Meet a Member: Gwen Woolf

Where do you begin to describe Gwen Woolf? If you want a task done professionally and right the first time, just ask Gwen to do it. I witnessed the professional and organized way she lead the NFPW communications contest for several years. That was a big job and she made the effort look easy. The past two years she has professionally handled the NFPW High School Communications Contest. I am amazed at her organization skills and how she can professionally handle everything she says she will do. On top of that, she is a great person, a talented writer and fun to be around. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member. I am glad I can call her a friend.


Gwen Woolf

Gwen Woolf

Name: Gwen Renea Woolf

City and State: Spotsylvania, Va.

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Virginia Press Women president 2008-10. I served on the board for years in a variety of positions, including communications contest director for four years; first and second vice presidents (membership, newsletter); district director; and conference director.  I’ve received the affiliate’s Distinguished Service Award and Communicator of Achievement Award. Thanks to Cynthia Price’s encouragement I’ve gone on to serve as NFPW’s communications contest director and high school contest director.

Years a member of NFPW: 43 years

Tell us a little about you.

Professionally, I’ve loved newspaper work since being co-editor of my high school paper. I was fortunate to be hired at The Free Lance-Star, the daily newspaper in Fredericksburg, Va., right out of high school. I spent my entire 42-year career there—as a reporter, copy editor, wire editor, special section editor and weekly magazine editor. (I was happy and challenged there, so why leave?)  I earned my B.A. degree in American Studies through 12 years of part-time classes at Mary Washington College while working full time.  I’ve received more than 75 state and national journalism awards. Since my retirement in 2010, I’m enjoying a new career of freelance arts and travel writing for such publications as Recreation News, The Virginia Sportsman, Boating Times, Chesapeake Bay, Civil War News, and a couple others.

Personally, I was a Marine brat, living in various states while growing up. I’ve been married for 42 years to Lee Woolf, who was hired at The Free Lance-Star as a sports reporter five years after I started working there.  My maiden name also was Woolf, so I’m actually Gwen Woolf Woolf! We worked together at the paper for decades until our retirements. We have traveled to such places as Africa, Australia, Scandinavia, the British Isles and France, and there are many more places on our bucket list. We chose not to have children, but have doted on our dogs and cats.  Two of my passions are staying in hotels (the bigger, more historic and more luxurious the better, but I’m fascinated by all of them) and animals (I adore all kinds of animals, am a longtime vegetarian, and a member of PETA—I feel strongly against exploiting animals in any way.)

Gwen Woolf

Gwen Woolf

Any career advice you would give? Follow your curiosity. Constantly look for ways to improve your work. Never lose your enthusiasm, determination or sense of humor. Work hard, but take time to enjoy the “little moments” with co-workers, for it will be those memories you cherish the most when you’re retired.

Which talent would you most like to have?  Interior decorator.  I have my own tastes (bright colors, wicker furniture, Oriental decorative items); I like rearranging my furniture (to my husband’s chagrin); and I enjoy home tours and watching HGTV, but it would be difficult to envision how to decorate someone else’s home from scratch.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Los Angeles, Calif. I love the warm weather, the entertainment business and all that Hollywood glamour. I’d love to have a first-hand view of “red carpet” events.

What book are you reading?  “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?”  Enough said.

Gwen Woolf, left, with other NPFW members at the National Atomic Testing Museum this spring following a board meeting.

Gwen Woolf, left, with other NPFW members at the National Atomic Testing Museum this spring following a board meeting.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I’ve been a diehard fan of “General Hospital” since the early 1980s, when the love story of Luke and Laura was big. Tony Geary (Luke) recently retired and left the show, but I’ll continue to tune in, especially for my favorite character, Sonny Corinthos—the handsome mobster with the heart of gold.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you? Great friendships, and a sense of belonging to another “family.” The opportunity to grow professionally through conferences and holding leadership positions; to receive recognition through awards; and to travel to places I might not otherwise have seen. The chance to “give back” to the profession and organizations that have given me so much.

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

Facebook, LinkedIn.  I’m not big on technology, but am gradually “plugging in.”

Explore posts in the same categories: NFPW, Virginia

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One Comment on “Meet a Member: Gwen Woolf”

  1. Gwen didn’t need much encouragement — she’s a natural, and VPC and NFPW are fortunate to have her contributions. I can’t wait to connect in Alaska — we might live in the same state but the national conferences are where we get to catch up.

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