Tess Koman ’13 majored in English and minored in Chinese at Union College. Today, she is senior editor at Delish.com, where she manages the news and features flow of the website. In addition to writing about food, editing food articles and commissioning larger food-related reporting projects, she is also the host of “Iconic Eats.” It’s Hearst’s all-time most successful show helmed by an in-house editor (find it on YouTube, Snapchat, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook and IGTV). In 2019, Tess was selected for Hearst’s first-ever Women’s Leadership Alliance, a committee aimed at improving women’s experiences at the company and putting more women in leadership roles. Before Delish, she worked at Cosmpolitan.com, where she was an associate editor and then a news editor. In 2018, she published her first book, The Best Damn Answers to Life’s Hardest Questions. It sold 25,000 copies and was re-printed four months after publication. Tess is married to Michael Dolinger ’10 and is active in chronic illness communities, particularly with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. She profiled women with invisible illnesses for years at Cosmopolitan and recently wrote about her own experience with Crohn’s Disease during the pandemic for ELLE magazine.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
Anyone in media will tell you the biggest challenge of their career is the ever-changing landscape and constant uncertainty that comes with it. Those are both certainly ever-present obstacles, but I’ve always struggled with defining what it is that makes my job relevant. It took me a minute to realize that creating content that evokes emotion (whether it’s joy, curiosity or something less pleasant) is a huge part of people’s lives and something they’re constantly after. Once I realized entertainment is a crucial part of that, it got a lot easier to learn how to produce. As far as what’s most rewarding? I love to hear from people about what I’ve worked hard to put out, whether it made them laugh, learn or just forget about whatever else is going on for a few minutes – especially in a time as taxing as this one.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
My biggest professional inspiration has always been Kate White ’72, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan. While I was in school, I used to write her letters, mostly asking for internships, but also admiring her ability to speak to her readers in a way that was both inspirational and not at all condescending. She’s also an author a million times over and I would love to be the same one day. Otherwise, my husband, Michael, is a pediatric GI fellow at Mt. Sinai in New York City. He’s been right on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic and he’s always worked wildly hard to achieve his goals outside of the regular trajectory most follow in his role. I look to him to push me to work harder and be more creative, always!
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
I would tell any current female or female-identifying student to be constantly asking questions of the people around you. And to push back when those answers aren’t satisfactory.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
I always point to running the Concordiensis my junior and senior years as the most formative Union experience I could have had. It taught me how to manage, prioritize, report and have a sense of humor. Otherwise, speaking at Baccalaureate about having pooped myself – on line at Dutch at the height of brunch rush on a Sunday morning – is something people tell me I talked about as formative my first few years post-grad. (This is all entirely true, related to my experience with Crohn’s Disease, and another thing you can find on YouTube.)