Scroll through Deanne Kaczerski’s, BS Psychology ’98, LinkedIn page, and you’ll see some of the top brands in publishing. She’s the digital executive editor of Travel + Leisure and Departures, and she’s held similar titles for sites such as MarthaStewart.com, InStyle.com, ELLE.com, and MarieClaire.com. It’s an impressive resume, though success was not exactly a surprise for the ambitious Kaczerski: She graduated from high school at age 16 and was the youngest person in her graduating class at Mason.
“I couldn’t legally drink until after I graduated,” she says with a laugh (and yes, her parents decided she was too young to live on campus her freshman year).
Kaczerski initially considered studying medicine, but she also enjoyed art and writing classes and wanted a creativity-focused career. After graduating from Mason, she worked for eight years at AOL, moving from programming to the content side and writing four to six stories a day. She next worked for Blackboard and then moved to New York City for jobs with media heavyweights such as Hearst, Time Inc., and Meredith.
At Hearst, she cofounded RealBeauty.com, the company’s first digital-only beauty brand. She later launched a beauty site at Time Inc., called MIMI, which grew to 3 million monthly unique visitors in under a year. In 2016, she moved to Meredith and became digital executive editor of MarthaStewart.com.
“I had been in the women’s lifestyle and luxury space for the majority of my career, so this was an opportunity to round out my knowledge,” she says of the focus on home. The switch intrigued her both professionally and personally. “I was like, I’m doing all of this stuff—I’m baking, I’m cooking, I’m raising a family—so this was a great next step.”
Her job now focuses on travel, but regardless of the site, Kaczerski loves scrutinizing data.
“That has always been part of my strategy—really digging into the data to understand why aren’t people engaging with this story? And if people are engaging, why? How can we replicate that?”
Kaczerski has fond memories of life at Mason, but she particularly remembers an art class final exam. Students were required to build a cardboard chair—more like a throne, she says—and it had to hold your weight. “It was genius because it wasn’t just art. You had to use some engineering,” she says. “It was using both the left and right side of your brain to create something useful.”
And yes, that’s exactly what she does so exceedingly well in the digital world.
—Ken Budd, BA ’88, MA ’97