By Katie Stannard
Joe Mooney in front of the pointsettia tree in teh conservatory at Matthaei

Outgoing Communications Manager Joe Mooney trying to upstage the poinsettia tree in the conservatory at Matthaei, December 2021.

One of the true hallmarks of an exceptional writer and editor is their ability to erase their subjectivity from a story—well, except for the creative touches that make it more interesting! At the end of this year, Joe Mooney, our gifted manager of communications, is retiring. In the announcement to staff, Meredith Olson, director of development, shared these sentiments:
“Joe has been an amazing colleague, and for more than 13 years Joe has led our communications and marketing efforts, creating countless publications, press releases, newsletters, blog posts, videos and digital media, and more.
Joe has truly been the voice of Matthaei-Nicholsguided by his extensive experience as a writer, designer and editor, combined with his love of nature and knowledge of plants and gardening. It is difficult to imagine a Matthaei-Nichols without Joe.”
To pay tribute to the person behind the words, we reached out to colleagues for their comments and kudos on all that Joe’s work and warmth has meant to Matthaei-Nichols. 
Liz Glynn, children’s education coordinator, summed up Joe’s professionalism and persona, saying, “Joe is a master of conveying information or sharing a story with the economy of words. His extraordinary ability and humility allows him to put the full focus on the story or person whose story is being told, instead of editorializing to fit his view of the world. He always asks perceptive questions to get to the heart of the story.”  
Like many whose work roles shifted during the pandemic, Joe worked tirelessly to foster connection and community virtually. Quarterly printed newsletters morphed into the stunning and informative weekly enews series. Social media initiatives highlighted happenings and seasonal observations. “To be in a lead communications role during the pandemic was a challenge to say the least,” wrote Christine Chessler-Stull, volunteer and membership engagement manager. “Joe steered the communication ship with grace, so much dry humor, collaboration, understanding, and innovation. Communication aspects he introduced during 2020 alongside staff truly made the public feel connected to us–and nature–during a time when people felt disconnected and needed the solace of nature.”
Mike Kost, associate curator, echoed this sense of awe and appreciation for Joe’s work. “I’ve been continually amazed at the high quality, relevancy, diversity, sheer volume, and extensive reach of your ‘our’ communications!” 
A brilliant editor, and extremely deft with words, Joe’s also a superb listener, always ready to help while humbly commiserating over the complexities of technology or the mysteries behind certain social media logarithms. “I’ll miss Joe’s spot on editing of my writing, his sense of humor, his skill at alliteration and creating just the right title,” shared Catriona Mortell-Windecker, academic outreach and interpretation manager. “I always enjoyed seeing Joe at work in the early mornings and chatting about life. He’s a great listener with a good sense of humor and always gives thoughtful advice,” wrote Jeff Plakke, general manager of landscapes. “I know he’s made a big impact on the world on our behalf.”
Another admirable characteristic is Joe’s “excitement about the oddities in the natural world,” described Steve Parrish, natural areas manager. “I could bring in a robber fly and he would drop what he was working on to explore the wonder of how the fly can take out unfortunate long-horned beetles in mid air! Joe would share a photo of some unknown critter he found at home and we would together discover the life cycle of the fearsome-looking but harmless pseudoscorpion. Love you Joe!”
There simply aren’t enough words in the right combination to express our appreciation and admiration. So, simply said, thank you for all you’ve done, Joe, and for sharing your generous gifts and bountiful kindness with Matthaei-Nichols. This is not farewell, but au revoir–until we see you again.
Wherever the path of your journey leads, we send our best wishes and love for new adventures. We look forward to meeting up with you in the clearing ahead. We’ll miss you, Joe!
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