This week, Director of Communications Amy Zlatic found out she has something in common with Tennessee Williams — they’ve both won first prize in the St. Louis Writers Guild Short Story Contest. Amy’s story, “Swallow,” was inspired by gastroenterologist and Priory dad Dr. James Dimitroff’s visit to the Form III biology class last October.
“At the end of his talk, he was showing x-rays of odd things people swallowed that he’d had to remove,” she says. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I got home, so I did some research and wrote a story.”
At the time, she didn’t plan to do anything more with the manuscript, but a flyer for the short story contest at a weekend workshop sponsored by the Guild inspired her to submit. “I didn’t expect to win, or even to place. I put the open mic night on my calendar so I could go listen and learn from the winners,” she says.
Instead, it was Amy reading a story at the open mic night at the Kirkwood Train Station on Tuesday night. The contest has been sponsored by the Guild since its founding in 1920, making it one of the oldest writing contests in the country. This year’s contest was judged by writer, poet and editor Catherine Rankovic. Amy is currently looking for a publication to print her story and several other manuscripts.
Writing is a big part of Amy’s professional and personal life; she says it’s one of her favorite parts of her job at Priory. Her career path didn’t point that way at first, though, when she spent a year and a half studying engineering at Missouri S&T. “I told my parents when I was a kid that I wanted to be an astronaut, and they held me to it,” she says. When she realized she would make a terrible engineer, she transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia and entered the Journalism School. “I’m a writer, and where do writers in Missouri go? The J-School at Mizzou! I was looking for something with a creative outlet, and in the advertising track, creativity wasn’t just allowed, it was expected,” she explains.
After college, she worked in marketing and communications for the American Red Cross, The Face & The Body Day Spa, and Ceva Animal Health. She and her husband Michael earned MBAs from Webster University a few years ago. “We joke that if we can make it through grad school together, we can make it through anything,” she says.
Prior to joining the Abbey Family, Amy traveled a lot for her job. The company closed its St. Louis office and, while graciously retaining her as an employee, required her to commute to Kansas City four days a week. She felt like she was spending too much time away from her family and began looking for a position based in St. Louis. She found a job posting for communications director at Saint Louis Priory School and applied.
“I was simply looking for a position where I wasn’t traveling, but I got so much more,” she says. “I’ve gained so many friends here; I get to work with everyone in every department — teachers, staff, parents, monks, alumni. There are many opportunities for spiritual guidance, and I’m much further down my spiritual path than I was when I started. This place has given me much more than I could ever contribute.” The Abbey church itself is an added benefit that feeds her interest in architecture: she gets to view a beautiful example of mid-century modern architecture out her office window every day.
Amy, a St. Louis native, met her husband at Rolla. Michael earned that engineering degree Amy gave up, and he works for a technology company as a product manager. They have a 9-year-old daughter named Zoe who keeps them running. “I call my car the Zoemobile because of all the shuttling we do,” she says. Amy is a leader for Zoe’s Girl Scout troop, and she and Michael are involved in managing and coaching some of Zoe’s many sports teams. “Zoe really wants to come to school at Priory because she loves visiting the campus and interacting with the monks, but Father Gregory keeps telling her no,” she laughs. Their family includes two cats and a guinea pig.
Amy and Michael have also been active in a local Corvette club, and enjoy taking long road trips in their Corvette to explore new parts of the country. Their trip last summer took them to 5 different National Parks. “Michael wanted a Corvette since he was a child, and when we finally got ours it was special. It’s wonderful to watch someone you love have his dream come true. We took delivery at the National Corvette Museum, became Lifetime members, and toured the plant where our Corvette was made. We were able to meet the fine people who built our car,” she says. “Back then, I didn’t realize the lifestyle that surrounds owning a Corvette. Because it’s a 2-seater, it’s definitely a ‘date night’ car. In a way, it has helped us remain committed and prioritize time with each other. Who knew a car could do all that?”
Amy also enjoys photography, which she started studying in high school, and reading novels, historical fiction and biographies. She recommends “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”, a recent read that she describes as “light and fun…brain candy.” She is looking forward to the new Harper Lee book, due to be published this summer.
Amy can be reached at email@example.com or ext. 216. Since one of her favorite parts of her job is interacting with people, she welcomes guests to her office. “I have a big, comfy red couch in my office,” she says. “Stop by for a chat!”