Successful writer and editor Sandy Graham says good writing remains an essential skill

She has worked for several prominent publications during her career as a reporter and editor. She credits NFPW for helping her land a job with the Wall Street Journal. She is an outstanding writer, a talent that helped her transform to an extremely successful grants writing career. She was one of the outstanding affiliate Communicators of Achievement honored at the recent National Federation of Press Women conference. Meet another of our outstanding members, Sandy Graham.
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Sandy Graham and her husband, Blair Johnson, earlier this year.

Name: Sandy Graham
Hometown: Columbine Valley, Colorado (Denver burb)
Affiliate: Colorado Press Women, currently serving as Communicator of Achievement Chair
Years in NFPW:
I joined New Mexico Press Women in the mid 1970’s. My first convention was San Antonio in 1978.
Tell us a little about you:
During the first half of my career, I worked for publications that one colleague recently told me have become known as “legacy media:” Albuquerque Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Rocky Mountain News, Gannett News Service, USA TODAY and USA WEEKEND. The second half, beginning in 1993, revolved around my own writing/editing business and gradually incorporated more electronic and social media. I’ve freelanced for or contracted with a wide range of entities including the National Safety Council, Coors Brewing Co. (managing the employee publication Silver Bulletin), Colorado Biz magazine, National Jewish Health and Good Housekeeping. In that work, I am most proud of helping found and managing Health Elevations, an award-winning quarterly journal of the Colorado Health Foundation, one of the state’s largest and most influential foundations.
When the Great Recession decimated my freelance business, I took a part-time staff job as grants specialist for the Children’s Museum of Denver, raising roughly $2 million in 5 years. I just learned today that one of my last grant applications received $150,000 in funding for the museum’s capital campaign. I retired June 11, 2014.
I’ve been married since 1986 to the wonderful Blair Johnson, also a recovering newspaper reporter who retired a few years ago after a successful public relations career for communications, cable, financial services and environmental organizations. We have two children, Jaime Graham Johnson, a K-8 music teacher, and Reed Murphy Johnson, a sales analyst for an international beverage company, both in the Denver area. Emmy the golden retriever, rounds out the family. I enjoy hiking, bicycling, traveling, yoga, reading and just hangin’ out with Blair. I am chair of our town’s Planning & Zoning Commission, which is almost a full-time job in itself these days since we expect to receive a proposal to develop 105 acres of farmland in the next few months.
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The family at son Reed’s 2012 graduation at Cornell University. They are (left to right) Blair Johnson, Sandy Graham, Jaime Johnson and Reed Johnson.

What career advice would you share:
Regardless of whether one tweets or posts or blogs these days, good writing remains an essential skill. If you can write well, your potential is unlimited. I’m an example: My journalistic skills of knowing how to research a topic, understand my audience and write clearly and concisely for that audience allowed me to transition easily to grant-writing in 2009. Hone your writing skills whatever you do!
What talent would you like to have:
I want to fly like Superman! Or tap-dance …
Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
If I could live anywhere, I might move back to the Land of Enchantment and have a little adobe casita somewhere in northern New Mexico, but I’ll probably stay right here. Colorado is a great place.
What are you currently reading?
For the book club I’ve been in since 1993, I just finished The Goldfinch (marvelous!) and started Stars Go Blue. For me, I’m on Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as the Game of Thrones series.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I got my job at the Wall Street Journal because of NFPW. WSJ reporter Meg Cox, a speaker to NFPW’s Indianapolis convention in 1979, announced the Chicago bureau had a job opening for a reporter and I was the only person from an entire roomful of communicators who applied.
Why is your affiliate important to you?
CPW provides great professional growth opportunities – and great friendships.
Ways to follow you:
I really don’t have a “following” so let’s skip FB, Twitter and all that. FB is just for friends and I’ve never used my Twitter account.
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