In June, Elaine Pedreira-Sullivan retired as associate director of publications after 39 years with the MAA.
She was a fundamental member in the development of MAA’s now flourishing book program.
“I came to the MAA when the organization was just on the brink of a major growth spurt,” she said. “I was lucky to be here at a time when lots of new and exciting things were beginning to happen.”
She began her career at MAA in 1970, working in the Membership Department before becoming assistant to the executive director, Al Wilcox. In 1972, she began working exclusively on MAA book production and marketing.
Pedreira-Sullivan credits Peter Renz and Don Albers with propelling MAA’s successful book program.
As director of publications in the late 1980s, Renz pioneered MAA’s use of the TeX typesetting system. Under his direction, MAA’s technical production manager, Beverly Ruedi, published MAA’s first book in TeX, More Mathematical Morsels by Ross Honsberger.
“Things really took off in the book program after that happened,” said Pedreira-Sullivan.
Don Albers was director of publications from 1991 to 2006.
“Before 1991 we were producing 5–6 new titles a year. Once Don got moving,” said Pedreira-Sullivan, “we were doing 15–20 new books a year. The number of MAA series increased from four to nine, adding: Spectrum, Classroom Resource Materials, MAA Textbooks, Problem Books, and Outlooks. Book sales climbed from $450,000 in 1991 to $1.6 million when he left in 2006.”
“Elaine never made you feel that you worked for her; rather, that you worked with her,” said Beverly Ruedi. “This may sound like a minor point of semantics, but it isn’t. It encapsulates all of the reasons why Elaine was such a terrific boss.”
“Working with Elaine has been rewarding in so many ways,” said Rebecca Elmo, who worked as her assistant for two and a half years. “Her understanding of the publishing world and guidance have enriched my life both professionally and personally.”
“I found Elaine to be a perfectionist,” said Harry Waldman, MAA journals editorial manager and senior writer. “She was finely attuned to the needs of the association and unabashedly responsive to authors.”
Over the course of her career, she worked with more than 200 authors, producing 320 books. When asked who her favorite author was, she hesitated.
“Well, this is a delicate question,” she said. “I would say that 99.9 percent of our authors fall into the ‘terrific’ category. They are almost all ‘favorites.’ I must admit to having a very particular fondness for Paul Halmos. I knew when we worked on his books that he was a VIP. The nice thing was that he didn’t act like one. He expressed his appreciation for everyone who worked on his books and in person was charming and fun. Abe Shenitzer is another ‘favorite.’ He is one of the most generous people I have ever worked with, and one of the funniest, too.”
Pedreira-Sullivan’s plans for her retirement include attending her son’s wedding this summer, traveling with her husband, Richard H. Sullivan, and taking time to devote to one of her favorite pastimes—reading.
“Although you would think this would be common among people involved in book publishing, she really loved books,” said Paul Zorn, MAA president-elect. “We were able to talk about books and literature in a way that in my experience is surprisingly unusual among people even in the publishing industry.”