In the dying days of last winter, Alex – who was sifting through applications for our social media strategist position – showed me one that filled her with unbridled excitement.

The cover letter was written extraordinarily well (and believe me, you don’t appreciate quite what a treat that is until you’ve posted a job opening). And the resumé – a decade of non-profit program and funding development; launching a sexual health education project for Montreal youth; promoting human rights in Europe; writing a kick-ass blog – was stellar.

Can I admit now that I was just a little skeptical? It wasn’t until we were well into the hiring process with her that I realized I was right: Channing Rodman wasn’t as good as she looked on paper.

She was much, much better.

We asked her to complete a test assignment as a short-term contract, so we could pay her for her time. I fully expected to have to rewrite everything she turned in – after all, she was completely new to the project and, for that matter, to us. Surprise: we got a well-written, comprehensive document that moved the project forward and earned kudos from our client.

And that’s been the story since we all took a leap of faith, and Channing moved here from Poland to take the position. She’s consistently delighted clients, leapfrogged the learning curve (yes, she’s good enough do drive me to mixed metaphors) and offered insights that send stalled conversations flying in an unexpected, productive new direction.

But more than that, she’s become a good friend. It would be far too much to expect so much talent to come with a warm, engaging personality – not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of geek culture – and she manages to pack that in. Channing’s a big part of what we look forward to every day at Social Signal.

So that means some deeply mixed feelings over the fact that our transition to a new stage in Social Signal’s life comes with the news that Channing will be taking up a truly cool new position at National Public Relations (whose Vancouver office has some pretty great people in their own right… so she should fit in nicely).

For Channing, it’s a chance to combine those social media chops with her innate talent for communication strategy – and for direct, honest conversation – in some very interesting projects. And National, for its part, is gaining both some serious Web 2.0 smarts and a terrific new member for their team.

We’re looking forward to great things from them both. And to Channing, our fond best wishes for a superb new chapter in an already impressive career.