Best Regional Magazine


Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn

Diane Haynes Woodburn“You look great, Daddy.” Dressed to the nines, my ninety-year-old father was my dashing escort to the Western Publishing Association’s Maggie Awards in LA. The WPA represents publications throughout the U.S. west of the Mississippi, and Maui No Ka ‘Oi had been named a finalist for Best Regional Magazine in the consumer category. When it came time to announce the winner, I was prepared to graciously applaud for one of our better-known national contenders.

So it surprised the heck out of me to realize that shriek of glee was mine. “We won?” Our May/June issue on the big screen confirmed it. “We won!”

“Of course,” my father said, without a hint of surprise in his voice. Just pride.

I, too, felt a swell of pride—for the extraordinary staff that puts so much heart and soul into each issue.

So often, the first comment I hear from readers is that it is a beautiful publication. It’s no accident. Our art director, Cecilia Fernández, studies each story before she begins to design, contemplating how to give shape and color to its deeper meaning. That’s especially true for our Native Soul stories, like the one on ‘aumakua, the ancestral spirits that guide Hawaiians’ journey from the darkness of P¯o before birth, into the light, and back into darkness at death. It didn’t matter to Ceci that most readers wouldn’t realize her design, incorporating panels of black, gold and black, echoed that journey. It’s the integrity of the work that matters to her, and the integration of art and content as one.

As I moved between the banquet tables to the podium, I thought, too, of Shannon Wianecki, who wears many hats at the magazine, as dining editor, associate editor, “In Season” columnist and our social-media maven. All that, and she also finds time to work with the Maui Invasive Species Committee. Her passion for the environment has inspired her to write some of our most important island stories. Shannon’s enthusiasm, creativity and humor have been major factors in making MNKO the magazine it is.

And then there is Rita Goldman, the most talented editor I have known in thirty years of publishing. Rita’s dedication to accuracy, the English language, and the lyrical cadence of prose makes our writers tear their hair out, our designer fight for freedom of fonts, and the publisher exhausted. But Rita brings curiosity, creative stimulus, and just plain fun to the mix. Thank you, Rita, for challenging us to honor what’s best about Maui.

I wish I had the space here to tell you about the rest of our team, whose Herculean efforts belie the fact that we put out this publication, produce a digital magazine, sponsor parties and community causes with a fraction of the staff we ought to have. Their names appear in our masthead, but let me also thank them here: Alix Buchter, who infuses our new media and business development with professionalism and creativity, is the  genius behind our website, and our soon-to-be web store. Alix has also created community partnerships, for example, working with the Mayor’s Office to co-publish the Maui County Greenbook. Josh Circle-Woodburn cheerfully pounds the pavement for the ad revenue that pays our bills. Kao Kushner keeps our finances on the strait and narrow. Jonathan Stacey makes time within his job as office and circulation manager to give our special events a West Coast polish. . . .

I reached the podium, smiling from ear to ear, and as I hefted the Maggie, heard myself thanking the incredible staff at Maui No Ka ‘Oi, and then admitting to the crowd, “I guess you never get too old to feel that schoolgirl pride of receiving an award in front of your dad.”

Thanks, team, for giving me the opportunity to make my dad and me proud.


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