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NFPW honors Tonda Rush for First Amendment, press freedom efforts

Tonda rush posing for the camera outside near a pine tree, holding a stack of papers in two hands in front of her.

Tonda Rush of Virginia, a long-time First Amendment advocate and president of American PressWorks, Inc., was honored with the National Federation of Press Women's President's Award. The award was presented Sept. 12, 2015 at the NFPW communications conference in Anchorage, Alaska.

The award is given from time-to-time by the NFPW president, with the approval of the Executive Committee, in recognition for outstanding dedication to the communications field.

Rush started her career managing a small weekly newspaper, segued into daily newspaper reporting and then went to law school, with the intention of returning to the newsroom. That trip back to the newsroom was sidelined when she was asked to head up a First Amendment project for reporters being kicked out of courtrooms after a bad 1979 Supreme Court decision. "I acquired a passion for First Amendment advocacy there that I have used later in my work on the legal staff of American Newspaper Publishers Association and as CEO of the National Newspaper Association," Rush said.

She teamed with Carol Pierce and formed APW and began providing management services to NFPW 18 years ago. "I conspired with Marsha Shuler to create the First Amendment Network (FAN) and we have been a thorn in the side of those who would govern in secret for all these years, we fervently hope."

During her law and management careers, she has continued to write, helping clients with newsletters, writing small books on public policy and ghosting speeches for our client Presidents and directors.

Rush was selected for the honor because of her years of First Amendment advocacy and for her hours of support and guidance to NFPW.

"She has tirelessly worked on behalf of NFPW. Because of her love for NFPW, she has been financially supportive of NFPW through the years, said Teri Ehresman, NFPW president in honoring Rush. "In my opinion, NFPW would not be where we are without the generous support of Tonda. This honor is a way to recognize her love and support of our organization and for her First Amendment advocacy efforts."

Previous recipients of the award include journalists such as Sarah McClendon and Helen Thomas, and Betty Ford, champion of women's rights. In 2014, the award was given to Katherine Ward of Delaware in recognition for the hundreds of hours Ward has given over the last several years to switch the NFPW affiliate contests, professional and high school at both the state and national level to an electronic format in order to meet the strategic goal of moving our organization into the 21st century. Prior to that, the award was last given in 1994.