Holly Quinn is a Wilmingtonian and Lead Reporter for Technical.ly Delaware. Because of her passion in exploring and highlighting inequities minority business owners face in Wilmington through her 12-part series “Seeking Equity in Wilmington” she is this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE! Read her story below.
“I was born in Wilmington and moved a bit as a child. I spent middle and high school in Wilmington (A.I. du Pont class of ‘89), college in Philly (Temple University’s Tyler School of Art), and have been back in Wilmington for about 25 years. I am currently locked down at home in Little Italy with my husband and college age son, who is taking classes remotely at Wilmington University.
Aside from family ties here, I like living in a small city and a diverse neighborhood (West Side/Little Italy). I loved living in Philly, but it wasn’t until I moved back to Wilmington after several years of struggling to find post-college work that I was able to start my career journey.
When I returned to Wilmington in the late ‘90s, I saw an ad for an office assistant for a small music magazine called Big Shout. I got the job and moved up into the position of Features Editor. It was a small, struggling paper that had recently been sold to an out of state publisher, but it got me in the door. After living in Philly, I was amazed at how different things are in a small pond. After Big Shout, I went on to work for another small music magazine, then leased access TV, and I spent my son’s first few years working at home as a personal assistant for a local businesswoman. When the great recession hit, I worked as a delivery driver for Season’s Pizza for a few years and started doing theater reviews for Delaware Arts Info. At that point, freelance websites were popping up all over the place and I jumped in. I did some contract work with AOL and Huffington Post including a minor staff writing gig. By the time that ended, I had managed to get together enough freelance clients to get by, including the News Journal, who had started contracting me to do theater reviews. Unfortunately that ended in early 2018 when the paper’s arts budget was cut.
One day when I was a volunteer for my son’s robotics team I was interviewed for Technical.ly, which led to me contributing freelance articles for Technical.ly Delaware, which led me in 2017 to the job I have now, lead reporter for Technical.ly Delaware. Although coming back to Wilmington opened the door and led to experience in writing professionally, the main reason I was hired — I’m sure of this — is because I know Wilmington; I live here and it matters to me.
I’m currently involved with the West Side Grows community garden at Rodney Reservoir, and have been active in Red Clay Consolidated School District, and focus on racial equity in Wilmington/Delaware as a reporter. This includes a partnership with Wilmington Alliance called “Seeking Equity in Wilmington”. That series is probably the thing I’m most proud of. When the Seeking Equity report was published and distributed to the City Council, that was my proudest moment as a Wilmingtonian. I sat virtually with a dozen black and brown Wilmington business owners as they opened up about their challenges. The interviews were conducted in the summer of 2020, when the George Floyd protests were at their height, but that wasn’t planned. They were supposed to start in March, but COVID-19 pushed them back. That summer, no one was holding back talking about inequity, and it brought some things into the light.
I am hopeful about upcoming projects like the kitchen incubator at the Grace United Church that will help struggling restaurant entrepreneurs. I really enjoyed and miss Fringe Wilmington. It was a lot of work, and some of the events I volunteered to work had low turnout, but I always imagined that if it had kept going, it would have blown up. Underground Comic Con is another favorite, which I think and hope will return when COVID is under control. I live close to St. Anthony’s church, home of the popular St. Anthony’s Italian Festival. Every year, parking in the neighborhood is notoriously bad, it’s noisy and crowded, but I really missed it last summer.
Delaware has long struggled with sustaining integration and equity in what are considered to be its ‘good’ schools, and a long pattern of demonizing the schools that are integrated. Speaking as a former McKean High School mom, a lot of really impressive public school programming (not least of all Pathways) is often overlooked. Don’t write off our public schools!”