Musing on WILMA
WILMA founder Joy Allen on 20 years of the publication
About twenty years ago, JOY ALLEN (pictured in 2013) brought to life a magazine with the desire to share stories of the community, and more specifically, the stories of local women and their successes and talents.
From the launch of the magazine in February 2003 to today, there has been many changes to the publication, this includes the launch of programs and initiatives to skill women with leadership skills.
When Allen sold the magazine to current publisher Rob Kaiser, she says she was very fortunate that her baby ended up in excellent hands.
“Of course, I hoped that WILMA would endure, but what is surprising to me about this anniversary is how old it makes me feel to have a child who is 20,” she says. “I could easily have passed the publication on to someone who would have run it into the ground, but Rob and his staff have taken the publication to new heights, and I congratulate them on their success. They make me a proud mama.”
Now, a young adult WILMA is undergoing a magazine redesign, which will be unveiled at its anniversary celebration on March 15 at the Wilson Center. Of this redesign, Allen says “it is important that the magazine continues to evolve in order to stay relevant and I am excited to see what the new WILMA looks like.”
WILMA caught up with Allen since we last talked with her for the tenth-year anniversary, she discusses her current work, thoughts on leadership programs, focusing on women, and more.
WILMA: What have you been up to in the past ten years since we discussed your reflections during the ten-year anniversary?
ALLEN: “I have continued to serve as the executive director of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of North Carolina (NSCDA-NC). I celebrate my eleventh year here in August. I am proud to say that the Burgwin-Wright House, the headquarters, and flagship museum of the NSCDA-NC has undergone a renaissance during this time. The 1770 historic landmark is in excellent physical repair, and we are constantly adding new educational programs including a podcast which reaches people all over the world. Our 9,000 listeners are located in all 50 states and 36 countries including New Zealand and South Korea. I am particularly thrilled that we have expanded our impact worldwide, but also am extremely proud of how we have increased our local engagement. The number of visitors we welcome to the museum has increased by an average of 20% every year. People of the Past, the free program we offer to every fourth grader in the New Hanover County school system, receives rave reviews from teachers and provides the students with a memorable perspective on the early history of the U.S. It is also a great source of pride that revisions to People of the Past, our standard tours and permanent exhibits interpret an inclusive history that includes all the people who lived in and worked at the Burgwin-Wright House.”
WILMA: Are there any stories or programs in WILMA in the past ten years that have stood out to you?
ALLEN: “Learning about the achievements of some of the young women at the Women to Watch Awards ceremony is very uplifting and inspiring.”
WILMA: Starting out you wanted to not only highlight women but also the diversity that makes up that population, looking back why was this important?
ALLEN: “The simple answer is that it was the right thing to do, the just thing to do. I grew up during the civil rights movement and the feminist movement and was strongly influenced by both. I would say I am keenly sensitive to the injustices inflicted on women and on people of color, especially Black Americans, and am motivated to do what I can to help our society evolve and become more enlightened and just. WILMA provided a platform for me to do that and hopefully have an expansive impact.”
WILMA: In 2015, WILMA magazine grew to include its Women to Watch Leadership Initiative helping mentor and grow women leaders, what were your thoughts on the creation of this program?
Allen: “Kudos to WILMA for launching this brilliant program. While the magazine continues to influence hearts and minds, this program offers a more direct and concrete means to elevate the status of women. It also takes celebrating the success of local women to a new level.”
WILMA: Anything else you would like to mention about your time with WILMA, the past ten years, or looking ahead?
Allen: “The years that I was publisher of WILMA were some of the most exciting and stimulating of my life. Through the magazine I became acquainted with some truly remarkable women, not only those about whom we wrote, but also the talented writers and staff with whom I worked.
“Publishing is a stressful business, but producing WILMA was very rewarding, because we created a quality magazine and were making a positive difference in the community.“I feel confident that WILMA has secured her place in the local community. The magazine is part of the very fabric of Wilmington life now and it is my hope she will be carrying on long after I am gone.”
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