Thursday, October 15, 2015

Meet a Lerner: Jill Braithwaite

Today our new group marketing director, Jill Braithwaite,talks to us about reading, tennis, and crop art. 

1. First, tell us about yourself!



I grew up in southern Minnesota, and I’ve lived in Minneapolis since I came to the University of Minnesota for college. I have worked in publishing for more than 20 years.

2. How did you get into book publishing, and more specifically, into marketing?

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love words and books, and I always had a sense my work life would end up in that area. I’ve also always gravitated toward visual arts such as film and painting, so I guess it’s no accident I ended up in children’s publishing, in which the visual component of books is so important.


During college, I sometimes helped friends with editing their papers, and that gave me an idea of what I might look for in a job. I was fortunate to find a job at Lerner as an editor after college, which was a fantastic way to learn the craft of making compelling children’s books. Over time, I became more interested in the business side of publishing, and I moved on to roles in marketing and product development at other companies. I truly love both the art and the business of publishing. And now I’m so grateful to be back at Lerner, working in marketing and helping bring our amazing books to young readers.

3. What were your favorite books as a kid? What are some favorite books you’ve read recently?

I read and loved all kinds of fiction when I was a kid. The first book I remember buying with my allowance was Johnny Tremain. Another favorite was A Wrinkle in Time. In fourth grade, we had three options for what kind of book report to do about the book—a written report, acting out a scene, or making a diorama—and I did all three. 

My reading is still mostly novels, with some nonfiction in the mix too. Some of my favorite authors of late include Ben Lerner, Lauren Groff, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

4. Say you’re trapped on a desert island—what 5 books would you want with you? 

Hoo boy, that’s a tough question. I reserve the right to revise this list at any time, but here goes: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Langston Hughes’ two-volume autobiography, Sula by Toni Morrison, On Art and Architecture by Paul Tillich, and how about I cheat and say the collected works of Jennifer Egan.

5. Rumor has it you are a tennis enthusiast. Tell us why you enjoy the sport!

I do indeed love tennis, both as a spectator and a player. I am inspired by the discipline and focus that athletes in individual sports like tennis have to live out over long periods of time, and by how great players  are able to rise to the occasion in high-pressure matches. And tennis is a beautiful game to watch, full of drama and angles and opportunities for bold, creative tactics and shot-making. 

Jill's award-winning crop art!
6. Speaking of things other than tennis and reading, what are your hobbies? 

I enjoy all kinds of arts, and spending time in galleries and museums is one of my favorite things to do. I especially like the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Movies top my list as well. I still value the big-screen experience and get out to a movie theater a couple times a month. I occasionally dabble in doing various arts and crafts. I did once actually submit a work of crop art  to the Minnesota State Fair’s competition, which was so much fun. Believe it or not, it won a blue ribbon in the novice category. I also knit, but I can only do scarves and shawls.

7. If you weren’t in marketing, what job might you have? 

I probably would have liked a career in academia, because I’m at home in the world of ideas and ongoing cultural conversations. I also love work that facilitates other people realizing their potential, in the way great teachers and editors do.

Immersion in learning environments and materials is always very satisfying for me. Over the last few years, I treated myself to graduate school and got a master’s degree in theology and the arts at a small school in the Twin Cities. Ultimately, though, I’m most engaged by work in which there is a concrete product that serves an important concrete need.

Thanks, Jill!

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea! Let's meet more Lerner's!

    This is good for customers and employees alike. I just learned that Jill and I have a lot of similar interests - good fodder for conversation around the water cooler.

    ReplyDelete