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MATTERS MAGAZINE has earned an outstanding reputation for celebrating good news in Maplewood and South Orange. We’ve been doing it since 1990 with smart, thorough, and authentic content that captures the essence of our towns and delivers what residents want to read. Our resources help them navigate how to do life here. And our unexpected glimpses into lives and events reveal the layers that make our towns endlessly interesting.


Direct mailed seven times a year to every household in Maplewood and South Orange, Matters Magazine offers businesses the most cost-effective way to reach our residents. Additional copies are distributed to town halls, libraries, real estate offices, retail, professional and other businesses in the towns, and surrounding communities. Additionally, all our issues are published and archived online. Check our ADVERTISE section for our rate card and publications dates.


We are always looking for interesting feature story ideas and selected press releases that our editors and writers can pursue. Go to our CONTRIBUTORS section to submit ideas or explore being added to our list of freelancer writers, photographers and graphic designers.

Meet the Minds over MATTERS

Ellen Donker

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Publisher and Editor in Chief

Ellen is a lifelong New Jerseyan with the exception of four years when she attended Wheaton College, outside of Chicago. Although she majored in economics, she has spent her professional life in marketing, working at various corporations, nonprofits as well as her own advertising agency. Ellen has lived in Maplewood since 1996 and is married to Rob Depue. They keep busy raising their three children who happen to be triplets. She loves being involved in the communities of Maplewood and South Orange, and spends her time reading and gardening and looking for the next best Matters story.

Anne Mandell


Associate Editor

Anne Mandell is originally from Massachusetts but is a long-time resident of Maplewood. She lives in Maplewood with her husband, two boys (well, one’s in college and one’s almost in college) and adorable dog Fonzie who better not go to college. Anne’s career was spent in the advertising industry in the account management role. That is until 2023 when many changes happened and she opened her own business called Cereal Dreams and started working with the wonderful crew at Matters Magazine. 

Amy Power

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Advertising Representative

While officially becoming a resident in 2018, Amy has considered Maplewood a second home since she was very young.  With close family living here, Amy has great memories of playing at Orchard Park, watching movies in the village, and grabbing a slice at Roman Gourmet. A single mom with two teen daughters, two dogs and two cats, Amy is enjoying watching her kids thrive in this community.  When not attending her kids' volleyball games or musical theater performances, you can find Amy at the beach, planning a trip to Disney World, teaching meditation and spending time with her closely knit family who also live in the area.  As an advertising representative, Amy has reignited her career in Magazine Advertising Sales that she honed at Ladies' Home Journal and later put on hold to raise her daughters. Amy received a B.A. from the School of Communications, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University and her certification as a Certified Professional Coach from iPEC. 

Rene Conlon


Advertising Consultant

Since 1994 Rene has been part of the Matters family and has worn many hats. With a degree in economics from Rutgers University, her career path has taken her from retail management to continuing education, and ultimately, to Matters Magazine. Her children have literally grown up in the Matters office. Her husband Paul and both children (PJ & Mackenzie) are graduates of Columbia High School. Rene's ties to Maplewood and South Orange run deep. A 30-year Maplewood resident, she served as the Executive Director of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce for 20 years and also worked closely with several local non-profits. A “compulsive” volunteer, Rene ranks her years coaching softball as the highlight.

Ryan Nish

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Advertising Consultant

Ryan is an NJ native and has been a Maplewood resident for since 2013. After graduating with a degree in Economics from Villanova University, Ryan worked on Wall Street in trading and banking. Post corporate life, Ryan has embraced entrepreneurship and began building businesses in real estate, technology, and advertising. Ryan joins Matters Magazine as a local resident who is eager to help small businesses here grow. In his free time, Ryan can be found coaching Maplewood lacrosse and Our Lady of Sorrows School basketball, watching hockey, playing platform tennis at Orange Lawn, and enjoying time spent with his cherished wife and children.

Leslie Gilman

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Advertising Representative

Leslie started with Matters Magazine in 2002, often bringing her toddler to meetings or on sales calls. Now, if not found posting cute photos of her pets or doing her college-aged son's laundry on his rare visits home, she's probably watching opera and ballet at Lincoln Center or Broadway, SOPAC or NJPAC, or ogling local celebrities. She can also be spotted around SOMA shopping, dining, chatting or having her nails done. A local resident since the mid 80s, Leslie grew up in Brooklyn, NY (and like the city that never sleeps, neither does she), attended the High School of Performing Arts as a dance major and graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from Brooklyn College, all of which totally prepared her for her job at Matters Magazine. She and her husband, Rick, married in 1983, both agree their favorite production is son, Jared. 

Rachael Entine


Social Media Manager

Before taking a hiatus to raise her three children, Rachael spent 14 years at advertising agencies in New York City leading account management teams on key agency clients in the fashion/retail and hotel/resort industries. As primary client liaison, she managed strategic direction, brand development, execution and implementation of marketing materials for print, radio and digital efforts.  In addition to her work for Matters Magazine. Rachael is currently a copywriter at a global healthcare marketing agency. She has three school-age children:  daughter Ryan and twin boys Benjamin and Michael.

Tia Swanson


Copy Editor

Tia grew up in the woods of Pennsylvania and came unwillingly to New Jersey after marrying a native. But a few years into the marriage, they fell in love with an old, moldering Victorian in South Orange and she’s never looked back. She and her husband are now on their second fixer-upper; they are caretakers there for four children, a dog, a cat and two goldfish. In a previous life, she got a master’s degree in English literature, lived in England and Japan and worked in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as a reporter, columnist and editor for daily newspapers. 

Charles Hammer

Charles Hammer

Copy Editor

Charles Hammer grew up in Nebraska, went to journalism school in Missouri, moved to New York and fell in love with a Jersey girl from Hoboken. They’ve lived in Maplewood since late 2014. They have one daughter in college and one at Columbia High School. Charles spent most of his career in product management in media. He’s also recently turned a bread hobby into a small bagel business. 

Meet the MATTERS Writers

Joy Yagid


Joy Yagid is a photographer and writer who has lived in Maplewood since 1999. Prior to that, she lived in NYC and Westchester county, NY. In addition to writing for Matters Magazine, she has written and photographed for The VillageGreen, The NYT’s Local, and When she’s not writing, she’s photographing weddings, mitzvahs and families, as well as events at universities and for corporations. Her photos have been shown at the Morris Museum and are in private collections (mostly photos of owls). When she has any downtime, she can be found hanging out with family, gardening, and making sourdough. Her happy places are Cape Cod and the Catskills.

Ilysse Rimalovski


Ilysse Rimalovski is a journalist, digital content creator, certified coach and master retreat leader in Maplewood, NJ with a background in food and interactive media. She is a creative skill-stacker and subject matter expert in the lifestyle arts, fluent in cooking, home entertaining, specialty foods, interior design, wellness, caregiving, motherhood, shopping and more. Her clients range from large corporations to emerging solopreneurs. Happiest when preparing memorable feasts for family and friends, she is a resource for home cooks craving inspiration. Visit Ilysse’s free Food Matters Zoom Room on Fridays from 12:15pm -1:15pm with questions. Email for details.

Malia Rulon Herman


Malia is such a big fan of the Boss that she considers herself an honorary Jersey Girl. She’s a beach girl after all, having grown up in Hawaii, and loves vacations that include sand and surf. Malia’s family, which includes a native New Jerseyan husband, two teenagers (inhale, exhale!) and two dogs, moved to Maplewood 10 years ago. They previously lived in Washington, D.C., where Malia covered Congress for The Associated Press and Gannett/USA Today. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Malia joined the Matters team in 2017, covering education, health care and lifestyle stories. She also writes for Education Week Market Brief and serves on the executive board of the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC). Malia loves reading, running, thrifting, theater, and dreaming of new beaches to visit.

Erin Rogers Pickering


Erin grew up in NY: Brooklyn, Queens, LI and Manhattan – moving to Maplewood with her husband Roy 20 years ago when they fell in love with the diversity, beauty and creative culture of the area. She attended FIT with a degree in Fashion Design and Illustration, and has had a varied career in textiles, illustration, and sales. She is now very focused on her freelance illustration and design business, Erin Go Paint. Erin works mostly in watercolor and ink, and sometimes plays with acrylics and collage. She can be found on Instagram, Etsy and is launching a Spoonflower shop and Patreon. When she is not creating or teaching art, she is playing tennis, walking on a beach, or reading a historical novel with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Erin and her family currently reside in Union.

Rose Bennett Gilbert


Rose Bennett Gilbert is a professional journalist who has covered everything from the police beat to the Miss America Pageant and the Apollo 1 astronauts. She fell under the spell of the decorative arts as a college-age cub reporter interviewing old Southern houses in her native state of Virginia.

Since she moved to Maplewood and began working in Manhattan, she has written or co-authored seven books on interior design and decorating, including "Manhattan Style" and "Hampton Style." She’s taught at the New York School of Interior Design and been a guest lecturer at Parsons, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Rhode Island School of Design. As a lecturer and a TV spokesperson for such companies as Hearst Publications, RCA, and DuPont, she has traveled the country to talk with America's homeowners about home and what’s happening therein.

Rose wrote a weekly newspaper column reaching some four million readers back when there were newspapers to be read.  She also contributes to top design, decorating and shelter magazines, writes travel articles for a London publication, and is charmed by the wealth of interesting subjects waiting to be spotlighted in a local publication, ergo MATTERS.   

What else matters to her: two Grandkids, now living in Sweden; Waldo, her grouchy second-hand dachshund; St. George’s Episcopal Church, IFDA (the Intl. Furnishings & Design Assn.), and the South Orange-Maplewood Adult School (51 years, a Board member – now that’s true love!)                    

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