Meet a Member: Karen Rowley

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.

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