The winners have been selected! Fifteen of your neighbors in the community will be honored with a Beacon Award on Nov. 17 at WoodWinds. Join the celebration.
Person of the Week
Network of Support Leads Robyn Wolcott to Success
Robyn Wolcott, who continues to support Guilford programs with which she connected during her years with Shore Publishing Newspapers, was presented with a 2021 Women of Excellence Award by the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (Guilford, Branford, and North Branford) and Madison Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Bill Wolcott)
After graduating from the University of Vermont, Robyn Wolcott was ready to celebrate with a backpacking trip in Europe with a friend. Though she was excited, she began to wonder what she was going to do with her English degree when she got back. Knowing that a friend from a neighboring town had just started a weekly newspaper, the Higganum native reached out to James Warner.
“I called James and asked if they had any positions open and he said to come in when I got back,” says Robyn. “That one call and conversation set the trajectory for the rest of my career.”
Through her 20 years at Shore Publishing, which publishes the Courier, Robyn worked as a reporter for The Sound, in sales, as advertising director, and finally as publisher. As the years went by, Robyn became more and more involved in the community, helping organizations such as the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (serving Guilford, Branford, and North Branford), Madison Chamber of Commerce, and the Branford Festival. Her dedication to business is now being recognized by the Shoreline and Madison Chambers of Commerce as she received a 2021 Women of Excellence Award on Oct. 12.
“I had no idea I was even considered for it,” says Robyn. “I knew about it because of the work I’d done with the chamber, but I never would have thought about being one of them.”
Robyn now works as a financial advisor with The Warner Group in Madison and Shelton after Warner suggested she might be a good fit. Upon taking the role of publisher, Robyn had discovered a newfound interest in the financial side of running the newspaper.
With the encouragement of her husband Bill, her parents Jan and Bob Collins, and many friends, Robyn decided to make a change. At the end of 2019, she announced that she would be leaving Shore Publishing at the end of February. She went on vacation and on her return flight, people were spraying Lysol on their seats.
“It was the beginning of the pandemic and the start of my new career as a financial advisor, but I had an immense amount of guilt for leaving the Shore team at a time I knew they were facing so many challenges,” says Robyn, who married Bill in 2016. She had worked with Shore Publishing’s parent company, The Day Publishing Co., “to have emergency protocols in place in case of storms or other emergencies, but I never imagined a pandemic.”
Knowing that she had done everything she could to leave Shore Publishing as prepared as possible, Robyn focused on her new career, noting that the pandemic did have the upside of giving her more opportunities to study. She credits Bill for supporting her efforts and her close network of family and friends who helped watch their young daughter Calli as she pursued her new passion.
While she was studying, taking tests, and becoming licensed, Robyn got to know The Warner Group by working on marketing projects. She just recently celebrated being fully licensed for one year.
“It’s awesome and the kind of fulfillment I really needed,” says Robyn. “The whole brain is just lighting up and it’s super exciting. I get to help a huge variety of people and my focus is to help people get a basic understanding. In my experience, you’d meet with an advisor and they’d talk about things that have no meaning with words you don’t understand. We literally break it down from the beginning and people have said, ‘You’re the first person to explain this that I actually understand,’ and I love that.”
Looking back, Robyn never would’ve imagined that her career would lead her to the financial realm. After returning from her backpacking trip, Robyn began working with Shore Publishing as a reporter, covering the Branford beat. She loved getting to know people in the community.
A year in, though, Warner asked if she would be interested in moving to the sales team. Once working in sales, he encouraged her to join the then-Branford Chamber of Commerce and find a committee to work on. Robyn decided to join the public relations committee, which was chaired by Jen Payne, and found that her connections and her organizational skills were a perfect fit.
“Jen was the perfect person to watch and learn from,” says Robyn. “I helped do their marketing and publicity and run events. I just kept going from there.”
When Payne stepped down, Robyn took over as chair of the committee. She then joined the chamber’s board, serving while the Branford Chamber merged with the Guilford Chamber of Commerce to form the Shoreline Chamber, which now also includes North Branford and Northford.
While moving up in the ranks in the chamber, Robyn was also moving up in her career at Shore Publishing. She briefly served as advertising manager before taking over as advertising director in 2009. When longtime publisher Lisa Miksis announced she was moving on in 2015, she encouraged Robyn to apply.
“When Lisa told me she was leaving, which was terrifying, we talked about me going for that role and luckily I got it,” says Robyn. “As publisher, I was involved in the sponsorships of different organizations and it was really amazing to get a better understanding of what each did. It was great to support so many hard-working groups and whatever their focus was and get to know the people involved.”
Miksis had worked with the public relations committee at the Madison Chamber of Commerce as Shore Publishing’s offices are based in town. She suggested that Robyn get involved there as well. Though Robyn is no longer at Shore Publishing, she has continued to work with the PR committee at the Madison Chamber.
“The reality is I stay involved because I absolutely feel I’m helping to make a difference and the people are really fun to work with and so appreciative,” says Robyn. “They are really strong organizations that run some really amazing events and programs.”
Though Robyn is busy between her new career, her family, and her volunteer work with the chambers, she continues to stay involved with the Branford Festival and recently became involved with the Connecticut Care Planning Council, which is a group of individuals and companies that focus on financial planning for the senior audience.
Robyn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially unwinding with 3 ½-year-old Calli at the end of the day. Now living in East Haven, she and Bill spend much of their time finding activities Calli will enjoy. Robyn also tries to find time for outdoor activities such as stand-up paddle boarding and SUP yoga. She found a love for all things outdoors growing up in Higganum, which was “a dream,” and a love for skiing, mountain biking, and kayaking during her years at the University of Vermont.
When it comes to being able to manage all she does, Robyn continues to credit her supportive network of friends, family, and mentors. She also is grateful for the two decades of experience she gained at Shore Publishing.
“My first job was a little family business that just kept growing and I can’t credit that enough,” says Robyn. “James, Lisa, and everyone I worked with at Shore was a big part of my life. We were a family.
“[My husband] Bill is my biggest supporter in all of this and I couldn’t ask for anymore better,” adds Robyn. “My parents have always been right behind me and instilled all of those great lessons that lead you to be the person you are. Having a network of people who are there to keep cheering you on goes a long way.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .