William Anthony Robert Mackanic was born in Lakewood, NJ in 1967 and still lives in Howell. In middle school, he was asked to be in a film club by his art teacher, in which he started making films at the age of 12. After he won his first film festival, he knew that it was something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. This led him to study fine arts, where he learned about lighting, composition, and color. He’s very proud to say he won "Most Artistic Senor" in high school. Mackanic attended American University in Washington, DC for film production. Then he finished college in Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and received a degree in television production. He had free-lanced in several television networks such as ABC, Fox, and ESPN. After that, he had gotten his first full-time job at Optimum. Right around the time of getting his first job, Bill Mackanic married his wife, Vera Fedoroff, whom he met in college.
"I've interviewed a whole spectrum of people," Mr. Mackanic says. "New Jersey is a great place to live, because you're an hour’s drive from everything that the world has to offer, from the mountains to the seashore to the city."
His television production was nominated for four Emmy awards and won two. This was around the time of 2012, when he wanted to start his own company, called Mackanic Media Production.
– Why and when did you start helping out at Russian School?
– I had become inspector in 2010 because Fr. Valery asked me to volunteer, since there was no one else to do it. Honestly, I didn’t want to do it, because I didn’t want to lose every weekend and Saturday, but when Fr. Valery asks you to do something, you do it.
– What do you like about your job here in Russian School?
– Like I said before, I didn’t really want to do it, but now I love it. I love it because it has taught me these past seven years the joy of doing something for other people. It’s very rewarding and gratifying to do something selflessly, because I’m not just in it for me. I do it to help young people and I really love helping students. It’s a reward for me, because I like to see students grow and graduate as better people.
– Usually, we have various parties during the school year. Would you say you are the main coordinator of Russian School performances?
– That’s interesting, because I would say that’s partly true, but my wife is the main coordinator of the performances. So when it comes to doing that, I’m her right-hand man who talks to people. I’m the people-person, but she’s the one who does the coordinating and organizing. I am more of the communicator, but I love the connection I have with her.
– Do you think that living close to this school contributes to you being so involved?
– Yes, absolutely; ten years ago, we were looking for a house which is now a mile and a half away. We found the house that we are living in now. At the time, when we moved in, I thought it was nice how close we were to church. I hadn’t realized how important that was going to be for my family. We are blessed to live so close to our church and we are fortunate to spend so much time here.
– As we all know, our Russian School works under the auspices of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Do you follow all traditions, being part of this church?
– Sometimes I’m lazy and I have no excuse, but I try my best to follow all the rules of the Church.
– Are you proud of your sons for another hardworking year at Alexander Nevsky Parish School?
– I’m very proud of my sons and the students that come here. This is because it’s not easy to give up every Saturday. I respect these students, who go to American school five days a week and when 95-98% of kids on Saturday are off playing sports or having fun, the Russian School kids come to learn about God. It is the most important thing about Russian School. I respect all of the families, parents, and especially the students for their commitment to learn about Russian Orthodoxy. I'm very proud of all of them, and my sons.
– What dreams do you have for our Russian School?
– My biggest dream for this school is it to grow. All of us – parents and grandparents – who see the school grow every year are encouraged to get more involved. It’s all about bringing more people into our Orthodox family, and I feel that it’s the most worthwhile cause that any of us can get behind. It’s a Sunday school on a Saturday.
If the students in Russian School can learn anything from me, I would be very happy. I’ve learned from Fr. Valery, by the way, that it is very important to be joyful, to be happy. In our age of technology, our enemies want us to feel down and upset, but we can’t let them do that. We must be joyful and happy. I’m no priest or deacon, but I know that God wants all of us to be happy. He doesn’t want anything to stand in our way. If the Russian School kids or families in church can learn that, then I’ll feel like I accomplished something great. Celebrate life and go for everything good that it has to offer.
Interview by Eugenia (Jennifer) Raskoshin