Meet a Member: Sherrie Simmonds

Posted August 25, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: Alaska, NFPW

Tags: , ,

This year’s NFPW conference is coming together with an outstanding program, thanks in part to conference co-chair Sherrie Simmonds. Sherrie and the rest of the Alaska team have been working hard for months to make this year’s conference a memorable and informative experience. Sherrie is using her leadership and organization skills to help ensure the conference is a success. Take a minute to meet this unique and unbelievable member I am honored to call a friend. 

Name: Sherrie Simmonds

Sherrie Simmonds

Sherrie Simmonds

City and State: Anchorage, Alaska

Affiliate and any leadership positions: I’m currently Alaska Chapter President and co-chair for the 2015 NFPW Conference. Prior to my presidency, I served several years both as affiliate secretary and treasurer.

Years a member of NFPW: 25

Tell us a little about you.

I spent my 20s in Oregon, working as an office manager for a physician. I became the first person in my hometown to become a Certified Medical Assistant. After helping start a local chapter of the American Association of Medical Assistants, I eventually served as Oregon state president just prior to moving to Alaska. When I found it impossible to find a job in the medical field in Anchorage, I was fortunate to begin working for a state agency, Alaska State Housing Authority. After a few years as the administrative assistant to the CEO, Deputy CEO, and two attorneys, they created a new position, Community Relations Coordinator, where I did community outreach and public relations. Later, following a merger with a public corporation, Alaska Housing Finance Corp., I was promoted to Corporate Communications Officer, where I managed the public relations and marketing, which eventually included the intranet and website. I became active in Public Relations Society of America and later served as Alaska chapter president. One of my best decisions was to join Toastmasters in 1989. I was extremely frightened of speaking, but eventually began to love it. It took many years, but I finally earned their highest designation, Distinguished Toastmaster, and I’ve won several state and international speech contests.

Since retiring four years ago, I’ve expanded my Toastmasters’ affiliation to three clubs, began teaching AARP Smart Driver courses, joined an investment club, and now serve as the CEO (Chief Enthusiastic Officer) for the Wild Women on Wine—Alaska Women of the Vine.

My husband Jack and I love to travel. I’ve been to 37 states, 78 countries, and all five continents. I have a step-daughter and four grandchildren in Utah. And here in Alaska, I have an Egyptian Mau cat named Sphera and a very large goldfish named Georg.

Sherrie Simmonds and husband visiting Maccu Pichu Galapagos.

Sherrie Simmonds visiting the Galapagos Islands with husband, Jack.

Any career advice you would give?

My philosophy has always been to “go with the flow,” expect change, and be willing to take on new responsibilities. It may feel uncomfortable at first; but it will push you to continue learning. Take online or night classes. Join Toastmasters. Don’t worry about your job description; never say, “That’s not my job.” Volunteer to help on a project; or, if you have some free time, offer to help a co-worker. If you keep busy, you’ll never be bored, time will pass quickly, and the experience may just help you meet the right person or learn the right skill to get the next promotion or your dream job.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to sing. Growing up and through high school, I was a Girl Scout and would often lead the singing on the bus or around the campfire. I didn’t know I couldn’t carry a tune. It wasn’t until my husband winced a few times that I wondered if singing lessons could possibly help.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

It’s right here in Anchorage, Alaska. I’ve been here 32 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have natural beauty, along with moose, lynx, black bear, and wild hares literally in our backyard. And I love the seasons. Living with warm sunshine all year long would probably be boring.

What book are you reading?

I’m like someone else you interviewed recently, who always has several books going at once. I just finished The Martian. (Wanted to read it before the movie comes out.) For my book clubs, I’m reading In My Brother’s Image: Twin Brothers Separated by Faith After the Holocaust, and John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire: How a Visionary and the Glaciers of Alaska Changed America. I recently started 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List. I love to eat, but not cook—my husband does ALL our cooking. And the final book is Desert Lost: A Lena Jones Mystery. I started the series after hearing the author, Betty Webb, speak at an NFPW conference a couple of years ago. Although they’re fun mysteries, they make a social statement—this one about polygamy.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I used to be pretty good at both hula hooping and limbo. When I was younger—much younger—I won a number of ‘50s Nights contests.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I’ve made such terrific friends, continued to learn from our monthly luncheon speakers, and had the opportunity to successfully compete nationally in the communications contest. I’m very thankful to the person who first invited me to my first meeting and very sorry she passed away a few years ago.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

Twitter: @alaskasherrie, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherriesimmonds; Facebook: Sherrie Simmonds

Meet a Member: Bobbi Gigone

Posted August 18, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: NFPW

Tags: , , , ,

Long-time member Bobbi Gigone is another of our outstanding NFPW members. She has served in a variety of positions on the affiliate and national level, helping to mentor other members. She has always found a way to support the issues and causes she believes in. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member. Meet my friend, Bobbi Gigone.

Name: Barbara Gigone (Bobbi to my NFPW and CPW friends)

BobbieG

Bobbi Gigone

Hometown: Louisville, Colorado

Affiliate and leadership positions:

Colorado Press Women, 55-year member; presently Co-Vice President for Programs (with Marilyn Saltzman); formerly Scholarship Chair and also served as CPW vice president and president.

NFPW, 55-year member (this year!!), served as Regional Director, Contest Chair, Treasurer, Education Fund Board (serving as board chair at one time.)

Tell us a little about you:

I grew up in northern Illinois and thought I’d like to follow in Margurite Higgen’s footsteps as a foreign correspondent. No one in my family had attended college but I received a scholarship to Monmouth College and ended up co-editor of the student paper as a sophomore. This prompted me to drop out for a year to earn enough to come west to journalism school at the University of Colorado. My job that year was editing a newsletter (and learning to carry a big Speed Graphic camera on my shoulder) at the Naval Supply Depot at Great Lakes Naval Training Station. This ended up helping me obtain my first job out of college as reporter-photographer at the Boulder Daily Camera. (The other reason was likely because I could substitute for the women’s editor when needed!)

My job offered just about everything I had dreamed about on a daily including the assignment covering the Mother of astronaut Scott Carpenter when he made his space flight, meeting Senator John Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and lots of old silver and gold miners with wonderful stories. But not one foreign correspondent assignment.

I did, however, meet my life partner (also coming up on 55 years), and when I was expecting our first child, I was also expected to leave the Camera news room (those were the days that really surprise young women I meet). I could freelance, however, and left the Camera for good when my son was 9-months old and the Denver Post asked me to be their Boulder correspondent—relaying stories by phone for Post reporters to type out. Our second son was born a year later, and the Post called (I was still in the hospital) and asked that I go fulltime. That one was turned down and I began an 8-year association with a weekly newspaper in Boulder, freelance, then news editor.

Bobbi Gigone

Bobbi Gigone

In 1976 I accepted a position as the first public information officer for Boulder County. This grew with the years, founding an employee newsletter, guides to media relations, a TV program, and then adding work with the Criminal Justice System, Community Corrections, and finally, 15 years as director of the County Community Services Department.

I retired in 2002 and after living west of Boulder in Four Mile Canyon for nearly 44 years, we remodeled a 1904 home in Louisville, just a few miles east of Boulder.

I still love to travel and have led tours and published travel newsletters with friends in two small endeavors called News Systems and Travel Systems.

For more than 50 years, my husband and I have hosted international students attending the University of Colorado. Many of them are still an important part of our lives, along with our two sons, their wives, and our two grandsons.   Since retiring, I have been volunteering with the Louisville History Museum and the Boulder Carnegie Library doing oral history interviews.

Any career advice you would give?

I found copies of some presentations I made in Montana and South Dakota when serving as regional NFPW director. I talked about the mentors, including an aunt, women I met in Boulder, college professors, and especially, members of CPW and NFPW, who meant so much to me in my early career. I also stressed attending conferences and entering contests—as well as being involved in your community—as necessary for growth and for new experiences. I believe this still holds true and we need to encourage young women to stay involved and find their own mentors.

What talent would you like to have?

Every time I travel, or meet new international students and their families, I wish I were proficient in other languages.

If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

I still love Colorado and the western mountains but wish the front range hadn’t gotten so crowded. My early dreams of living in the west haven’t diminished.

What are you currently reading?

I prefer non-fiction and just finished Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lousitania by Eric Larson and Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I originally got my “nick-name” of Bobbi because there were three “Barbara’s” in a co-op house where I lived at CU.

Why are NFPW and your affiliate important to you?

I still look to CPW and NFPW for education, friendship and involvement in issues that are important to me.

Way to follow you on Facebook, etc.

I am on Facebook and keep up with NFPW and CPW sites, and on email way too many hours in the day!

Meet a Member: Joan Leotta

Posted August 11, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: NFPW, North Carolina

Tags: , , , ,

National Federation of Press Women loves new members. One of our newest members is Joan Leotta of North Carolina. She is an award winning journalist , short story and book author. I have enjoyed getting to know her better. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member. Meet my new friend Joan Leotta.

Name:  Joan Leotta

Joan L

Joan Leotta

City and State: Calabash, North Carolina

Affiliate and any leadership positions: North Carolina Press Club. I tried to join Media Women of South Carolina as well, but was not successful in hitting the right buttons on the online form.

Years a member of NFPW: Only one—I cannot believe that for the 30 years I worked as a journalist (freelance) I thought you had to be on staff of a paper to join presswomen.

Tell us a little about you

Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood. In addition to her work as an award-winning journalist, short story writer, author, poet and essayist, Joan performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She currently has two folklore shows on Strong Women, (one folk stories and one using real women), and three one-woman historic figure shows, one featuring the spy Belle Boyd, another featuring a colonial woman who meets George Washington, and a third called a Time to Heal that depicts a Civil War Nurse. To have her speak on writing or perform for your group, contact her at joanleotta@gmail.com.

As a journalist, she has written for the Washington Post, has had columns in other Washington D.C. area papers and currently writes regularly for the Myrtle Beach Sun News. Joan has poems, short stories and essays current or forthcoming in the Knox Literary Magazine, and Eastern Iowa Review and Silver Birch Review. She has been published by Chicken Soup for the Soul and in several other anthologies including the Fish or Cut Bait 2015 Sisters in Crime Guppies anthology.

JoanLSecretsoftheHeartCoverArtHer four books of historical fiction (Legacy of Honor series), including the most recent Secrets of the Heart, are available from Desert Breeze Publishing and on Amazon.com along with her newly released collection of short stories, Simply a Smile, (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joan+leotta&sprefix=joan+leotta%2Caps%2C366). Her first picture book, Whoosh! (about a father and young daughter’s day out sledding) can be pre-ordered from TheaQ.com and will be released August 2015.After a lifetime in snowier climes, Joan now lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies and memories.

Any career advice you would give? Persistence and honesty.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Music!!! Singing, playing an instrument.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I am happy here – where is not as important to me as with whom. But if our daughter could be close, I would not mind a perch on the Amalfi coast drive.

JoanLwhoosh_cover_2500What book are you reading?

Just finished the Nightingale and am about to start Circling the Sun.

Also reading slowly a bio of Michelangelo that interprets his life through his great works.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am really shy.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

It has opened me up to new resources and new ways to share with others as I learn more about the organization.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

You can learn more at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973

My twitter handle is beachfan12  but I hardly ever tweet.

Meet a Member: Gwen Woolf

Posted August 4, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: NFPW, Virginia

Tags: , , , ,

Where do you begin to describe Gwen Woolf? If you want a task done professionally and right the first time, just ask Gwen to do it. I witnessed the professional and organized way she lead the NFPW communications contest for several years. That was a big job and she made the effort look easy. The past two years she has professionally handled the NFPW High School Communications Contest. I am amazed at her organization skills and how she can professionally handle everything she says she will do. On top of that, she is a great person, a talented writer and fun to be around. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member. I am glad I can call her a friend.

 

Gwen Woolf

Gwen Woolf

Name: Gwen Renea Woolf

City and State: Spotsylvania, Va.

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Virginia Press Women president 2008-10. I served on the board for years in a variety of positions, including communications contest director for four years; first and second vice presidents (membership, newsletter); district director; and conference director.  I’ve received the affiliate’s Distinguished Service Award and Communicator of Achievement Award. Thanks to Cynthia Price’s encouragement I’ve gone on to serve as NFPW’s communications contest director and high school contest director.

Years a member of NFPW: 43 years

Tell us a little about you.

Professionally, I’ve loved newspaper work since being co-editor of my high school paper. I was fortunate to be hired at The Free Lance-Star, the daily newspaper in Fredericksburg, Va., right out of high school. I spent my entire 42-year career there—as a reporter, copy editor, wire editor, special section editor and weekly magazine editor. (I was happy and challenged there, so why leave?)  I earned my B.A. degree in American Studies through 12 years of part-time classes at Mary Washington College while working full time.  I’ve received more than 75 state and national journalism awards. Since my retirement in 2010, I’m enjoying a new career of freelance arts and travel writing for such publications as Recreation News, The Virginia Sportsman, Boating Times, Chesapeake Bay, Civil War News, and a couple others.

Personally, I was a Marine brat, living in various states while growing up. I’ve been married for 42 years to Lee Woolf, who was hired at The Free Lance-Star as a sports reporter five years after I started working there.  My maiden name also was Woolf, so I’m actually Gwen Woolf Woolf! We worked together at the paper for decades until our retirements. We have traveled to such places as Africa, Australia, Scandinavia, the British Isles and France, and there are many more places on our bucket list. We chose not to have children, but have doted on our dogs and cats.  Two of my passions are staying in hotels (the bigger, more historic and more luxurious the better, but I’m fascinated by all of them) and animals (I adore all kinds of animals, am a longtime vegetarian, and a member of PETA—I feel strongly against exploiting animals in any way.)

Gwen Woolf

Gwen Woolf

Any career advice you would give? Follow your curiosity. Constantly look for ways to improve your work. Never lose your enthusiasm, determination or sense of humor. Work hard, but take time to enjoy the “little moments” with co-workers, for it will be those memories you cherish the most when you’re retired.

Which talent would you most like to have?  Interior decorator.  I have my own tastes (bright colors, wicker furniture, Oriental decorative items); I like rearranging my furniture (to my husband’s chagrin); and I enjoy home tours and watching HGTV, but it would be difficult to envision how to decorate someone else’s home from scratch.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Los Angeles, Calif. I love the warm weather, the entertainment business and all that Hollywood glamour. I’d love to have a first-hand view of “red carpet” events.

What book are you reading?  “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?”  Enough said.

Gwen Woolf, left, with other NPFW members at the National Atomic Testing Museum this spring following a board meeting.

Gwen Woolf, left, with other NPFW members at the National Atomic Testing Museum this spring following a board meeting.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I’ve been a diehard fan of “General Hospital” since the early 1980s, when the love story of Luke and Laura was big. Tony Geary (Luke) recently retired and left the show, but I’ll continue to tune in, especially for my favorite character, Sonny Corinthos—the handsome mobster with the heart of gold.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you? Great friendships, and a sense of belonging to another “family.” The opportunity to grow professionally through conferences and holding leadership positions; to receive recognition through awards; and to travel to places I might not otherwise have seen. The chance to “give back” to the profession and organizations that have given me so much.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.:

Facebook, LinkedIn.  I’m not big on technology, but am gradually “plugging in.”

Meet a Member: Karen Rowley

Posted July 28, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: Louisiana, NFPW

Tags: , , ,

Karen Rowley is dedicated NFPW member who enjoys working behind the scenes to make things happen. She did an excellent job managing the NFPW high school communications contest for several years and is completing a two-year term as NFPW protocol director. She is always willing to step up and help when someone needs help. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member I am honored to call a friend.

Karen Rowley at the 2014 NCAA Final Four tournament in Arlington, Texas

Karen Rowley at the 2014 NCAA Final Four tournament in Arlington, Texas

Name: Karen Rowley

City and State: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Louisiana Press Women; president, treasurer, state contest director. Current NFPW protocol director and former NFPW high school contest director.

Years a member of NFPW: 14

Tell us a little about you.

I’m the oldest of six children – four of whom were born in upstate New York, which is where my parents were born and raised. We likely would have stayed in New York if my father hadn’t been drafted by the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and sent to Montgomery, Alabama, for two years. That small taste of the South was enough to make my mother decide she was tired of the snow and the cold and stuffing small children into snowsuits. We ultimately ended up in Macon, Georgia, where my father set up his medical practice.

I graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and spent the next 20 years working for newspapers in North Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. When I got tired of the grind, I went back to school at Louisiana State University and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in media and public affairs. That let me shift gears a little and go to work as a researcher for a nonprofit, non-partisan public policy group. Now I work for the state of Louisiana in the same capacity at the Legislative Auditor’s Office.

I’ve never lost my love for journalism, though, and I’ve been able to keep a hand in by teaching at LSU’s school of mass communication and by doing some freelance writing and editing.

Any career advice you would give? 

Never turn down a chance to learn a new skill – you never know when it might come in handy.

Which talent would you most like to have? 

I’d like to be able to draw and paint. I have a lot of admiration for people who can do that.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  

I’d divide my time. I’d spend summers and early fall in the Central New York/Finger Lakes region, and winters and spring along the Gulf Coast.

An avid reader, Karen Rowley shows the books she is currently reading.

An avid reader, Karen Rowley shows the books she is currently reading.

What book are you reading?

I’m actually reading three books right now. It’s a bad habit I learned from my father, who was a voracious reader. He was always reading several books at once. I’m reading “Turning Angel” by Greg Iles, which is the second in his series about a native son of Natchez, Mississippi, who returns home and finds himself involved in solving various crimes; “A History of the World in 12 Maps” by Jerry Brotton; and “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I played the violin – badly – as a child. I don’t play anymore, but I still appreciate the beauty of the music. And at the other end of the spectrum, I’m a big college basketball fan. That comes from four years at UNC, where basketball rules, and from the opportunity to attend several NCAA Final Four tournaments. The last one I went to was in 2014 in Arlington, Texas.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?  

They give me hope for the future of journalism; they keep me attuned to how the industry is changing; and they provide a built-in support network.

Way to follow you on a website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.:  

I’m on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @KRowley2012.

Meet a Member: Katie Freseman

Posted July 21, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: NFPW, South Carolina

Tags: , , , , ,

One of the many outstanding presenters at the NFPW conference last fall in South Carolina was Katie Freseman. She is a social media expert and shared digital marketing tips with others during the conference. She is also a past graphic designer for the NFPW Agenda publication. This talented woman continues to excel in all she does. She just added “super Mom” to her talents, with the birth of her darling daughter earlier this year. Meet another unique and unbelievable NFPW member, Katie Freseman.

Katie Freseman

Katie Freseman

Name: Katie Freseman

City and State: Greer, SC

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Media Women of South Carolina

Years a member of NFPW: 10 years

Tell us a little about you.

I graduated from North Carolina State University in 2005 and have over 10 years of experience in the communication field. Although I love all aspects of the communication field, I have a passion for digital marketing.

As the first public relations director of The Charles Lea Center (2006 – 2008), I was able to build a department for a large agency from the ground up, including a social media presence. One of my greatest accomplishments at the Center was the implementation of a second brand geared toward businesses for the Center’s adult workforce. The Workability brand and related collateral was developed to present businesses with a viable option for their outsourcing and hiring needs.

As the first communications director at the Spartanburg Humane Society, SHS, (2008 – 2013), one of my many achievements was implementing a digital media presence. I implemented a social media strategy and began utilizing Facebook, Twitter and e-marketing to reach the shelter’s target audiences:  supporters, donors, volunteers, clients, adopters and even humane education participants. While I was there, the digital marketing presence grew to include thousands of followers with monthly engagement reaching over 100,000 impressions and monthly digital marketing fundraising efforts raising hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

As a member of the University Communications staff at the University of South Carolina Upstate, I work with a team of individuals to manage the University’s web and social media presence. I manage a 75 member team of website content contributors and dozens of social media accounts on a wide variety of channels across the campus.

Outside of work I volunteer my time creating the digital newsletter for Lowcountry Lab Rescue and also recently completed a social media campaign for the Spartanburg Area Conservancy that doubled their Facebook likes while also raising their post reach and overall engagement to their highest levels since the page’s inception. I enjoy spending time with my newborn daughter, husband and two labs.

Any career advice you would give?

I think having good boundaries is especially important for success both professionally and personally. I find myself to be much more effective and successful when I have taken time for myself. Taking time out for lunch or a short afternoon walk around our campus helps me to refocus and reengage myself.

Katie Freseman with newborn daughter Stella Elise.

Katie Freseman with newborn daughter Stella Elise.

Which talent would you most like to have?

As a new mom, I find myself sleep deprived more often than not. If there was a way that I could survive on less sleep and still run at 100%, I would sign up for that in a heartbeat!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I have been fortunate enough to visit many places that I would love to live if money were no object. At the top of my list is Hawaii. Colorado is a close second. I love spending time outside hiking and running.

What book are you reading?

Working full time and being a full time parent does not leave a lot of time for reading. However, on my current list of books to read is the latest Janet Evonovich book in the Stephanie Plum series as well as Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Although I have lived in the south my entire life, I thoroughly enjoy skiing. My husband and I make it a point to go skiing every year. We prefer to ski the Rocky Mountains but enjoy a trip to the Appalachian Mountains, too.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

MWSC has provided me with the opportunity to meet many talented women (and a couple of men, too) in my field.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

Because I spend so much of my time on social media for work, I tend to be a bit of a lurker on social media. www.facebook.com/katiefreseman www.twitter.com/kfreseman

Meet a Member: Marlene Cook

Posted July 14, 2015 by tlehre
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

A long-time friend I always look forward to seeing at NFPW conferences is Marlene Cook. She excels in everything she does and makes each activity a fun event. I remember the passion and fun she brought to the conference tours when the NFPW conference was in Illinois. She has a passion for NFPW and easily forms a friendship with everyone she meets. Meet another unique and unbelievable woman I am honored to call a friend.

Name: Marlene Cook

Marlene Cook, back, with her roommate for NFPW conferences, Cindy Cruz.

Marlene Cook, left, with her roommate for NFPW conferences, Cindy Cruz.

City and State: Lansing, IL

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

Illinois Womans Press Association   I held every office except treasurer. Was president two terms, 1985-1989 – Director of the 1985 “convention” in Chicago – president of POPPS for several years –NFPW & IWPA historian.

Years a member of NFPW:     42

Tell us a little about you.

I was a late bloomer but at 81 I’m still blossoming. A high school teacher told me two weeks before graduating that I wouldn’t be graduating because I didn’t have enough credits. I proved her wrong and in her anger she told me I’d never amount to anything. “Barefoot and pregnant is what you’ll be.” I graduated in 1952, married in ’53, had babies in ’54, ’55, ‘57, ’60 and ’64. I was 30 years old by this time and her words began haunting me. I said, ”Oh no Miss Lundquist, you are NOT winning this one.”

I had been supplying a friend with copy for a “gossip” column she wrote for the local newspaper. I was heavily involved with my children’s actives, school and church, so I knew a lot of people. When she was moving, she recommended I take over her column. I said, ”I’m not a writer!” She said, “Well, you’ve been writing my column for the past year.” The editor asked if I had a typewriter. I said, “Yes sir.” He didn’t ask if I knew how to type. I got the job and six months later I was called into his office. I thought I was getting a pink slip, but instead he offered me fulltime work. I learned newspaper style by comparing every single word the proofreaders had corrected.

I continued to write the column and went on to cover entertainment, review shows, concerts, theater, restaurants and travel writing. I interviewed celebrities, met presidents and first ladies and was rubbing elbows with some pretty important folks. I wrote two books and wrote for various publications. I‘ve consistently won awards and received many special honors. I screamed, “Hey, Miss Lundquist, look at me now. I am something.”

Although I have macular degeneration and get monthly shots into my eye, I continue to freelance and write a monthly eight-page newsletter for our church and another for my high school Class of 1952.

Any career advice you would give?    

Don’t be afraid to go where you haven’t gone before. Explore new places, meet new people, and learn new things. But do your homework before you venture out. That makes you look smarter.

Marlene Cook, back row second from right, with NFPW friends at a NFPW conference tour.

Marlene Cook, back row second from right, with NFPW peeps at a NFPW conference tour.

Which talent would you most like to have?      

I think I’d have enjoyed being an actress. I like to talk (just ask anyone).

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Anywhere that I wouldn’t have to deal with ice and snow and the cold and where I could spend time with family and friends.

What book are you reading?  

I just finished reading “The Book of Joan” about Joan Rivers by her daughter Melissa Rivers and Marlo Thomas’ book, “It Ain’t Over…Till it’s over.” Guess I’m still stargazing.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?  

I was very quiet and extremely shy until I reached 30 and discovered I wasn’t having any fun. I went back to school and there was no stopping me.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?  

IWPA and NFPW accepted me when I was still a ‘wannabe” writer. They treated me like a professional and I learned from each one of the women who were much smarter than I was. The friendships I have cherished through the past 42 years have been my lifeline. They are the ones who made me a somebody. In May, IWPA presented me with a lifetime membership during our awards banquet.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

I am on Facebook and follow IWPA and NFPW sites.


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