I work at Automattic, a fully distributed tech company. I’m currently a story wrangler at WordPress.com, our flagship product, and a senior editor at Longreads, our National Magazine Award-winning publication.
My Substack is 26 Hours, a very occasional newsletter on (not) writing, time, space, and home.
Browse the Best Of archives on my blog, which has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Verge, and more.
Hi! I’m Cheri. I have a background in blogging and website building, working with K-12 students and teachers, creative nonfiction, journalism, and customer storytelling and education.
There’s a lot to explore here! If you’re pressed for time, consider these examples:
- a feature on undocumented farmworkers in the Coachella Valley (editing)
- an illustrated essay on tea, traveling, and the search for home (editing)
- a Q&A with a food writer on identity cooking and culinary justice (writing)
- a profile on the founder of Daybreaker, a morning dance party (writing)
- a curated showcase of Saveur Blog Award-nominated food blogs (writing)
- a resource and how-to on web accessibility (writing)
Commissioning and editing longform nonfiction.
As a senior editor at Longreads, I commission, edit, and produce original narrative nonfiction — personal and reported essays, illustrated features, investigative features — as well as reading lists, author interviews, and book excerpts. Some writers I’ve worked with have published books based on their Longreads stories or have secured representation, and an essay I edited in 2019 recently won a National Magazine Award. I gravitate toward pieces about unconventional lifestyles, marginalized communities, or fresh takes on a topic. A few examples of pieces I’ve edited and produced:
- Coachella, Underground: a reported feature on how the Latino communities in California’s Coachella Valley have adjusted to a life of fear and uncertainty under the Trump administration
- The God Phone: a reported essay on one of the oldest art installations at Burning Man
- Chasing the Harvest: ‘If You Want to Die, Stay at the Ranch’: an oral history of the challenges and dangers a migrant farmworker faced while tending sheep in California
- California Burning: a personal essay on home, belonging, and the Camp Fire in Paradise, the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history to date
- Baring the Bones of the Lost Country: The Last Paleontologist in Venezuela: a profile on the last vertebrate paleontologist in crisis-ridden Venezuela
- Cut From the Same Cloth: an illustrated essay on mothers and daughters, fashion, and aging and maternal envy
Showcasing authors, artists, and creators.
My role as a story wrangler at WordPress.com is all about inspiring people to create and express themselves, empowering customers to launch their Big Ideas, and sharing important stories and amplifying voices that need to be heard.
I publish interviews with interesting people in the WordPress community: bloggers, authors, artists, publishers, small business owners, and even my colleagues. I love highlighting blog-to-book journeys, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC creators, and writers with unique yet relatable stories. Some examples:
- Draw The Line: Bringing Comic Artists Together to Effect Positive Political Change: an interview with a UK illustrator who founded a comics site that offers practical ways for people to take positive political and social action
- Where Food and History Meet: Michael W. Twitty’s Culinary Journey at Afroculinaria: an interview with The Cooking Gene author on identity cooking, culinary justice, and blogging versus writing a book
- Writer and Activist Sam Dylan Finch on Being Vulnerable, Creating a Supportive Space, and Going Viral: an interview with a trans writer on mental health and blogging
- Raising a Rainbow: An Interview with Author Lori Duron: a Q&A with a parenting blogger who writes about raising a gender-creative son
- Fairy Tales, Reimagined: A New Series from Jerry Mahoney: an interview with the author of Mommy Man about his modern series of fairy tales for children
Brand and customer storytelling.
I’ve featured countless writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals on WordPress.com’s editorial and social channels. I’m drawn to featuring people whose values — like inclusivity and sustainability — align with that of our brand. Here are a few success stories of people who have used their WordPress websites to scale their businesses and effect change in their communities.
- Building a Dream Community: Daybreaker and Its Inclusive Global Dance Floor: a profile of Radha Agrawal, the founder of a morning dance party and wellness movement
- The Power of One: Cleaning Up the Coastline, One Person at a Time, with Barrel Bag: a feature on Tucker Grooms, the 18-year-old founder of a nonprofit that manufactures reusable bags to collect plastic at the beach
- HeyMama: Building a Community of Working Mothers: a feature on a woman-founded membership network for working moms
- Planted Table: A Sustainable Way to Deliver Delicious Vegan Meals: a profile of a zero-waste, vegan meal delivery service founded by two sisters
Community inspiration and product education.
Over the years, I’ve written how-to content, email courses on writing and photography, and resources for different segments of our target audience. Engaging readers and helping people succeed are a core part of my job.
- 10 Ways to Make Your Site More Accessible: a resource published on Global Accessibility Awareness Day with tips on making your website reader-friendly for everyone
- “It’s a Place for Writing and Thinking”: On Blogs and What It Means to Own Your Content: advice from influencers on the benefits of having your own online space
- Make Your Business More Accessible with New Blocks: a quick-start guide to using new features in the WordPress block editor
- How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Site and Extend Your Reach: beginner’s tips on using Instagram to promote your content, direct traffic to your website, and expand your audience
- How to Create a Website Logo: A Tutorial for Non-Designers: a step-by-step guide on making a custom logo, using Canva
At Longreads, I help curate the best longform stories published on the web. At WordPress.com, I’m constantly on the lookout for notable blogs and websites, curating the best of WordPress and sourcing content to create tailored experiences at events, in campaigns, and other marketing projects. You can browse my recommendations over the years or see examples of curated lists compiling this content:
- On Injustice, Inequality, and Being Black in America: A Reading List: reading recommendations to better understand systemic racism in the U.S.
- “Unite & Represent”: Asian American Writers on WordPress: a showcase of Asian American writers to promote the 2019 AAJA convention
- Ways to Participate Online for Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary — and Take Action Every Day: a site showcase of environmental organizations and publications
- What Do the Web’s Top Food Blogs Have in Common? They’re on WordPress.: a roundup of Saveur Blog Award 2019 finalists
- Blogging in the Time of Coronavirus: A Reading List: writing and art published by the WordPress community in response to the pandemic and lockdown
Working with Cheri is a gift. She is an unusual and brilliant combination of an empathetic and incisive editor who always understands how to advance the broader goals of a piece or project, and an eagle-eyed editor with a sharp focus that ensures every detail will be polished. She’s also an exceptional writer who brings deep clarity, honesty, and humanity to everything she touches, be it an intensely personal essay or a press release or a tweet — she writes (and edits) things that people *want* to read.
Michelle W., former Editor-in-Chief at Automattic (2020)
With Cheri Lucas Rowlands, still waters run deep. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cheri for the past eight years. I can guarantee you two things if you are lucky enough to hire her: She will not be the most vocal member of your team, but she will be the most thoughtful. A deep thinker, Cheri brings her writer’s heart and her photographer’s eye for detail to every project she takes on. She. Notices. Everything. “Good enough” is not a part of her vocabulary. Her best effort is what she gives and what you get, every time, no matter how big or small the project. She’s fuelled by creativity and her own initiative. You can give her direction, but I wouldn’t waste your time. She doesn’t need it. Explain the problem that needs to be solved and leave her to it. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she soon will. She’s a superlative writer, editor, and photographer and a fantastic colleague who never turns down a chance to lend a hand or to teach others.
Krista S., Senior Editor at Longreads (2020)
I have had the pleasure of working with Cheri for many years across different diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. I am continually in awe of how Cheri takes a half formed idea and turns it into a compelling piece. She’s been a reliable go-to for brainstorming ideas, editing/refining posts, wrangling a project plan, and generally developing powerful content around diversity initiatives. Simply put, I am better and our work is better when aligned with Cheri’s creative, brilliant mind. She has a knack for finding great content and creating it in turn. Beyond that, she’s a kind and generous coworker who regularly has gone above and beyond to make diversity initiatives truly great. I highly recommend working with Cheri especially if you want someone who has experience working across a wide range of content.
Anne M., Developer Relations Wrangler at Automattic (2020)