Parenting

Letter From the Publisher: Tackling Clutter

Cathy Merrill-Williams shares how she battles clutter with her two boys.
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Mommy probably threw it away!, the kids accuse whenever something goes missing in our house.

And I’ll admit it: I love to purge—it’s its own natural high. The problem is finding the time and motivation to do it. I feel like I’m forever throwing things away, yet more and more stuff accumulates. It’s a war on clutter, and I’m losing. Was it this way before we had children? Am I alone here? I think not.

When my kids were in preschool, I multitasked during parent-teacher conferences, separating their gigantic stacks of artwork into two piles. There was a dumpster at school near where we parked, and on the way out I would keep the handful of pieces I legitimately liked and then hoist the hundred other scribbles and dried-macaroni sculptures into the trash. (Fighting the battle on junk before it overran our doorstep far outweighed the guilt.)

Now the kids are old enough themselves to bring their projects home in vast piles; at the same time, the gadgets in their playroom have grown more unwieldy. I’m talking a standup punching bag, the 48-piece microscope set, and the Crayola crayon “maker.”

In this issue, we share secrets to purging, organizing, and even smelling fresh (yes, there is an ongoing fancy-soap boom). I don’t believe any mom will ever attain the neatness status she desires—personally, that’s what I’m saving old age for—but we all could use a little inspiration. I hope you find it in this issue.

Catherine Merrill Williams

President and Publisher

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CEO & President

Catherine Merrill Williams is CEO and President of Washingtonian Media, a media company that includes the flagship 53-year-old magazine, Washingtonian, the national capital region’s leading monthly with more than 300,000 readers and winner of five National Magazine Awards; Washingtonian.com—the region’s premier lifestyle website with popular blogs, restaurant recommendations, and more; Washingtonian Bride & Groom; Washingtonian Welcome Guide; Washingtonian Custom Media; and Washingtonian Events.

From 2002 to 2007, Ms. Williams served as Director of Operations for Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), where she helped manage and collect 60 percent of the nation’s tolls—$2.7 billion a year—including the majority of the E-ZPass network. Prior to joining ACS, from 1995 to 2002, she was a partner in the worldwide management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Ms. Williams is very active in the community and serves on the board of directors of multiple organizations including the University of Maryland College Park Foundation (where she also chairs the Board of Visitors for the School of Journalism), Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, the City and Regional Magazine Association, Ford’s Theater, the Aspen Institute Socrates Society, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and The Merrill Family Foundation. She is a member and former chapter chair of YPO (Young President’s Organization) as well as an active member of the Cornell University Council, the Economics Club of Washington and the Federal City Council. She has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, CNN Headline News, FOX, MSNBC, as well as other local Washington stations.

She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.

Ms. Williams resides in Washington, DC, with her two sons. She enjoys sailing, skiing, and travel.