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Is Danny Lavery Actually Leaving Dear Prudence?

Since 1997, the Dear Prudence advice column has been advising Slate's readers on every kind of problem in life, and today, it's one of the most popular advice columns anywhere. Its name is inspired by a classic Beatles song of the same name, and multiple authors have served as "Prudence," the column's advice giver. The first was economist Herbert Stein, who wrote the column anonymously and held the post for three months. Next came Margo Howard, daughter of the legendary advice columnist Ann Landers. Howard advised Slate readers until 2006, when she passed the mantle to journalist Emily Yoffe, who wrote the column until 2015. That was the year the current Prudence, Danny M. Lavery, took over.

Before he became Prudence, Lavery was already well-known among Internet circles for co-founding the humor site The Toast along with Nicole Cliffe and Nicolas Pavish, as well as for his book, "Texts from Jane Eyre." Since becoming Prudence, Lavery has been counseling Slate readers multiple times a week in both print and podcast form, advising thousands of people along the way.

But recently, fans of Dear Prudence have been wondering if Lavery is stepping down from his post. Luckily, Lavery has addressed this issue himself, so we know the answer.

Say hello to the new Prudence

Yes, Danny Lavery is officially leaving Dear Prudence. The news broke in mid-April 2021, and Lavery confirmed it himself in the preface to a Dear Prudence live chat on April 19.

We also know who will be replacing Lavery: writer Jenée Desmond-Harris, who was officially announced as the next Prudence on May 17. Desmond-Harris is a journalist and media personality who's served as the features editor at The Root and written for publications like The New York Times and Vox.

It's also fair to wonder how Desmond-Harris might want to evolve the column. Lavery, who is transgender, made a concerted effort to have Dear Prudence better reflect humanity's diversity. Most likely, Desmond-Harris will continue evolving Dear Prudence in a more diverse direction. She already has plenty of experience giving advice that addresses bigotry. At The Root, Desmond-Harris wrote a weekly advice column called Race Manners, which navigated issues like racism, identity, and culture in America.

As for Lavery, his next project will be fulfilling a two-year, $430,000 contract he signed with Substack, a subscription-based newsletter service. Lavery already has a Substack newsletter called The Shatner Chatner, where, among other things, he writes in character as a goose. Slate also announced that Lavery will continue making podcasts for the company.

For Dear Prudence fans, it's a bummer to see Lavery moving on. But with Desmond-Harris on board, the column is definitely in good hands.