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Cheers to Helene Atwan on Her Retirement and 26 Years at Beacon! — Part 1

Helene in the moment as we celebrate her and her career at her retirement party. Yotel, Boston, MA, June 9, 2022. Photo credit: Corban Swain
Helene in the moment as we celebrate her and her career at her retirement party. Yotel, Boston, MA, June 9, 2022. Photo credit: Corban Swain

The threshold is upon us. The end of our time with Helene Atwan as our director is coming up. It has been an amazing twenty-six years, and Beacon won’t be the same without her. So many amazing authors she brought into the fold! So many amazing books—including her love of poetry—she brought to the catalog! As much as we’re sad to see her go, we’re so happy about the retirement she is looking forward to. We’re also excited about Gayatri Patnaik taking up the mantle as the next director on July 30. Here, she joins current and former staff and advisory board members to thank Helene for everything she has done for the press. Along the way, we’ll take a trip down memory lane with photos.


Helene Atwan 1999


Helene, thank you for bringing me into the Beacon fold oh those many years ago. Without you, I might very well still be on the outside looking in, hoping fighting praying for the kind of an opportunity I relished with the Beacon team. Your guidance, fierceness, and commitment to the work have been invaluable to me and so many others. I thank you. Gosh, how I thank you.
—Rakia Clark, former senior editor 


Beacon staff circ. 1997


Congratulations on a historic run as Beacon’s director!

You led the press through a period of great political, cultural, technological, and industry change. During this time, Beacon did more than survive. It thrived and published books that spoke to all of it. I’m proud to have been part of it.

Beacon gave the world meaningful books, and me meaningful work.

Thank you!
—Tom Hallock, former publisher 


Celebrating publication of Brooks bio with staff


I’ve watched your achievements with great admiration from at least your Farrar, Straus and Giroux days, but without question, your years at Beacon are the capstone of a stunning career. Your dedication to Beacon’s mission, your championship of important books, and your ability to blend those with the practical know-how to keep the press financially sound and effectively run are rare talents. This has led, of course, to your standing in the industry, your name synonymous with publishing at its very finest. In my mind, the true mark of a great leader is the ability to attract and keep a brilliant team.

From Gayatri, Sanj, and the current staff, to Tom and all their predecessors who have made Beacon the true light its name implies—you could not have done better. I’ve been proud to be on the Board of Advisors, and happy that it’s given me a chance to work with you. Every best wish for your future.
—Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store 


With staff at Boston Pride Parade 2017


Wow, what a ride! Thank you for your incredible stewardship of the press over the past twenty-six years, which have passed in the blink of an eye! I will always be grateful, too, for the amazing authors you brought to us that so enriched my work life: Mary Oliver, Lani Guinier, Anita Hill, Lillian Rubin, Bill Ayers among my favorites. Here’s wishing you all the best—rest, peace, health, happiness, and lots of good books—as you move into this new phase of your life.
—Pamela MacColl, director of communications 


In Helene's office


Helene, the closer I get to being director, the more I realize just how lasting your legacy at Beacon will be! The vision, phenomenal energy, and passion you’ve brought to publishing, coupled with your commitment to personal evolution, has made a big impression on me. I am deeply grateful for your support through the years and have no doubt that I’ll be thinking to myself, “What would Helene do?!” numerous times as I try and fill some very big shoes! I know you’ll have an active and fulfilling retirement filled with family and friends, travel, tennis, and, of course, many good books.

With warmth and gratitude,
—Gayatri Patnaik 

Helene in the moment as we celebrate her and her career at her retirement party. Yotel, Boston, MA, June 9, 2022. Photo credit: Corban Swain