Someone once said that “talent alone is not enough.” The larger message about success in the world is that persistence, hard work and cooperating with others would bring talent to life and win the day.
Some people do a few of these things well and succeed modestly. Others get by on talent alone. But then there are those who combine the whole package, along with the added ingredient of assisting others, and surprise us with their brilliance and achievements.
She will hate that I am writing this, but one such person is Dr. Jeanne Zaino of .
In the interest of full disclosure, Zaino is a regular contributor to the Good Morning Westchester program, which I host for WVOX radio. In the still further causes of candor and questionable objectivity, I adore her.
Now before husband Zaino gets upset and joins the robust ranks of those who email and blog for my demise, I hasten to add that my affection is based on her professional qualities and the generosity which she has shown me during my mediocre attempts to run a morning show.
More than four years ago, I ran into the professor in the hallway of the radio station after she had filled in for one of our weekly hosts. It was my first week on the air and I was in a spiral dive, not doing a very good job of transitioning from free-form night broadcasting to the rigors and discipline of morning drive. So bad was I that I was close to being canned.
During the small talk of saying hello, she mentioned that she taught political science at Iona. I replied that I had been a political science major and that it was my first academic love. I then timidly asked her if she would come on my show and talk about the political issues of the day. I got lucky. She said yes.
Jeanne did not know who I was, and if she did, she would have headed out the door faster than I thought I was. And thus, she became the first permanent member of my ensemble.
For me, she represented a chance to talk about something I knew. What I did not know was that she would make it a joy to come to work on Wednesdays, her slot for the first four years.
From the start Prof. Zaino was smart, funny when called for and held me up like a boxer carrying a weak opponent. As the weeks and months wore on, thanks to her, we developed a comfortable rapport that grew more balanced, but that always ended with her wise and informed analysis. She put up with my adolescent humor and my making fun of her TV appearances, understanding the nature of radio and the need to entertain as well as inform. She worked to make me and the show better.
This woman, Prof. Jeanne Zaino, holds a PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; has served as the chair of the political science department at Iona, most recently as the chair of the honors program, and now has been named the interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. She is also a bona fide presidential scholar.
She has been published in many venues, including the Journal of Politics, and quoted in others such as the New York Post, Journal News and CBS Interactive, and has appeared on too many TV news shows to mention here.
As for New Rochelle, she lives here, works here and sends her kids to school here. How local can you get?
Jeanne Zaino really is that special. It is refreshing to know that some people do get what they deserve.
Congratulations, and thank you, professor.