Posted tagged ‘NFPW’

Meet a Member: Viv Sade

June 13, 2018

One of the advantages of helping run the NFPW professional communications contest is getting to work with outstanding affiliate contest directors. Viv Sade was the co-director for the Indiana contest and it was great working with her. I took a look at her contest entry and found she is an outstanding writer as well. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better. 

Name: Vivian “Viv” Sade

City and State: Churubusco, IN

Viv Sade

Viv Sade

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Indiana, WPCI current president and co-chair for Communications Contest

Years a member of NFPW: Since 1996 – 22 years

Tell us a little about you.

She is a 25-plus-year newspaper journalist who worked for various newspapers throughout northeast Indiana, including the Auburn Star, Churubusco News and the Journal Gazette. She now enjoys freelancing at home where she writes in her pajamas and eschews deadlines. She has a blended family of six children and a gaggle of grandchildren whom she indulges and caters to while their parents aren’t looking. Her lifetime goal is to find shoes to match the bags under her eyes.

Any career advice you would give?

Get to know and make friends with co-workers or managers or anyone else whose work you admire – – that way you can learn from the best. That kind of guidance and support will prove invaluable in career in the long run. And, never lose your sense of humor and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Talent? To be a gifted musician – – Super power? To have super eyelids with the ability to make unpleasant human beings vanish.

Viv Sade

Viv Sade

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Belize or Bali – Never been there, but I am mesmerized by the photos

What book are you reading?

Two right now: “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” a hilarious book by Gina Barreca, one of my favorite columnists, and “A Train in Winter,” by Caroline Moorehead, about the women who banded together in the French Resistance during WWII.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I am completely stumped on this one. Maybe that I am not always hyper and in what my husband calls “frenzy mode.” I sometimes host a pity party for ME, not getting out of my jammies, eating Cheetos and DeBrand chocolates in bed, and crying while re-watching “The Way We Were” and marathons of “My 600 Pound Life” for 12 or 15 hours in a row. It is soul-cleansing and I am happy and good to go for another five or six months.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

This is an easy one. The women I have met and am still meeting are so admirable and extraordinary and very accomplished. I am in awe of them. (See above where I advise young writers to get close to people like these because they can learn so much.) And they are not just my colleagues – they are my lifelong, dear friends.

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

Viv Sade on Facebook; blogs include Visit Fort Wayne (, Scribbles by Viv (, and I am currently working on launching a blog called Vintage Chicks Counsel, where I plan to have advice, quotes and tips from all the wise women in my life.


Meet a Member: Helen Sheffield Plotkin

November 21, 2017

Helen Sheffield Plotkin is the 2017 Communicator of Achievement for Arkansas Press Women. She is an active member of the affiliate where she has served in many capacities during her professional career. She is currently serving as the affiliate contest director in a affiliate known for high quality entrants. This year’s national sweepstakes award winner was from Arkansas. Plotkin is a dedicated NFPW member and a great asset to our organization. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better.

Name: Helen Sheffield Plotkin

 City and State: Conway, Arkansas

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

Arkansas Press Women – I’ve served APW as president, first vice president, secretary, high school contest director, scholarship chair, conference organizer and, this year, I’m chairing the professional contest. I joined APW in 1977. Charlotte Schexnayder, who was NFPW president, spoke at the first APW meeting I attended. I was honored to be asked to join the state board as Southwest District Director in 1978; I found out later that there were few members in the southwest corner of the state and that they’d already asked everyone else who qualified for the position and been turned down. I’m still glad they asked me because that opportunity introduced me to the APW leadership and helped form personal relationships that continue to be important to me 40 years later. That early involvement also prompted me to seek out membership in Louisiana when I moved there in 1979. I was an active member of Louisiana  Press Women for the next decade, serving on the board, helping plan a state conference, and serving as contest chair in the days before you needed to be computer literate to enter. I resumed membership in Arkansas Press Women when I moved back to my home state in 1989.

Helen Plotkin with her niece Amy and holding her grand-niece, Jemma. Photo is from last spring when Jemma was about four months old.

Helen Plotkin with her niece Amy and grand-niece, Jemma. Photo is from last spring when Jemma was about four months old.

Tell us a little about you.

I grew up in Mount Ida, Arkansas, population 897 for most of the time I lived there. My mother, father, sister and brother lived on a farm along the South Fork of the Ouachita River.

 We were poor, but didn’t know it because we didn’t know anyone who wasn’t in the same shape. When my grandparents, and then my parents bought televisions, I got my first glimpse of the outside world and realized that other people lived differently. I was seven when the television arrived and when the wood cookstove was replaced with a gas range; I was 14 when we got running water.

 I graduated from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, with bachelor of arts in journalism and spent the next 13 years working at newspapers in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana – mostly as a feature writer, editor and columnist. I also worked the news desk, covered city hall, county government, the local school board, police, fire and such, and anything else the editors I worked for needed done.

 In 1989, my husband (a Chicago native who was a copy editor at the Monroe, Louisiana, newspaper when I joined the staff) accepted a job of the Arkansas Gazette and we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, about 100 miles from where I grew up. A couple of months after we moved, I started work in the Public Information Office at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, my first step toward a career in public relations. I spent five years at UALR, learning from a group of talented co-workers and leaving in 1995 as Managing Editor (and interim director) of the Office of Communications. I went to Hendrix College in Conway Arkansas as Director of College Relations for the small liberal arts college that is widely regarded as among 100 best liberal arts colleges in the nation. When I retired in May 2017, I’d been at Hendrix for 22 years, the last two as Vice President for Marketing Communications and a member of the Senior Leadership Team and the President’s Cabinet.

 I’ve been married to Richard Plotkin (also an APW/NFPW member) for 36 years, as of Nov. 15, 2017. We haven’t any offspring, but my late sister was kind enough to have a daughter and son, who have both provided grand nephews and – as of December 2016 – one grand-niece whose arrival is one of the reasons I decided to retire and give myself more time to spoil her rotten.

 Any career advice you would give?

When I told my Hendrix team that was retiring, I was asked to share some parting words of wisdom with the group at one of our monthly “Brown Bag Lunches,” a short professional development time that we all took turns leading. I put together a list I titled 22 True Things, one for each year I worked at Hendrix. After I left, the new Vice President for Marketing Communications had my list framed and hung on the wall (mainly to embarrass me, I think). Here are a few of the items that would fall in the career advice category:

  1. Ask, don’t assume. What you think you already know can get in your way.
  2. Remember that someone else’s idea could be better than yours and you’ll never know that if you don’t pause and listen.
  3. How you respond to setbacks and failure will determine the course of your career.
  4. Don’t be shy about claiming credit when you’ve excelled at something. Also, don’t be shy about sharing the credit. We do very little of value all alone.
  5. While earning the approval and respect of others is valuable and affirming, you are the only person whose approval or respect you require to be a person of integrity.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Since I love music, it would nice if had some talent in that area. My late sister often commented, when we sang duets together in church as teenagers, that the issue wasn’t so much my lack of talent as it was my lack of willingness to practice enough to compensate for it – and my inability to grasp that when we were singing a duet it was actually important that we sing in the same key. I miss my sister every day, but I’ve yet to miss that sharp elbow of hers that landed in my side every time I was flat!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

The ideal place would require a little reorganization of the continent. If no one objects, I would create a cozy little cottage on a few acres of the old family farm in Mount Ida. Then I’d replace the South Fork of the Ouachita River that borders the property with the Pacific Ocean, so I could watch the sunset every night and fall asleep to the sound of the surf. I can’t decide between plopping my little paradise down near Monterey or placing it along the coast of Oregon, where some of my favorite relatives live. Those details can be worked out after I get the cottage built, I’m sure.

What book are you reading?

I usually have several going at the same time. I just started Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly, a Harry Borsch crime novel.

And, I’ve been dipping periodically into Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg, which I purchased at the NFPW meeting in Birmingham and am thoroughly enjoying, and Atlas Obscura, a collection of stories about just plain odd places around the globe.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been employed as a professional chicken catcher – along with the other members of my high school class. It’s what we did to raise money for our junior banquet and senior trip. It was both hard work and fun, in a weird sort of way. But, I wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term career.

Why are organizations like NFPW important?

Organizations like NFPW connect us with others who share our professional passion. Friendships develop that enrich our lives on a number of levels. NFPW and its state affiliates provide professional development workshops and opportunities to develop leadership skills, and create networks of fellow communicators we can call on when we encounter challenges at work or when we are searching for work.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc. – My Linked In page, although there’s not much on it. And, that’s about the same for my Facebook page.

Meet a Member: Michelle Harmon

August 23, 2017

Michelle Harmon will soon be attending her first NFPW national conference in Birmingham, Alabama. It will be fun to introduce her to all our amazing members. When she was a senior at Borah High School in 1980, I was honored to award her first place in the high school writing contest feature writing category during my first term as the Idaho affiliate president. The past several years she has been special to Media Network Idaho in her position as adviser to the Borah High School newspaper and her work as president of the Idaho Student Journalism Association. The Borah student newspaper is one of the top journalism programs in Idaho and usually wins the MNI High School Communications Contest sweepstakes award, like it did this spring. Take a minute to get to know this unique and unbelievable member and be sure to welcome her during our conference in Alabama.

Name: Michelle Harmon

City and State: Boise, Idaho

Michelle Harmon

Michelle Harmon

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Media Network Idaho member and Idaho State Director, Journalism Education Association / President, Idaho Student Journalism Association

Years a member of NFPW: Two

Tell us a little about you.

My first foray into journalism was in eighth grade, when a teacher earmarked me to type the school newsletter. By high school, I had earned a full-ride tuition scholarship to The Ohio State University (1980-1984). I’m a bit of a butterfly in that I took jobs that would allow me to travel, lived in New York City for 12 years.

After 9-11, I rearranged priorities again, and got my master’s in education. I parlayed my teaching certificate to return to Boise, get married, and teach in the same high school news room that my mentor teacher was in. I retired from the Boise School District in May after 13 years of advising the newspaper staff. I finally feel savvy and confident enough to be a writer!

Any career advice you would give?

Never let money be your main motivation. Do what makes you happy, and the money will come.

Michelle Harmon was named 2014 Journalism Educator of the Year by Youth Journalism International

Michelle Harmon was named 2014 Journalism Educator of the Year by Youth Journalism International

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to sing and dance. I wasn’t lucky enough for them to come with my writing talent.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Where I live, Boise, Idaho.

What book are you reading?

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlando. I also recently read Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. I am also reading an academic introduction to Hamlet, because that is one of my next profile/feature pieces I will write.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m an Army brat — lived in 5 states by the time I was 5 years old. I think it gave me the travel bug that distracted me after I graduated college.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

1980 Idaho Press Women high school writing contest first place award

1980 Idaho Press Women high school writing contest first place award for feature writing.

Originally, NFPW and Media Network Idaho were important to me as a high school newspaper adviser. My students always did well, and the awards they won were invaluable to them and their parents. For example, one autistic student that graduated from my newspaper program went to college (a revived dream for the student’s parents) and wrote movie reviews for the university’s newspaper (print and online).

Earlier this year, I discovered my own high school first place feature award from Teri and the Idaho Affiliate. Now, NFPW is recognizing my writing on a national level nearly 40 years later. It’s confirmation that I have the talent to write, and I should be doing so.

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

Twitter: @mrharmon

Meet a Member: Sarah Cortez

July 26, 2017

This September Sarah Cortez will attend her first NFPW conference. She won a first place award for her efforts with her latest book, “Vanishing Points Poems and Photographs of Texas Roadside Memorials.” She is a new member of Press women of Texas and is already involved in the organization’s leadership. She is a unique and unbelievable new member I hope you enjoy getting to know a little better.

Name: Sarah Cortez

City and State: Houston, TX

Affiliate & Leadership Position: Press Women of Texas. Recently elected vice-president.

Years a NFPW Member:  Less than one year.

Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez

Tell Us A Little About Yourself:                    

I have been a freelance professional writer and editor for almost ten years.  I am 12 books into my career: eight are anthologies and three are authored by myself.  All are published by successful independent publishers.

There are three loves that define my professional life: a love of working with writers, a love of police work, and a love of poetry.  Just as so many others in our culture, I have been lucky enough to combine several career paths.  For me, a 24-year career in law enforcement has melded with both teaching/writing/editing poetry, fiction, memoir, etc., for both individuals and publishing houses.

The best thing I’ve done in my life is become a police officer.  In a way, it was an improbable decision because I already had a fast-track career in corporate America and two graduate degrees: a master’s in Classical Studies and a master’s in Accountancy. My decision to take a radical pay cut and go from white-collar work to blue-collar work has enabled me to stand up for crime victims as I also stand up for what is right based on the laws of the U.S.  The one thing I don’t fear is dying on the job as a cop.  Anyone who goes to the police academy had better make peace with this issue before he/she pays tuition and shows up with armfuls of new, scratchy uniforms and heavy equipment on the first day.

What book are you reading?

I always seem to be reading several books at once.  Right now, I’m going through a book of St. Mother Teresa’s meditations and advice, Pat Conroy’s “Prince of Tides,” and Dana Gioia’s monograph, “The Catholic Writer.”

Why is your affiliate important to you?

I have been intrigued by the Texas affiliate of NFPW because the people I’ve met are so professional, so smart, and have had such a variety of careers.  Perhaps, like me, they are women and men who’ve seen a lot of life yet still believe in the triumph of the human spirit.  As a recently elected vice-president, my goal is to increase membership and work with the present board for the good of our organization.

Any career advice you would give?

If I might offer career advice related to being a freelance writer and editor, I would say “Be patient and hard-working.”  I believe it is a natural human tendency to want everything to be easy.  I even see this tendency in myself every once in a while.  It creeps up on me and it is dreadfully depleting.  I think we writers/editors would be much better served if we expect every piece of writing/editing to be difficult.  You see, “difficult” is okay.  It helps each of us rise to better and higher standards or ways of thinking or vistas of understanding.   Difficulty pushes each of us to greater achievement.  “Easy” doesn’t do this.  We can’t allow our professional output to be a function of the attitude of minimalism that is endemic in today’s culture.  You know, that attitude of “what’s the least I can do to get by?”

Thoughts on attending your first NFPW conference?

Oh, yes, I wish to say that I am thrilled to have been granted a First Timer Grant to attend the annual conference in Birmingham, AL this year!  I am eager to meet everyone!  I feel strongly that this organization is where I should be right now to combine the many bright threads of my professional experience into the strong rope of the future.

Ways to follow you:
and her NFPW award winning book:

Meet a Member: Deborah Reinhardt

July 19, 2017

I’m looking forward to the NFPW conference this September in Birmingham, Alabama. I am also looking forward to meeting some of our interesting and talented writers like Deborah Reinhardt of Missouri. She is a recent new member of NFPW and is already busy supporting her Missouri affiliate. I hope you take the time to get to know her better.

Name: Deborah Reinhardt

City and State: St. Louis, Mo.

Deborah Reinhardt

Deborah Reinhardt

Affiliate and any leadership positions: 

Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC). I manage communications (newsletter, social media, website) for our chapter.

Years a member of NFPW: first year, though I was active since 2015

Tell us a little about you. 

I’m managing editor for AAA magazines (Midwest Traveler and Southern Traveler). I’ve done this for 27 years, but I still get a kick when the box of newly printed magazines arrive and I open it to see what we’ve made. I’m the weird woman at Barnes & Noble who stands at the magazine stand smelling ink and fingering paper (not kidding). My job allows me to meet and work with ridiculously gifted writers, and I travel once or twice a year to write articles. The last trip was a Route 66 journey from Missouri to the Grand Canyon.

Deborah Reinhardt visiting the Grand Canyon.

Deborah Reinhardt visiting the Grand Canyon.

Prior to the magazine, I worked several years in community newspapers, starting as a reporter fresh out of college then moving to take over as editor of a small weekly in an unincorporated, semi-rural area. My beat included the sewer and school districts. (Sometimes, they resembled each other.)

I’ve loved writing stories since the seventh grade, and I’m excited about the next book that I hope to launch this fall.

Any career advice you would give? 

Don’t allow “no” to stop you. Believe in your talents and pursue these in your career. Be your best publicist.

Which talent would you most like to have? 

Once, I’d like to throw a curveball that would buckle a batter’s knees.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 

Anywhere Paul McCartney is living. Kidding (sort of). I dream about retiring near the water in about 10 years. Maybe I’ll buy an RV and just travel cross-country with Beatles music in the background.

What book are you reading? 

The Naked Now

What would people be surprised to learn about you? 

That I was allergic to chocolate as a kid, which is a little weird, as my winning entry is a book about chocolate makers in Missouri. Thankfully, I grew out of that and could properly conduct necessary “research” for Delectable Destinations.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you? 

I get so energized around other writers and creative people. Our jobs, if we’re not careful, can become dull and routine, but when we have our meetings and conferences, I always meet someone new and make good contacts.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.; Facebook under my name and @DelectableDestinations; Twitter is @girlpowerpub

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: Molly Klocksin

May 31, 2017

Molly Klocksin joined NFPW early in her career and rejoined Nebraska Press Women three years ago. She has been active ever since rejoining, even helping plan an affiliate conference. Molly attended her first NFPW communications conference last fall after being awarded a First Timer Grant from the NFPW Education Fund. It is nice to have her back as an active member and we hope to see her again this fall in Alabama. I hope you take time to get to know this unique and unbelievable NFPW member.

Name: Molly Klocksin

City and State: Lincoln, Nebraska

Molly Klocksin

Molly Klocksin

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Parliamentarian, Nebraska Press Women affiliate

Years a member of NFPW: About 3 years in this century.

Tell us a little about you.

I grew up in suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My paternal grandfather was a small-town newspaper publisher, and a paternal uncle was a TV news anchor and state legislator. My parents read newspapers and watched the news on TV; we often talked politics at the dinner table. One of my earliest political memories is accompanying my mom to the polls for the 1960 JFK/Nixon presidential campaign. The “lunch ladies” from my elementary school were poll workers!

All through school, I was interested in news and politics. During the summer of 1967, I kept a diary describing what the newspapers and TV stations were reporting about the race riots in Milwaukee.  At one point, I wrote, “I sound like a reporter!”

In high school, I was co-editor of the school paper. I went on to study journalism and political science at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. Journalism was popular in that Watergate era, but I think I may have been a “J” major, anyway.

In my early career, I worked at newspapers – a suburban weekly and a small-city daily. I worked hard, and worked long hours, but the work and the people suited me. I later worked as a press secretary for U.S. Senator Jim Exon, D-Nebraska in Washington, D.C., and for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln., writing press releases and feature stories about agriculture. I then took a detour into my current position as a Case Advocate for Disability Rights Nebraska, and earned a master’s degree in counseling from Doane University in Lincoln. I still feel like a reporter when I investigate abuse/neglect in facilities for people with mental illness. I interview people and observing their surroundings, and then I take the details to our agency’s attorneys – much like I used to gather information for stories that went to editors. I’ve written an Op Ed piece, some press releases and blogs for our agency. .

Any career advice you would give?

Be willing to move for a job. My dad told me I’d have rocks in my head to move to Grand Island, Nebraska. But I wanted to work at a daily newspaper, and I figured working in a lightly populated state’s third largest media market would be a good opportunity. I was right!

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’ve always wanted to be a certified Jazzercise instructor. I’ve been a student for years. It keeps me sane.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I’d like Santa Fe, N.M. in the winter. And northern Wisconsin in the winter.

What book are you reading?

“Leaving the Pink House,” by Ladette Randolph. She’s a Nebraskan, and she writes about all the houses she has lived in. She also writes about renovating an old house with her husband. This book resonated with me because my domestic partner is building us a custom log and stone house on his farmland outside of Lincoln. He does the vast majority of the work, of course, but we often talk about the “Big House on the Prairie” and plan our future there with our cats. We’re hoping to make many happy memories there with visits from his two adult daughters and four adult grandchildren.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

When I was young, my mother called me “The Next Nancy Dickerson.” Nancy was the first female correspondent on network television. She was from a Milwaukee suburb, and graduated from my mother’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   Nancy Dickerson’s son, John Dickerson, now hosts “Face the Nation.”  I wrote to him on Facebook after I read his book about his mother. He “liked” my comment. Mom would have gotten a kick out of that!

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I’ve met great friends at NFPW and Nebraska Press Women events. Even though I no longer work in the media per se, I still enjoy the company of journalists. Of course we have professional development opportunities, but it’s the people and sense of community that matter most to me. When a member loses a parent or other loved one, NPW members are the first  to send a card. That thoughtfulness is hard to find elsewhere these days!

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

My Twitter handle is @annalia2013. I’m on Facebook as Molly Klocksin.