Behind the Scenes at the Newsletter

by Felice Gelman


You probably don’t think at all about how this newsletter goes from some ideas scrawled on a notepad to the professionally laid out and illustrated email you receive every month. This article will just let you in on the production end—that is, once a story has been written and edited. 

Two volunteers, both brand-new LLI members, do it all. Ann Green and Alan Katz both joined LLI this year. Neither of them had prior experience with WordPress, the program used to produce the newsletter, or MailChimp, the program used for sending out the newsletter and other LLI communications. However, they agreed to take on the challenge, and Carmela Gersbeck, chair of Program Support, trained them quickly. They have since been managing these tasks smoothly.

Newcomers to LLI

Alan came to the area six years ago from Westchester and, like so many others, when COVID hit, made this his full-time residence. He is a lawyer with a background in commercial real estate transactions. His work included producing a newsletter for 10 years, but, he stresses, someone else handled the technology. With his current role reversal—managing the technology for producing the LLI newsletter—he can better appreciate what is involved. 

Ann arrived in Red Hook 12 years ago from New Haven. At Yale, she was responsible for running the social science statistical laboratory and consulted on digital archiving. She noted her tech experience when she applied to join LLI and was immediately invited to put it to work for the organization. 

How They Work Together

The two work very closely together, splitting the newsletter formatting (WordPress) and the distribution (MailChimp). Although the learning curve was steep, they both said they got great support from Carmela Gersbeck. And both felt the time commitment was not that much. “Six to ten hours a month at most,” said Alan.

Why Volunteer?

Ann and Alan were both very willing volunteers. Alan joined LLI, he says, “because I was intrigued by the classes and by the opportunity to meet people. And when you volunteer, you really get to know people.” Ann already knew LLI members but also appreciated the chance to meet new people, work together, and solve problems. She says, “Retirement gives you the freedom to be more in the community. The newsletter is like a magazine full of information you wouldn’t pick up on your own. It gives you a bigger lens on Bard and the community.”  For volunteer opportunities, click here.