Get to know our new contributing columnists

When we announced this summer that we were looking for new contributing columnists, we didn't expect to have the largest applicant pool we've seen in years. (Perhaps being stuck at home with nothing to do made people more likely to apply!)

While I was happy to receive emails from so many people, it made the job of selecting new writers very difficult.

We announced our three new columnists - Bret Conway, Gabriela Garcia and Alegra Waverley - and our retuning writer, Kelly Abate Kallas, in a full-page ad in last week's paper. I'd also like to spend some time here letting you know a little more about each of them.

Kelly was one of our first contributing columnists when we started the paper in 2006. She wrote for six years and then returned for a two-year stint from 2014-16.

A dermatologist by day, she and her husband have three children, ages 17 to 21.

Writing always came easy for her in school, but it wasn't until she was an adult and became a contributing columnist at another local newspaper that she realized how fulfilling it can be.

"I realized that I think it's really good for my psyche since I'm not exercising and I need some sort of relief," she said with a laugh.

You can expect more insight - and more humor - from her columns.

Bret Conway is a 19-year resident who hopes to re-ignite his passion for writing, which has been dormant since he penned a screenplay in the late 1990s about a prodigal son returning home.

"It was more of a personal challenge," he said of writing the piece.

He and his wife are parents to three children, ranging in age from 12 to 17.

Conway works in talent acquisition for the health care industry and used to live two doors down from former contributing columnist Bill Lewis.

"We moved to Hinsdale in '01 and I always enjoyed reading the guest commentary," he said. "I thought it would be an interesting challenge to come up with a 500-word commentary on a subject."

Gabriela Garcia, whose inaugural column appears on the facing page, is a professional freelance writer and a five-year resident of Hinsdale. She and her husband are parents to 6- and 8-year-old girls.

Being a writer has been her dream since she was a little girl growing up in Willowbrook, she said. Her friend Ellen Blumb's mom was a columnist for The Doings.

"I just thought that was the most amazing job," she said. "I thought her mom was coolest. Seeing an opening in The Hinsdalean reminded me of my childhood friend and I wanted to make that childhood dream come true."

Alegra Waverley, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School, is our student columnist this year.

She's involved in a number of activities at Central and has appeared in numerous musicals there and with Stage Door Fine Arts. She also serves as communications chair of the Hinsdale Hospital Junior Executive Board and as a hospital volunteer.

She said English has always been her favorite class and she's always loved to write.

"It always honestly has been a stress reliever for me," he said. "When I read that The Hinsdalean was looking for a new columnist, I though, 'Oh, this would be awesome.' "

She's considering a major in communications and journalism but also is intrigued by a new human organization development major.

"I'm just really excited to be doing this," she said of her new gig. "I'm really excited."

We're excited to have this group on board and hope you enjoy their work.

- Pamela Lannom is editor

of The Hinsdalean.

Readers can email her at

[email protected].

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean