Posted tagged ‘high school communications’

Meet a Member: Karen Rowley

July 28, 2015

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.


Nilson spends career focusing on writing and sharing with others

April 23, 2014
Barbara Nilson

Barbara Nilson

In 1989 Idaho hosted the first of three NFPW conferences I helped organize. One of the unique and unbelievable women I met at that conference in Coeur d’Alene was Barbara Nilson. She was the national high school communications contest director and I organized Idaho’s contest. It was wonderful getting to know her better at the conference. I made black lamb table decorations for the conference with an inscription “NFPW, we believe in ewe.” Can you believe that 25 years later she still has the lamb I gave her? Barbara, you are one of the reasons NFPW friendships last a lifetime. Meet Barbara Nilson, a shining example of our unique, unbelievable members.

Name: Barbara Nilson

City and State: Seattle area

Years a member of NFPW: 58

Tell us about you:

In the fall of 2004 Meg Hunt called and asked if I would organize the 2005 NFPW conference in Seattle. I called some of the “oldtimer” members and a newly moved to Washington NFPW member I had met at the previous conference and we decided the five of us could do it. Thus I was the conference director for “Sound bytes in Seattle”, Sept, 8-10, 2005. Meg’s final words during the phone conversation were: “And you’ll take us around the peninsula again,” so I did.

I joined NFPW in 1956 when my ex-husband and I owned, published, reported, typeset, photographed etc. as a staff of two for the Quincy Valley Post-Register. I set all the copy on a typewriter that justified the lines by pulling a string AFTER EVERY LINE. I wish I still had that machine because nobody believes me. My column was called “Barb’s Wire.” I divorced him and took my four children and went back to college to get my teaching degree. I then was hired at Franklin High School in Seattle as yearbook adviser and soon became adviser to the award-winning newspaper. During this time, I also became Youth Director for NFPW and expanded the contest for high school students.

I was instrumental in building a strong student contest in Washington State both for NFPW and the Journalism Education Association. Some of the awards I received were WPA Communicator of Achievement, 1981; Carl Towley Award from the national Journalism Education Assn, 1984; JEA program director, spring 1985; and WPA Torchbearer 1984.

After retiring from teaching, I wrote for a local newspaper about 15 years focusing on travel and historical pieces.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I have visited all 50 states, all the continents, all the Provinces in Canada including the Northwest Territories and Antarctica. If I had to pick one place to live (besides Seattle) it would be New Zealand, it has it all from Fjords to English towns, Scottish tows, Yellowstone park; majestic Mt. Cook etc.

Any career advice you would give?

As for career advice, just follow what you love to do, where your heart is.

What talent would you most like to have?

Besides writing, it would be to play rinky-tink piano and entertain people, with raunchy songs, make them laugh. I guess that’s also what would surprise people about me.

What are you reading?

Since leaving our five-acre woods (just for the winters) for an apartment in Seattle I have read a couple of books each week; I love history and “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” was a favorite, as was Corky Roberts’ “Founding Mother’s.” In addition to reading, I’m doing two interviews a month for the newsletter here and working on a novel disguised as my memoirs of 85 years.

I love history and small towns; I have written several books and two of them received first place from the King County Association of Historical Organizations. One “Uncle Sam Wants You” is about the veterans who served in WWII from the small town of Maple Valley; the second one is “Ravensdale Reflections” about a small mining town in our area. This past year I completed the “100th Centennial of Renton High School.

In June our family will be gathering at the ocean at Kalaloch (the spot where busloads of Press Women spent time on both of the NFPW trips around the Olympic Peninsula that I led) to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

I hope to attend the NFPW conference in 2016 to celebrate 60 years with a truly fantastic organization.

Contact information:

Email —