This is not the ideal time for a woman to appear on the cover of a magazine alongside Tiger Woods, but Clark County planner Melissa Candek seems to be taking it all in stride.
Candek's photo -- with her age, job title and salary -- was featured in Parade magazine's annual "What People Earn" edition, which went out Sunday in more than 510 newspapers, including the Review-Journal.
She shared the cover with 18 other people, though Woods and his $110 million income took top billing.
"I never thought I'd be on the cover," Candek said. "When I first saw it online, I was just glad to see it was a good picture."
The whole thing started about two months ago when she replied to an ad in Parade seeking people willing to discuss their jobs and how much they make.
A few weeks later, the magazine sent her a questionnaire to fill out and send back with four or five pictures of herself. That part made her a little nervous, she said, because she only really liked one or two of the pictures she sent.
The whole thing was conducted by e-mail, including the waiver she had to sign and the back-and-forth with a fact-checker.
Candek said she sent in her application out of professional pride.
"Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was, 'Wow, wouldn't it be cool to see a planner on there,'" she said. "It's always nice to see your profession out there."
Or in this case, way out there.
With a circulation of 32.2 million and an estimated weekly readership of 74 million, Parade ranks as the most widely read magazine in the country.
Candek said it doesn't worry or embarrass her to think of millions of people, including her friends and co-workers, finding out how much money she makes. It's a taboo subject to some people, but not to her.
"Most people I know, they're not going to be surprised to see my salary," she said. "It's really not a big deal."
Unemployment and the recession loom large in this year's edition of "What People Earn." The coverage is peppered with stories of people struggling to find enough hours and others who can't find any work at all.
Even those lucky enough to have steady jobs, Candek included, face the very real threat of layoffs.
Last week, Clark County officials announced they either will have to fire 530 workers or reduce wages by 14 percent to offset a projected budget shortfall of $57 million.
Asked whether she fears for her job, Candek said, "I have no control over that. I think everyone in the county is concerned right now."
The 40-year-old has been working as a rank-and-file planner for Clark County for five years. She earns about $61,000 a year helping people with zoning issues and reviewing development plans for homes and businesses.
She came to Southern Nevada from Tucson, Ariz., where she worked for that city after earning her master's degree in planning from the University of Arizona.
Of the 19 people featured on the cover, Candek is the ninth highest paid, but there is a huge separation between her and the very top of the list.
Among those seriously overshadowing her public-sector salary are Woods; talk-show host Jay Leno, $32 million; Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, $18.7 million; and country star Taylor Swift, $17.2 million.
Since the magazine came out, Candek said a few old friends have contacted her. "I've been glad to hear from some people I hadn't heard from since college," she said.
Beyond that, her moment of national exposure has been little more than a curiosity, albeit one Candek won't soon forget.
"I'll put it in the scrapbook," she said.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350.