Imagine a 10-year-old girl, chubby fingers on the keyboard of
her Apple IIe, punching out a three-page newsletter for her
sixth grade class. That was freelance writer and editor Heather
Boerner’s start in journalism more than 20 years ago.
Though she accepts the teasing about it now, Heather is still
romantic about reporting and her career in it.
Heather has written horribly self-righteous editorials for her
high school newspaper, faced down her fear of cold calling at
her college paper and, in 1997, received her master’s degree
from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. For seven
years, she sharpened her skills as a reporter and deadline drive
at weekly and daily newspapers in New York, New Jersey and California.
If you get Heather alone at a cocktail party, she’ll tell
you her greatest hits from that time in her life—staking
out a city official’s house late one night as he was indicted
on corruption charges; covering the anniversary of school desegregation
in a district that found itself unwittingly segregated again;
starting commercial and residential housing coverage for the
Santa Cruz Sentinel and editing a team of five reporters
and interns. But those are just a taste.
In 2004, two things happened: Heather
left the daily newspaper grind to become a freelance writer,
and she changed her approach to food. As a side effect of the
latter, Heather slowly shed 85 pounds. Does she think losing
weight makes her a better person? Absolutely not. But taking
control of her health has changed many things in her life, not
the least of which is her approach to her work. Health coverage
is one of her favorite beats. Sure, that means she reports on
nutrition and healthy relationships with food, but it also means
that she writes about sexual health for publications like the
San Francisco Chronicle, Planned Parenthood’s teenwire.com
and Yoga Journal. Over time, her health focus has shifted to
chronic health conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis,
writing both about the science and the social effects of living
with a chronic illness every day.
When she’s feeling lofty about her work, she approaches
it with eye toward covering difficult and often taboo subjects
with journalistic thoroughness and human compassion. But most
days, she’s simply looking for stories that can help people
live healthier, fulfilling and fun lives. And she’s always
searching for the proper venue through which to share them.
When she’s not finding new stories or pounding away at her
keyboard, she’s cultivating a life that supports her own
health — meditating daily, breaking a sweat at the gym, continuing
her 10-year love affair with yoga, making her famous black bean
soup, and visiting the dog park to play with the puppies.