Meet a Member: Kay Stephens

One of the advantages of NFPW conferences are the pre- and post- conference tours to learn more about the region. That is where you can get to know members better, while enjoying great scenery. I enjoyed spending time with Kay Stephens on the post conference tours to Yellowstone National Park/Jackson, Wyoming in 2008 and again in southern Utah in 2013. She has been a wonderful and supportive NFPW board member, willing to help any way she can, and is working to help organize a future NFPW conference in Pennsylvania. Meet my friend and another unique and unbelievable member, Kay Stephens.

Kay Stephens, right, accepting several contest awards from me at the 2014 conference in South Carolina. Photo by Lori Potter.

Kay Stephens, right, accepting several contest awards from me at the 2014 conference in South Carolina. Photo by Lori Potter.

Name: Kay Stephens

City and State: Altoona, Pa.

Affiliate and leadership positions: Pennsylvania Press Club, current treasurer and contest director; NFPW assistant archivist

Tell us a little about you:

I am longtime newspaper reporter who writes news and feature stories mostly about to county and municipal governments and their impact on our lives. But at my newspaper with a daily circulation of about 28,000, we reporters are expected to be able to handle everything else too. Outside work, I am a Big Sister in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, a bass bell ringer for my church bell choir and the caretaker of two beautiful Tomcats, Tigger and Patton.

Any career advice you would give?

Make yourself as smart as you can be about the issues you write about. You’ll ask better question of your sources and you’ll write with knowledge.

Kay Stephens on the zipline on a pre-conference tour during the NFPW Conference in South Carolina.

Kay Stephens on the zipline on a pre-conference tour for the NFPW Conference in South Carolina. Lori Potter photo.

What talent would you most like to have?

The ability to designate a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. My inability to keep a neat desk at work is evidence of this longtime failure.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be:

I’m not sure, but it would definitely be a place where I feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

What book are you reading?

I read more newspapers and magazines than books. But the book on my nightstand, to be read next, is “Busted” by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker of the Philadelphia Daily News. I heard this duo speak last year about their investigative reporting work into a rogue narcotics unit in the Philadelphia police department. They won the Pulitzer Prize for their efforts.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I grew up on a small dairy farm in Pennsylvania but we never participated in county fairs. So during my senior year at Penn State, I signed up for a program that taught collegians how to groom and show a dairy cow. The College of Agriculture, along with student clubs, sponsored the show where I won the reserve grand champion amateur showman honors for 1977. I received a big ribbon and a large Penn State ceramic mug that remains on display within my living room bookcase.

What is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

NFPW and its affiliate, the Pennsylvania Press Club, have given me the opportunity to broaden my horizons. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of talented and hard-working writers and communicators in various stages of their lives. They’ve educated me in more ways than they know and for that, I’m grateful.

Pennsylvania Press Club members Linda Koehler, Kay Stephens and Pat Ryder enjoy dinner at the 2009 NFPW conference held in San Antonio, Texas.

Pennsylvania Press Club members from left, Linda Koehler, Kay Stephens and Pat Ryder enjoy dinner at the 2009 NFPW conference held in San Antonio, Texas.

Also, by attending NFPW national conferences, I’ve been able to see sites including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, the Alamo and Chicago. I’ve been on a floating raft trip down the Snake River in Idaho (on a gorgeous day), I went zip-lining from tree to tree in South Carolina and I am very excited about seeing glaciers for the first time when I get to Alaska for this year’s conference.

Contact information:

I’m available at kstephens@altoonamirror.com and look for me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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