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WrightsBy GERRY POSNER

Two Winnipeg sisters are making their mark in Toronto. In fact, they’ve been doing that for over 20 years. They’ve both adjusted well since moving here from Winnipeg. Their names are Leanne and Courtney Wright, daughters of Errol and Jackie Wright. As for former Winnipegger Susan Rich - the world of literature has been made "richer" by her contributions to publishing some of the best-selling children's books of all time.

 

The Wright sisters are products of the French immersion program at  Ecole Sacré-Couer, followed by more French immersion at River Heights School, and culminating  with the  International Baccalaureate program at Kelvin High School. Thus, they were well prepared as they entered university.  
Both girls had their Bat Mitzvahs at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue and Leanne often led services on Shabbat. None of this should be surprising given the family history. Many readers will recall a real Winnipeg landmark, The Glass House, built, owned and operated by their grandmother, that is, Errol’s mother, the former Frima Levine Wright. And Jackie Wright was originally a Rosenstock, whose father James was, for many years, the owner of Bell Hardware on Main Street. So you could say the girls came from the Wright Stock.
The path for Courtney upon her graduation from the University of Manitoba with her B.A. in psychology and sociology was to travel. She spent eight months in Australia, even working in Melbourne as a bartender and a Karaoke DJ in a popular nightclub; later she was a waitress in a restaurant there. However, when she returned to Canada, she went to Toronto in August 1998 and was a student at the University of Toronto, where she obtained her Masters degree in industrial relations and human resources. From that background, (not to forget her growing up on Oak Street in Winnipeg which, no doubt, laid the foundation for Courtney), came jobs in human resources and labour relations in various industries, including pharmaceutical, I.T., healthcare and education. At present, Courtney works at the University of Toronto in Human Resources at the libraries.
Courtney married a Torontonian, Ian Lederer, in 2006 and has two children: ten-year-old daughter, Kyla, and seven-year-old son, Zachary. Although Courtney has made the transition to life in Toronto, she freely admits that Winnipeg is still home for her and even looks for reasons to return.
Leanne Wright has been away even longer from Winnipeg, though she too has her feet still planted on Oak Street, where she grew up. Leanne studied at the University of Manitoba and obtained a B.A. in classics in 1992. She then went to McGill University, where she graduated with an M.B.A. in business/Asian studies, as well as the University of Montreal, where she studied Japanese.
Upon completion of her formal education, Leanne entered the workforce at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum in marketing and events. In 1996, Leanne moved to the Toronto area to be the VP of Marketing and Sales for a Toronto based boutique PR and advertising agency which specialized in the live entertainment industry. It was there that Leanne spent the next nine years preparing herself for her present position. In January 2008, Leanne began a career with what was then a new corporation called ZoomeerMedia, a company which had and continues to have a tremendous influence on the aging population of Canada.
Zoomer is the product of the well known Moses Znaimer and is Canada’s only diversified multi-media company devoted to creating information, entertainment and services aimed at Canada’s largest and fastest growing demographic: the 15.8 million people over the age of 45. Many of these people are now over 60. This group is affectionately known as “Zoomers,” (successor to “Boomers”). It is here where Leanne Wright hangs her hat -if she ever wears one, in her capacity as VP of Communications. Actually, Moses affectionately calls Leanne his Minister of Propaganda. Because of her exposure to products, entertainment, and information related to the field of what was once called “old age,” Leanne Wright might well be the person to consult with on matters relating to what could be called the “grey zone.” In short, she knows a lot about older people, even if they do not think of themselves as older people. With all of this experience, Leanne likely knows more about my needs and interests than I do.

It might be argued that what assists Leanne in her work is all her years connected to music. She studied cello from the age of eight, was in the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras, performed with Chai and even the Crash Test Dummies. Even today, she performs with a multi-generational Klezmer Ensemble, the Ontario Pops Orchestra, and was more recently in a special Selichot show on Toronto’s all-classical music radio station. Moreover, if you happened to see on the Internet a version of O Canada in Yiddish, that concert was spearheaded by none other than Winnipeg’s own Leanne Wright.
Is it any wonder she is so plugged into the music featured on Zoomer Radio, as she certainly has the background for it? It goes further. The Ashkenaz Festival, Jewish Music Week in Toronto, the Song Shul are but a few of the many organizations that have had the helping hand of Leanne. When she is not on the job or performing music, Leanne runs, as in 14 completed marathons. Not too shabby for an Oak Street girl.
You could conclude that the Wright women have had a serious impact on life in the Toronto scene. You would not be wrong, but Wright.

Susan RichThe rich life of literature for Susan Rich
It starts with parents and then who knows what follows? Never a truer statement was made for anyone more so than Susan Rich. The former Winnipegger, daughter of David and Mona Rich, has taken a love of books fostered by her parents, and made a career for herself as an editor in the world of children’s publishing. One might ask how that all came to pass, but it is not that difficult to “connect the commas”.
Growing up in Winnipeg in a home filled with books ignited a spark that could not be extinguished. Of the poetry penned by her father, Susan says, “I have always been a dedicated fan of my father’s writing; his poetry is the product of an extraordinary brain and is evident of his power of wit and invention.”
As a child, Susan loved to be read to by her mother, Mona. In fact, she demanded to be read to so often that sometimes, her mother had to turn her down. That dynamic has turned into family lore: Her mother’s refusal to read was a gift - one that set Susan on her path to get her fix of children’s books elsewhere. Even older brother Gavin gets some credit, as he was the one who gave his sister, as she headed off to McGill for university, a battered copy of a book called Written For Children, her first book about children’s literature.
Her love of children’s literature led her to pursue a Masters degree in children’s literature at Simmons College in Boston and, from there, into a publishing career in New York City. There, she published Lemony Snicket’s bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events, the National Book Award-winning Homeless Bird, and the Caldecott Medal-winning Finding Winnie, among others. In 2001, Canada called her home, and now she lives with her family in Toronto, where she currently works as an editor-at-large for Little, Brown Books for Young Reader. She speaks with excitement about the books coming to market in 2018, including an anthology titled The Creativity Project and a luminous new picture book by Sophie Blackall, Hello Lighthouse.
In the midst of all this reading and editing, Susan was married in 2000 to Joshua Greenhut and is the mother of two children, Jonah and Sadie. Moreover, she still likes to return to her native Winnipeg to keep her feet planted firmly in her prairie roots - so much a part of who she is.