When Glennis McNeal attended her first NFPW conference in 1985 in Chicago it was to pick up a first place prize for a brochure she created as a freelancer for the National Psoriasis Foundation. It also was her first trip east of the Rocky Mountains. It’s where she met her longtime friend Marlene Cook of Illinois Woman’s Press Association.
This year she’s helping with the conference in Arizona as NFPW celebrates its 75th anniversary. Glennis, too, is celebrating 75 years as she was born Sept. 1, 1937.
Like many press women, she is as active as ever. In addition to helping with the conference, she also is co-vice president of Oregon Press Women with Katherine Keniston. Yep, Glennis has dual membership in both Oregon, which she joined in 1974, and Arizona, where she spends her winters.
“NFPW was my college and my business school as I built my communications career on the basis of only high school journalism experience,” Glennis said.
She didn’t graduate college until after retirement, earning her degree in arts and communication from Linfield College in Oregon.
“From weekly newspaper reporter to the public information director of a national lay health nonprofit, I relied on what I learned at national and affiliate conferences,” Glennis said. “Membership put me in touch with people who willingly shared information and advice. Skills learned as an officer of Oregon Press Women poised me to conduct meetings and take charge of projects in free-lance and full-time jobs.”
Along the way, Glennis contributed to OPW and NFPW. She has served as secretary, vice president and president (twice) of OPW. She also coordinated a pre-tour through Oregon before the Seattle conference in 2005.
Sometimes, though, Glennis was reluctant to change. “I have watched with interest as NFPW worked to add value to membership, adding programs and affiliations to bring member skills forward,” she said, specifically referring to Facebook. She first learned about it at a national conference and resisted, but as she learned more about it through NFPW she discovered, “This is really cool! So glad I’ve learned to use this.” And she has, as she keeps members updated about conference plans in Arizona.
“NFPW has dragged me into new frontiers,” she said.
But NFPW is about more than skills and networking. Friendships play a key role. “Affiliate and national friendships enriched my life and remain important to me.”
As for the 75 years of celebration, Glennis said, “I think it’s amazing that while other communications groups begun by and for women have now folded and disappeared, NFPW rolls on. Maybe it’s because a federation builds from local groups up, and not from the top down. Mostly, I think, it’s the quality of people who keep the group viable. I understand that at 75, activities become more challenging and more wearying but they are no less rewarding.”