Posted tagged ‘Illinois Woman’s Press Association’

Meet: Ann Heinrichs

December 29, 2016

When I think of people I have met through NFPW, one interesting person who comes to mind is Ann Heinrichs of Chicago. Ann is not only bright and interesting, she is also a warm, gracious, and an all-around nice person. She is a talented writer who is taking a break from writing after leaving a legacy of 240 plus published books. I hope you will take the time to learn a little about her.

Name: Ann Heinrichs

City and State: Chicago, Illinois

Ann Heinrichs at the Tuareg camel races in Agadez, Niger. The Tuareg are known as the “blue men of the desert” because the indigo dye in their turbans soaks into their skin.

Ann Heinrichs at the Tuareg camel races in Agadez, Niger. The Tuareg are known as the “blue men of the desert” because the indigo dye in their turbans soaks into their skin.

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Illinois Woman’s Press Association: Communicator of Achievement (2006); Board Member (2007–2009); Communications Contest Chair (2008–2009); Illinois’s FAN (First Amendment Network) Representative

Years a member of NFPW: I was a member from 1998 through 2014. If I ever again write anything besides emails and meeting minutes, I will happily join again!

Tell us a little about you.

I never meant to be a writer. I became one only when I was living in a $25-a-week hotel and needed some way, however wacky, to make checks come in the mail. First I was a music critic, then an advertising copywriter, then I began writing juvenile nonfiction books. In 2001 I finally quit my day job to write books full time. Then came the recession, and my book-writing career hit the wall. So I went back to school and got a library degree. Now I’m a cataloging librarian, though I still think of myself as a writer … masquerading. Happily, I have left a “legacy” of 240+ published books.

Ann in her element: On the Erg Chebbi, a massive dune in the Moroccan Sahara.

Ann in her element: On the Erg Chebbi, a massive dune in the Moroccan Sahara.

World travel is my pleasure. I’ve been … well … all over. The Middle East was my favorite destination until it became too dangerous. Now Africa is my favorite; I’ve been there eight times. Several places I visited, I was able to parlay into book contracts. Here at home, my current creative outlet is ebru, the Turkish art of paper marbling.

Any career advice you would give?

This will probably not appear on any Best Practices list, but my real-world-tested advice is: Push, hound, beg, grab, leap at openings, keep calling and emailing, until they cave and give you an assignment. That’s what I did at a time when I was low on experience but desperate for income. Pretty soon I was a seasoned, in-demand professional.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Fearlessness. Sure, I’m macro-fearless—scaling Kilimanjaro, trekking out into the Sahara, bouncing across the South China Sea in a rickety motorboat, climbing Mt. Sinai at 3 a.m. on a camel plodding along a narrow path with a sheer drop-off, and so on. But what I need is micro-fearlessness—to not be afraid of my own shadow, sounds in the night, cold weather, big black dogs …

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Morocco—in either Marrakech, with its fragrant souks full of fresh breads, veggies, mint, olives, and dates; or Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara, where you can procure a camel and a Berber guide and just take off.

What book are you reading?

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts, by Joshua Hammer; and The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton.

 

“Ebru Starry Night with Comet”— one of four of Ann’s ebru paintings selected by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to be displayed throughout 2017 in their Springfield offices.

“Ebru Starry Night with Comet”— one of four of Ann’s ebru paintings selected by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to be displayed throughout 2017 in their Springfield offices.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

(1) I have a bachelor’s and master’s in piano performance. (2) I am a desert freak (probably pretty obvious already!). Not the kind of desert that’s “teeming with wildlife,” but rather the empty, desolate type, the epitome of nothingness.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

Although I’m not an active member at the moment, the people I’ve met through IWPA/NFPW remain very precious to me. They continue to inspire me, delight me, and provide support for whatever I’m going through.

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

You can find me on Facebook.

Meet a Member: Cecilia Green

November 21, 2016

Some members make a conference more fun and one of those people is Cecilia Green of Illinois. She is a dedicated professional who is always ready to help others succeed. She is a dependable member and an injured foot didn’t even slow her down for the pre-tour and conference in Alaska. She is a unique and unbelievably talented member I am honored to call a friend.

Cecilia Green

Cecilia Green

Name: Cecilia Green

City and State: Bartlett, Illinois

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Illinois Woman’s Press Association, past president of IWPA. When I lived in Wichita, I served as president of Wichita Press Women, now Wichita Professional Communicators. I was privileged to serve on the NFPW board as public relations chair during Vivian Sadowski’s term as president.

Years a member of NFPW: 31 years

Tell us a little about you

I “rewired” in 2009 from 25 years of doing PR and marketing for nonprofit associations in Chicago to being director of an Arts Center in Bartlett with a gallery and studios for teaching artists and musicians. It is a volunteer position that keeps me very busy at least 4 days a week. I’m also on the Economic Development Commission for the Village of Bartlett and do PR for Bartlett Heritage Days. When I’m not working, my rescue toy fox terrier Tanner and I hang out or I travel to see my  kids.

My husband Darrell’s work at the Art Institute of Chicago takes him around the world and I’ve been fortunate to tag along in the past few year to Scotland, Ireland, India, Norway and Russia.  Jill Miller, my daughter, is an NFPW member, has her own consulting business and the Finishing School for Modern Women in Wichita. Jennifer Miller lives in Treasure Island, Florida and is a professional French horn player. Michael Miller and his wife Carla live in Lakewood, Colorado with my two grandchildren Sophia, 5 and Desmond, 7.

 

NFPW members Cecilia Green, right and daughter, Jill Miller.

NFPW members Cecilia Green, right and daughter, Jill Miller.

Any career advice you would give?

If you are a good writer, the world is open to you; so many opportunities in so just about any field if you know how to communicate. I always told students to  look at associations for professionals and trade associations if they want to be in the nonprofit world. It’s good pay for a fascinating career meeting business people from all over the world.

Which talent would you most like to have? 

I wish I was a better public speaker.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Closer to my family; we’re considering going back to Wichita when my husband retires in 5 years.

What book are you reading?

Just finished “The Girl on the Train” and am starting on Virginia Professional Communicators member Nancy Beasley’s “Little Lion.”

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That some people think I’m standoffish but I’m really very shy and don’t easily approach people I don’t know well.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

IWPA and its mothership are steadfast in holding to its values and mission. It’s one of the most supportive organizations I belong to. I look forward to its conferences every year.

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

Personal Facebook account and Arts in Bartlett Facebook

Meet a Member: Cora Weisenberger

November 7, 2016

A love for writing has helped shape a career for Cora Weisenberger. She has always loved to write. These days she is sharing her talents with Illinois Woman’s Press Association where she is president-elect and chairing the high school communications contest. She is dedicated and dependable and NFPW is lucky to have her as a member. Meet this unique and unbelievable member.

Cora Weisenberg

Cora Weisenberger

Name: Cora Weisenberger

City and State: Chicago Heights, Illinois

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Illinois Woman’s Press Association – Social Media Coordinator (2013-2015); High School Contest Chair (2015-2017; President-Elect (2016)

Years a member of NFPW:

I was a member from 1996 to 2004. After taking time off for graduate school and rebuilding my career, I rejoined in 2013.

Tell us a little about you.

It seems like it was always in the cards that I would be a writer of some sort; even as I kid I pretended to write novels (the subject was usually my long-enduring passion: horses). But it wasn’t until I got to high school that I thought about writing and journalism as a career.  The advisor for the school newspaper said she believed that I could write professional.  That was something that stuck with me.

Eventually, I received my undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in communications and journalism; and a master’s in journalism from the Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. In my career I have worked at a daily newspaper; a B2B publication, a direct-selling business and am now Communication Manager at The Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional Association for real estate appraisers.

My husband, Greg, and I live in a suburb of Chicago with our sons David and Jonathan, and our two furry “children,” dogs Abby and Moonie.

Any career advice you would give?

Be flexible. The communications profession is unpredictable. No matter your skills set or your years of experience, you might find yourself out of a job or working in a new media that didn’t exist 5 – 10 years ago. No matter the format, good fundamental communications and journalism skills are needed. Be willing to try something new.

Cora Weisenberger in the rain at Niagara Falls with the American Falls behind her.

Cora Weisenberger in the rain at Niagara Falls with the American Falls behind her.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Anything athletic. I would have loved to have been in the Olympics, but I have no athletic ability whatsoever!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

In the country on enough land where I could have a separate studio for writing and art, and my gearhead husband and sons could have space for their hobby cars.

What book are you reading?

“Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World,” by Matthew Goodman.  Nellie Bly is a well known, but I had never heard of Bisland. In addition to their exploits, this book reveals how hard it was for 19th-century woman journalists (the same time IWPA was formed, incidentally) to get into the profession and to be taken seriously.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I own the farm that has been in my family from more than 100 years.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

They are both ways we can encourage the communicators of today as well as encourage future generations.

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

You can find both me on Facebook. I have a Twitter account but rarely tweet.

Meet a Member: Marion E. Gold

October 11, 2016

The best part of doing a blog about National Federation of Press Women friends is getting to know them better. That is the case with Marion E. Gold. I know her as a talented writer. It has been fun to learn about her other creative endeavor with jewelry. You need to check out her website. It is wasy to see she does a beautiful job with everything she does. I hope you enjoy getting to know this unique and unbelievable NFPW member.

Name: Marion E. Gold

City and State: Scottsdale, AZ

Marion E. Gold

Marion E. Gold

Affiliate and any leadership positions: President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association (2001-2003);  Vice President of Arizona Press Women (2009-2010). Named the Year 2000 Communicator of Achievement by the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Currently a dual member of the Arizona and Illinois Affiliates.

Years a member of NFPW: 21 years (1995 – present)

Tell us a little about you. 

Before launching Marion Gold Marketing Communications in 1994, I was executive vice-president and general manager of a health care communications agency in Chicago that was part of the Health and Medical Communications Group of OMNICOM and one of the few women in that field to break through Corporate America’s Glass Ceiling. When I resigned after 13 years to start my own company, Working Woman Magazine profiled me as an entrepreneur with “guts.” That’s how it all started, and as the song says, “The beat goes on…”

That said, life takes us down many paths, both professionally and personally. Beginning as a healthcare journalist working in Bethesda, Maryland for a group of newspapers for physicians… Moving to Chicago and reporting as an Associate Editor for the medical news section of the Journal of the American Medical Association… And then entering the amazing corporate world of medical and marketing communications. But it was the personal experience of losing my parents that thrust me into another entrepreneurial role – and that was the genesis of Moonbeams, Lilacs & Roses. You can read about that journey at http://www.moonbeamslilacsroses.com.

Marion Gold as her jewelry-designing persona, “Miriam Bat-Rachel.”

Marion Gold as her jewelry-designing persona, “Miriam Bat-Rachel.”

Many people are surprised when the marketing consultant and writer they hire – or the “Book Author” they meet—also designs jewelry! Actually, there is a great similarity between creating a press release, ghostwriting an article or editorial, or crafting a tactical marketing plan—and designing a piece of jewelry. I call it the synergy between Words and Gemstones.  Both need to be carefully considered in order to meet the needs of the client and the target audience. As my jewelry-designing persona, “Miriam Bat-Rachel,” I design each item of jewelry around the shapes and colors of the natural stones, sometimes using sterling silver or bronze wire to wrap around the stones—literally as if the wire is part of the natural texture of the stone.  Words and Gemstones ~ Working with either takes great precision. They both light up my creative spirit!

Any career advice you would give?

I think Eleanore Roosevelt said it best: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’ve always wanted to be a country singer. Maybe one of these days…

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

As much as I miss Downtown Chicago, I’m currently living right where I want to be in Arizona. My mom told me that as a little girl, and Roy Rogers was my cowboy hero, I said I wanted to live in Arizona. Guess I followed that dream!

What book are you reading?

Just finished “The Holocaust By Bullets” by Father Patrick Desbois. As best said by The Wall Street Journal: “Father Desbois is a generation too late to save lives. instead, he has saved memory and history.”

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Okay, here is my long-held secret. I worked for a short time as a stringer for the National Enquirer (yes, THAT National Enquirer), reading medical journals and writing brief articles on healthcare advances.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

When newspaper writer Francis A. Conant founded IWPA, it was two years before Hollywood, California, was established as a city. The Southwest (where I first joined NFPW in 1995) was still the domain of the proud warrior and Native American leader Geronimo. It is important to keep alive the legacy of women who led the way for all of us who value the written word and gave so much to our history. Maintaining my membership in NFPW lets me continue to be a part of that proud legacy.

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

http://www.linkedin.com/in/mariongold

http://www.linkedin.com/in/miriam-bat-rachel

http://www.mariongold.com

http://www.facebook.com/Marion-E-Gold-Communications-That-Make-a-Difference

http://www.moonbeamslilacsroses.com

Meet a Member: Beth Dugan

June 9, 2016

Beth Dugan is new to the NFPW board, serving as the at-large contest chair for members who live in a state without a communication contest. I got to know Beth in Alaska and was impressed with her great ideas and dedication to her affiliate and NFPW. Meet another unique and unbelievable NFPW member.

Beth Dugan

Beth Dugan

Name: Beth Dugan

City and State: Chicago, IL

Affiliate and any leadership positions: I am the Mate E Palmer Professional Communications Contest Chair for Illinois Woman’s Press Association and the At-Large Contest Chair for NFPW

Years a member of NFPW: 5

Tell us a little about you.

I’m a technical writer for Hyatt Corp and a freelance writer living and working in Chicago. I am very involved in several feminist communities both online and in Chicago. I love to perform at readings and at feminist events and I also love to take classes. My husband and I just took a tamale making class (we are excellent tamale makers, it turns out), a knife throwing class, and I am working on a style blog about the end of the world called http://www.theendisnighish.com (not live yet).

Beth Dugan

Beth Dugan

Any career advice you would give?

My career advice is all for women. Remember that men apply for jobs they feel 60% qualified for and get them. Women apply for jobs they feel 110% qualified for. Once you get that job, negotiate your salary. Women leave $2 million on the table over their career just by accepting the first number that is given to them or not asking for raises. Even if the salary or wage I was offered is adequate, I always make a counter offer. Always. Half the time, I get the money. It shows your employer, by your first action, that you know your worth and the value you are bringing. As for the job you don’t feel qualified for, say yes and figure it out later.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I had that math/music/language thing. Those are all systems and I struggle with all of them.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I really love living in Chicago. We live in the Logan Square neighborhood and I love it. But I would like to live abroad in Europe or in a Scandinavian country for a while, and then retire to warm beachy place.

What books are you reading?

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Shrill by Lindy West and City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I used to drive a city bus.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I have some great friends in both organizations and it keeps me involved in my community.

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

@QueenElizaDEATH

@grlclvr (Instagram)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethdugan60622

http://bethdugan.com

Meet a Member: Marlene Cook

July 14, 2015

A long-time friend I always look forward to seeing at NFPW conferences is Marlene Cook. She excels in everything she does and makes each activity a fun event. I remember the passion and fun she brought to the conference tours when the NFPW conference was in Illinois. She has a passion for NFPW and easily forms a friendship with everyone she meets. Meet another unique and unbelievable woman I am honored to call a friend.

Name: Marlene Cook

Marlene Cook, back, with her roommate for NFPW conferences, Cindy Cruz.

Marlene Cook, left, with her roommate for NFPW conferences, Cindy Cruz.

City and State: Lansing, IL

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

Illinois Womans Press Association   I held every office except treasurer. Was president two terms, 1985-1989 – Director of the 1985 “convention” in Chicago – president of POPPS for several years –NFPW & IWPA historian.

Years a member of NFPW:     42

Tell us a little about you.

I was a late bloomer but at 81 I’m still blossoming. A high school teacher told me two weeks before graduating that I wouldn’t be graduating because I didn’t have enough credits. I proved her wrong and in her anger she told me I’d never amount to anything. “Barefoot and pregnant is what you’ll be.” I graduated in 1952, married in ’53, had babies in ’54, ’55, ‘57, ’60 and ’64. I was 30 years old by this time and her words began haunting me. I said, ”Oh no Miss Lundquist, you are NOT winning this one.”

I had been supplying a friend with copy for a “gossip” column she wrote for the local newspaper. I was heavily involved with my children’s actives, school and church, so I knew a lot of people. When she was moving, she recommended I take over her column. I said, ”I’m not a writer!” She said, “Well, you’ve been writing my column for the past year.” The editor asked if I had a typewriter. I said, “Yes sir.” He didn’t ask if I knew how to type. I got the job and six months later I was called into his office. I thought I was getting a pink slip, but instead he offered me fulltime work. I learned newspaper style by comparing every single word the proofreaders had corrected.

I continued to write the column and went on to cover entertainment, review shows, concerts, theater, restaurants and travel writing. I interviewed celebrities, met presidents and first ladies and was rubbing elbows with some pretty important folks. I wrote two books and wrote for various publications. I‘ve consistently won awards and received many special honors. I screamed, “Hey, Miss Lundquist, look at me now. I am something.”

Although I have macular degeneration and get monthly shots into my eye, I continue to freelance and write a monthly eight-page newsletter for our church and another for my high school Class of 1952.

Any career advice you would give?    

Don’t be afraid to go where you haven’t gone before. Explore new places, meet new people, and learn new things. But do your homework before you venture out. That makes you look smarter.

Marlene Cook, back row second from right, with NFPW friends at a NFPW conference tour.

Marlene Cook, back row second from right, with NFPW peeps at a NFPW conference tour.

Which talent would you most like to have?      

I think I’d have enjoyed being an actress. I like to talk (just ask anyone).

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Anywhere that I wouldn’t have to deal with ice and snow and the cold and where I could spend time with family and friends.

What book are you reading?  

I just finished reading “The Book of Joan” about Joan Rivers by her daughter Melissa Rivers and Marlo Thomas’ book, “It Ain’t Over…Till it’s over.” Guess I’m still stargazing.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?  

I was very quiet and extremely shy until I reached 30 and discovered I wasn’t having any fun. I went back to school and there was no stopping me.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?  

IWPA and NFPW accepted me when I was still a ‘wannabe” writer. They treated me like a professional and I learned from each one of the women who were much smarter than I was. The friendships I have cherished through the past 42 years have been my lifeline. They are the ones who made me a somebody. In May, IWPA presented me with a lifetime membership during our awards banquet.

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

I am on Facebook and follow IWPA and NFPW sites.

Meet a Member: Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas

February 17, 2015

When I need a helping hand, Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas is always willing to help out, even with her busy schedule and time devoted to taking care of family members. She was honored in Salt Lake City as our Communicator of Achievement, the top award given to a member. She works hard in causes she believes in and I appreciate her efforts. I am glad to call this unique and unbelievable member a friend. Meet Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas.

Name: Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas with her husband, Jonas.

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas with her husband, Jonas.

City and State: Chicago, Illinois

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

National Federation of Press Women: Executive 2nd Vice President (2013- present); Executive Board Secretary (2011-2013); Membership Chair (2009-2011).

Illinois Woman’s Press Association: Immediate Past-President, Historian & Archivist (2013-present); President (2009-2013); High School Communications Competition Chair (2010-2012); Vice President/Membership Chair (2005-2009).

Years a member of NFPW: since 2005

Tell us a little about you.

Throughout my career and volunteer work, if there has been a way I can connect people with one another, or if there’s an opportunity to make an introduction, link talent with a cause, help people find solutions and help each other, I’m all in. I truly feel this way and in 2014 went to work for Weight Watchers North America, Inc. The company is very positive and the people I’ve met are truly inspiring. They helped me get in shape and now I’m taking what I learned to encourage others on their weight loss journey.

I’ve always been a huge supporter of my alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University. I’m interested in reconnecting alums with the campus and finding opportunities to promote activities bringing students and alums together. I serve as President of the IWU Chicago Alumni Board and on the IWU Executive Alumni Board. One of my most memorable projects was “Saturday in the City” pairing international students far away from the comfort and support of home and family, with IWU alums in Chicago for a day of Midwestern hospitality. I’m still not sure who had more fun, students or adults? It’s always a win, win!!

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas enjoying time with her parents.

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas enjoys spending time with her parents, Joseph and Cecilia Wolf.

There have been such varied career opportunities I’ve personally enjoyed. Working for the United States Senate was especially meaningful in so many ways. I so enjoy helping people. At the end of my term working with former Illinois United States Senator Roland W. Burris, my personal life would require making career altering decisions. My mother was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and my father with colon cancer. Extremely close to both parents, I’m a loyal and determined daughter, and chose to be their caregiver easing the stress, fear and challenges my parents faced. As anyone familiar with COPD and cancer knows, the unknown is the enemy. Then, seemingly out of the blue, my husband learned he had a life threatening cancerous brain tumor. I’m here to tell you miracles do happen. As a family, with plenty of adjustments made in our everyday lives, we’ve managed to pull through. We count our blessing each and every day.

Any career advice you would give?

1.) Give yourself more credit. 2.) Follow your head, not necessarily your heart. 3.) Don’t beat yourself up over the little things. 4.) Give a helping hand and a kind word to the women you meet along your journey because chances are no one else is. 5.) At the end of the day, when you look into your mirror, remember to smile at the image staring back at you.

Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to sing and sound exactly like Linda Ronstadt in “Blue Bayou.”

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Somewhere safe and warm. I’m still searching…

What book are you reading?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’m looking forward to reading Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. Larson will be at the Union League Club of Chicago in April and I’ve already made my reservation to hear him and purchase a copy of the book.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

As a child, I was shy.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I so enjoy meeting such talented women (and some men) from all across the country. I’ve made some tremendous friends along the way. Some have even been important mentors in my journey as a writer. I’m passionate about the history of both organizations and enjoy writing about the women who were our trailblazers. Such a rich diverse group of women, they remain inspiring for me. Currently, I’m involved in a variety of writing projects about many of them and my research is never done. Some are easier to find than others and I’ve learned no two women are alike. One thing I know for sure, our generation should never let them be forgotten. Their commitments and struggles as women; as writers, as journalists and communicators in a world where women were often ignored and underpaid paved the way for us.

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

My website is mariannewolf.com. I can be found on Facebook as Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas, LinkedIn as Marianne Wolf.

Becky Sarwate uses wide array of communication skills to lead Illinois affiliate

December 30, 2014

One of the many things I admire about Becky Sarwate is she volunteers and gets things done. If she sees something that needs to be done and she has the skills, she steps up and accomplishes it. In six short years as a member of the Illinois affiliate, she is already the president of the group. At the NFPW Conference in South Carolina, I had the honor to recognize her as the Illinois Communicator of Achievement for 2014. She is another valued, unique and unbelievable NFPW member.

Becky_1

Becky Sarwate

Name: Rebecca (Becky) Sarwate

City and State: Chicago, IL

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Current first-term President of Illinois Woman’s Press Association, former PenPoints quarterly newsletter editor and social media strategist.

Years a member of NFPW: 2015 will be year six.

Tell us a little about you.

Becky Sarwate is a Communications Manager at HUB International Limited, the world’s eighth largest insurance brokerage. She is also the 49th President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Found in 1885 and celebrating 130 years in 2015, IWPA is an organization of professionals whose objective is to improve opportunities for members in mass communications.

In addition to her work at HUB and IWPA, Becky enjoys a vibrant career as a freelance writer, contributing to a number of publications including EDGE Media Network, where she reviews Chicago theater productions. She also publishes a weekly column for PoliticusUSA.com. In addition, she’s written for RootSpeak magazine, NewCity, Make It Better, StreetWise, and authors a personal blog on the Open Salon platform. She is a multiple IWPA Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest winner, as well as a five-time National Federation of Press Women award recipient.

In May 2013, Becky was diagnosed with pompholyx eczema, an incurable autoimmune disease also known as dyshidrotic eczema or dyshidrosis. It is characterized by recurring, painful pompholyx (“bubble”) eruptions on the fingers, palms, and soles and is often progressively debilitating. Its historical unresponsiveness to treatment can be frustrating for patient and doctor alike. Pompholyx’s cause is unknown, and the disease most commonly afflicts young adult women. Becky has written about her condition extensively, and is an outspoken advocate for pompholyx awareness and research.

Any career advice you would give?

When I first joined IWPA as a young writer struggling to build my name and portfolio, I proved my work ethic, creativity and leadership by not waiting to be asked to take on responsibilities. Rather, I saw holes where my skills could be used and I raised my hand. I created IWPA’s social media presences on Twitter and Facebook, redesigned the newsletter template, eliminating the need for a designer and saving IWPA $800 annually in the process. I leveraged my alumni network to help grow membership. I wrote PR materials and press releases. In the 21st Century world of creative frenzy, do not wait to be noticed. Put yourself out there. And the volunteer work you do to build your local affiliate or burnish the NFPW brand pays dividends – in resume building, networking and the development of your craft.

Becky_2

Becky Sarwate

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I were a hip hop dancer. I am not being facetious. I’m just too clumsy.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

London, England or Vancouver, Canada.

What book are you reading?

The Glass Castle, a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Before I became a writer, I had singing ambitions. I was a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir in high school and toured the world performing in Russia, South Africa and London, among other locales.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

Are you kidding? I’d be nowhere in my writing career without IWPA and NFPW. Fellow member, IWPA Past President and current NFPW Contest Chair Suzanne Hanney gave me my first “break” in 2009, giving me the opportunity to write six cover stories for StreetWise, where she works as Editor-in-Chief. Two of those stories won me a first place NFPW journalism award, proving to myself and others that I could do this. And it was also Suzanne who invited me to IWPA”s 2009 holiday party. The rest, as they say, is history.

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

Facebook: Becky Sarwate

Blog: http://open.salon.com/blog/becky_boop