Meet a Member: Tommy Simmons

I first became aware Tommy Simmons is a food expert on the 2017 NFPW Alabama conferece pre-tour. She was on the tour and it was fun to have a food expert share comments on the different dishes as the group shared meals on the trip. She spent many years as a food columnist in Louisiana and enjoys reviewing restaurant food. Last fall her expertise was recognized when she was named the 2017 recipient of the Grace ‘Mama’ Marino Llfetime Culinary Achievement Award by the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society. Meet this unique and unbelievable NFPW member.

Name: Tommy Collier Simmons

Hometown: Waleska, Georgia

Affiliate: At large member since 2011. Former member and a past state president of Louisiana Press Women.

Tommy Simmons receiving Grace Mama Marino Llfetime Culinary Achievement Award.

Tommy Simmons receiving the 2017 Grace Mama Marino Llfetime Culinary Achievement Award.


Tell Us a Little About You:

I loved my journalist career which encompassed freelance business and technical writing, producing legislative position papers and an employee newsletter for the East Baton Rouge School Board and working for more than 40 years for the Baton Rouge morning and afternoon newspapers. I thank two high school journalism teachers for introducing me to newspaper writing and the multi-faceted communication opportunities available in journalism. If you are a current communications or journalism teacher, bravo and keep encouraging student communicators.


Upon retiring as an award-winning food editor from The Advocate newspaper in 2011, my husband, David, and I moved to Waleska, a small college town in north Georgia. Our new resort community, with lake, golf course, tennis, swimming, clubhouse, etc., puts us about 45 minutes from two of our grandchildren, who live in Marietta, GA, and 2 hours from the Atlanta airport, which easily connects us to two more grandchildren in Dallas, TX. We do miss extended family, friends and the food in Louisiana, but are enjoying our new home in the Appalachian mountain foothills.

I currently write two freelance columns a month, one on what to cook from the garden for a gardening e-newsletter published by, and a recipe-focused column for our neighborhood magazine.

I’m curious about social media, saddened at the decline of daily newspapers and proud of NFPW’s continuing evolution as an organization for professional development and defender of “Freedom of the Press.”

Any advice to share:

I have three words of advice for new journalists:

1. Learn to listen to the people you interview and work with.

2. Try to keep up with changes in your field. Staying active in professional organizations such as NFPW supports this effort.

3. Know yourself and your situation. If you value flex time and need to be the parent picking up the kids or assisting with eldercare, don’t over extend either at work or in your personal life. I think point 3 is difficult to grasp for talented, ambitious women and men, who want to do everything – to have it all. But, I’ve seen too many unhappy people in our work, who sacrificed their well-being in not realizing there are practical limitations on how many hours can be spent at work when you have home and personal obligations as well.

What book are you reading?

I read quick-read cozy mysteries on my Kindle and am commencing a read-through study of The Bible and “Science & Health” by Mary Baker Eddy.

Ways to follow you on social media:

Tommy Simmons on Facebook


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