From EMU to Oprah Magazine
"EMU definitely challenged me to listen to other people on moral and ethical issues."
-Jeff Boodie '07
He is not the stereotypical Mennonite. He was raised in New York City. He went to public schools. He works for a large corporation. And neither of his parents has Swiss, German, Dutch or Russian roots.
Check your assumptions, though. When Jeff Boodie ’07 came to EMU in 2003, “I finally fit in - I was surrounded by people who thought and believed like I do.”
Jeff’s mother, Eudina Boodie, raised her four children in the Mennonite Church, attending Burnside Mennonite Church in the Bronx (now called King of Glory Tabernacle).
Today, just one year after matriculating as a liberal arts major, Jeff is the “business coordinator” for O, The Oprah Magazine, published by the Hearst Corporation. Reporting to general manager Nancy Denholtz, Jeff is one of two magazine staffers who work with major advertisers. “A lot of what I do is pricing,” he explains.
“Coming from a middle-class background, it’s unreal to me - it’s becoming normal for me to tell an advertiser that the charge is $224-grand,” Jeff says. That’s the cost of two pages on regular 50-pound stock for one month of a full-run that reaches 16.5 million U.S. subscribers.
Jeff says the job suits him. “I love talking to people. I love change, being in a vibrant fast-paced environment. It’s fun; it’s easy for me. I like being on the revenue end, feeling like I am helping to keep the magazine afloat.”
It helps that Jeff likes the magazine itself. “The media industry is not known for being morally focused - I mean, Cosmo is all about sex - I would not feel good working there. But Oprah suits me. She and the magazine are all about how to live your best life. She implements this philosophy with her staff. We are treated well.”
Jeff Boodie says Mom is proud.
Jeff started working for the Hearst publishing group the summer before his senior year at EMU. He worked in the accounting department at the Hearst headquarters in New York City, through which passed the financial statements of some 12 daily and 14 weekly newspapers across the nation. He met George B. Irish, president of Hearst Newspapers, and many other senior executives. He discovered that he felt at ease talking with one and all, from the president to the security guard at the door.
“As a Christian and a Mennonite, it’s easy for me to see beyond people’s titles. To me, they don’t matter. We are all humans in God’s eyes.”
Friendly and diligent, Jeff must have made a good impression - he was invited back to work with the Hearst corporation during the 2006 Christmas holiday period. When he finished his college studies in the spring of 2007 and sought a permanent job, he immediately landed the O magazine position.
Jeff’s father, Michael - an engineer who closely follows the work of the United Nations and of international politics - was skeptical that O magazine was a viable career path for Jeff. He preferred something comparable to his own engineering work or to the dental practice of Jeff’s older brother. But “he’s coming around, and Mom was really proud of me for landing a good job with a top magazine,” says Jeff.
At EMU Jeff enjoyed exploring ideas in hours-long conversations with friends in the dormitory, at Common Grounds and at Martin House. He also loved EMU’s international emphasis. Jeff has visited his father’s home country, Guyana, twice.
Before coming to EMU, he went to Zimbabwe as part of Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s LEAP program. (LEAP - or Learning, Exploring And Participating - is offered to selected high school juniors and seniors each summer.) On two professor-led trips, Jeff went to Spain, Morocco and the Middle East, where he explored both Israel and the West Bank. This spring he plans to visit four EMU friends working in Equador. He keeps in touch with his wide network of college buddies via Facebook.
“EMU definitely challenged me to listen to other people on moral and ethical issues, but not to be afraid of questioning anything and to form my own opinions. I was one of those on campus who helped organize forums on homosexuality and discussions surrounding the war in Iraq.”
At work when people learn that Jeff is Mennonite, a few wonder if he is Amish. He laughs at the notion that he somehow could have emerged from a horse-and-buggy farm-family. “I tell them we are all Anabaptists, and that one of our biggest messages is peace. We are against war and we are against poverty, and many of us are activists on these issues. But, no, we aren’t all Swiss-German Amish.”