SWM’s founding editor Farah Jadran reflects on the gift of giving back.
By Sarah Tietje-Mietz, Photos by Alice G. Patterson
More accustomed to breaking news and asking the questions, finding herself the subject of a story took journalist and anchor Farah Jadran out of her comfort zone. While others might react with trepidation to this role-reversal, Jadran responded with such openness and with such emotional vulnerability that the sincere and joyful person shone through. Jadran is someone who’s heart is filled to the brim with gratitude, with determination, and with love. Unselfishly, she pours her heart – and her talents – into her community.
“I want to make sure that people know there are community members out there ready to support them and ready to help,” Jadran said. “That’s a gift to be able to do that. When I tell people it’s a privilege to be a news anchor or a news reporter, it really is, because we’re sharing stories for people who may not have a voice or who don’t know how to get their voice and their message out there.”
A decade ago – which both feels a lifetime and a moment to her – Jadran was approached by David Tyler, publisher of Eagle News publications about coming in as editor for a new publication. At the time, Jadran was working as a copy editor at the Cortland Standard, but had worked with Eagle News as an editor after graduating from SU. The idea Tyler presented was for a magazine focused on the meaningful work being done by the women of the Syracuse region, and Jadran immediately jumped on board.
“I remember in graduate school, when everyone was saying they wanted to work at Vogue, or Vanity Fair, or GQ, I raised my hand in my magazine editing class, and was like, it’d be really cool to be a part of a local or regional women’s magazine,” said Jadran. “Because then people who are on the cover or in the stories – people know them. Women that they’re like, ‘hey, she lives on my street,’ or ‘I go to her business,’ or ‘I’ve seen her do this!’ It’d be so neat to have a local women’s magazine celebrating what women are achieving.”
In January 2011, with Jadran on as editor, Syracuse Woman Magazine hit the newsstands. For Jadran, this was the start of a journey – a dream made reality – and she was helping it grow with each monthly edition. She met with leaders at the Women Business Opportunities Connection (WBOC,) the WISE Women’s Business Center, and local entrepreneurs. She brought in expert voices from healthcare, wellness, sports and fitness, and highlighted important community resources like Ophelia’s Place, Hope for Heather Ovarian Cancer Awareness, and Vera House. She gave readers faces and voices to connect with in these organizations. Miss America Nina Davuluri, Pastabilities owner Karyn Korteling, SU alumna and supermodel Emme Aronson, Beth Baldwin, Aminy Audi and Carolyn Audi, to name a few, all had their stories told by Jadran.
She maintained her post as full-time editor of Syracuse Woman Magazine until July of 2014, making the difficult decision to move on work in the world of broadcast journalism at Time Warner Cable News (now Spectrum News). Leaving Syracuse Woman Magazine was like leaving a part of her identity, reflects Jadran. She strived to establish it as a meaningful local publication, and in turn, it had helped propel her further in her career in the mighty Salt City.
Raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, a city much larger and with winters to rival our own, Jadran moved to Syracuse to pursue her master’s degree. Since then, she has found more meaningful friendships, more opportunities for mentorship, more rewarding career opportunities, and more love than she realized could exist in a small city like Syracuse. She met, fell in love with, and married her soulmate here. She accomplished her dream of becoming a television news anchor here. She created a life filled with dreams come true, all here in Syracuse.
So how did a print journalist – someone who pursued writing in both her undergraduate and graduate education – move from writing new for the page to reporting it on air? Turns out, it was Jadran’s plan all along. As a child watching the local Chicago news, she saw her future; someone who brought viewers their news every day. Her colored markers became microphones and her family her interview subjects; breaking news came from her father while he shaved in the mornings. Her mother gave gifts of microphones and recorders, encouraging the budding reporter in her daughter.
Jadran had no reservations for speaking in front of crowds and did not shy away from being on camera, but she knew to be the news anchor she aspired to be she would need to become a great writer. She worked her writing muscles in undergrad at Colorado State University at Pueblo, earning her bachelor’s in mass communications and news editorial and minoring in creative writing. At the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, she earned her master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism. As her peers at Newhouse learned of her goal to deliver the news on camera, she encountered questions and criticism for her choice of degree.
“I probably heard that once or twice a week that I was wasting my time, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was in the wrong program, I was never going to be a TV broadcaster. But I just knew that if I wanted to do it, I could do it,” said Jadran. “I just wanted to be a good journalist at the heart of everything. I consider myself not lucky, but blessed, because I’ve always kept the faith in myself.”
Now the weekday anchor for CNY Central’s CBS 5 This Morning and CBS 5 at Noon, it was not just faith in herself that drove Jadran but the unfaltering support from her family. She grew up as part of a close-knit family of five, and speaking of them Jadran’s eyes well up, the love she feels for them overwhelming her. Her parents – “Papa” who grew up in Afghanistan and “Mama” from Mexico – were the loves of each other’s lives. Mama is Jadran’s rock, and though distance and the pandemic separate them, the two speak multiple times a day. Her father, a hero in Jadran eyes, was a machine operator who could fix anything. He passed away four years ago, and the grief from this loss is still fresh for Jadran. She holds his memory dear, recalling his love and selflessness for her family and for others. If there was someone in need, if a family was struggling, he would find a way to help.
“He would come home and my mom and him would come up with ways to help them, whether it was buying some groceries for them, or if we had a piece of furniture we could give them, ” Jadran said. “If you can’t help someone with money or food or a tangible object, like, you know, what is it that you can do? There’s always something you can do.”
This selfless spirit was deeply instilled in Jadran, and she perpetuates this legacy of giving back to her community. Three local non-profits – Helping Hounds Dog Rescue, Vera House, and Hope for Heather Ovarian Cancer Awareness of CNY – receive much of her benevolent focus, as each holds a special place in Jadran’s heart.
When Jadran and her husband Niko Tamurian, sports director at CNY Central, began dating, he took her to Helping Hounds Dog Rescue. Having done volunteer work with them before, Tamurian knew Jadran was a lover of animals and brought her there to help walk the dogs. For her, it was such a meaningful experience to share with him, and the two continue volunteering with and promoting the organization. They bring this love for the organization home, with two of their three dogs – Bear and Bogey – coming to them through Helping Hounds.
With the mission of preventing, responding to and partnering to end domestic and sexual violence and other forms of abuse, Vera House has many times been the subject of Jadran’s reporting. Understanding what an important resource it is to those experiencing abuse drove Jadran to make them an ally of Syracuse Woman Magazine. Personally, she wanted to ensure the resources they offered the community were known and celebrated in the community. An abuse survivor herself, Jadran wishes she had known about Vera House during her own experience, and takes promoting their mission to heart. In 2019, she was elected to and served as president of Vera House’s board of directors and continues to advance their work through her media channels.
When Jadran first approached Hope for Heather’s founder Frieda Weeks, it was to help share their mission through Syracuse Woman Magazine. The two connected on a personal level immediately, and a friendship quickly developed. Weeks’ daughter, Heather, a professional dancer, had lost her battle with ovarian cancer at the age of 23, and Weeks and her husband established the organization to perpetuate their daughter’s work in raising ovarian cancer awareness. Jadran felt a meaningful connection with Heather’s story, with her own history with dancing and battling cancer. Since meeting Weeks, Jadran has become a spokesperson for Hope for Heather and uses her visibility in the media to promote their work and their daughter’s legacy.
“Farah has helped Hope for Heather in so many ways. She has given her voice to the cause and helped us to share the importance of ovarian cancer awareness and education,” said Weeks. “Farah shows empathy and such compassion for our survivors. Because of Farah, lives are being saved in our community – what a precious gift.”
It seems this desire to give of herself is compulsory for Jadran, and that spreading compassion and charitableness fuels her. Her social media feeds are filled with messages of positivity and inspiring stories. Though she is no longer the editor at Syracuse Woman Magazine, she contributes a regular column, “Kindness Counts.” where she focuses on spreading love and kindness through the community through simple acts. When the pandemic hit full swing she began sharing her personal affirmations of gratitude on her social media, reminding herself, and her followers, to take stock of the gifts in their lives. For Jadran, there have been so many blessings in her life so far, and there is not a moment that she is not thankful for each day.
“It’s been really a rewarding journey. When I look back at it, I just smile with so much gratitude, because I wanted all of these things,” said Jadran. “But they did start as dreams. You know, when you live your dream, it feels so special.”