We’ve only spoken once, but I would trust Maryam Sanati (BA 1993 Victoria) to babysit my kids, edit the first draft of my novel, keep a big-time secret and offer level-headed advice. She’s friendly, intelligent and confident – like a big sister – and that makes her perfect for her new role as editor-in-chief of Chatelaine magazine.
Sanati, who took over as editor in early March, will don the hat of the Canadian everywoman. She’s due to give birth to her first child in June and is trying to juggle a busy life – a balancing act mirrored by her diverse readership. “I have it pretty easy compared to many women in Canada who struggle with making choices where they have limited options,” she says. “Their stories are the stories I want to tell in the magazine.
Born in Iran, Sanati and her family fled in 1978 just prior to the Islamic Revolution, when she was nine. She remembers her early feelings of “otherness” in Canada and hopes to expand the magazine’s international perspective. “I think we have to connect to stories of other women in other places and explore that cultural understanding,” she says. “Some struggles are the same, and some are entirely different.”
Sanati took the helm just as Chatelaine launched a massive redesign for its 80th anniversary, reconfiguring everything from features to fonts. Sanati, who studied English at Victoria College, knew from a very early age that she wanted to pursue journalism. “My mother had plans for medical school, but my parents were extraordinarily supportive,” she laughs.
Shortly after graduating from U of T, Sanati took on an internship at Toronto Life magazine and worked her way up to an associate editorship. Five years later, she moved on to stints at the nowdefunct Shift magazine and the Globe and Mail before landing at Chatelaine as deputy editor a year and a half ago.
The 38-year-old still has plenty of time to conquer the rest of the publishing world. But for now, she’s happy with the balance she’s striking – including a six-month maternity leave during which she’ll pen a column. “I’ve been telling all of my bosses that I’ll be here forever and ever,” she jokes. “It sounds cliché, but it’s one of the best jobs in journalism.”