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The histories behind the Federation

History of North Dakota Professional Communicators

North Dakota Professional Communicators was organized April 15, 1950, as North Dakota Press Women.

Its organizational meeting was held during the North Dakota Press Association convention that year. Then-NFPW President Irene Bedard asked Fern Lee of Towner, N.D., one of the women attending the convention, to invite the other women there to form their own state organization.

This was the second attempt at starting NDPW. The first was in 1946. Although a group of women took steps to start an organization, their effort went no further.

black and white photo of seven women, four seated on a step and the other three behind them, talking
North Dakota Press Women delegation at the 1973 NFPW conference in Dearborn, Mich. Front: Jane Berg, Linda Esades, Doris Eastman and Pat Estes. Back: Marge Potter, Fran Carrick and Rosamond Lowe.
purple jagged-edged circle with text 80 years in black and in white, around the edge above 80, dates of the orgnization.

Lee, one of NDPW's 20 charter members, didn't just make arrangements for the 1950 meeting. She also served as its first vice president and later its second president. She also was elected as NFPW treasurer. Lee was honored with an NFPW lifetime membership, and in 1957, was NDPW's first Woman of Achievement (now known as Communicator of Achievement).

Joyce Lang of Enderlin, N.D., was NDPW's first president. She also was the first editor of the organization's official newsletter, Type-hi. That's a term that came from the hot-lead days of typesetting. It refers to the height that hot type had to be to make it printable on a letter press.

color photo of 16 NDPC members posing for the camera.
NDPC members during the awards banquet at the NFPW conference that NDPC hosted in Bismarck, N.D., in 2002.

NDPW began publishing Type-hi in May 1950. Despite later suggestions to change its name to something more appropriate for the times, it remained Type-hi. However, in recent years, it was distributed electronically. Now the organization shares its news in a blog on its website, www.aboutndpc.org.

For the first 27 years of its existence, NDPW held its convention at the same time and place as the North Dakota Press Association, which later became the North Dakota Newspaper Association. But when that close connection caused some people to assume NDPW was an auxiliary of the North Dakota Press Association, NDPW voted in 1977 to begin holding its convention in a different city at a different time.

NDPW held its first separate convention the following year.

Since NDPW's first conference in 1952, honoring communications contest award winners and the Communicator of Achievement have been highlights of the event. The organization has had its share of national honors, including several members earning the NFPW Sweepstakes Award, two members being named NFPW Communicator of Achievement (Jane Brandt in 2001 and Karen Stensrud in 2010) and North Dakota taking first place in the NFPW communications contest.

In 1957, NDPW established a scholarship fund. Each year, the organization provides a scholarship to a deserving college student in the communications field from a college or university in North Dakota or in nearby Moorhead, Minn.

The organization also holds an annual communications contest for college students as a way to encourage them to pursue careers in communication and join the organization.

Eugene Carr, executive manager of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, became the first man accepted as a member of NDPW after it voted in 1973 to open membership to men.

Following a two-year debate, NDPW members voted at their 1988 spring convention to change the organization's name to North Dakota Professional Communicators. They made the change to better reflect NDPC's membership, which includes marketing and public relations specialists, book authors, broadcasters, freelancers and educators, as well as newspaper reporters, editors and publishers.

NDPC has hosted two NFPW conferences: 1974 and 2002. NDPC members also have served on the NFPW board and NFPW committees.