Editor's Letter

updated 11/28/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Normally, this space is reserved for the publisher to sing the praises of the writers, photographers and editors who work for PEOPLE. This week we're turning the tables. The occasion: Donald Elliman, 44, our publisher for the last three years, is leaving us to become executive vice-president of marketing for Time Inc.'s family of magazines.

He's far too modest to credit his own accomplishments for PEOPLE, but we're not. During his time on the job, Elliman has been a goad, a guide and a good friend to the magazine and its editors—helping PEOPLE to reach more readers than ever before, inspiring those who worked with him to exceed their limits and creating a great deal of fun along the way. We're happy about Don's promotion, but we're very sorry to be losing him.

Our sorrow is made a good deal sweeter, on the other hand, by the arrival of Lisa Valk as his replacement. Valk comes to us from LIFE, where she became Time Inc.'s first female magazine publisher two years ago at the age of 36. Her impressive record there—a 13 percent jump in circulation and a 32 percent increase in advertising—is just one of the credentials that made her Elliman's top choice for the PEOPLE job. "There were a number of good candidates, but Lisa's got a real understanding of the relationship between the magazine and the reader," he says. "That's critical, because PEOPLE is a reader's magazine."

Valk, a native of Winston-Salem, N.C., never dreamed of a publishing career back when she was learning poise and political science at Hollins College in Virginia. But after she graduated from Harvard Business School, she signed on with Time Inc. in 1979. Before becoming a publisher, she headed the circulation departments of FORTUNE, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and TIME. "She makes people feel good about doing what they have to do," says LIFE Managing Editor Pat Ryan. "She's a class act."

She has that in common with Elliman, a Bronxville, N.Y., native who has been with Time Inc. since graduating from Middlebury College 21 years ago. For three years in a row, Elliman defied all predictions that the world's most successful magazine couldn't possibly become more profitable. Says Reginald Brack, president of Time Inc. Magazines: "Don has taken PEOPLE to heights unique in publishing. And there's no better person to take the vision forward than Lisa Valk—she's a consummate publisher."

Elliman's daughters, Kristin, 13, and Lindsay, 11 (he also has two sons, Mac, 3, and Andrew, 1), are "desperately disappointed" to see him leave his old job, he says. "They're afraid I won't meet famous people anymore." And Elliman can't help but feel a twinge of regret himself. "Nothing will be as much fun as being publisher of PEOPLE," he says.

At PEOPLE, as at all our sister magazines, there is a strict division between the editorial and business sides—a separation of "church" and "state" designed to protect the integrity of Time Inc. journalism. As chief executive of state at PEOPLE, Elliman has shown himself to be a fierce defender of the faith. Lisa Valk brings with her the same reputation.

She also brings a reputation, we are thrilled to note, for a golf game as awful as her predecessor's. The annual church-state golf tournament is in the bag again.

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