Recognized for her influential, principled and longstanding leadership in the magazine industry, Lucy E. Kaylin ’81, editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine, was awarded the William Smith College Alumnae Association’s highest honor – the Alumna Achievement Award – on Thursday evening during a Founder’s Day celebration event in Bartlett Theatre.
“It’s very special for me to be back here at this special place. I really am clear on the fact that my career and my life would not have taken the course that it did – this very satisfying course – had it not all begun here,” Kaylin said. “I received untold gifts along the lines of stimulation, inspiration and incredible attention from professors in a way that you can only get at an intimate place like this, and I am eternally grateful.”
Under Kaylin’s leadership, O boasts one of the largest monthly magazine circulations and one of the industry’s highest e-edition circulations. In Kaylin’s first two years as editor-in-chief, the magazine won back-to-back National Magazine Awards.
Following the award presentation, Kaylin, who has written and edited for some of the most widely-distributed and well-respected publications, including Vogue, GQ and Marie Claire, was interviewed on-stage by Taylor Murray ’17, the editor of the Herald and president of Debate Team. Kaylin reflected on everything from working at O to breaking into and navigating the magazine industry to motherhood in the workplace and advice for soon-to-be graduates.
Regarding tips for new writers, Kaylin said: “There is an endless appetite for great writing. And it has to be fresh and it has to be cliché free and it has to brave and it has to be sharp. … I can’t say enough about how far you will go and how well you will do if you can purge your mind and papers and anything you’re doing of clichés and laziness and formulaic thinking. It’s an absolute joy. It’s magical. It’s important and life-changing potentially to read good writing.”
During the talk, Kaylin also reflected on her two books, “For the Love of God,” about the decline of Catholic nuns in America, and “The Perfect Stranger,” about the complicated relationship between mothers and nannies.
Presenting the Alumna Achievement Award were Assistant Vice President for Advancement Kathy Killius Regan ’82, P’13, Vice President of the Alumnae Association Julie Bazan ’93, Chair of the Alumnae Association’s Honors Committee Kirra Henick-Kling Guard ’08, MAT ’09 and William Smith Dean Catherine Gallouët. Mary Kubinski ’17, president of William Smith Congress, reflected on the College’s history and traditions.
“Today, we carry forward the legacies of these inspiring women and the traditions they founded, from our class colors and class flowers, to our academic excellence and championship athletics teams, to our friendships and mentorships, and service to the campus, the community and each other,” Kubinski said.
A complete list of past Alumna Achievement Award recipients can be found here.