Briana Tomack (left) and Cathi Williams
Williams worked in corporate and nonprofit public relations and advertising for ten years in Pennsylvania and North Carolina before forming, in 2002, her own advertising and design agency, biffBOOcommunication, which also publishes the newspaper. (Her six-year-old son, Robert, is the spokesmodel for the agency and is featured on the website.)
At turning points in their careers and family life goals, they decided their professional and personal skills complemented the other’s business endeavors.
“Cathi is a creative and conceptual introvert, and I'm an analytical and organized extrovert,” said Tomack.
Taking their years of experience in corporate and nonprofit business, they decided to work together and create something new.
“We wanted to create a free community magazine for, by, and about the people of Westmoreland County,” said Tomack. “So many local publications focus on business or all-advertising formats… an all-feature, good-news type of publication is something new.”
Debut issue of Laurel Mountain Post, 2004
Although their post-graduate life took them away from the area, Tomack and Williams always kept in touch with the people and places they left behind.
Tomack eventually moved to Duncansville, Pa., with her husband, Rick Tomack ’91, and their children, Sam and Alex. Rick is a department director of a long-term care facility in the Altoona area.
Williams, a third-generation IUP graduate, lives in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. (a suburb of Raleigh), but spends summers and vacations at her parents’ farm in Derry. She also commutes frequently between the two states for the newspaper and for advertising projects. She met her husband, Drew Williams D’93, while both studied in IUP’s graduate English program. He serves as the newspaper’s fiction editor and is a published author.
Their daughter, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Srsic (her grandfather is Bill Srsic, IUP’s associate director of financial aid), serves as the newspaper’s art and layout editor, performing design revisions to ads and feature content during the final editing and print preparation process.
“This newspaper is a way for everyone who calls this part of the state home to keep in touch with it,” said Tomack. “Residents can reconnect with their neighbors, and those who have moved away can keep in touch. Our goal is to build, promote, and strengthen the community in Westmoreland and surrounding counties.”
The paper is available to view on line at www.LaurelMountainPost.com.