Senior VP at The Citadel

THOMAS ELZEY ’75 became first executive vice president for finance, administration, and operations for The Citadel in May, marking the first time a black person has been named to a senior-level position at the military college. As the senior non-academic vice president at The Citadel, Tom also will hold the rank of brigadier general in the South Carolina Militia. Previously, he was senior vice president for finance and CFO for Drexel University. Tom holds a master’s from Carnegie Mellon University. He and his wife Monedia have two daughters.

Sister authors

Siblings often share similarities, and sisters MARY O’DONOHUE ’82 (left) and  CLARE O’DONOHUE ’86 are no exception.

Aside from looking alike, both graduated from Bradley, both freelance in the TV industry, and both live in Chicago. Now they are adding one more commonality to that list. Both are authors.

Clare’s fourth mystery novel, Missing Persons, was released on May 31. Published by Plume, the story focuses on TV producer Kate Conway, who becomes the main suspect in her ex-husband’s murder. Clare says her other three books, the first published in 2008, are lighter and more romantic. “My latest has a more cynical, real-world edge to it. Missing Persons is my favorite so far … I’m very proud of it.”

Clare began writing short stories when she was young and finished her first novella at age 15. With a degree in international studies, she worked for four years as a reporter for a small newspaper near Joliet after college before making the switch to writing and producing for TV. She writes her novels whenever she has a free minute. “Given my day job, it means I write in airports, hotels, while my camera crew sets up a shot — whenever and wherever I can. I don’t analyze it too much. I just write.”

Though she holds journalism and broadcast production management degrees, Mary’s career has focused on working behind the scenes in TV. Authoring a book came later in life, at the nudge of her sister. “One day I was telling my sister about the system I came up with to teach my children values and she says, ‘That’s a book!’” says Mary. “Clare’s agent had the same response. So the opportunity came into my life, and even though writing felt like something out of my comfort zone at that point, I kept moving forward, and with my sister’s encouragement and my family’s support, I wrote the book.”

When You Say Thank You, Mean It, a month-to-month guide to help parents instill values such as gratitude, compassion, and integrity in their children, was released in October 2010 by Adams Media Corp.

With only six months to write her book, Mary, a freelance TV editing supervisor, kept a strict schedule, sometimes writing for as long as 10 hours per session. She drew inspiration from parenting two children with her husband, Jim Olen, and aimed to write in a natural voice that other parents would find sincere. “I write like I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my readers, so it takes a lot of intimidation out of the process.”

Both sisters hope to continue writing in their respective genres, and they encourage budding writers to follow their passion. “Strive to make a genuine connection with your readers and know your audience,” Mary says.

“You have to write consistently. It’s like working out,” Clare adds. “It’s much better to exercise 30 minutes a day every day than spend one afternoon a week running a marathon. It’s the same with writing. The more consistent you are, the better you become.”

– By Erin Wood Miller '09