People coming and going is something every company experiences. The New Pittsburgh Courier is no different, but for 38 years there is one face that has remained the same. Joan Alli, the senior classified representative for the Courier, or “Miss Joanie” as she’s affectionately known by her co-workers, has been a familiar face greeting everyone with a big “honey, baby, suga,” smile as they come to the newspaper.
|JOAN ALLI (Photo by J. L. Martello)
“My time here has been so nice and fun. I have seen so many people come and go and in some cases, come back again. This is a very family-oriented place,” Alli said. “We are all like a close knit family. When one hurts, we all hurt.”
Kathleen Neely, a classified sales representative at the Courier, said, “Ms. Joan is a loving and caring person. She takes care of all of us.”
Alli began her career at the Courier in 1972 under the leadership of Lucille Johnson, Classified supervisor for the Courier. As the senior classified sales representative, Alli is part of the vital advertisement department. Her duties include taking care of the classified, help wanted and estate notice advertisements in the paper. “Advertising is important to the company; it is what helps keep the people paid.” She recalled how at one time there used to be four to five pages of classified advertisements.
But Alli was no stranger to the Courier before she began her career with the company; she said the newspaper has been a part of her family history. Alli grew up in the Penn Township (now known as Penn Hills) part of town.
“We lived near Lincoln Avenue and all my brothers used to sell the Courier when they were younger. And my father would always bring it home. I would glance through it from time to time, but I was too young (to really understand its value back then).”
As one of the longest working employees, Alli has seen so many changes and experienced many things during her time here. Some of the changes that she recalls has been the paper going from a twice a week publication to a once a week one; the number of staff that used to work there; and how everything (as far as production) used to be done from right inside the South Side location.
“We had so many people in the different departments,” she said.
As a long time employee, one of Alli’s fondest memories (although there have been so many) was when the employees took a bus trip to former New Pittsburgh Courier publisher, John Sengstacke’s farm. “We had such a great time.”
While Alli said it is unbelievable to think about the Courier as celebrating 100 years, she is happy to be a part of it. “It is very exciting to still be here, it is so hard to put into words (the happiness I feel),” she said. “The Courier has been such an important part of history. And the information that goes into it is important to our (the Black) community.”
While Alli said it is unclear how much longer she will be at the Courier, she knows she will never truly leave the Courier. It is like her home and the people here are like her extended family.