Meet a Member: Katherine Keniston

For the past nearly four years, Katherine Keniston has kept track of NFPW members who pass away during the year. She writes tributes to them in the NFPW Agenda, e-letter and for the Memorial Service during the NFPW conference. She does an outstanding job recognizing member accomplishments. She is a dedicated NFPW member who is always willing to lend a hand to help others. I have enjoyed spending time with her at NFPW board meetings and conferences, as well as several pre and post conference trips. She is an accomplished journalist and a unique and unbelievable NFPW member. Meet my friend Katherine Keniston.

Name: Katherine Keniston

Katherine Keniston

Katherine Keniston

City and state: Beaverton, Ore.

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

I’m active in Oregon Press Women and coordinate our monthly breakfast gatherings. In past years, I served as president, vice president and secretary, and chaired our communications contest and 50th anniversary celebration.

On the national level, I’m serving my second term as historian. I’ve also been NFPW public relations director.

Years a member of NFPW: 38

Tell us a little about you.

A foretaste of my communications career came when I was 8 years old. As a fan of Elsie the Cow, I wrote a poem praising Borden’s milk and left it on the porch for our friendly milkman. I was surprised and thrilled when my writing ended up published in a Borden’s newsletter! And, the company sent me a letter offering me an advertising job when I grew up (no, I never followed through).

After earning a B.A. in journalism and humanities from Oregon State University in my native Corvallis, I enjoyed some stimulating jobs as women’s editor at the Corvallis Gazette-Times and editor of a community section at the Fort Collins Coloradoan. I loved doing it all – interviews, writing, editing, photography, layout. My career then turned to health care communications, first at Oregon Health & Science University and then at Providence Health & Services in Oregon, a wonderful employer. During my 32-plus years with Providence, I did everything from producing the monthly medical staff newsletter to working as a senior copy editor to writing human interest stories for the Community Benefits Report.

A wave of layoffs eliminated my marketing and communications position two years ago, but I’m taking my time looking for another job because all this free time is quite a treat! I love to travel and have visited all 50 states. Among my other interests are reading, music, movies, good conversation and the great outdoors. I’m an avid fan of Oregon State University sports (Go Beavers!). With a longtime interest in people from other cultures, I volunteer as an English as a Second Language substitute teacher.

Katherine posing as a downhill skier during a pre-conference tour in Utah.

Katherine posing as a downhill skier during a pre-conference tour in Utah.

Any career advice you would give?

Always stay interested and curious. Learn from colleagues whose work you admire. Help and encourage coworkers who are finding their way. Be flexible. Get involved in a professional organization, of course!

Which talent would you most like to have?

To sing with a perfect French accent while playing the piano. That is, I’d love not only to play that instrument, but also to slip easily into various accents and dialects, a la Meryl Streep.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Right here in Oregon. This is such a beautiful and varied state, and it’s important to me to be near my family. However, I’m sure I could enjoy living for a while in any number of places, whether New England or England.

What book are you reading?

A Path Appears, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It’s about ways we can make a positive difference in the world.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

As an admirer of the “Greatest Generation,” I traveled to Pearl Harbor for the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack and went to Normandy for the 50-year commemoration of D-Day. Being there for these historic occasions was poignant, inspiring and unforgettable. In Normandy, I was touched when a British infantry veteran gave me one of his badges; I wear it on Veterans Day in his honor.


Katherine Keniston, front row center, on a visit to Yellowstone National Park following a spring board meeting in Idaho Falls. Trip participants are from left, Cathy Koon, Barb Micek, Teri Ehresman, Katherine Keniston, Lori Potter and Cynthia Price.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I think back to something I wrote for our affiliate newsletter shortly after trying out snorkeling in Hawaii. An excerpt: “There, just beneath the water’s surface, an exhilarating new world had opened up to me. In a way, it is the same with Oregon Press Women. We test the waters and we discover a surprising new world opening to us. Think of the professional growth and the warm personal relationships you have found…The times you have given and received encouragement, support, a good argument, a good laugh. The ways you’ve felt rewarded…The intriguing out-of-way places you’ve traveled to broaden your knowledge. Think of the wonderful people…and so much more!”

For me, part of that “so much more” has been attending the national conferences, going on the terrific tours to places as wide-reaching as Cape Canaveral and Nome, and making friends from across our country. NFPW has enriched my life immeasurably.

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

Call me slow on the uptake when it comes to social media.

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One Comment on “Meet a Member: Katherine Keniston”

  1. Leslie O'Donnell Says:

    What a neat article on Katherine. I met her when I joined Oregon Press Women in 1986, and have particularly enjoyed spending time with her at national conferences since I moved to New Hampshire in 2004. I was delighted to see her recognized in your column.
    Leslie O’Donnell (at-large member)

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