Getting to Know Sandra

Sandra sees visual communication as one of the most powerful tools we have in bringing people together and creating understanding and dialogue.

In your work with Sandra, her job is to be your catalyst in expanding your vision and making your potential and the potential of your work a reality.

More On Sandra’s Approach

Whether you are a top pro or new to the game, her work with you not only helps you curate your material but it helps you focus your vision, articulate your direction to yourself and eliminate assumptions that might unknowingly be holding you back. In the process you get expert context and real support as you and your work grow. From her you get great questions to help you strengthen your process, your work, your satisfaction with it and, in the process, you may realize possibilities that you might not have even considered.

Sandra examines the whole package from assumption and instinct to execution, valuing visual journalism as well as fine art, personal expression, illustration and other forms of visual communication. And she thinks the words you use to talk about your work as well as the words that accompany your images are important. She also knows that how pictures are presented – their sizing, relationships and sequencing – can either markedly elevate images or diminish their power. To her understanding how each image or video clip really works is essential to presentation. No one would say that Sandra’s not intense and thoughtful in all this, but she also believes that growth and the puzzles life and work present us can be great fun, great discovery! Sandra recognizes that every project, from the largest to the most individual, is in some way a team effort.

For this serious work, Sandra brings you amazingly broad and deep experience, ranging from making pictures to designing presentations for them, presentations  that cross all sorts of formats – from newspapers, magazines and books, to videos, to the web, to shows and beyond. She even understands the importance of archival and legacy needs.  You can check out her experience below but the words of those who’ve worked with her flesh out what the resume points really mean.

Getting to Know Sandra

Sandra sees visual communication as one of the most powerful tools we have in bringing people together and creating understanding and dialogue.

In your work with Sandra, her job is to be your catalyst in expanding your vision and making your potential and the potential of your work a reality.

More on How Sandra Works

Whether you are a top pro or new to the game, her work with you not only helps you curate your material but it helps you focus your vision, articulate your direction to yourself and eliminate assumptions that might unknowingly be holding you back. In the process you get expert context and real support as you and your work grow. From her you get great questions to help you strengthen your process, your work, your satisfaction with it and, in the process, you may realize possibilities that you might not have even considered.

Sandra examines the whole package from assumption and instinct to execution, valuing visual journalism as well as fine art, personal expression, illustration and other forms of visual communication. And she thinks the words you use to talk about your work as well as the words that accompany your images are important. She also knows that how pictures are presented – their sizing, relationships and sequencing – can either markedly elevate images or diminish their power. To her understanding how each image or video clip really works is essential to presentation. No one would say that Sandra’s not intense and thoughtful in all this, but she also believes that growth and the puzzles life and work present us can be great fun, great discovery! Sandra recognizes that every project, from the largest to the most individual, is in some way a team effort.

For this serious work, Sandra brings you amazingly broad and deep experience, ranging from making pictures to designing presentations for them, presentations  that cross all sorts of formats – from newspapers, magazines and books, to videos, to the web, to shows and beyond. She even understands the importance of archival and legacy needs.  You can check out her experience below but the words of those who’ve worked with her flesh out what the resume points really mean.

Experience and Accomplishments

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

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EDUCATION

AWARDS

DIVERSITY

Sandra’s Work History

Sandra has helped create two of the largest websites on the internet, moved three major newspapers and their design forward as well as doing magazine editing and design. Her resume is littered with “firsts” as well as awards and audience accolades.

She has edited, designed and/or created strategy for over 100 books. She’s done wire service editing and oversight. But she’s edited for history too, working as White House picture editor for three sitting U.S. presidents as well as project work for a fourth. Over a decade of consulting has emphasized business strategies, media options, content strategy, and design. She is a strong believer in diversity and in pushing the front edge.

The White House - Picture Editor

Eisert was the first White House Picture Editor. She served in that staff role for three sitting U.S. Presidents and did contract editing for a fourth. 

In her intense first tour, she worked with Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly to break an entrenched, opaque PR mold to reveal the true character of an unelected President as he rebuilt American confidence in the wake of a divisive national nightmare, one which left the Ford administration dealing with ending the war in Vietnam, restoring foreign relations, curbing rampant inflation, restoring credibility, and much more. Eisert and Kennerly created a serious, daily, historical documentation. The deceptive Nixon presidency had eroded trust. To ensure a change and transparency, press releases were handled and decided by Eisert and the Photo Office only, not the Press Office. And they were kept to a modest amount. Instead, despite Ford’s short term, Kennerly and Eisert worked to ensure quality access to well over three dozen press photographers in shooting periods lasting from a couple of days to three months, providing full access.

While at The White House, Eisert’s work from her last 8 months in Louisville won the National Press Photographers Association’s Newspaper Picture Editor of the Year award. In returning to work in later White House administrations, she had different editing roles, since then she was no longer the lone editor.

In the Bush-43 administration Eisert worked to build its web presence and assist with presidential and first lady edits. 

In the Obama administration, Eisert helped set up the first White House digital picture release system and worked heavily with media requests and releases. In an adjunct position, for Clinton she also directed and edited his Inaugural book.

With photographer David Hume Kennerly and presidential daughter Susan Ford, Sandra dives in to work in The White House Photo Office in the West Wing underneath the Roosevelt Room to put together an album of pictures for USSR President Leonid Brezhnev. The album commemorated Brezhnev’s historic S.A.L.T. talks in Vladivostok with President Gerald Ford. Instead of giving gilded statues and historic art as gifts, as other countries often do, the U.S. gives memories with albums like this one filled with the personalities and experiences of the trip as well as modest silver framed pictures of the two leaders, if the leader visits The White House. The fancy gifts given to the President from visiting foreign leaders were always archived in storage somewhere due to the Foreign Emoluments Clause which prohibits the president from receiving gifts from foreign  countries or leaders. The American way is more memorable – and much cheaper!! Picture by Ricardo Thomas | The White House.

Me on the Ellipse in Washington D.C. one afternoon by Ann Stevens.

Microsoft and MSNBC.com - Founding Senior Editor, Director of Graphics & Designer

Eisert was the first journalist, one of only four founding senior editors, refiner of the mission, pusher of all boundaries and recruiter of journalists to the staff in a project that forever graphically changed the face of the internet and news. The result significantly exceeded Microsoft’s expectations.

At a time of slow dialup and postage stamp pictures, clever thinking made dominant picture use possible, and made the use of CMS practical and robust. This Rubik’s Cube of design didn’t just change the face of the internet, it also transformed picture use from postage stamp-level to being the dominant, instantly appearing elements on the web screen. The site’s revolutionary design, pieces of which can still be seen on most internet sites today, allowed the first content management system to deliver the best design and news photography on the internet in just a click and delivered them in any kind of presentation package necessary on any browser, including Microsoft’s proprietary software. The site also introduced the first videos and interactive graphics, two arenas of visual coverage Eisert also long promoted.

The journalistic quality of this product and its staff was as good as any publication she’d worked on. Her design saved Microsoft about $5 million in production costs annually and allowed complex, precise project creation almost instantaneously. Eisert had seen the issues facing print journalism when even publishers would not face those issues; “I knew things had to change.” she said. “I recall a few people asking me what I was doing wasting a perfectly good career on “something like this!”  All I could say was that, “I just don’t think you understand yet.”

In the moments just before the team pushed the button to launch, visionary fellow Senior Editor John Callan asked us all, she said, “if we didn’t wonder if this was how Gutenberg had felt one day hundreds of years earlier. That was how big that moment seemed.”

A rare screen grab from the MSNBC.com newsroom as Sandra, center, as the Senior Editor and Director of Graphics works with Business Editor Mark Pawlosy, seated at the VDT screen, while coordinating with (l-r) David Kaill, Brenden West and Breanna Anderson of the Development team. Microsoft had been organized in small, single-person offices and a newsroom had to be built out of existing space so journalists could collaboratively communicate with one another the way they did in the many newsrooms from which they came. The product this team built far exceeded Microsoft’s original plan of six templets, five of which contained postage stamp pictures. Instead, in a time of dialup speeds, pictures instantly downloaded and dominated Sandra’s designs, drawing attention to highest quality stories. Even if it was done with smoke and mirrors, the impossible was an everyday thing at MSNBC.com. (You have two copies because this is a screen shot off a web page. Who knows where the original film went.)

The Washington Post - Picture Editor

Again as first woman or minority in that job, Eisert transformed visual coverage by creating the first national assignments and projects for staff photographers, creating a national stringer network, completely revamping a broken, wasteful and demoralizing assignment system, creating the paper’s first picture pages, it’s first 5 and 6-column pictures, and creating the first planning done for A1 and other section fronts.

Managing Editor Howard Simons remarked of Eisert’s work that she’d “done more in your first six months than all the picture editors The Post has had in all the time they’d had them.”

Associated Press Washington - Picture Editor

Primarily running the network for the Southern U.S, Eisert was the first woman on staff to edit in that office which, in addition to directing all coverage for the South, also handled many major news events including visits of all foreign leaders, White House coverage and rapid Capitol Hill national and regional coverage – always trying to stay ahead of UPI.

Eisert went to AP to learn how to rapidly deliver on major and fast-moving stories. This knowledge came in very handy in some of the major news stories she covered in her next roles.

Department of Defense - Extended Consultancy, DoD’s Public Web Program

Eisert spearheaded creation of the DoD’s Public Web Program, building a team from 13 department heads who, were adamant that any combined approach was not in their individual interests and whom Eisert quickly learned had shut down several previous attempts at this task by other consultations.

Eisert brought a completely different perspective to the strategic planning and reorganized the work of these departments, helping get multiple departments to rethink and reorganize their structure and approach – and make a team.

She received DoD approval and funded the transformational effort which also enhanced site stability and functionality, radically revised their technology, expanded video capability, saved costs, provided more flexibility and use of resources, and, most importantly, demonstrated shared benefits for the departments themselves as well as the public, contractors, and government in general.

San Jose Mercury News - Design Director and Senior Graphics Editor

Eisert was the paper’s first Design Director and the first woman or minority to be a Senior Graphics Editor at the Merc where she coordinated an avalanche of major sections and photographic projects as well as introducing design to the front page and most other sections of the paper.

In the Graphics Editor role, while always keeping the photographers and the photography staff at the forefront of her efforts, she was responsible for the visual content of all section fronts and all special sections and picture pages; as a Graphics Editor she, of course, coordinated with all editors, writers and departments and managed photographers and resources on a daily basis and worked closely with the art department on informational graphics and illustration and coordinated backshop production.

That job eventually included creating the Mercury News Design Desk, which, although not the first Design Desk in the country, had major impact throughout the publication. This Knight-Ridder newspaper of Silicon Valley was a national graphics leader with a great photographic and picture editing staff; in National Press Photographers Association competition, the Mercury-News team won the Angus McDougall Award for Overall Excellence in Picture Editing and six additional Overall Best Use of Pictures team awards within eight years.

The team also sponsored an annual Graphics Conference which brought together some of the best visual talent in the country and played an important role in setting national standards high and sharing successes. Building on the foundational work of NPPA Sprague winner J. Bruce Baumann, in roughly a decade, her work along with that of a lot of intensely dedicated writers, editors, photographers and artists helped transform what had been a modest community newspaper into a Top Ten publication.

Photography was also a critical component of the Mercury-News 1989 spot news Pulitzer Prize for earthquake coverage; in that coverage, the special section Eisert directed, designed and edited helped put “The Merc” over the top in heavy competition. That deadline-produced section also won five other international design and editing awards and created a new way to mount a section on the press to provide the kind of picture display needed to show the scope of the disaster.  

Eisert’s efforts to make the newspaper more functional for busy readers and a changing demographic led to her personal revelations about newspaper organization and design which, although not implemented then, would later become the basis for her revolutionary designs at Microsoft/MSNBC.com.

By the end of this tour, Eisert also showed interest in working on digital formats at this Silicon Valley-based newspaper, which was the first newspaper in the country to see any internet potential. In their only meeting, the paper’s internet guru briskly explained that no one was interested in looking at pictures on the internet and that we’d wait for movie downloads  – so basically, “go away.” Eisert looked at him and thought about his lack of understanding of people’s interest in pictures and wondered if it was worth the argument. She decided not and replied with, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” turned on her heal and walked out; he never saw the light and she would pursue her interest in CDs and digital possibilities in her next position.

WEST Magazine - Art Director

Eisert maximized the work of top freelance photographers, illustrators and writers from around the country as well as with stellar staff.

This combination, along with great writing, helped create devoted readers and numerous awards for this weekly, which Eisert radically redesigned in a half day since there was no more time available than that.

Oddly this design and the proposal for more reader-focused redesign she’d made at the Mercury-News were foundations for her future work in internet design.

 

Covers and inside spreads of WEST Magazine

The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times - Picture Editor

Eisert became the first woman or minority to become picture editor of a major U.S. newspaper, one that also consistently ranked among the top three newspapers in the country.  Quickly, and without permission, Eisert transformed the task of creating a daily picture page into a role that, except for budgeting, would later become a model for the role of Assistant Managing Editor for Graphics – handing anything and everything visual from the usual assigning, editing, cropping and placement, and then expanding to include broad use of the art department (including generating some of the first newspaper informational graphics) and creating page designs, directing special sections and leveraging page display.

Eisert was privileged to work with what many then would consider to be the best photographic staff in the country, including adding two amazing women to this top-ranked photography staff, a staff which then had it’s own aerial photographer, its own mobile lab, two studios, two darkrooms and automatic processing equipment.

When Eisert started in Louisville, there was only one woman in her newsroom, one who diligently worked at the copy desk, who never looked up from her work or took a break in all the time Eisert was there. Copy desk colleagues confirmed that they never saw her chat with anyone, take a lunch break, do anything but move her copy pencil. So Eisert realized that she was alone and that how she comported herself would either open doors for others behind her or slam them tighter.

On her first day on the job, Eisert walked up to the news editor Jack Carey who looked up disdainfully over his half-frame glasses to firmly point out that he had “been in THIS job longer” than she’d been alive. She admits that she did look like she’d just escaped from junior high, so she realized the challenge she had to meet. By the end of her tour there, Carey was her biggest fan.

Sandra in the newsroom at the Louisville Picture Desk not all that long before leaving for The White House. By this time one additional woman had appeared in the newsroom and Sandra had already completed two of her earliest books and transformed the visual approach of the paper.

WellKit Corp - Founder and CEO

She says that maybe it was because she’d lived in two tech hubs – San Jose, and Seattle – “I had an idea for a graphic, software approach to healthcare that could aid both patients and doctors, especially in dealing with complex medical situations.” So she took a sort of graphic side trip to try to change the way we approach healthcare and put power in patient’s hands and improve dialogue with doctors.

To launch this startup, Eisert graduated from the Founder Institute, the world’s premier idea-stage startup accelerator training. While doctors and patients loved this approach, venture capitalists yawned. They were not amused to see a woman show up, especially one over age 25. (Or 35, or 45, or 105.)

National Geographic - Picture Editing Intern

Eisert was the first woman or minority to have that job, with the previous such intern being 13 years prior. (Fortunately the internship was continued after her tour there.) She worked on the major news story of the year, transformed a previously thought unpublishable story into making it a strong, published story as well as helping deal with outside story submissions.

Books Sandra Has Worked On

Sandra has worked on over 100 books, from photography to cookbooks and with publishers like Harper Collins and Fulcrum Books.

PHOTOGRAPHY-ORIENTED BOOKS

PICTURE EDITING, DESIGN, PROJECT MANAGEMENT:

Celebrating America’s Spirit Together: The 54th Presidential Inauguration
Bush White House official inaugural book (Epicenter Press) Picture Editor

Extraordinary Circumstances – The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford
(University of Texas Press) Picture editing and caption consultant

Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate
(University of Texas Press) Picture editor, design consultant

A Day in the Life of series:

  • A Day in the Life of Ireland (Collins Publishers)
    Photography and design consultant, picture editor
  • Japan, America, Hollywood, Italy, China, Thailand, Israel…
    (Collins Publishers) Picture editor

Williams-Sonoma’s Savoring cookbook series:

  • Savoring Southeast Asia, Italy, France, Spain&Portugal, etc…
    (TimeLife Books) Picture editor and design consultant

The Beautiful Cookbook series:

Pacific Northwest, Tuscany, Provence (Collins Publishers) Picture editor
Material World (Sierra Club Books) Picture editor and design consultant

Women – in the Material World (Sierra Club Books)
Picture editor, content consultant

In Pursuit of Ideas (Collins Publishers)
Director of photography, content and design consultant, picture editor

Photo du Jour (University of Texas Press) Picture editor and content consultant

Small Town America (Fulcrum Books) Picture editor

Requiem for the Heartland (Collins Publishers) Picture editor

15 Seconds: The Great California Earthquake of 1989 (Tides Foundation)

Picture editor

The Power to Heal (Prentice Hall) Picture editor

Jerusalem – In the Shadow of Heaven (Harper Collins) Picture Editor

The Mission (Warner Books) Picture editor

Christmas in America (Collins Publishers) Picture editor

PICTURE INSERTS FOR TEXT BOOKS

PICTURE E D I T I N G ONLY

Like Normal People by Robert Meyers (McGraw Hill)

Guyana Massacre by Charles A. Krause (Berkeley Books)

Shooter by David Hume Kennerly (Newsweek Books)

A Time to Heal by Gerald Ford (Harper and Row)

The Times of My Life by Betty Ford (Harper and Row)

The Team

Nicole Lujan

TPE’s Office Manager

Nicole is our organization expert who has great retail sales management experience. She makes sure our trains run on time.

Meline McWhirter

TPE’s Financial Wrangler

Meline’s makes sanity out of the numbers and adds to our joy. She also helps organizations in Washington and California via natural-numbers.com