. And after an extensive search this fall, we also hired a new events and professional development manager: Kristin Shoop, who started with us on December 6. Andrea and Kristin join Kim Lawyer, our communication manager. While the staff is small, they are certainly mighty. I am thrilled to have them as a part of the team! Their dedication and commitment to ACES have been instrumental in the organization’s growth.
Despite the challenges and difficulties, we have faced, the board of directors have worked tirelessly to ensure that the members’ need comes first and continue to make that their priority. I recognize and appreciate that you all made ACES: The Society for Editing a success this past year. Your support has made all the difference and we thank you for your continued support. I am eager to see how much we can accomplish together in the next year.
Best wishes during this Holiday Season,
Gigi Sutton, MBA
Executive Director, ACES: The Society for Editing