From the Editor

Gina Malone and Frances Figart. Photo by Joye Ardyn Durham

Since moving to Asheville, I have served The Laurel, first as a freelancer, then proofreader, web manager and editor of sister publication Plough to Pantry. Last year at this time, I became the editor of this magazine, which has served our community for 13 years under the innovative guidance of publisher Jerry Johnson.

It was therefore quite emotional for me to tell Jerry I will be leaving The Laurel. A few months ago, a colleague insisted I meet with the executive director of Great Smoky Mountains Association, which was seeking a new leader for its award-winning creative team. My background in tourism publishing fits this new role, in which I will oversee the creation of books, magazines, films and other interpretive materials for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I am thrilled, but sad to leave my colleagues and community here.

“Frances has been a true leader,” Jerry wrote to our staff. “Her inclusiveness in everything she does has brought together a team effort for the editorial side, and that example is one we try to emulate throughout the company. Her dedication and long workdays have given new life and growth to editorial content and brought rave reviews from readers and advertisers. It has been a blessing and a privilege to work with her on all levels.”

Gina Malone, my amazing associate editor, will take the reins starting with the October issue. Growing up in Spartanburg, SC, she majored in English and journalism at Rutgers University in New Jersey and owned The Village Book Shoppe in Tryon for 19 years. Tenacious, detail oriented, a fantastic writer and communicator, Gina will be a wonderful new editor for The Laurel. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing, editing and working with each of you and hope you will keep in touch.

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