Meet a Member: Tonda Rush

For the past 17 years, Tonda Rush has worked mostly behind the scenes supporting NFPW through efforts such as the First Amendment Network and financially through matching grants to help NFPW grow. She is one of the organization’s biggest fans. She is part of the American PressWorks team that manages NFPW. Without her support and guidance, NFPW would not be where it is today. She also works tirelessly on behalf of First Amendment issues. Meet this unique and unbelievable NFPW member I am honored to call a friend.

Tonda Rush

Tonda Rush

Name: Tonda Rush

City and State: Arlington, VA

Affiliate and any leadership positions: NFPW Executive Office since 1998

Years a member of NFPW: 40 next year

Tell us a little about you.

I am an unrecovered journalist. I began my career managing a small weekly newspaper, segued into daily newspaper reporting and then went to law school, with the intention of returning to the newsroom with the sheepskin that said I really did know how to report on the courts and crime. (I had been the cop shop reporter.) But before I got back on that track, I was recruited by Jack Landau to join the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to head up a project for reporters being kicked out of courtrooms after a bad 1979 Supreme Court decision. I acquired a passion for First Amendment advocacy there that I have used later in my work on the legal staff of American Newspaper Publishers Association and as CEO of the National Newspaper Association. After Carol Pierce and I formed American PressWorks, Inc., and began providing management services to NFPW, I conspired with Marsha Shuler to create the First Amendment Network (FAN) and we have been a thorn in the side of those who would govern in secret for all these years, we fervently hope.

During my law and management careers, I have continued to write, helping clients with newsletters, writing small books on public policy and ghosting speeches for our client Presidents and directors. I think when I retire, I may find some small owner-operated newspaper and go back to covering local government. Reporting was the most fun I ever had.

Any career advice you would give?  

Don’t wait until you are old to lose your aversion to risk. I did not start my own business until I was seeing my first gray hair. Should have done it much earlier.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Tunefulness. I am sure I was meant to be an opera singer, but I must have stood in the wrong line.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Probably the mountains. Washington, DC, is built in a swamp. Unfortunately, it is where my work needs to be.

Tonda Rush, front right, enjoys a meal with NFPW members Betty Packard Voris, front row left; Carol Pierce, back row left; and Shayne del Cohen, top right.

Tonda Rush, front right, enjoys a meal with NFPW members Betty Packard Voris, front row left; Carol Pierce, back row left; and Shayne del Cohen, back row right.

What book are you reading?

At the moment, I am stuck on Louise Penny books. But I generally prefer historical fiction or readable biographies. Anything by David McCullough fascinates me.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?  

I crochet when I watch TV. It is hard for me to sit still that long otherwise.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?  

I have maintained a membership in the DC affiliate, but my heart belongs in Kansas.

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

I am active on Facebook. Befriend me. Lawyers who represent the press in Washington need friends!

Explore posts in the same categories: Kansas, NFPW, Virginia

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