“Fantastic.” “Delightful.” “A force of nature.”
These are among the words the PGN staff used to describe editor Jen Colletta, who, after 10 years with PGN, will leave next month to work as the managing editor at Human Resource Executive, a national trade publication for the human-resource industry.
PGN is in the process of searching for the next editor and will announce the hiring decision as soon as it’s made.
PGN staff says “goodbye”
PGN art director Scott Drake was quick to note what he’ll miss about Colletta: “Everything.”
“I will probably never have the opportunity to have a friend and a coworker like this,” Drake said. “We are always on the same page. We understand each other’s sense of humor. We know how to lift each other up when the other one is having a crappy day. We’re a team of one, but with two minds.”
Advertising manager Prab Sandhu added he will also miss working with Colletta but noted he is looking forward to staying in touch with her, as with former PGN staffer Greg Dennis.
“It has been a pleasure working with Jen and I’m going to miss her vivacious energy at PGN,” Sandhu said. “Luckily, we’ll still get to hang out here in the city and I look forward to future get-togethers.”
Staff writer Larry Nichols noted Colletta’s “inexhaustible supply of patience, drive, leadership, professionalism and focus.”
“Jen has always had the uncanny ability to keep things calm and moving smoothly forward despite any and all manner of chaos and craziness that is often par for the course in this line of work,” Nichols said. “Soldiering on without her at the helm is going to be a challenge for all of us here at the paper, but I wish her all the luck and happiness in wherever she chooses to apply her talents in the future.”
PGN graphic artist Sean Dorn also noted Colletta’s work ethic.
“Jen is very good at staying focused and above the fray. She keeps focused on the bigger picture and is very effective as a result.”
New heights of achievement
Colletta started at PGN as a staff writer in 2007 and was promoted to editor in 2012. PGN publisher Mark Segal called her a “delight” to work with.
“She led PGN to the height of award-winning journalism and helped keep the vision of this newspaper to inform and communicate,” Segal said. “She’s not simply a coworker to all of us at PGN. She is family.”
PGN writer-at-large Tim Cwiek said Colletta has a “sunny disposition that never wavers.”
“A newsroom can be a hectic place,” Cwiek said. “Yet, I’ve never seen Jen frazzled or unpleasant. Her focus consistently has been on fair, accurate and solid journalism. As a true professional, Jen brought PGN to new heights of achievement.”
Those new heights include PGN winning nearly 150 journalism awards since 2012; the paper has received a record 31 awards this year, including the Newspaper of the Year Award from Pennsylvania News Media Association, most recently. Colletta also oversaw the overhauling of the publication’s website and revamped and significantly grew PGN’s social-media presence.
Sarah Blazucki, who served as Colletta’s editor when she was staff writer, noted how her former employee has worked to make the publication “more inclusive.” Since becoming editor, Colletta introduced a number of special projects, including the Youth Supplement and the Special Section on LGBT Aging, both of which have gone on to win numerous awards, as well as the monthly Day in the Life of column.
“She did a really fabulous job as a staff writer and has carried that forward in her time as editor,” Blazucki said. “The level of coverage and the accolades that the paper has gotten during the time that she has been editor has been fabulous to see, and I have full faith that she will continue in her [new] job to achieve great things.”
In her new position, Colletta will oversee HRE’s editorial direction, including planning and assigning stories and supervising a team of writers and editors, as well as writing and editing, very similar to her work at PGN.
Additionally, with only a five-minute commute as opposed to her 90-minute commute to PGN, Colletta will be able to focus on other future goals. This includes starting a family with her wife, Ashlee Turturro.
“As things in my life are changing, being closer to home has become more important,” Colletta said. “I’m [also] looking forward to new challenges and being able to use my skills to help the magazine accomplish its goals.”
Colletta looks back on her time with PGN fondly. Among the thousands of stories she has covered, the standouts she cited include coverage of the Kathryn Knott case, the progression of marriage-equality laws throughout the country, a localized story of the Pulse shooting and a four-part series on crystal meth in the LGBT club scene.
“The community, both locally and nationally, has been through a wild ride in the past 10 years. Apart from getting a front-row seat to historic LGBT developments, one of the best things about this work has been getting to see the local LGBT community grow and evolve with the changing times,” Colletta said. “It’s been an incredible experience to see the myriad accomplishments of people I met back in 2007, and to see how their leadership has shaped this community.”
When it comes to giving advice to the new editor, Colletta emphasized it will be important for them to “listen to the staff and to the community.”
“I always operated under the presumption that I, by no means, knew everything,” Colletta said. “The staff at PGN is incredibly talented and their collaborative ideas have been the impetus behind most of PGN’s work in the last decade. Similarly, as a community newspaper, I see PGN as having a duty to engage with and effectively respond to the concerns and ideas of its readers. This is essentially their publication, so their input is integral.”
Looking back, Colletta said she is “incredibly grateful” to Blazucki and Segal for hiring her as a recent college grad back in 2007. She added that the hardest part of this transition is leaving behind current and former staff, whom she has come to know as a “second family.”
“I think it’s rare to be somewhere for 10 years and still come into work and like all of your coworkers every day,” she laughed. “Everyone here works so well together in such a well-oiled machine. Leaving all of that is definitely going to be hard.”