Catherine Saint Louis ’92

Executive Editor at Neon Hum Media

What advice would you give to a girl graduating from Williston today?   

It’s important to practice speaking up. Sometimes you don’t want to be the one to say something, so you let a comment or an unacceptable action slide, but the sooner you realize your power is in your ability to say something the better. But it takes practice. So find a way to become the person in the room with the courage to speak up.

Tell us about a woman who is your hero and why?

My aunt never got married and never had children. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but she came up when everyone was supposed to get married and have children. She didn’t want to, and so didn’t. She went against the tide. She got a job in a museum and lived life on her own terms. She laughed a lot and took care of her mother when she fell ill towards the end of her life. We like to praise celebrities or famous people but I think there are a lot of people like my aunt who live lives worth noting for their quiet resilience. Look around at who deserves praise who never gets it, and notice who gets praise who doesn’t deserve it.

What do you think is next for women in your professional field?

I’m in podcasting. I can’t wait for a day when more women can host podcasts without having people in the comments complaining about their voice. I would like more women to be able to host investigative podcasts like “In The Dark.” Madeleine Baran hosted that podcast for two season and didn’t get a third season, despite the fact that her reporting literally saved a man from death row. I look forward to a world when women doing investigative work of the highest import get funded.

What motivates you in your work and life?

I’m at my best when I’m a little scared. Once I’ve figured out a job, I’m a little bored, so I like it when I’m learning. I’m a reporter by nature, so I like to ask questions, like to hold people in power to account, and I like to ask questions that other people find uncomfortable to ask because I can. I started an Editors’ Bootcamp to get more story editors from underrepresented backgrounds the training they need to break into the industry. It’s been an eyeopening experience to teach. It’s hard work (no surprise there). But what’s the hardest thing to admit is there’s only so much you can teach someone else. You can take them only so far, anyone who wants to excel has to push themselves to excellence, by continuing their own education for the rest of their life and career.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

When it comes to career changes, I think no one knows what will make you happy as well as you do. When I was going to leave the New York Times, I went on long walks to think through what two things would actually make me happy. One was breaking into audio. The other was writing a book. When opportunities arose, if they didn’t support either goal, I just said NO. It’s a power word. Learning how to use it is crucial to finding happiness. Because if you say yes to a high-paying gig you don’t want, it’s standing in the way of the job you actually do. Money is not everything. I want enough to pay my bills, rent and save a little. I want to enjoy at what I do 8 hours a day, and excel at it.