There are unsung heroes in almost any organization or workplace – people who work behind the scenes, outside of the spotlight, and whose effectiveness is vital to the success of the operation.
The week this issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin goes to press has been an emotional one for us at the Bulletin as this is the final edition of the paper that has been laid out by our own unsung hero: Brenda Van Vliet, our production manager since January 1995.
Brenda has been on the job at the Bulletin for more than 22 years. For every issue, she has created the pages, laid out the ads on the pages (and, often, created the ads), and laid out the columns and articles – always making sure, somehow, that everything fits on the page the way it is supposed to.
She has taken the stories, photos and columns sent to her by the editor and prepared them for publication – always checking copy for any errors that may have slipped by. She has printed long-sheets of every page for proofreading and constantly updated mini versions of the newspaper that are continually referenced, and she’s uploaded the page files to Performance, the company in Smiths Falls that prints the Bulletin, always keeping in contact with the printers to ensure there are no technical errors in the files.
Some of the steps I’ve described are complicated processes. You can’t, for example, just throw a photograph on the page – they have to be converted to the right formatting for newsprint reproduction. And sometimes – particularly when we’re dealing with developing stories – changes and corrections have to be made to stories or columns right up until the last minute.
Brenda has done all of this, and much more, through 427 editions – and several design changes – of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, with constant grace and true devotion to the newspaper and to her colleagues.
As reporter Benita Baker notes in her profile of Brenda, I’m the third Bulletin editor with whom she has worked. She was hired by editor Myra Aronson in 1995 and continued with the late Barry Fishman and then myself.
On my first day on the job, almost 10 years ago, Barry told me how important Brenda had been to his own success as editor. And, from that day, I have relied on Brenda’s expertise, assistance, “corporate memory” and genuine friendship.
Thank you, Brenda, for everything you’ve done for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. Have a great retirement! Working with you has been a very special experience. We’re going to miss you.
And, thank you, Francie
I’m also going to miss working with Francie Greenspoon, the senior director of communications and community relations at the Jewish Federation of Ottawa since 2004, who is also retiring at the same time as Brenda.
Francie’s office was right next to mine and we often worked closely together over the years in making sure that important stories got told in the pages of our Jewish community newspaper.
Francie was of invaluable assistance to me when I arrived from Montreal in 2007 to work at the Bulletin – in guiding me through learning about Ottawa’s Jewish community and about the organizations, agencies, schools, congregations and people who make the community what it is.
From helping me identify someone in a photograph I didn’t recognize, to letting me know about important stories that should be covered, to being someone to bounce ideas off and discuss the issues of the day in the news, to being an advocate for the paper within Federation and the community, Francie has been a great colleague to work with.
And all I’ve mentioned here is Francie’s interaction with the Bulletin. Her work with Federation is a much bigger story. For more, see Benita Baker’s profile of Francie.
Thank you, too, Francie, for so much. You will be missed. Best wishes for a great retirement!