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National Conference honored NFPW’s past while looking to the future
By Deborah Reinhardt

MPC members attending the awards banquet at the NFPW conference were,
from left: Susan Fadem, Deborah Reinhardt, Mary Scott, and Allison Stein.

Randy Richardson of Illinois received the Communicator of Achievement Award. He is the first male in the history of NFPW to be so honored.
The National Federation of Press Women 2017 Conference wrapped up earlier this month in Birmingham, Ala. The event, held Sept. 7–9 at the DoubleTree by Hilton on the campus of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, celebrated NFPW’s 80 years, but also saw a first in the Communicator of Achievement (COA) annual awards.

Members representing Missouri Professional Communicators at the conference were Susan Fadem, Deborah Reinhardt, Mary Scott, and Allison Stein. Each won a national communication contest award(s). Reinhardt and Scott received first timer grants; in all, 22 first-timers were in attendance, up from 17 the previous year.

From the memorial service on Sept. 7 to the awards banquet on Sept. 9, NFPW’s long and honorable history was recognized. MPC members honored at the memorial service, in which Reinhardt and Stein took part, were Nita Sparks Browning, Barbara Perry Lawton and Dolores “Dee” Rabey. Member milestones included Charlotte Schexnayder’s (Arkansas Press Women) 65 years of membership.

Conference planners organized a diverse and informative selection of workshops and panels, including a talk by keynote speaker, Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter, and best-selling author Rick Bragg. He discussed how to write with color.

Early in the conference, NFPW issued a statement supporting America’s free press and the need for an informed society.

One of the conference’s memorial moments came on Sept. 8 at the COA banquet when, for the first time in its history, NFPW named a male member, Randy Richardson (Illinois Woman’s Press Association) as COA for 2017. Richardson, an attorney and award-winning journalist, is founding member and president of the Chicago Writers Association.

High School Contest Director Elizabeth Granger (Indiana Press Women) at luncheon on Sept. 8 announced the winners of the annual competition, and to our delight, two St. Louis area students were included. Kirkwood students Justin Sweeney won first place in the editorial category for his piece, “Call Ed: To Thine Own Self Be True,” while Chloe Hooker, Katie Judd, and Jane Stewart took first place in the video feature category for “Draw it Out: Depression.”

But the conference wasn’t all about professional growth and awards. Hospitality and Protocol Director Catherine Petrini from Virginia provided many light moments with her “semi-fabulous prizes,” silly hats, and bling contests. There also were member book signings, after-hour gatherings, and a silent auction with dozens of items to bid on to raise money for the education fund. There were pub crawls, dine arounds, and pre- and post-tours.

And, in another historical twist, the DoubleTree on Friday started to welcome many guests evacuating from Florida’s Hurricane Irma. The hotel offered wonderful hospitality to the evacuees, including its Honors Lounge and allowing dogs, no matter the size, at the hotel.

A visit to national conference energizes those attending. And as incoming president Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas of Illinois said as she took the gavel from outgoing president Marsha Hoffman (Iowa), “the best is yet to come.” Looking ahead, mark your calendars for Sept. 6–8 when the 2018 conference will be in Bethlehem, Penn. There will be tours of Amish Lancaster County, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and more.

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