Cynthia Patterson Nellis ('86) | Journalism & Mass Communication

cynthia nellis

Editor/publisher for Women's Fashion,, a New York Times Company

When Cynthia Nellis graduated from ACU in 1986, she couldn't even imagine a World Wide Web. Now it is the platform for her career as editor/publisher of women's fashion for, a New York Times Company.

Founded in 1996, was acquired in March 2005 by The New York Times Company. Today, is recognized as a top 15 content site and one of the largest producers of original content on the Web.

Cynthia credits ACU's Journalism and Mass Communication Department for an education that prepared her for the rapidly changing world of new media. "Just goes to show that a solid foundation of ethics and writing skills will take you anywhere," she says. 

Cynthia is a 2009 recipient of the Gutenberg Award, which recognizes distinguished professional achievements of Journalism and Mass Communication Department alumni. She splits her time between her ranch in East Texas and the fashion center of New York City, which she acknowledges is an interesting combination. See the video link above and the Q&A below to learn more about Cynthia's career.

Q&A with Cynthia Patterson Nellis

What do you like most about your job or career?
I love so much about my job it's difficult to narrow it down to just one thing. Here are a few things I love: fashion, New York, the immediacy of writing for the 'Net, the challenge of keeping up with new technology.

Tell us some fun facts about you:
I live on a ranch in East Texas and travel back and forth to New York. I really wanted to be a barrel racer when I grew up, so it's fun to live the horsey lifestyle. I have two wardrobes: one consists of cool black clothes and 4½ inch heels, the other of jeans and boots. My editor jokes that I'm the only person at Fashion Week with a tractor (and might I add that I'm quite handy with it.)

How did your JMC experience help prepare you for your career and life?
All of my classes were great, but I especially think my practical experience editing The Optimist prepared me to meet deadlines, think for myself and utilize good journalistic ethics.

What do you think set your ACU experience apart from other universities?
At ACU I learned that a career was important but only if you learn to balance it with God and family.

How did your experience at ACU shape you as a person?
My roommates are still my best friends, my Facebook is filled with familiar ACU faces. I still hear Dr. Charles Marler (Doc)'s words of advice when I try to write sometimes (especially when he used to stress how difficult it was to write with humor.)

What advice would you have for JMC students wanting to enter your field?
It's OK to have a grand plan, but be open to everything. I'm working in a medium that didn't even exist when I was in school.

Would you recommend ACU's JMC program to someone else who wants get the same degree you did?
Absolutely! I'm thrilled with how well I was prepared to take on new media (especially when you consider the fact that new media didn't exist in '86.) 

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