Editor’s Note, September 2016: My Heart and the Heartland

In her last issue as editor-in-chief, Amanda remembers her last four and a half years in Indianapolis.

Once, after a rough week at work, I printed out a photo of the Hickory team from Hoosiers in the locker room before a big game, and taped it inside my office cabinet. Under the image, I wrote a line from Coach Norman Dale’s pep talk: “Remember what got you here.” Cheesy? Okay. But in the day-to-day grind, it’s easy to lose sight of what motivated you in the first place—of the groundwork that led to where you are.

For years, shaping a magazine as an editor-in-chief had been my dream. The excitement I felt that day in early 2012 when former editorial director Deborah Paul called to offer me that very position at Indianapolis Monthly only grew when I met the staff: whip-smart magazine friends who care. They care about the readers; they care about chasing stories that might otherwise fall through the cracks; they care about whether “headcheese” is one word or two. Guiding the direction of IM has been an honor and a privilege. But thanks to this group of kindred spirits, it also has been a joy.

This issue will be my last as editor-in-chief; a job in my home state, closer to family, calls. But I am proud of our mission these many months: to connect our readers to this ambitious, flourishing, complicated place they call home. I am confident that vision only will become sharper, more refined, when Michael Rubino, an immensely talented writer and editor (and all-around great person) takes over for me next month.

In the meantime, I’ll be stocking up on “317” T-shirts—even though the things I’ll miss most about the city can’t be packed in a moving van. The griddled edges of a Workingman’s Friend cheeseburger. The faint buzz of Indy 500 practice, floating miles east on May afternoons. Cracking a Three Floyds Yum Yum on the back porch with friends. I could go on, but instead I’ll borrow a saying from another beloved Hoosier that’s played in my head plenty over the past four and a half years: If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

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A native of Inman, South Carolina, Amanda Heckert graduated from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina and began her career in journalism as an intern at Atlanta magazine. She then edited Newcomer magazine, a monthly covering Atlanta real estate, entertainment, arts, dining, and education, and helped launch a sister publication, Atlanta School Guide.In 2006, Heckert returned to Atlanta magazine and worked her way up from associate editor covering fashion and lifestyle to senior editor. In that position, she edited and wrote features on topics such as Dasani bottled water and The Real Housewives of Atlanta; contributed to and edited the front-of-book; and edited service and non-service packages, including the September 2011 Hollywood Issue, nominated for a City and Regional Magazine Association Award.Heckert joined Indianapolis Monthly in February 2012 and enjoys getting to know the Circle City with her husband, writer Justin Heckert, and their dog, Cooper.