As mentioned on the front page, we are a small group of four individuals with backgrounds in publishing and writing, in varying capacities. We will provide brief bios so you will have some idea who we are.

Freddie Johnson

I am from Kalamazoo Michigan originally but my dad was military so we wound up hopping around the country when I was young, taking up residence in Fayetteville, NC, Jacksonville, Fla, and Birmingham, Ala before settling in Richmond, Va. I graduated from VCU with a degree in Journalism, aspiring to work for the local paper or a good magazine if I could get hired at one.

Started at the Times Dispatch for about 10 years and finally moved on to Director of Marketing and Communications at a local hospital. This was a great job for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I met my wife-to-be there. She was a nurse. Anyway from there I took a job as a news anchor at Nexstar Broadcasting, and finally settled as an Adjunct Instructor in Multimedia Journalism at VCU where it all started.

I retired in 2017 with aspirations to do some travelling. At that point the kids were grown and gone. We did do some travelling but my heart kept pulling me back to writing. I thought about writing a book but didn’t endeavor to invest my entire life into the next project. My friends, referenced on the home page, discussed this blog at one of our weekly lunches with me and it seemed like the perfect fit since it wouldn’t eat up too much of my time and would be fun, so I signed on.

Adrienne Helf

I grew up in Lake City, Florida and attended the University of Miami where I got a degree in Advertising. Wanting to get out of Florida I got my first job in Atlanta as a production assistant on-air for Turner Broadcasting. This was a lot of fun, though not exactly what I pictured myself doing through college. After a few years of doing this, I took a lateral move to work as a Sports Intern for CNN helping the announcers do their research. I really took a liking to researching at that point, plus it was fun being involved with personalities I saw on TV the next weekend! This was great fun though didn’t pay as much as I would have liked so I reluctantly bailed, but not before meeting a guy I fell in love with. He had a tenuous background but seemed settled and productive.

We eventually got married and moved to Charlotte, NC where he worked on a construction crew and I took a job as a copywriter at Procom, working with design partners to build marketing communications. While the job was satisfying, my married life was not as my husband was getting involved with bad actors again and I could see the writing on the wall. He eventually got arrested and went to prison. I decided to get out of Charlotte and try to start life anew, so I moved to Richmond Va and took a job as a technical writer for a small startup called Infintium Technologies.

This was a wonderful and relaxing place to work, and my life took a turn for the better here. While working at Infintium, I took a couple writing classes at VCU and met I lot of great people there with whom I became good friends. It is a few of these people I am now working on this blog with.

Anna Tsalapatis

I am from Camden, SC, just outside Columbia. I attended the University of South Carolina, double majoring in English Lit (I was always attracted to the English novelists) and Business (concerned the English Lit degree wouldn’t afford me much opportunity when I graduated). I was a naturally good student, looking to absorb everything I could. Writing and poetry always fascinated me, but I really didn’t want to be a teacher and was unclear what path my life would take. There aren’t a lot of fun, good paying jobs in poetry!

Upon graduation, I got hired at a startup company doing a little coding for them. I took a few programming classes as part of the business degree, and they seemed impressed with my skills there. This was definitely not what I wanted to do long term but it gave me an opportunity to spend a lot of time looking for the next landing place.

My big break came when a group of investors came in to talk to our CEO. He invited a number of our 20 person staff in, and after a lot of questions and discussion about us and how we operate, we exchanged contact information and they left. Over time we raised a series A round of funding from them. Subsequently, I was contacted by one of them and after a couple of meetings, they offered me a job doing research on companies they were looking at funding. It was a great opportunity and I took it. Wound up staying there for 21 years, meeting and marrying the man of my dreams while there. There is a lot to say about my time there, but in the interest of brevity I will move on.

During the 21 years, our company grew and we opened an office in Northern Va right outside DC. My husband I were integral in getting it going, and we moved up there shortly after opening. Our two children were grown and in college at the time, which made the decision to move much easier.

A few years later, we were in Richmond visiting a business owner we had funded some years earlier. It was a birthday party and one of his friends was a professor at VCU. In our discussions, we learned VCU was looking for retired investors to give lectures in their business school. Both of us were tiring on the Northern Va rat race and liked the quaint feel of Richmond, so after some consideration we decided to sell our house and buy a nice place in the city and take the job. We took turns with the lectures and really loved our new line of work. It was there that we met Freddie, Adrienne, and Alan. I finally retired leaving John, my husband, to take over all the lecturing. I was elated when I was approached about doing a little writing on random topics interesting to our contacts in the social media world.

Alan Warren

I was born and raised in Highland Springs, Va, which is a little southeast of Richmond. I enjoyed sports and was never the studious type, limping my way through high school and attending J Sargent Reynolds Community College for two years trying to decide what I wanted to be. In the summer I worked in the meat department at a local grocery store, where it appeared I had an aptitude for cutting meat. I was also tasked with helping the manager develop a business plan for opening more stores. They wound up hiring me part time while was in school. In my third year, I took a couple business and economics classes, and a class in technical writing. I found school a lot more practical when I had something specific to apply the lessons to.

I never wound up getting a degree because the store hired me full time before graduation, happy with my contribution and the skills I brought to the table. I was promoted to meat manager and continued working on business plans until the presentation was made. The idea was initially rejected but they sent us back to the drawing board to refine the proposal, which we did, and ultimately a new store was approved. I was involved in the design work and oversaw the buildout of the meat department while still running the old one.

Once done, I went back to managing but started looking for more challenging work. I was hired at another small chain whose service area included South Florida and some of the Caribbean. By then I was married with a couple kids. We moved to Miami and I helped them reorganize all their stores over a two year period. They needed a lot of help, more than I was capable of providing, and I tired of this after a couple years so I began looking again.

Contacts still in Richmond hooked me up with a large grocery chain based in York, Pa. This looked good because it involved more writing and designing (they were also growing) and less managing and ordering. My wife and I both wanted to move back to Virginia so we would up buying a house in Colonial Beach on the Potomac River and I commuted to York, staying up there from Monday to Thursday and returning every Friday.

Finally after a few years of doing this, the commute started getting old so I found work with a small group of investors looking to build and sell stores and strip malls. This was appealing to me so I enrolled in a Journalism class at VCU to sharpen my rusty skills. Spent five years with these guys before finally throwing in the towel and retiring.

Along the way, I bought a few rental houses in the Richmond area which are now providing me a nice income, enabling me to do what I’ve always wanted which is to write and research without all the pressure.