Carrie's Corner: Happy Birthday Bridges!

Carrie Stambaugh, Managing Editor

    From the moment I knew what a writer was, I wanted to be one. Ask anyone who knew me from a young age and they will tell you I’ve always been a storyteller.  
     By the time I got accepted to journalism school at Ohio University, my aspiration was to work for a magazine. I pictured myself working in a fancy New York City skyscraper or jetting off to some remote locale on assignment…
    Reality soon reshaped that dream, as I learned more about jobs in the communications field and tried out jobs in different mediums. That was just a bit more than 15 years ago.
    At that same time, in Ashland, a town I'd never heard of, The Gallaher Group was launching their first magazine: Bridges.
     After relocating to Ashland for my second newspaper job after college,  I saw my first issue of Bridges. It was Issue No. 5 (Fall/Winter.05), featuring locals Debbie Buckley, Carmen Rodriguez, Tom Pelt and David Leader on the cover. I remember picking up the magazine and thinking to myself, “maybe someday I’ll get the chance to write for them…”
     Some months later I met Bridges photographer Ashley Gallaher Quinn at an event and we became “media friends,” chatting only when we bumped into each other at events we were covering for our respective publications.
    Fast-forward to 2011 and I finally got the chance to write for Bridges. Almost a year after leaving my full-time newspaper job to hike the Appalachian Trail, I emailed Bridges editor Lori Wilt to ask her to add me to the subscriber list. She quickly responded she would, then asked if I’d like to write for the publication. Of course, I said "yes."   
    My first assignment was the "One Good Turn (Deserves Another)" for Bridges Issue 27 (Spring/Summer.11). I profiled six volunteers for National Volunteer Month. I remember how excited I was when the issue arrived and my story had a cover call out!!
    In the years that followed, I wrote for the magazine when I wasn’t working for a competitor. I had stories published in Issue 40 (Summer/Fall.14); Issue 41 (Fall/Winter.14); and Issue 42 (Winter/Spring.15). During this time, I got to work with Ashley on assignment and we became actual friends.  
    In May 2016, Ashley called to ask me to send her father, Bridges' publisher John Gallaher, my resume. She explained they were looking for a new editor and she had convinced him to consider me. Needless to say, I was flattered and very excited at the opportunity.
    But after my interview – and a graphic design test - I initially hesitated to take the position. I’m not a designer and I worried that my lack of skills would be an insurmountable challenge.  
    But John persisted. I agreed to give it a try and joined the team in June 2016. My first issue as Managing Editor was Issue 48 (Summer/Fall.15), featuring the former Ironton-Russell Bridge on the cover. Luckily, our graphic designer Courtney S. Lewis is incredibly talented and her vibrant, creative designs more than make up for my lack of skills!
     Working with the talented staff to create Bridges is truly the realization of a childhood dream for me. I am grateful to the Gallaher family and the entire staff of The Gallaher Group for welcoming me with open arms.
    Issue 60 (Summer/Fall.19), which marks the magazine's 15th anniversary, is my 13th issue as Managing Editor. Even though we spend months working on each detail of every issue, seeing it in its final form is thrilling each and every time. Opening an issue once it is finally printed and bound still feels like unwrapping a birthday gift. I hope our readers feel the same exact way, every time they pull a new issue out of their mailbox and open it for the first time.