May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

IF SPRING IS A TIME OF NEW BEGINNINGS, then we are right in step with the season. With this issue, Lanny Jones, managing editor of PEOPLE since 1989, becomes vice president for strategic planning for Time Inc., the magazine’s parent company. Deputy managing editor Carol Wallace, who has supervised PEOPLE’S day-to-day operations for the past year, succeeds Jones at the helm.

In his new role, Jones, 53, says he will be “looking for significant new publishing opportunities—big ideas that don’t fall within the purview of any one magazine.” It’s a task well suited to an editor who shepherded PEOPLE through a period of record growth and oversaw a switch to color photography, the creation of special issues (50 Most Beautiful People, Selena, Jerry Garcia) and the founding of PEOPLE’S sister publications WHO WEEKLY in Australia, INSTYLE and PEOPLE EN ESPAÑOL. But Jones, who joined PEOPLE in 1974, is proudest of the accolades the magazine has won for its reports on teen pregnancy, AIDS and racism. “When we put our shoulder to a tough project,” he says, “we heighten awareness as few others can.”

Expect nothing less from Wallace, who becomes our fifth managing editor (and second woman; Pat Ryan held the slot from 1982 to 1987). “Carol understands PEOPLE’S special relationship with its readers,” says Jones. “She brings enthusiasm about news and celebrities.” The Chicago native, 47, has been devouring biographies since she was a teen: “I wanted to know how famous people got to where they were—what made them tick.”

After majoring in journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Wallace reported for a Boston weekly for three years, the Rochester [N.Y.] Times-Union for another three, then became a features writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. One memorable assignment: Elvis’s 1977 funeral. “I saw the Beatles perform in 1965 in Chicago,” she says, “so I’m one of the few people who’ve seen the Beatles alive and Elvis dead.”

Wallace, who has done volunteer work in suicide prevention, a women’s prison and the Big Sister program, spent three years as a writer for the New York Daily News. When she arrived at PEOPLE as a senior writer in 1982, she was less than thrilled with her first story—about a cow that, got its head stuck in a barrel. “I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ ” she says. She soon took on the royal beat. “It was better than Dallas—an epic soap opera and a great news story,” she says.

Wallace, whose father, Arthur, 84, is a retired mechanical engineer and whose late mother, Eileen, was a homemaker, has two brothers: Robert, 54, a physician who is director of the University of Iowa Cancer Center, and Larry, 51, a retired oral surgeon.

During her tenure at PEOPLE, broken by a two-year stint as editor of Us, Wallace has focused on original reporting and honing PEOPLE’S ability to evoke emotion. “I want people to feel entertained, inspired, moved.” The magazine, she adds, is “like a best friend. People are happy to see it arrive and sad when they finish it.” Likewise, we are happy to celebrate Carol’s success and sad to see Lanny leaving. We wish both the very best.

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