Staff | The Sun Magazine Staff


Shani Armstrong Reader Services Specialist

Shani recently moved to North Carolina from her hometown of San Jose, California. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz with a focus on education, she spent the last several years supporting high school students with visual impairments and coaching track and field with her dad. Shani enjoys going to the movies, playing trivia, and discovering hidden gems in her new state. She especially loves watching sports—specifically the Golden State Warriors and Arsenal Football Club. She lives in Graham with her husband, Aaron.

Staff - Derek Askey
Derek Askey Associate Editor

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh and working for a health-insurance company (he wasn’t the guy denying anyone coverage, but still), Derek left to earn his master’s at Colorado State University. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Madelaine. Though you wouldn’t guess it, he used to have hair down to his shoulders.

Staff - Rob Bowers
Rob Bowers Editor & Publisher

Rob started reading The Sun in 1996 as an antidote to his professional life in finance and commerce. He later left his career to start an organic farm and spent nine years toiling in the North Carolina dirt—an agrarian midlife crisis of sorts. Today he and his wife, Cheri, and daughter, Téa, live in Cedar Grove, North Carolina.

Staff - Finn Cohen
Finn Cohen Associate Editor

Finn grew up in Durham, North Carolina, and has a music degree from Duke University. He has been an editor and writer at The New York Times, Apple News, and The Moscow Times.

A photograph of Rachel J. Elliott.
Rachel J. Elliott Editorial Associate & Photo Editor

Rachel has worked at The Sun since November 1997 and has contributed photographs and interviews to its pages. She enjoys playing sand volleyball and a bag-toss game called “cornhole” with family and friends in Carrboro, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Seth; her daughter, Ava; and her dog, Kodi.

STAFF - Anna Gazmarian
Anna Gazmarian Outreach Coordinator

At the age of twelve, in summer camp, Anna won the Most Improved Swimmer Award, which she still refers to as her greatest achievement. She received her BA from Hope College, which she attended after learning that her favorite singer, Sufjan Stevens, briefly went there. For several years she worked in community mental health. She has an MFA from Bennington College, and her debut memoir, Devout, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and daughter and a dog she got on Craigslist.

Staff - Andrew Gleason
Andrew Gleason Reader Services Specialist

Andrew joined The Sun in 2022 after years of working in live performance. When he’s not feeding the cat or ignoring his check-engine light, he moonlights as a comedian. Performing for seven years in the area, Andrew has appeared in venues and comedy festivals all over the state and beyond. He enjoys reading, playing guitar for the cat, and telling people of his plans—big and small—that, due to an irresistible urge to nap, he’ll certainly not follow through on.

Staff - Robert Graham
Robert Graham Art Director

Robert joined The Sun in 2001, having previously worked as a graphic designer for a hospital, a mail-order bicycle catalog, and a plastic-skeleton manufacturer. His favorite pastimes are not meditating, not practicing guitar scales, and inventing new excuses for why he shouldn’t bike to work. He lives with his two daughters and two cats in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Staff - Nancy Holochwost
Nancy Holochwost Associate Editor

The daughter of an English teacher and a craftsman, Nancy grew up amid the rolling farmlands of northern New Jersey. She received her BA from Yale University and worked for ten years to end homelessness before coming to The Sun in 2017. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, her cat, and a yard full of fireflies.

Staff - Molly House
Molly House Director of Development & Outreach

Molly joined the Sun staff in 2008. A native North Carolinian, she loves Bojangles’ biscuits, Cheerwine, and the Carolina Tar Heels. She is married to a florist, who proposed at The Sun’s fortieth-anniversary celebration. They share a house in the woods with their son, Hank, daughter, Catherine, and Buddy the Cat.

STAFF - Staci Kleinmaier
Staci Kleinmaier Assistant Editor

Staci moved from the Midwest to the South in 2016 and still drinks her iced tea unsweetened. She studied English, creative writing, and history at Bradley University and earned her master’s degree at Northern Illinois University. In her spare time she enjoys camping, crocheting, and swearing.

Staff - David Mahaffey
David Mahaffey Associate Editor

David has been coaxing The Sun into the twenty-first century since 2010. David has degrees in creative writing and publishing. David has strong feelings about science fiction, liminal states, and serial commas. David lives with one partner, two cats, and two dogs in Durham, North Carolina.

Staff - Holly McKinney
Holly McKinney Associate Publisher

Holly has a deep love of music and frequently forces her girlfriends to drink wine with her and cry over sad songs for hours on end. She spends her mornings taking long runs in the woods. She lives in Carrboro, North Carolina, with her husband, Brockton, who writes comic books and screenplays; their daughter, May, who sews and draws; and too many animals to count.

Staff - Seth Mirsky
Seth Mirsky Proofreader

Seth began doing editorial work for The Sun in 1993. A graduate of Wesleyan University and Harvard Divinity School, he has published articles on men, feminism, and contemporary religion, and is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Seth plays several musical instruments and lives on two Maine islands—one accessible by bridge, the other not.

A Black woman with dark braided hair stands outside the Sun's office in front of a wooden fence. She smiles at the camera and wears a dark top under a light-colored sweater.
Chrystal Pitt Reader Services Manager

Chrystal joined The Sun in November 2021 after relocating from New York. She likes to cook, bake, and torture her family with card- and board-game tournaments. (They love it, though.) She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her toddler son, Lonnie IV, who runs, jumps, and makes a mess; she also has a grown son, Xavier, who plays basketball and writes in his spare time.

Staff - Sy Safransky
Sy Safransky Founder & Editor Emeritus

Sy was editor of his junior-high newspaper, his high-school newspaper, and his college newspaper. (Guess where this is heading.) He earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, then worked as a newspaper reporter until he discovered that the real news is what connects us. Miraculously, the magazine he founded in 1974 survives to this day.

Staff - Andrew Snee
Andrew Snee Senior Editor

Andrew has been at The Sun since 1994. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was better at editing other students’ short stories than he was at writing his own. He and his wife, Julie, have two sons and live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Hank Stephenson Manuscript Reader

Hank spent his post-collegiate years writing a young-adult science-fiction novel and helping his uncle research long-dead jazz musicians. Now he splits his time between reading manuscripts for The Sun and pressing good books on customers at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With his few remaining hours, Hank reviews books for Shelf Awareness and Kirkus Reviews.

With Help From

Erica Berkeley Proofreader

Erica lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, Mike; their son, Will; and their dog, Luke Skywalker. After having worked in the Sun office for fifteen years, she remains grateful for her long-distance connection to the magazine. She is currently a pediatric speech-language pathologist providing early-intervention services for toddlers.

Dave Hart Manuscript Reader

Dave started reading The Sun back in the early 1980s, when it offered a welcome ray of hope during the Reagan presidency. A journalist for the past thirty years, when he’s not reading or writing, he spends his time enjoying life and its many wines with his wife, rambling through the woods, and learning to identify birds by their songs.

Paula Jolin Manuscript Reader

Paula is obsessed with three things: learning languages, baking bread, and reinventing urban farming. Right now she is learning Danish and Vietnamese, searching for the perfect flat-bread recipe, and harvesting the banana leaves from her backyard.

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