Write On, Dot

As Managing Editor of South Franklin Circle’s resident newsletter, The Cardinal, Dot Bambach is literally spreading the word throughout the community.

From delving into regional history to recounting uncommon travel experiences, South Franklin Circle’s Cardinal publication connects residents, enlightens members about new topics, and is a source of pride for many, especially Dot Bambach, Managing Editor. 

“I enjoy working with other creative people,” Bambach says, relating that dynamic meetings are a time to bat around story possibilities. She is continually inspired by the range of subjects introduced. 

In fact, tossing out an idea is how Dot initially got involved when she and her husband, Matt Ryan, moved to the Chagrin Falls community in March 2017. The Cardinal had just released its premiere issue, and Editor Connie Miller lived in a neighboring unit. “I thought, I’d wonder if they’d like an article about the local birds,” relates Dot, an avid birder for decades who is actively involved in three Audubon groups and served as president of the local chapter of the Audubon Society when the couple lived in Savannah, Georgia — their prior residence before Judson Senior Living. 

“Connie said, ‘Sure,’ so I wrote an article and became somewhat of a regular,” Dot says. She joined monthly meetings and continued reporting various feature stories, and in the early days, many of the topics were South Franklin Circle focused. But as the newsletter evolved, so did its content and Dot’s involvement. She eventually became the assistant to Drew Clemens when he took over Connie’s position, and they created a style sheet that further advanced the newsletter’s sophistication. Now, Dot is at the helm with a volunteer staff of 10 other residents, “and we have expanded our subject matter,” she says. 

One resident wrote about hiking through Spain with her grown son and daughter-in-law. Another gave a detailed account of his experience at Norway’s underground Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Should a disaster wipe out a plant species, it could be reintroduced by harvesting the seed from this repository. It houses duplicates of 1,214,827 seed samples from almost every country, with room for millions more from around the globe—the goal is a backup “gene bank” to secure the future food supply.

Like fellow South Franklin Circle community members, Dot’s appetite for learning fuels a newsletter rich with diverse perspectives. For Dot, the project is indeed a passion. “I’m either talking to writers about their pieces, working with the layout editor, or thinking ahead about the next issue,” she says. 

Finding Home

To be sure, Dot lives a full life at South Franklin Circle. “I’m sort of over-committed,” she says, half-joking. She likes it that way. When she and Matt moved in, she became secretary and treasurer for the Residents’ Association. She’s part of the book club and birding groups and enjoys socializing with neighbors.

Dot and her husband were immediately drawn to the sense of community at South Franklin Circle after visiting several other senior facilities in the area during what Dot calls “a blitz” after they decided to relocate to Northeast Ohio, close to one of their two daughters and only grandchild.

“We loved the layout of the community, the large, bright, well-lit apartment, and views of the woods,” says Dot. Also, Chagrin Falls is much like New Canaan, Connecticut, where they lived before retiring to Savannah. Dot, who will turn 78, also appreciated the naturescape and abundance of birds within eyeshot of their home’s windows.

A ‘Checkered Past”

Writing might be the last pastime you’d expect from someone with degrees in math and physics and a master’s in management. But Dot’s fascinating, varied career path has always involved written communications — and creativity, for that matter.

“Somewhere early on, probably high school, I must have had a great English teacher,” she quips. “That served me well through college, and as I took different jobs after, there always seemed to be a need to write.” She was a high school math and physics teacher, including a teaching position in Paris. When she returned to the States and married, she joined the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “I was officially doing budgeting but unofficially writing everything for one of the cabinet secretaries as sort of his ghostwriter,” she says.

She was subsequently recruited by Harvard University and became its assistant dean at the Harvard Kennedy School. “Again, my official job was to be the executive director of the Master’s in Public Policy program, but I also did a lot of writing because we put out a course catalog every year, and I served as its editor,” Dot relates. She was also marketing the stand-alone program the university was growing—a pioneer in today’s public policy degrees. Then, after Dot earned her master’s degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business, she entered the banking industry, where she finished out her career. 

“This pulled it all together because there were the financial aspects, and it was also institutional marketing because you are trying to develop new business relationships and maintain those, which is similar to what I did in the academic world,” she says. Her career — and life — is a woven story of “one thing leads to another,” as she puts it. This is very much the way her role at The Cardinal came about. Looking ahead, Dot is as busy as ever, now focused on a holiday story. There are always new ideas that ignite curiosity and continuous learning. 

“Just the other night, I interviewed two of the local Jaycee members who do a fabulous job of decorating the village for Christmas,” she says. And here again, the reporting is a culmination of her analytical and wordsmith sides, with details about how many trees, how many twinkle lights—and the back story. “I’m about to write an article about how the Christmas décor and activities come to life.” 

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