Archive for the ‘New Mexico’ category

Meet a Member: Marie C. Baca

June 26, 2017

Marie C. Baca will be attending her first NFPW conference this fall, thanks to a grant from the NFPW Education Fund. She will be honored Saturday evening, when she receives a national second place award in the professional communications contest. Her work has appeared in some prestigious publications and I can’t wait to learn more about her at the conference. 

Name: Marie C. Baca

City and State: Albuquerque area, New Mexico

Affiliate and any leadership positions: New Mexico Press Women

Years a member of NFPW: Joined this year


Marie C. Baca

Marie C. Baca

Tell us a little about you:

I’m a New Mexico-based journalist whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, ProPublica, and Salon, among other publications. I left my job covering the economy for the Albuquerque Journal a few months ago for health reasons, though I’m hoping to return in some capacity in the near future.

I’ve spent more than 10 years writing about people on the fringes of society. I’ve profiled morgue workers, Bigfoot enthusiasts, day laborers, and the wrongfully convicted. I’ve also investigated the proliferation of toxic waste sites in poor communities and the effects of fracking on rural populations. In 2011, I contributed to a California Watch investigation that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University. I live in the Albuquerque area with my husband, two young sons, and a vegetable garden that appears to be converting itself into an all-inclusive resort for pests.

Any career advice you would give?:

To paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg: your career may not look like a ladder. It may look more like a jungle gym, filled with lateral moves, detours, and occasional dead ends. But sometimes that’s what it takes to find fulfillment.

Which talent would you most like to have?:

The ability to be more compassionate toward myself.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?:

Some magical place that combines everything I love about all the places I’ve lived: California, New England, New York, the United Kingdom, and New Mexico.

What book are you reading?:

I just finished Jeffrey Toobin’s “American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst.” I wasn’t expecting much– I grabbed it when I needed something to read on an airplane– but it was incredibly well-written and I could hardly put it down.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?:

I once worked for a matchmaker and appeared on his reality TV show.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?:

Mentorship and community is essential for women in any industry, and is make-or-break in journalism. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of other women and finding ways to support each other on our individual journeys.

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

My Twitter handle is @mariecbaca; my website is



Meet a Member: Kathryn Cόrdova

November 30, 2016

Another dedicated, long-time NFPW member is Kathryn (Kathy) Cόrdova of New Mexico. She is always willing to help out and also one of the first to express appreciation for the hard work of others. I remember the  nice thank you note and gift she sent me after the NFPW conference in Idaho in 2008. I was impressed with her thoughtfulness. She is also a talented writer and teacher. She is also willing to share her talents with others. I am proud to call this unique and unbelievable member a friend.

Name:  Kathryn (Kathy) Cόrdova

City/State: El Prado (Taos County), New Mexico

Kathryn (Kathy) Cόrdova

Kathryn (Kathy) Cόrdova

Affiliate and Leadership Positions:

New Mexico– Past positions: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Communicator Of  Achievement Chair.

NFPW– Communicator Of Achievement Chair; Membership Chair; Student Membership Chair; POPPS Vice President/ Treasurer and President; NFPW Treasurer; and NFPW Second Vice President.

Years in NFPW: 27

Tell Us a Little About You:

I prepared for dual careers in Journalism and Education, as these were the times when women did not receive many opportunities in the newsroom.  Fortunately, I was able to work at both careers as a teacher and a freelance writer.  I have also served in editorial positions on community publications and professional newspapers and magazines.  Throughout the years, I have written four different columns, and continue to write one, “Know Your Neighbor” on a weekly basis for our community’s newspaper.  I have also contributed to and written books, mainly biographies.  Family is very important to me.

Kathryn (Kathy) Cόrdova

Kathryn (Kathy) Cόrdova

Career Advice: 

People should work at what they enjoy and about what they feel passionate.  Doing so brings joy to the worker and those around him or her.  When one is happy, it is contagious and obvious in the finished product.  We are all lifelong learners, and as such, must embrace learning something new as much as possible.

Which talent would you most like to have?  Art.  The best I can achieve in regard to completing an art piece is to draw a stick doll.

If I could live anywhere, where would it be?

I love where I live right now.  I enjoy traveling, but it’s always a joy to return home.

 What book are you reading?

I’m an avid reader.  I just started the book Laci, about Laci Peterson, by Michael Fleeman.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

As a Doctor of Education, I teach courses such as Children’s Literature and deep-thought texts.  As a former high school teacher, I taught American Literature. Therefore, it may surprise some to learn that I love to read and write (unpublished) what my dad used to call “trashy books.”

Why your affiliate and NFPW are important to you. 

An organization is only as good as its members.  I would never trade the friendships I have made, the people I have met, things I have learned and the places I have visited as a result of attending conferences, meetings, etc.  The networking is available to all the members, and it’s refreshing to note that the Press Women organization does not confine itself to only one small facet of the careers and interests of the members.  The broad base is very appealing.

What is the best way to follow you- website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.?  Much to the chagrin of my children, I do not follow social media.



Meet a Member: Loretta Hall

September 27, 2016

Each year one National Federation of Press Women member is honored as Communicator of Achievement. It is the top honor given by the organization. Affiliates select a member to represent their organization and then a national panel of judges select the recipient. Loretta Hall of New Mexico was honored as the 2016 recipient. She is serving at the affiliate president and is an outstanding writer and author. Her eighth book is at the publisher now. Meet another of our unique and unbelievable NFPW members.

Loretta Hall

Loretta Hall

Name: Loretta Hall

City and State: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Affiliate and any leadership positions: New Mexico Press Women (Zia Book Award Chair, 2012-2014; Treasurer, 2014-2016; President, 2016-2018)

Years a member of NFPW: 5

Tell us a little about you.

I’m a freelance writer and nonfiction book author. At first, I wrote articles for a variety of consumer and trade magazines. My first article, “Have Phone, Will Travel,” was published by Home Office Computing in June 1990. It was a guide to shopping for a cell phone in those early days when they came in the forms of bricks, bag phones, and car phones. After answering an ad in a civil engineering newsletter, I was assigned to write three chapters for a book called When Technology Fails. That opened the door for assignments for writing chapters in books on various topics published by what was then called Gale Research. Eventually, that evolved into commissions to write two books for their UXL imprint.

I continued to write articles, mostly for trade and professional journals in the civil engineering and construction industries. But I found that I really enjoyed writing books. My eighth book is with the publisher now, and it should be available around the end of this year. Since the mid-2000s, my interest in manned spaceflight has been rekindled. As a teenager, I was enthralled with our progress toward landing men on the moon. Now, with the emergence of the commercial space industry, that fascination has again captured me. My last four books are about space exploration, its history, and its future.


Loretta Hall in a space suit. The last few books she has written have focused on space exploration.

Any career advice you would give?

For freelance writers, I would suggest focusing on trade publications or niche-market magazines rather than the big-name consumer magazines. It’s much easier to get regular assignments that way, and the pay can be comparable.

For aspiring authors, I’d caution against expecting significant income from writing books. If income is your goal, keep writing for magazines. Or write “works for hire” for educational publishers; you won’t get royalties, but you’ll earn several thousand dollars for each book. Of course, there are other reasons for writing books, and I love doing it.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d like to be more athletic. I’ve never been particularly good at sports, and I’m more inclined to sit at my computer or curl up with a book.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

In the world’s largest English-language library!

What book are you reading?

I enjoy two kinds of reading. For fiction, I choose mysteries and legal thrillers. Currently, I’m reading The River Is Dark by Joe Hart. For nonfiction, I usually pick something about space exploration. I just ordered a copy of The Science of Interstellar, which was written by the science advisor for the film.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I spent two days learning to drive an open-wheel, formula race car on a road track.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

In our short-attention-span, sound-bite society, I believe it is more important than ever to promote good journalism and work toward a more informed public.

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

My primary website is; from there, you can find others that relate to some of my books.

My Facebook page is, and on LinkedIn I’m at


Meet a member: Mary Jane Skala

December 30, 2015

I became better friends with Mary Jane Skala during the NFPW post-tour to Yellowtsone National Park and Jackson, Wyo. in the fall of 2008. She is familiar with the Moab area in southern Utah, so was a great help for the NFPW post-tour in 2013. She is a talented writer and great asset to our organization. Meet my friend, Mary Jane Skala.


Mary Jane Skala

Name: Mary Jane Skala

City and State: Abiquiu, N.M.

Affiliate and any leadership positions: At the moment, New Mexico Press Women and Nebraska Press Women. I belonged to Ohio Professional Writers for 40 years, from 1973-2013. I served as president, vice president, secretary and contest chair, and organized many spring and fall meetings. When I moved to Kearney, Neb. in 2012, I joined Nebraska Press Women and served as secretary and contest chair. In May, I moved to Abiquiu, N.M., so I joined New Mexico Press Women, but I’ve kept the NPW membership because of all my friends there.

Tell us a little about you.

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a tight clan of journalists. My father was the dean of radio news broadcasters in Cleveland. As news director at radio station WGAR, he covered the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, went to Russia with then-Vice President Richard Nixon in 1959, attended every national political convention, etc. My twin sister Martha is editor of the Conneaut (Ohio) Courier. My brother was editor-in-chief of Industry Week magazine and now writes non-fiction books. My late uncle was editor of the Middletown (Ohio) Journal.

After graduating from Michigan State University, I worked at the Purdue University News Service, putting my then-husband through graduate school there. I then became a reporter with the Sun Newspapers in suburban Cleveland. From 1981-85 I was the editor of the employee magazine for the Chessie News, serving 30,000 Chessie System Railroads (now CSX) in 13 states. When Chessie moved to Florida, I stayed in Cleveland as the employee newsletter editor at a hospital and did PR at Cuyahoga Community College.

From 1989-2009, I returned to Sun News as senior editor. I loved it. I wrote a chain-wide column that reached 500,000 readers. I ran the newsroom, wrote editorials, gave suburban election results on local TV, appeared on news magazines, etc., won awards, served as an officer in several professional organizations, etc. I’d have stayed forever, but newspapers sputtered, and Sun News folded. Thanks to my NFPW connections, I found work as a reporter for the Kearney (Neb.) Hub from 2012-2015.

Since May, I’ve been the volunteer coordinator at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, N.M., a Presbyterian Education and Retreat Center. I volunteered here between newspaper jobs, and when they called offering me a job last spring, I couldn’t resist. I still write my weekly column for the Kearney Hub.

Any career advice you would give?

Do what you love, and the money will follow. My father always said a career ranked second in importance only to the person you marry, and he’s right. Learn. Make friends. Make connections. Join professional organizations; they’re invaluable in teaching you about the business. You never know where those ties will lead.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To have a beautiful singing voice.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Right here in northern New Mexico. Since I first went West on a family vacation when I was 12, I’ve always dreamed of living in the West, and here I am. I have no TV; and the closest supermarket is 45 minutes away, but I have friends, fulfilling work, beauty, silence and more stars at night than I can count.


Mary Jane Skala and her son, Matt.


What book are you reading?

I’m re-reading “Seven Storey Mountain,” by Thomas Merton, his autobiography of his twisting spiritual journey from his aethistic childhood to his calling as a Trappist monk and a writer of books that are theological classics. I just finished “Angle of Repose,” by Wallace Stegner. I’ve read it four times. It’s about a young woman from New York who headed West 125 years ago. I always discover new insights when I re-read favorite books.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m an identical twin. I was the lone embedded Christian on a trip to Israel with 75 Jews during the Intifada. During that trip, I spent three days camping in the Gobi desert. I was told to stay in my tent at night – prowling hyenas would eat me if I didn’t.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you? I have learned so much! Bosses don’t have time to teach; only through organizations like NFPW do you add the fat that’s critical for a successful career. Professional friends became personal friends. NFPW friends got me the job at the Kearney Hub when newspapers died in Cleveland. I’ve attended conferences, made lifelong friends, and seen parts of the U.S. I might never have seen, thanks to NFPW. It polished my career.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc. I have email ( I’m on Facebook, and my weekly columns can be found at