EAST COAST JOURNAL
Alice D. Ackerman, MD, MBA, ACC
I dedicated the last four-plus decades of my life to studying and practicing medicine, until my recent retirement--which I am working to redefine for myself and others. I am a pediatrician, and a pediatric intensivist, so my professional life was spent caring for children with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. While this was trying and emotionally difficult at times, it gave me many great rewards. Being able to participate in a family’s most vulnerable moments allowed me to find ways to contribute and love people who needed that part of me as much as they needed a physician. I learned the great importance of CARE in healthcare. I always cared for each child as I would have wanted one of my children cared for in life-threatening situations.
Another result of the way I care for people, was my ability to hold a large number of leadership positions. Some were formally recognized by titles; others were developed through influence. I learned about the importance of values in leadership early on. I strongly believe that trust and integrity are two of the most important traits a leader can have. I augmented my knowledge of leadership by obtaining an MBA in 2008, and I spent the following nine years as Chair of Pediatrics at a major medical center, and as Founding Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at a new medical school, where I am now Professor Emerita. In 2016, thinking it was “the thing to do,” I decided to retire and pursue CARE in other ways, primarily as a professional coach, which also feels like a calling to me. Coaching is my "second calling." In retrospect, it may have been my first calling, but I didn't recognize it as such all those years ago.
Author Brook Allen has a passion for ancient history—especially 1st century BC Rome. Her Antonius Trilogy is a detailed account of the life of Marcus Antonius—Marc Antony, which she worked on for fifteen years. Brook is currently working on a new project spotlighting history from a little closer to home. Her upcoming work will take place in early 19th century Virginia and it’s been a delight to research her characters and their period throughout southwest Virginia and into Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, and Idaho. She hopes to launch this project sometime in 2022 or 2023.
Though she graduated from Asbury University with a B.A. in Music Education, Brook has always loved writing. She completed a Masters program at Hollins University with an emphasis in Ancient Roman studies, which helped prepare her for authoring her present works. Brook teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district near Roanoke, Virginia. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and big, black dog, Jak. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
Barbara Baranowski is a published writer and inspirational speaker devoted to family, educational, and spiritual issues. She lives with her husband John, in Roanoke, Virginia, and is a mother of two daughters, grandmother of five, and a retired middle school teacher and previous adjunct faculty member with Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
She has written for many inspirational magazines and educational journals, including Power for Living, Seek, and Evangel. In addition, she has written radio scripts for the Full Pardon radio show. Barbara seeks to glorify God’s handiwork in every mile of creation, and her book, In God’s Creation: Devotions for the Outdoors and In God’s Creation: Devotions for the Beach reflect His love and design for us. (available on Amazon.com and WestBow Publishers). Barbara is also the director of the Roanoke Valley Christian Writers Group.
Sally Jameson Bond
Sally Jameson Bond is an Iowa girl, born and bred. The daughter of a World War II and Korean War veteran father and an artistic mother who loved to write, she was always surrounded by her large and caring family and a bevy of close friends. Early on, Sally found music. It was inevitable, as both of her parents were talented musicians and singers.
Sally met her husband Joe at the University of Iowa when they sat next to each other in band. Three years later, they married and moved to Virginia. Joe’s academic endeavors led them back to Iowa, and then to Texas, Oklahoma, and California. What they wanted more than anything, though, was to call Virginia home once again. So, eventually, they made it happen, settling in the Roanoke Valley between the beautiful Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains. They’re still there, and they still love it.
Sally is the author of soon-to-be-published Young Adult Historical Fiction, My Mother's Friend.
Mary Ann Castagnetta
ECJ Guest Writer
Mary Ann Castagnetta has been a resident of New Jersey for over 35 years after experiencing a wonderful childhood in Brooklyn, New York. She had always wanted to put Bubble Gum Dreams in book form after telling this story to her son John, who is the character in the book. However, life got in the way and she has been busy performing in Community Theater for over 30 years. She performed in many Musical and Non-Musical Productions with her favorites being Nunsense and Steel Magnolias. She was also incredibly happy to make an appearance on the Gene Simmons Reality TV Show, Family Jewels and was thrilled to spend 3 days with him.
After writing Bubble Gum Dreams, children asked her to author another book since they loved the first book so much. She then wrote Elephant Soup?, Rosie Ravioli's Cape May Adventure (where all of the 96 people and 4 dogs are actually real people) and finally her latest book, Haunted Vacation, and is working on a fifth book currently.
One of Mary Ann's most important associations is with Family Promise of Cape May County. She started as a volunteer after moving to Cape May. She then became a Board Member and worked her way up to Board President. Family Promise of Cape May County is a program designed to help families with who are experiencing homelessness. They are a non-traditional sheltering program that only accepts families with children. A network of faith- based organizations and over 1,000 volunteers provide temporary housing and meals for families in their program and help them take the necessary steps toward lasting independence. Family Promise is funded solely by donations and fundraisers and take NO government money, and believes it is unacceptable for even one child to be without a home in Cape May County or anywhere in our country.
April H. Cranford
At the age of 19, Rev. April Cranford served on her first mission trip, roofing a house during the day and sleeping in an old morgue at night. Since that trip, she has served five different churches as a youth director, seminary intern, mission director, associate pastor, and senior pastor. She claims mission as a key component of her faith in all settings, from the sanctuary to the neighborhood.
April was born and raised in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina. She earned her Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. April and her avid-angler husband, Reed, reside in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with their two amazing daughters, River and Haven, along with furry companion Daffy.
Since 2015, April has served as the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro, Virginia. She writes a monthly faith column for the local newspaper and shares simple steps in mission on her blog. April finds her joy with mountains in the background and mission in her heart.
Wherever I am, my heart is on the Maine coast…or off it, aboard a chartered sloop, a Dark Harbor 17. Two fun things about my favorite state. I sold in rural New England. There’s a welcome small town ethic. You come to know your lawyer customers…many of them during years and years.
Also, it’s fun to be paid to eat, my wife (my “companion”) and me. I was the anonymous restaurant critic for Maine’s largest newspaper. I published a review every week for 4.5 years. Yes, we gained weight, but, yes, we had a ball!
Dikkon Eberhart is the author of The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told, Paradise, and On the Verge. Dikkon is a Maine native transplanted recently to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He is a retired salesman, former actor and food critic, and always a writer.
Tess Flinchum is a freelance photographer from Roanoke, Virginia. She enjoys traveling along the East Coast with her husband Blake and photographing their experiences along the way. Tess’s favorite destination for food and sightseeing is Charleston, South Carolina.
The Virginia based artist loves utilizing photography to tell the stories of people and places. Tess’s passion for photography has led her to start her own small business in photography. She consults with local businesses and individuals to provide personalized photographs that capture the energy and beauty in the fleeting moment.
Tess has a background in Communication Studies and currently works as a Legal Assistant in Southwest Virginia. When she is not working, Tess can be found out and about with her husband on their adventures in local areas. Tess is never too far from her camera.
In 1975, Sandy left her native New England for a summer of adventure in Alaska. That summer has extended for more than four decades, while she has worked as an investigator, researcher, planner, naturalist, writer, and a myriad of other occupations.
As a carrier of the “wanderlust gene," her passions include travel and books that provide new insights and experiences. She is looking forward to becoming a full-time explorer and writer in retirement – soon!
Sandy lives in Juneau, Alaska, with her mate Blueberry (a Common raven), two dogs, and a cat. They spend a lot of time in the woods.
www.sandyharbanuk.com coming soon...
Trish MacEnulty, PhD
Trish MacEnulty has a doctorate from the Creative Writing Program at the Florida State University. She has published two memoirs, several novels, and a short story collection. She taught creative writing and film studies as a full professor at the university level before retiring from full time teaching in 2021.
Trish is also a former addict, who has facilitated writing programs in jails, prison, juvenile facilities, and drug treatment centers. Her two latest books are Writing and Recovery and The Lullaby Motel stories.
Susan Frances Morris
Susan Frances Morris was raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, the second oldest of seven siblings with two sets of twins. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and was a practicing nurse from 1989 to 2011, primarily in Women’s Health. The highlight of her career has been the time she spent at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven Connecticut working in nursing management alongside international experts in the field of women’s health.
Susan is the author of The Sensitive One, a memoir dealing with childhood trauma, abuse, health, and healing.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Tammy grew up in a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and Eastern European immigrants. She began her career as an investigator with the National Labor Relations Board and later worked as a paralegal and German teacher. She holds degrees in labor and industrial relations from Penn State University and German language and literature from the University of Delaware.
Tammy currently lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore with her husband, two children, and chocolate Labrador retriever. She is the author of the novel, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash.
Michelle Layer Rahal
Michelle Layer Rahal is a certified writing coach, educator, and the award-winning author of Straining Forward, the true story of a Vietnamese refugee who escaped a life of war and abuse to become the third Asian woman in America to be ordained a Presbyterian pastor. Before devoting herself to fulltime writing, Michelle served as the director of youth and family ministry at her church, wrote educational reports and studies (Education Research Services, U.S. Department of Education, K12 Inc., Arlington County Public Schools of Virginia), and worked as a news radio reporter and anchor.
Not one to sit still, Michelle can usually be found writing or teaching. She is a guest contributor for several online publications, and she writes a monthly blog on perseverance at www.KeepStrainingForward.com that encourages readers to keep straining forward despite their current circumstances. When not writing, she leads women, students, or the homeless in weekly Bible studies. She is passionate about spiritual formation and enjoys collecting “God-sighting” stories. Michelle’s hobbies include cooking gourmet meals, playing the guitar, and leading worship at her church.
Michelle holds an undergraduate degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University and a graduate degree in Education from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her fun-loving husband, Greg.
A farmer’s daughter born and raised in Illinois, Maggie spent 25 years in ministry in New England with her pastor-husband Mike, where she taught at Daniel Webster University and directed women’s ministries throughout the six New England states. While living in the Chicago area, Maggie served as a public relations professional for Tyndale House as well as a guest communications instructor at Wheaton College. Maggie and Mike now happily reside in western North Carolina, where Maggie writes from Peace Ridge, their home in the Smokies.
Maggie has spoken at hundreds of outreach events, retreats and conferences throughout the U.S. As a dramatist she performs original historical reenactments of the lives of great women of the Christian faith including Mary of Nazareth, Sarah Pierpont Edwards, and Amy Carmichael. Maggie has contributed to over ten books, and her first as a solo author, This Life We Share, released in 2020 from NavPress. She's currently at work on her second book scheduled for publication in early 2022 from Tyndale House.
In 2014 Maggie earned her M.A. in Biblical Studies from Wheaton Graduate School. Her greatest blessings are Mike, her husband of over 40 years, their three adult children and spouses and five grandchildren. She loves hiking, mountain dancing, books and anything chocolate, but mostly she loves people.
Suzanne Simonetti is an award-winning novelist who grew up in the New York suburbs just outside of the city. After earning a BS in marketing, she spent several years writing press releases, until she left her corporate job to focus on her passion for crafting fiction. She lives on Cape May Harbor with her husband. When not on her paddle board or yoga mat, she can be found at the beach trailing the shoreline for seashells, scribbling in her notebook, and channeling dolphins for meaningful conversation. The Sound of Wings is her first book.
April White is an off-road 4×4 Jeep shotgun wife, cheerleader to two teenagers, and a pharmacist. Until six years ago, the only thing missing from April’s idyllic life was a white picket fence and a deer-proof garden. However, in 2015, a rare illness, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, threatened to derail April’s sense of worth, security, and identity.
April holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from James Madison University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Shenandoah University. April is the columnist for the “Pressing On” column for the quarterly chronic illness magazine, Broken but Priceless and Inspire a Fire. She also writes for Reach Out Columbia and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine.
April coauthored a book with Marilyn Nutter, Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart (Ambassador International Publication).