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The audiobook community lost two friends recently. Cynthia Cowen, most recently of Random House Audio, passed away in January. Cynthia joined the Random House Audio Group in 1989 as an administrative assistant, and was the Manager of Production and Digital Distribution. She was 79.
Cynthia embraced and delighted in change, emerging as a late-in-life digital expert, and taking on every assignment with aplomb and vigor. In 25 years at Random House her role evolved from administrative assistant, to subrights agent, both domestic and foreign, to digital archivist and distributor. Her corporate title didn’t change often but her workload purview did as the business transformed. Energetic and unshakably good-natured, as her role evolved she’d reply with a smile, “Did you move my cheese again?,” and adapt with an ease and confidence that encouraged collaboration.
When she took on her current job five years ago, her supervisor and longtime colleague Dan Zitt asked how she felt about the change, and she replied “I love working at Random House and I love the people that I get to work with every day. When that changes, I’ll rethink things.” She never did. Often the first in the office each morning, she worked at her desk up until a day before her death.
A graduate of Queens College, Cynthia was a true New Yorker. A frequent patron of the theater, attending the latest openings regularly, as well as museums, shops, and restaurants, Cynthia lived her life in New York to the fullest, while making plenty of time for excursions to New Jersey to visit her children and grandchildren, who were clearly the lights of her life.
Beautiful, graceful, elegant, and intelligent, Cynthia lived life as we all strive to live, full of love and kindness for those around her. She supported each of us, and it wasn’t unusual for her to say “You’re doing a great job” as you passed her in the hallway. A truer self-description was never spoken.
Cynthia would have celebrated her 80th birthday later this year. While it would have been a lovely milestone to celebrate together, we are grateful for the greatness and grace she bestowed upon us in our time together.
Our office anchor, our RH Audio historian, and our beloved friend, the irreplaceable Cynthia Cowen, will be truly missed by us all. — Amanda D’Acierno, Senior Vice President, Publisher Penguin Random House Audio, Fodor’s, and Living Language.
Cynthia seized every single day that I worked with her at Random House. I have never met someone who had more of a tremendous impact on the people around her in the most subtle ways possible. She was one of the most sophisticated, dynamic, and cultured women that I have ever had the chance to work alongside. She will be missed terribly by everyone who ever crossed paths with her here at Random House. Each of us was lucky to have spent even a minute with her. — Dan Zitt, Vice President, Content Production at Random House
In her relatively short time in the audiobook industry, narrator Vanessa Hart also made her mark. Vanessa passed away at her home in California after a short illness. This online tribute speaks to her generosity, pleasure in mentoring new talent, and the great warmth for which she was known.
Both these women will be missed.