Membership Milestones 2023

NFPW recognizes its members who’ve reached 25 years of membership and every five-year increment thereafter with short biographies. 


Arizona Press Women
Cheri Cross-Bushnell grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where she began her newspaper career. She first joined NFPW in 1963 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and later became the founding president of Nevada Press Women and president of Arizona Press Women. In Tucson, Cheri was a reporter for a large daily, editor of a small daily business newspaper and its weekly business tabloid, and editor and publisher of her own weekly community newspaper, along with being an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Arizona and appearing weekly on a PBS program featuring area top journalists. At one point, she was elected to the Tucson City Council, spending two years of her term as vice mayor. Her husband, Asa Bushnell, died in 2011, and she now lives in an All Seasons retirement complex in Oro Valley, north of Tucson, where she enjoys writing her memoirs for her offspring, playing bridge, reading and brushing up on her art skills. 


Colorado Press Women
Ann Lockhart taught high school English and journalism, then wrote for and edited weekly suburban newspapers. She served as public relations director for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and did community relations for a scientific study at the department. She was the first president of the National Public Health Information Coalition. After retirement, Ann started Eagle Eye Editing and began serious volunteering, including teaching English to refugees for the past 20 years. She’s a past NFPW parliamentarian and Colorado Press Women president and was recently elected CPW co-president. 

Illinois Woman’s Press Association
Marlene Cook began writing as a “gossip” columnist, progressing to entertainment. She interviewed celebrities, including presidents and the queen of the Netherlands. Encouraged and mentored by members of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association and NFPW, Marlene wrote two books and won hundreds of awards. She has served as IWPA president, NFPW historian and POPPS president. At age 89, she continues to research and write historical features for a local digital newspaper. 

Woman’s Press Club of Indiana
For Julie Slaymaker, her proudest achievement has been her key role in founding Woman’s Press Club of Indiana’s prison writing contest for inmates. The former WPCI president and Communicator of Achievement is a freelance writer and serves on several boards, including the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame and the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers. As a freelance trial reporter for WTLC Radio, she won UPI awards for her coverage of a drug ring and the Mike Tyson rape trial. WPCI and the Indiana Society for Professional Journalists have both established scholarships in honor of Julie and her husband, Gene, upon their retirement for their work in journalism.


Alaska Professional Communicators
Pat Richardson retired 10 years ago from a 46-year career in communications. She started in private industry on the production side of the publishing business, eventually transferring to the editorial side. In 1977, Pat moved to Anchorage as associate editor of Alaska Construction & Oil magazine, and, in 1981, she began her 31 ½-year career as a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District. Her passion is preserving Alaska Professional Communicators’ history as historian and archivist. In retirement, she focuses on maintaining a foster home for the many dogs rescued and put up for adoption by Kitty and K-9 Connection, a nonprofit organization in Anchorage. 

Arkansas Press Women
Helen Sheffield Plotkin retired in 2017 as vice president of marketing communications for Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, after working in higher education public relations for 28 years. She worked at newspapers in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana for 13 years after earning a journalism degree from Henderson State University in Arkansas. Helen has twice served Arkansas Press Women as president and has served on the board of both APW and Louisiana Press Women. She has been APW’s contest director for five years and is currently assistant director of NFPW’s professional communications contest. 

Colorado Press Women
Sue Deans spent 30 years as a newspaper editor and reporter. She valued local news that built community. Beginning as a reporter for the Daily Camera in Boulder, where she joined Colorado Press Women and NFPW, she later became editor of The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At Denver's Rocky Mountain News, she worked on two Pulitzer-winning projects, then returned to the Daily Camera as editor. Now retired, she focuses on volunteering and family. 

A journalism graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, Sandy Michel Nance started her career working for United Press International, followed by the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune. She worked 25 in public relations for Mountain Bell/US West, and, with a master’s degree, taught PR at Regis University and Metro State College. Sandy retired in 2011 as managing editor-publications at American Water Works Association after six years. She was named NFPW’s Communicator of Achievement in 2020 after twice being named Colorado’s COA and served as Colorado Press Women president for a total of 10 years. 

North Carolina Press Club
Gwen A. White is a journalist and motivational speaker who entertains and challenges audiences with her homespun humor. Having spent approximately 30 years as a journalist, Gwen also conducts workshops on volunteerism, media relations and crisis communications. She served as NFPW president from 1993 to 1995, received the NFPW President’s Award and coordinated the national communications contest entries for 25 years. A former North Carolina Press Club Communicator of Achievement, she serves as the NCPC treasurer. Gwen is a past international director for Lions Clubs International and has received the Lions’ highest award, the Ambassador of Good Will award. She directs the North Carolina Lions’ annual fishing tournament for those with visually impairments. 

Oregon Press Women
Anne Koppel Conway, turning 77, is still writing. She has faced big numbers this year: 50th college class reunion (University of Washington, Seattle); 44th anniversary with husband, Judd; 50th wedding anniversaries of friends and cousins; and being a 45-year member of NFPW. Anne and Judd have four wonderful daughters and two amazing grandsons. She says, “Life in Eugene, Oregon, is good. I like to walk from bridge to bridge that cross the Willamette River, about a 4½-mile round trip. Judd and I are about to tackle pickleball.” 

Press Women of Texas
Throughout her 45-year career, H. Janet Sacarello has applied her writing, editing and design skills in various capacities, including at the Dallas Times Herald and the Mobil Research and Development Corporation’s Dallas Research Laboratory, before starting her own company in 1995. A highlight was being an editor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II newsletter. After earning certification, she was an adapted life skills teacher in Denton High School from 2005 to 2011. At 81, she is still creating cards, bookmarks and brochures and also publishes a blog, A multiple NFPW award winner over the years, she was PWT’s 2002 Communicator of Achievement. 

Angela Smith is executive director emeritus of the Writers’ League of Texas. She is an award-winning freelance writer/editor, communications consultant, and author of several books, including “Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country, Steel Drums and Steelbands: a History” and a math book for kids. A former Associated Press reporter, she is also a working musician (piano, cello, steel drum, and hammered dulcimer) and avid amateur astronomer. She is a past president of Press Women of Texas and co-chair of NFPW’s First Amendment Network. 

Virginia Press Women
Gail Kent is the president of The Buzz Factoree LLC, a public relations and marketing firm in Newport News, Virginia. A former journalist, she spent much of her career doing communications in health care and higher education. She has won more than 350 awards for her work, many of them from Virginia Press Women and NFPW. Gail has served many years on the VPW board and was the affiliate’s 1989 Communicator of Achievement. 


California Press Women
Maria Budzynski spent the World War II years in Berlin and met her American husband in 1951 when he was with the U.S. Army in Frankfurt. “It was not love at first sight,” she recalled. He was seeking escaped German war criminals and didn’t believe Maria when she insisted her father had been a soldier killed on the Russian front. Flowers and an apology followed. In December 1983, her story “Real-Life Drama: My First Encounter with a U.S. Soldier” appeared in Good Housekeeping. It won an NFPW first-place award. 

Woman’s Press Club of Indiana
Jean Flora Glick won NFPW awards as sales publications editor for Cummins Engine Co., as columnist for The Republic and Hope Star Journal newspapers, and as author of “Holy Smokes, Inspirational Help for Kicking the Habit,” published by Kregel. Now retired, Jean taught school, freelanced for 20 magazines and was educational director of the President Benjamin Harrison Home & Museum. She has three children, seven grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. 

Kansas Professional Communicators
Becky Funke recently retired from a career as a reporter, editor, publisher and public relations professional that began as a reporter on her high school newspaper. Her career took her from weekly community newspapers, a stint at a small daily newspaper, to a 60,000-circulation regional publication and finally to working in public relations at Wichita Art Museum. During her newspaper years, she consistently won awards in the KPC and NFPW contests. She has served KPC in various appointed and elected roles. She was the KPC Communicator of Achievement in 2002 and 2014 and received the NFPW COA award in 2014. She continues to use her communication skills for the Lions Clubs in Kansas.  

Missouri Professional Communicators
Since retiring from hospital public relations in 2004, Pat Treacy has written two books, one of which is expected to be published this year by History Press. “A Diva of the Diamond" is the biography of Erma Bergmann, a St. Louis pitcher who played baseball in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II and then blazed a trail when she became a St. Louis policewoman for 25 years. Pat also founded the Queens of Swing, an all-girl band reminiscent of the 1940s. The group performs at retirement homes and private parties.

Nebraska Press Women
Sherry Thompson is a communications consultant working with nonprofits and small businesses and works extensively with Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue. During her career, she has worked as a communications manager, freelance writer, reporter and editor in diverse corporate, newspaper and nonprofit environments. She currently is the high school communications contest director for Nebraska Press Women and previously served as president, vice president and treasurer. Sherry has also been a member of Louisiana Press Women and Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Her community involvement includes serving as vice president for the Omaha Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary board and marketing chair/secretary for Heartland Women’s Network. 

Pennsylvania Press Club
Melissa Piper Nelson began her journalism career in college recounting the devastation in her home state of Pennsylvania following Hurricane Agnes in 1972. She has written for publications in the Great Plains and on the East Coast. Melissa won a Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Keystone Award for team news coverage as a Bloomsburg Press Enterprise reporter. Her column, “Today’s Marketing Objective,” appears in Country Folks Grower. She has won multiple awards in the NFPW communications contest. She retired from full-time work in 2021. 

Press Women of Texas
Winner of many awards and a former Press Women of Texas president, Bonnie Arnold of Kerrville had 40 years’ experience writing for newspapers until she retired in December 2021. Bonnie covered community news in smaller towns almost all her career, knowing readers expect to see individual successes and tragedies, community needs, births, weddings, death, and social events, as well as hard news. Since retiring, Bonnie was named to the Kerr County Historical Commission and serves as its secretary. 

Virginia Press Women
Louise C. Seals joined the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1968. She was managing editor in 1996-2006, led major changes such as the use of computers, and was active in state and national journalism organizations. The Times-Dispatch ­­won the Virginia Press Association’s top public service award four times while she was managing editor. She is in the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. Since discovering Richmond Tree Stewards in 2008, she has helped lead environmental initiatives from hands-on tree care to planting hundreds of trees. 


Alabama Media Professionals
Mary Wimberley retired in 2016 after a 42-year career at Samford University, where she was news and feature writer, media relations officer and associate editor of Seasons, the university’s alumni magazine. Previously, she worked at several Alabama daily newspapers. She was president of Alabama Media Professionals from 2017 to 2019, during which AMP hosted the 2017 NFPW conference in Birmingham. Through the years, she won numerous AMP and NFPW writing awards. She is also an active member of Rotary International and other organizations. 

Woman’s Press Club of Indiana
When Gena Asher joined Woman’s Press Club of Indiana and NFPW, she was in the midst of a long newspaper reporting career. With the rise of the web, she saw that content was taking a backseat to technology’s bells and whistles. So, she turned her attention to website content development, both as a freelancer and as web editor for the Indiana University School of Journalism, where she also taught journalism classes. She is now retired.

Missouri Professional Communicators
Allison Stein has been a professional communicator in technology companies large and small for more than 35 years and currently works for a Fortune 500 software company. Allison’s service to NFPW includes parliamentarian, technology adviser, webmaster and web director, as well as president of the Missouri and South Carolina affiliates. She was named Missouri Professional Communicators’ 1997 Communicator of Achievement. In her spare time, she manages web and social media for a science fiction convention and is an author, artist, photographer, TV addict, geek princess and cat servant —not necessarily in that order. 

Virginia Press Women
Pamela Stallsmith of Richmond has worked as a reporter, editor and strategic communicator. She worked twice for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, first covering politics and state news for nearly 20 years. After 12 years in corporate communications and higher education, she returned to the newspaper as Opinions editor. She now owns PScommunications LLC, a writing and editing firm. She is co-president of Virginia Press Women and serves on the board of the VPW Foundation. Pamela has won 108 communications awards.


North Dakota Professional Communicators
Karen Stensrud
is vice president of brand and executive communications at Bell Bank, one of the nation’s largest family-owned banks. A three-term affiliate president and two-time NFPW contest sweepstakes winner, Karen is serving her sixth NFPW president as an appointed board member and is national COA director. Karen was NFPW’s Communicator of Achievement in 2010, and in 2021 was named Woman of the Year in Communications by the YWCA of Cass-Clay. 


Alabama Media Professionals
Sandra Bearden
began her 25-year membership after a career in writing and journalism when she joined the organization after retiring from what was then BellSouth Corp. She wanted to pursue a part-time career as a freelance writer and did so until she was 72. Despite a lengthy previous career as a newspaper reporter, college teacher and member of the BellSouth staff, she says NFPW programs and contacts helped her immeasurably. 

Delaware Press Association
Mary Leah Christmas is a freelance writer-editor whose background includes blogging, biographical research and volunteerism. Most of her projects have related in some way to her longtime interests in nature/wildlife, literary history, architecture and geography. She has received awards and recognitions from Delaware Press Association and NFPW, as well as from other organizations. She has served twice on DPA’s board of directors. Over the years, she has also assisted DPA through various supporting roles.

A new arrival to Delaware in 1998 from Johannesburg, South Africa, Bridget Paverd met Katherine Ward, then president of the Delaware Press Association at a conference and joined DPA & NFPW. She says Ward and both organizations helped her grow her strategic communications company, GillespieHall, which she founded in 2000 and sold in January 2023 to Philadelphia-based SLICE Communications. She continues to teach at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and actively consults as a crisis communications specialist. Paverd has participated in more than 20 NFPW communication contests and has served as a contest judge for other states. 

Missouri Professional Communicators
Janice Denham
finished decades of writing and editing where she started: St. Louis Suburban Journals. Jumping in after high school with the new Jefferson County Journal, she gained credits for a journalism degree at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She was mainly the weekly free newspapers’ food editor and later planned, wrote and fluffed dresses for photos with its bridal magazine for 10 years. Starting as liaison with the Missouri Professional Communicators’ local partner, she also serves on the St. Louis Artists’ Guild’s executive board. Janice, now co-president of MPC, has been a mainstay for NFPW in Missouri.

Nebraska Press Women
Stephanie Geery-Zink
was a reporter/photographer at The Daily Reporter in Derby, Kansas, from 1991 to 1995, a staff writer/photographer for The Daily Sun in Beatrice, Nebraska, from 1995 to 2002, and a freelance journalist from 2002 to 2009. She then worked in public relations, communications and fundraising for an advertising firm and several nonprofit organizations. She is currently the grants director for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Stephanie has been a longtime board member of Nebraska Press Women and was the NPW Communicator of Achievement in 2011. 

Virginia Press Women
Twenty-five years ago Carol Pierce and Tonda Rush created American PressWorks to provide management services for associations. NFPW became APW’s first client and Carol served as NFPW’s executive director for about 15 years. Carol and APW consultants produced Press Woman magazine/newsletter throughout the engagement of APW with NFPW and became involved in numerous First Amendment advocacy projects. NFPW’s First Amendment Network was created, and a new logo was designed during this period.