In this space, I often introduce a writer, editor, or designer responsible for a particular story in the current issue or fill you in on some exciting new hires we’ve made. This month, I’d like to tell you about two of our MVPs behind the scenes.

Anna Walsh, our managing editor, is the staffer most responsible for ensuring that our journalism makes its way out of our laptops and into the magazine that you’re holding. She directs a planning and logistical process that begins months ahead of each issue’s print deadline and cajoles us (me included) to make sure everything gets done on time. It’s fortunate for us that Anna is a fan of felines, because she spends much of her workday cheerfully herding cats.

This past print cycle has been particularly challenging, as Anna shepherded not only our regular monthly issue but also the Willie Nelson special issue that will begin reaching readers in August. The double load was tough on our fact-checking and copyediting staffs (which Anna supervises) and our art department. “The number of stories we pushed through was mind-boggling,” says deputy editor Jeff Salamon, who helped oversee the Willie issue. “There’s no way I could have kept track of it all without Anna, in her patient and persistent manner, reminding me of what I needed to get done each day.”

Anna joined us last September from the Washington Post, where she helped copyedit its fast-moving online opinion section. She earlier worked at the weekly Baltimore City Paper, as the managing editor and also as the copy editor, the food and drinks editor, and a writer on topics ranging from craft beer to classical music. During our annual Edge of Texas festival in Dallas last fall, on an afternoon when the rest of us were scarfing tacos in a downtown park, Anna sneaked away to hear a performance of Debussy’s La Mer at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “I’d never been to Dallas before and really enjoyed the city,” she says. She feels the same affection toward the Hill Country and toward Houston, where, during a visit earlier this year, her boyfriend—and now fiancé—proposed to her. “Getting away from D.C. culture,” she says, “has been good for me.”

Anna Asie, our human resources director, grew up in New Jersey and studied nursing at Rutgers, where she won a speaking competition that sent her to Little Rock for a meeting of the National Black Nurses Association. There, she met a group of students from Prairie View A&M University, a historically black institution about forty miles northwest of Houston. “They loved the place so much that I decided to transfer,” she says. She’s glad she did, and has been a Texan ever since.

Shortly after graduation, Anna switched careers to work in HR. She joined Texas Monthly in January and plays a leading role in our efforts to make our staff more diverse. Over the past eighteen months, TM has gone from one journalist of color to seven, including two top editors and two staff writers. That’s not nearly enough on a staff of 45. But it’s progress, and we intend to build on it. “There’s more we can do,” Anna says, “to widen the pool of job candidates we’re seeing,” including by reaching out to journalists of color who hail from Texas but are now working in other states.

Anna’s last job was at a large facilities management company in Houston. She says she’s enjoying working with colleagues whom she smilingly describes as “people who are a lot more creative and passionate about their work.” Please note that she did not say anything about herding cats.