Staff Spotlight


Several ERA staffers have now served the association proudly for more than 10 years.  Here’s a primer on how each of them arrived at ERA, what they do on and off the job, and their proudest accomplishments with the association.

Name: Vi Paynich

Position/Responsibilities: Content Manager. I oversee the ERA Blog and other ERA online properties, developing content and working with contributing bloggers. In addition, I work on ERA’s e-newsletter and help curate educational sessions for ERA conferences.
Joined ERA in: 2004
How I wound up working with ERA: I was hired by Gina Cohen, vice president of publishing/publisher, to help launch ERA’s monthly magazine, Electronic Retailer, as editor-in-chief. The most challenging part of launching a brand-new trade publication? We had literally only weeks to put together the first issue, which meant choosing a name and logo, designing the magazine’s look, developing editorial, and securing advertisers. The plan was to unveil the first issue during the 2004 ERA D2C Convention in September. I don’t know how we managed to roll out that first issue with such a small staff in such a short amount of time, but we did.
My proudest accomplishment with ERA: I have two. The first was when I received that first issue of Electronic Retailer on my doorstep. I had never launched a magazine before, and it was an incredible feeling of accomplishment. The second was to help grow the ERA Blog. Going from print to online publishing was a natural evolution for me as an editor. It’s amazing how technology is transforming how people receive content, and I am excited to see where it will lead us next.
What I enjoy most about direct response: Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know so many wonderful people in this industry and hearing stories about their beginnings in direct response.
In the off hours, I like to spend time: Watching my kids play soccer. I also love going to the movies, reading, and bike riding.

Name: Cecilia D. Mason

Position/Responsibilities: Accounting Manager
Joined ERA in: 2005
How I wound up working with ERA: After 34 years as assistant vice president in the banking industry, I was looking for a new position. I (quite happily) landed at ERA.
My proudest accomplishment with ERA: Moving from one job with limited responsibilities to a multitasking position where I get to be of service to my organization and co-workers. I also enjoy working the customer service desk at ERA’s conferences, providing “service with a smile” to conference attendees.
What I enjoy most about direct response: Learning that my first thoughts about direct response were all wrong. It is so much more than the infomercials I thought it was about.
In the off hours, I like to spend time: Reading and working as treasurer of my sorority on a local and national level.

Name: Carol Neher

Position/Responsibilities: Exhibit and Sponsorship Sales
Joined ERA in: 2004
How I wound up working with ERA: I was with the team that started Response magazine, and had been there for 10 years. ERA was starting a magazine, and I was offered the sales position. I moved to exhibit sales in 2009.
My proudest accomplishment with ERA: Hitting my sales goals. I get up at 6:00 and put in 10-hour days.
What I enjoy most about direct response: I love the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s an exciting industry—you get a hit, and you’re off and running. There’s a real energy about the industry and the players in it.
In the off hours, I like to spend time: I love to cook pretty much anything from Indian to Asian to barbeque. My favorite cuisine would be anything Asian—I “wok” a lot.

Name: Bill McClellan

Position/Responsibilities: Vice President, Government Affairs
Joined ERA in: 2003
How I wound up working with ERA: They say that D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people, so I decided to check it out rather than moving to the West Coast. I’m glad I wound up at ERA, working with all the great people in the industry from L.A.—it’s the best of both worlds.
My proudest accomplishment with ERA: Working with the ERA Board and Government Affairs Committee to bring the Electronic Retailing Self-regulation Program (ERSP) into existence and building the program into what it is today. It is rewarding to hear federal regulators from the FTC point to our industry’s work as a model of success to be emulated by others.
What I enjoy most about direct response: Two things come to mind. First, working on unique problems that are on the cutting edge of policy discussions in D.C. However, I think the most enjoyable part of DR is having the opportunity to meet really interesting people from all over the country and world. [DR] is a great place to learn from, and collaborate with, others.
In the off hours, I like to spend time: There are off hours? I like traveling, sleeping, and reading—I read a lot. College football is my favorite sport, so I follow that in the fall.