Staff Spotlight: Donna Rayburn
By Sharon Still
The Osprey Observer began publishing the Christian Voice Monthly newspaper in March of 2009 and while its popularity has soared due to the talented group of writers who keep readers up to date on happenings in the religious community, much of the its success can be attributed to the newspaper’s Marketing Representative Donna Rayburn.
Rayburn joined the staff of the Osprey Observer upon the purchase of the Christian Voice Monthly and since then the paper has grown both in pages and in distribution, serving the Greater Brandon area and more recently, Plant City.
“I help spread God’s word,” she says, adding that her primary duty is to help churches and Christian businesses promote themselves and reach other Christians or Christian seekers either the Christian Voice Monthly newspaper or the Osprey Observer Community newspaper.
“I meet lots of incredible people and discover organizations making a positive difference in our community. That is the best part of my job,” Rayburn comments.
In addition to all of her marketing tasks, Rayburn also writes a monthly parenting column in the Christian Voice Monthly called “Parenting in Faith.”
A mother of four, she says, “I have been blessed to continually share my thoughts or observations about being a parent in 2010, mostly inspired by my family.”
Additionally, in 2008 Rayburn wrote and published a children’s book called “I Accidentally,” about a boy in kindergarten who gets distracted during story time at school. She reads it at various elementary schools throughout the Tampa Bay area. The book is currently out of print, although she is seeking a new publisher.
Surprisingly, Rayburn graduated from the University of Florida with an accounting degree and worked as a CPA prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom and later, joining the Osprey Observer staff.
Rayburn is a FishHawk Ranch resident, who, when not working is taxiing Catherine, age 13, Kirsten, age 10, Anthony , age 9 and Jennifer, age 5 to and from Nativity Catholic School and to their various extra-curricular activities.
“I also enjoy volunteering at my church and my children’s school,” she adds.
And when she gets a break for vacation? “My family loves the beach,” she concludes.
Staff Spotlight: Erin Messano
By Sharon Still
If there is one thing everyone who encounters Erin Messano of the Osprey Observer knows is that she loves her job.
“I love being out in the community, meeting people and helping businesses,” she proclaims.
Messano, a previous stay-at-home mom, started at the Osprey Observer in 2005 as an advertising assistant; her tenacity and drive helped her quickly move up the ranks to advertising representative.
“I like to keep busy and when the kids were in school, I always volunteered and participated in the PTA,” she says.
As the paper’s Riverview Advertising Representative, Messano assists local business with marketing, branding and networking in order to help them become more successful.
She is an active member of the Riverview Chamber of Commerce and serves on its Ambassador Committee. She also is a weekly participant in Free Networking International (FNI) meetings.
The American Cancer Society is an organization near and dear to Messano’s heart as she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. As part of her commitment to the organization, she will help lead the Osprey Observer Relay For Life Team at Riverview High School on March 26, 2011. To donate or join the team, visit www.relayforlife.org, select find an event, enter 33569 in the zip code box and you will find the Osprey team by clicking on the Riverview Relay for Life link on the bottom of the page.
Messano and her husband of 19 years Michael, live, eat and shop in Riverview, along with their three children Rebecca, age 16, Matthew, age 14 and Jessica, age 9.
As a way to wind down, Erin and Michael enjoy wine tasting and have even dabble in making their own Lemoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, from a recipe they came across. “We love it,” she says.
Staff Spotlight: Suzy Wiesenhart
By Sharon Still
Event planner, cake baker, office assistant, writer and cheerleader are just some of the duties of Suzy Wiesenhart at the Osprey Observer. While her formal title is advertising assistant, Wiesenhart is always there with a helping hand in whatever capacity she is needed.
Keeping busy is part of her personality and one of the reasons she originally sought employment at the Osprey Observer. “Prior to working at the Osprey, I was a homemaker, but was bored and looking for something to do a few hours a week,” she says. She also is president of the homeowner’s association in River Crossing in Bloomingdale East where she has lived for nearly 20 years.
In the past, she has served as president of the PTA at Alafia Elementary and Burns Middle School and worked for companies including Rockwell International, Eaton Corporation, U. S. Army Mobility Command, and Coast to Coast International. “My favorite part of my jobs was always setting up meetings, and organizing programs, so activities at the Osprey allow me to do what I like most,” she comments.
In addition to keeping active in the workplace, Wiesenhart also is extremely dedicated to her family. She and husband Tom recently celebrated 28 years of marriage and they have two children, Michael, age 25 and Amy, age 23 and two dogs. In addition, Wiesenhart takes free time to visit her mom who resides in a local nursing home.
“I love to read every chance I get and shop ‘til I drop, which these days, isn’t very long,” she adds. “I’m known for my delicious cakes and usually bake one for everyone’s birthdays.’
Travel and cruises are a favorite of Wiesenhart and she has a special knack for writing parodies for special occasions, and has written them for teachers’ meetings, showers, going away parties and more. “I even thought about starting a business doing it,” she says.
Upon meeting Wiesenhart, her love of life is infectious. “The people I work with at the Osprey are loads of fun and we enjoy working together. My favorite part of the job is meeting new people,” she explains. “I’m proud to represent the Osprey in the community. It’s given me an opportunity to grow and become acquainted with some awesome people.”
There may be even more coming from Wiesenhart in the future as her secret passion is to be on Broadway is “Hello Dolly.” Look out!
To reach Wiesenhart, call the Osprey office at 657-2418 or email email@example.com.
Staff Spotlight: Nan Hager
By Sharon Still
Nan Hager started at the Osprey Observer in August of this year taking on the title of Small Business Center Manager, a newly created position responsible for bookings, events and marketing of the newspaper’s recently-opened Small Business Center.
Hager says she is thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to spearhead the planning, set-up and launch of the 1,200 sq. ft. flexible meeting space, which she notes is perfect for employee training, seminars, meetings and lectures for groups of up to 20 people.
“I appreciate that my job description is not limited,” she says. “It is basically a blank page and I’m free to write on it whatever I love doing and anything that will promote the Osprey Observer in the community,” says Nan.
“With her organizational skills, positive attitude and understanding of small business, customers will find a knowledgeable advocate when they speak to Nan. We are happy to have her on board,” states Osprey Observer publisher Marie Gilmore.
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Nan and husband Jim, a native Floridian, moved from Bradenton to Riverview in April to be closer to his job at Premier Beverage.
“I love the constant activity and community involvement at the Osprey Observer,” she notes.
And it is not a wonder why. Prior to the joining the Osprey Observer team, Hager owned a clothing and accessories boutique in Bradenton’s Lakewood Ranch area, specializing in one-of-a kind designs, unique accessories and gift items. After closing the store, she consulted in marketing for a chain of hair salons and a continuing education firm for insurance agents.
Additionally, she has served on the Cattle Baron’s Ball committee in Manatee County for the American Cancer Society, worked diligently for the Women’s Resource Center in Bradenton and several dog rescue organizations.
Hager has two grown daughters, Erica, a mother of one, and Ashley, a mother of four. The couple also has three dogs Max, Muggs and Kai-Ocho and a cat named Sabian rounding out their household.
While Hager enjoys scrapbooking, reading and road trips, she admits that the last book she read is the Osprey Observer Employee Handbook. “Since I’ve been working at the paper, I haven’t found much spare time,” she adds.
Osprey Observer Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Silverstein
By Sharon Still
At the weekly Osprey Observer staff meetings, all thank you notes from clients and readers are read aloud for all to hear. Not a week passes without a card or short note to Osprey Observer Business Editor Jennifer Silverstein, praising her for her top-notch writing and compassionate heart.
“Making a difference in the community and in people’s lives through writing is my favorite part of the job,” says Silverstein. It has been two-and-a-half years since Silverstein joined the Osprey Observer staff, and Assistant Editor Carisa Biesecker says, “Jenn has really become an asset to this paper, helping not only to lighten the burden when it comes to the editorial side but also to lighten the mood.”
As business editor, she reports on new business openings, trends in the community, new services being offered or new employees being hired at local businesses. She also writes news stories and edits the paper before press.
Silverstein’s dream has always been to work in the news media and she attended the University of South Florida, graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications, News Editorial Option. She recently married her husband, Eric, and they purchased a home in Channing Park, where they live with their two dogs, Kobi and Keiko, affectionately referred to as their “fur babies.” The couple rescued Keiko, a yellow Lab and German Shepherd mix, from Hillsborough County Animal Services.Outside of work one of Silverstein’s favorite hobbies is scrapbooking and she has at least five scrapbooks chronicling her life, though she admits she has still not made one for her wedding. She also enjoys boating and recently took up painting after attending a Sketch & Sip event.
An avid reader, her latest infatuation is with the Twilight series, but her true favorite is Shakespeare, and she even participated in a Renaissance Festival as a youngster.
Anyone who is opening a new business, starting a new service, celebrating an anniversary or hiring a new employee is encouraged to contact Silverstein at 657-2418 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Osprey Observer Staff Spotlight: Terry Vassalotti
By Sharon Still
The people behind the scenes at the Osprey Observer are every bit as important in keeping the newspapers successful as those you see out in the community at networking meetings, neighborhood festivals and other area events. Such is the case with Osprey Observer Billing Manager Terry Vassalotti who makes sure all of the advertisers are billed and monies are collected each month.
Vassalotti has been with the Osprey Observer for two-and-a-half years and hopes to continue for many years to come. “My favorite part of the job is helping customers with their questions,” she says.
Originally from Philadelphia, Vassalotti, a mother of two grown sons, now lives in Bloomingdale with her husband of nearly 30 years. Prior to joining the Osprey team, she worked for 10 years at the Brandon Regional Library.
“I’ve known Terry since our sons were in kindergarten together, many years ago. She’s been a great friend, and it is a lot of fun working at the Osprey Observer with her, too,” comments Assignment Editor Michelle Colesanti. When she is not attending to clients’ accounts at the Osprey Observer, Vassalotti enjoys reading, watching movies, attending wine tastings and socializing on Facebook. She recently finished the Twilight Saga and says that she also loved the movies.
On March 26, Vassalotti will join Osprey staff members for the 2010 American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Bloomingdale High School, a cause that is near and dear to her heart. This will be her second year participating in the overnight camp out and walk to raise money and awareness to help the American Cancer Society save more lives from cancer. To donate to her cause, visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY10FL?px=4054768&pg=personal&fr_id=20993. Terry can be reached at the Osprey Observer at 657-2418 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Osprey Observer Staff Spotlight: Shannon Carlton
By Sharon Still
When the Osprey Observer staff sets out for its bi-annual Adopt-A-Road Cleanup, ad representative and Brandon territory manager Shannon Carlton, rides her bicycle the six miles to meet the group. That is just the kind of person that she is.
“Shannon is a tenacious sales rep who loves what she does,” says Osprey’s FishHawk territory manager Kerrie Hoening. “She is efficient and you can always count on her to do what she says and to follow through on her tasks.”
Carlton joined the Osprey team three years ago and proves to be a greater asset every year. Currently, she offers quarterly Small Business Marketing Seminars to current and prospective advertisers in order to share some of the techniques she and the Osprey staff have gathered over the years to help give businesses a leg up in promoting themselves. “The most rewarding part of my job is working with local business owners who are passionate about what they do and the community that they live in,” Carlton comments.
“She is fabulous with people,” Hoening adds. “She has a great personality, a great smile and she is tons of fun.”
Around the Osprey Observer office, Carlton is known as the resident fashionista and other staff members often look to her for advice about the latest styles and trends.
While most of her time is spent advising business owners about their marketing and attending local events for groups such as Toastmasters and The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, she also is very active in her church, FishHawk Fellowship, and relishes in the time she spends with her family. She and her husband Jay have two beautiful daughters, Abby, age 9, and Shelby, age 6. She likes to involve them in the organizations and charities that are close to her heart, including the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) and Missions of Charity.When not out dedicating her time to others, Carlton enjoys working out, cooking, reading, shopping and spending time with her girlfriends. What some people may not know about Carlton, she admits: “Eating is one of my passions.”
Carlton can be reached at 657-2418 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.