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Courtney Lynn James needs a job

Nov 1, 2007 12:00 AM


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Last month, my wife, Carol, and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, but she is well aware that there was another woman in my life. Therein lies the tale of how I learned about Courtney James. In the mid-1970s, the Chicago-based publishing company with which I was affiliated acquired a new magazine based in New York City. As manager of our Lexington Ave. office in The Big Apple, I was responsible for publishing the newly acquired publication located on Fifth Ave. It had been operating at a loss, and I knew I would have to divide my time between the two offices until I was able to merge them. I promoted my assistant to office manager and asked her to find me a new secretary. After interviewing a number of candidates, she hired a young woman named Diane Ruggeri.

She was a keeper

Diane was 23 years old and had worked for five years at a investment company. I soon learned that she was smart, efficient and meticulous in her job, and a quick learner, to boot. With her help, I was able to put black ink on the bottom line in less than a year, while she managed the merger of our two offices. In 1979, I left that firm to join the publishing unit of Dun & Bradstreet. One of the conditions of my accepting that job was to bring Diane with me. The president of the company agreed, and I was named publisher of a printing publication. It's records, account lists, contacts and shares of market data were in a shambles, but Diane was able to put the ship back on course quickly, and we established eight consecutive years of significant growth until I left the firm to found Footprint Communications in 1986.

Because I couldn't afford to bring her with me, Diane did some temp work in the meantime. Six months later, she became Footprint's first employee. During her 13 years at Footprint, we developed a relationship that was like a second marriage, and my real wife wasn't a bit jealous. (At one VUE/POINT in the late 1990s, I joked that I'd been married 67 years: 25 to Diane and 42 to Carol.) Unfortunately, Diane passed away in 2000 at age 51. We had been together for 28 years. To honor her memory, we established the Diane Ruggeri/Footprints Scholarship through what is now the the Print and Graphic Scholarship Foundation, managed by Bernadine (“Bernie”) Eckert of PIA/GATF, who encourages each year's recipient to write a personal note to the sponsor.

Each year I look forward to receiving that, and I make a point of tracking those students' moves up their career ladders. A couple of months ago, the following communication arrived in my mail box.

She's got game

“My name is Courney James and I am the 2007/2008 recipient of the Diane Ruggeri/Footprints scholarship. My purpose in writing this note is to personally thank you for your generosity in supporting my academic endeavors as I pursue a career in Graphic Communications at Clemson University. I am currently a senior with a 3.9 GPA. I will be graduating in December and going into the workplace. I have completed three internships as part of my education. … All three were great experiences that helped further my understanding of the printing, marketing and advertising industries. My most recent accomplishment, as an intern, was sharing the responsibility of the production and layout for the August 2007 Sam's Club ‘Food Service Guide’ publication with one other intern. It was a stressful and rewarding accomplishment. Thank you again for your support.”

Of course I called Courtney to learn more about her. She stumbled into Graphic Communications through a friend, and she's looking forward to starting her career. Though she is originally from Lakeland, TN, she's considering moving to Dallas. She seems like a good catch for the Lone Star State. If you'd like to reach her, the e-mail address is cjames@clemson.edu.

And if you'd like to establish a scholarship, you can reach Bernie Eckert at beckert@piagatf.org. I can assure you that enabling a student to pursue a graphic arts career will be as rewarding, if not more so, than being on the receiving end as a student. The satisfaction from knowing that you've helped someone get a leg up on the first rung of their career ladder is immeasurable.


M. Richard Vinocur is president of Footprint Communications. E-mail him at mrvinocur@aol.com.