Communicator of Achievement

NFPW 2021 Communicator of Achievement Nominees
Congratulations to all of these accomplished NFPW professionals, each named her state affiliate’s Communicator of Achievement in 2021! We will name NFPW’s national COA when we honor all of our nominees on Saturday evening, June 12. Please join us for this virtual gathering! Read on for more about each of these amazing, inspiring COA nominees.

Jane Falany
Alabama Media Professionals
Jane N. Falany spent most of her career at Southern Company, where she worked in the public relations departments at Alabama Power Co. and Southern Nuclear Operating Co. from 1982 through 2005. After retiring from Alabama Power, Jane was an adjunct instructor at the University of Alabama and Samford University. Jane is a published author who has worked as a freelance writer since 2005 and is a contract editor. A 40-year member of Alabama Media Professionals (AMP) and NFPW, Jane is currently NFPW treasurer. Jane is also a former president of AMP, which named her its Communicator of Achievement in 1993 and again in 2021. Jane has a passion for community service and has worked with local and statewide nonprofit organizations, including United Way of Central Alabama and the Alabama chapter of the American Cancer Society. Jane and her husband, Charles, live in Birmingham. 


Marie Fasano
Arizona Professional Writers
Born in New York, Marie A. Fasano now lives in Arizona. As a nurse, she worked in hospitals, home health agencies, and as a nursing instructor – publishing her first article in 1976 and continuing as a writer and photojournalist alongside her nursing career. As a pilot, Marie had opportunities to fly in to airports, both to write travel stories for aviation publications and to visit clients as an RN. In her volunteer work, she flew to clinics in Mexico. Marie has published books in the healthcare field about the study of aging and a memoir of her mother, Tessie’s Tales. She edited two nationwide magazines and wrote numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, often focusing on an individual’s unique story. A frequent NFPW communications contest award winner, Marie writes a column called “Roaming the Rim” for the Payson Roundup. 


Tammy Keith
Arkansas Press Women
Tammy Keith of Conway, Arkansas, has more than 36 years of experience as a newspaper reporter, columnist, and editor. A cum laude journalism graduate of Arkansas State University, Tammy started at age 20 at The Jonesboro Sun, later working at the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, and a statewide magazine. During her career, Tammy has covered everything from Big Foot to tornadoes and school shootings. A 12-time winner of the Arkansas Press Women Communications Contest Sweepstakes (including in 2020), Tammy is also a three-time NFPW Communications Contest Sweepstakes winner and four-time runner-up. She and her husband, David, a journalism professor and former newspaper editor, have two sons and one granddaughter. Tammy retired in 2019 to devote more time to being an active grandmother – while continuing her writing career as a freelance journalist and volunteer judge for journalism contests.


Karen Pochert Petersen
Colorado Press Women
Karen, a CPW member since 2010, boldly champions environmental and social change. Karen  thought about resigning as communications strategist for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) when the past administration forbade the use of phrases such as “climate change.” Instead, she stayed, finding workarounds to convey critical messages without raising ire. Indeed, communicating messages in compelling, engaging and accessible prose has been a hallmark of her work at NREL – where she established a still-active writers’ working group – winning her numerous awards. A former deacon and elder in the Presbyterian church, Karen has long worked for social justice. After helping return a Native American infant wrongly taken from her family, Karen spearheaded a state law to require a court order in such cases. Karen also volunteered countless hours for an annual Boulder gala to fight hunger and was dubbed a “rock star” by the event chair.  


Roxane Ferguson
Delaware Press Association
DPA vice president Roxane Ferguson is the dynamic executive director of the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce. Roxane says effective communication – verbal, visual, written – fosters stronger relationships between Delaware businesses and is the foundation on which far-reaching Chamber success rests. She’s created Delaware and NFPW award-winning newsletters, postcards, brochures and media advisories, a substantial business directory and community guide, videos, ad campaigns, and the website for the Chamber. An effective change agent, Roxane has launched nonprofits, leadership and networking groups, and Delaware’s first business incubator and collaborative workspace (which generated 57 businesses, 197 new jobs, and $37 million in state revenue). Roxane’s longtime service to Rotary International includes co-hosting a weekly radio show on community concerns, raising funds for a barrier-free playground for children of all abilities, and volunteering with area senior communities. Roxane is also Honorary Commander for the Delaware National Guard and Dover Air Force Base airlift wings.  

Beth Bower
Kansas Professional Communicators
Beth Bower is a writer, editor and documentary producer whose passion is writing … and communicating. After her high school graduation, Beth enlisted in the Air Force and became its first woman helicopter mechanic. She found that mechanics communicate, but don’t necessarily  write. Beth found outlets by working toward her degree and writing short stories. She graduated from college and settled in Wichita, where she found work doing what she loved – writing! She wrote for The Derby Daily Reporter and The Wichita Eagle, serving as advertising editor and producing special sections and magazines. Beth’s passion for food – and writing – converged in numerous Holiday Cookbook publications and a documentary about Kansas pie for PBS. Recognized for her work, Beth is a past president of WPC, Wichita’s perpetual fundraising mixer chair and an at-large member. She supports many local nonprofits and is a 2012 Kansas Woman of Distinction. Beth’s current projects include another cookbook and fried chicken documentary.

Mary Jane Skala
Nebraska Press Women
For Mary Jane Skala, journalism is a calling and an adventure. Whether directing local newspaper coverage after 9/11, criticizing public officials for their lack of transparency or celebrating the triumph of the human spirit, Mary Jane has proven that she is a difference-maker. The storytelling skills she honed in her nearly 50 years as a journalist, her stamina, chutzpah and passion for the industry can be seen in every column, article, editorial and headline she has written – and felt by the thousands of readers whose days are made brighter and whose lives are improved by Mary Jane’s labors. Keep in mind, all that hard work isn’t really work for her – it’s an adventure. Whether she’s witnessing slums in South Africa or a bull sale in Nebraska, there’s a story to be written, and Mary Jane is on it. 


Sheri Burr
New Mexico Press Women
Sherri Burr survived a turbulent childhood to attend Mount Holyoke College, Princeton University, and Yale Law School. Elected president of New Mexico Press Women in 2018, she has led the organization through the pandemic, and was unanimously re-elected last year. After celebrating NMPW’s70th Anniversary in 2019, Burr had to cancel the 2020 conference and organized changes to the bylaws to permit online meetings and voting. Burr is a communicator of extraordinary depth, having been a law professor for close to 30 years, a columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune, and the author of over two dozen award-winning books and hundreds of articles. She also produced a television show and spearheaded the launch of a not-for-profit art gallery. In 2015, Sherri received a Monticello Fellowship to work on Complicated Lives: Free Blacks in Virginia, 1619-1865, which, after being published in 2019, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in History. 

Tammy Fogle
North Dakota Professional Communicators
Tammy Fogle graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. Her professional career started in broadcast at WDAY-TV in Fargo. While there, Tammy directed the evening newscasts, produced special video segments and assisted with production of client TV commercials. Next, Tammy dove headfirst into the world of marketing at the Fargo Park District. She was solely in charge of marketing efforts for the entire district and quickly learned on her own how to manage all aspects of marketing. Now highly skilled in digital marketing, Tammy has a new focus at North Dakota State College of Science. Her expertise is primarily in email marketing, website management, social media strategy and video production. Tammy lives in Fargo with her husband and three children and is actively involved in her church and local 4-H organization. 


Patty Kruszewski
Virginia Professional Communicators
Patty holds a sociology degree from Virginia Tech and a master's degree in public administration from Lamar University. She is managing editor of The Henrico Citizen, where she's earned more than 200 awards for writing and photography. A former ambassador for Richmond's Chamber of Commerce, Patty was named Henrico Business Leader of the Year in 2008 and Henrico PAL Board Member of the Year for 2015. Since 2012, when she lost her youngest daughter to a distracted driver, Patty also has been active with safe-driving groups and organizations advocating for cyclists and pedestrians. In 2013, she was the runner-up for the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Correspondent of the Year honors. She continues to speak regularly to community and business groups about safety topics, and in 2015 was named a Traffic Safety Champion by Drive Smart Virginia.

What is the Communicator of Achievement Award?

This award, the highest honor bestowed by NFPW, is given to members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their profession. Nominees presented by state affiliates are recognized for exceptional achievement in the communications field, service to NFPW and impact in the community.

Each year, the COA and runner-up are announced at the Communicator of Achievement Award Banquet during NFPW’s annual conference (we held a virtual event in 2020). Nominees are recognized and honored at the banquet, as well as in NFPW’s publications.

Click here to see a list of the past winners.  

Sandy Nance, NFPW’s 2020 COA, was honored during a virtual event with guests across the country. A retired journalist and public relations professional and a member of Colorado Press Women, Sandy enjoyed a long career, working for United Press International, The Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, Mountain Bell (later USWest), and the American Water Works Association in Denver. COA runner-up Teri Ehresman, a member of Media Network Idaho, was an editor at the Idaho Falls Post-Register and then spent 25 years in public affairs with the Idaho National Laboratory. Both these women were nominated for Pulitzer Prizes during their journalism careers!




Karen Stensrud of Fargo, N.D., our 2021 COA director, was named NFPW’s COA in 2010.

Karen is vice president of brand and executive communications at Bell Bank, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks. Karen started her career as a newspaper reporter, then established her own marketing  communications business before joining Bell in 2003. Co-founder of the Fargo Women’s Business Exchange and a board member of the historic Fargo Theatre, Karen is known as a mentor among her colleagues. 

Karen is serving her fifth NFPW president as an advisor and was a three-term president of the North Dakota affiliate. She is a two-time NFPW contest Sweepstakes winner and has twice been honored as North Dakota’s Communicator of Achievement.