Valuing Our Retired NFPW Members

NFPW’s retired members spoke, and we listened.

In an effort to clean up and streamline the NFPW bylaws, the board suggested that retired members should not be able to participate in the communications contest. If they wanted to participate, we thought they should do so at the full member rate.

We didn’t realize how important the contest was to our retired members. Frankly, we didn’t consider that retirement today does not mean what it did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Many of our members continue to work in some capacity (but not full time) and want to be recognized for their work. A valid point.

We heard you. Our retired members will continue to have the right to enter the communications contest. We did eliminate the emeritus designation because it was confused with retired. We also eliminated the corporate designation. And we added in that out publications are both printed and electronic.

Thanks for speaking up! Our members always have been vocal. That’s why NFPW continues to thrive.

Anticipating NFPW Conference in Chicago

 The NFPW conference is later this week in Chicago. I have eagerly anticipated this conference from the moment the Illinois Woman’s Press Association presented at the Texas Conference.

I’ve always loved Chicago. Combine that with getting to see old friends and new friends, the networking, the seminars and yes, staying at the number one city club in the United States, it was hard to contain my enthusiasm.

I actually started tiny piles of items to bring with me more than a month out. If you know me, I’m the type to pack the evening before or evening the morning of so clearly I couldn’t wait!

What’s really fun about preparing for NFPW conferences is that members are quick with tips. I’ve received plenty in the past few weeks so I thought I’d share a few:

1)     Chicago-area artists have turned old refrigerators into sculptures that now line the city’s popular Michigan Avenue, a.k.a. the Magnificent Mile. Why? For one reason, to help promote local efforts to recycle unneeded refrigerators and freezers. For another reason, Chicago has a history of loving offbeat art projects. For a sneak peek before you get the chance to see the funky fridges, take a look at Time Out Chicago’s Fine Art Fridges photo gallery.

2)       During our time in Chicago there will be 20 historic ships from around the world coming to Navy Pier.  Visitors can view the ships, board them or take short sails (tickets required).  During the 1880s, Chicago was the busiest port in America. To find out more visit

3)      Bring comfortable shoes with you. The Union League Club is located in the heart of what is known as “The Loop” and within walking distance of many of Chicago’s architectural treasures, including Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.

4)      Bring business cards. This is your opportunity to network. If you don’t have business cards, make the small investment to print your own. You will want to share your contact information, I guarantee it. Remember to follow up with those business cards you receive in return. Check for the NFPW group and be sure to add it to your profile.

5)     Ask questions. The NFPW board as well as members of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association will be in attendance.

6)     Don’t wear your badge outside the conference facility. People outside of the conference don’t need to know you’re business.

Most of all, have fun! 

See you in Chicago!

All I Want for the Holidays

I’m making my wish list and checking it twice. It’s a simple list.

1) More Members. I’d like to see our current members recruit more members to NFPW. I’m not interested in reaching some arbitrary goal for membership. I am interested in helping others navigate the communications field. NFPW offers a great annual conference, plenty of networking and a professional communications contest (deadline is rapidly approaching). At the affiliate level there  is more of the same — all designed to enhance your communications skills and experience. So why not recruit a colleague? Membership in NFPW is the gift that gives back year round. To learn more about membership, please visit

2) A trip to Chicago. Illinois Woman’s Press Association is hosting the NFPW conference in Chicago, Aug. 26-28. I’m looking forward to the learning, the networking and the sightseeing. Information about the conference and the pre- and post-tours is available online at You can book your hotel room now, too. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

3) NFPW gear. What better way to let people know what a great organization NFPW is then through logowear. We’ve got a great collection, including polo shirts and vests. Wear it with pride. Go to the NFPW Web site at, click on members only and scroll to the bottom you can shop until you drop.

Happy Holidays!

The Past Is the Future

Each year at the NFPW conference I hear stories from our distinguished members about their early experiences in journalism. Years later as they share the stories, we can laugh and marvel at what they experienced.

Most of us believe that we’ve come so far from those days. But as with all history it’s good to not forget. And several recent studies point out that women still aren’t equal to their male counterparts.

The American Association of University Women reported in a study a few years ago that women right out of college make only 80 percent as much as their male peers. It’s also one of the reasons the National Council for Research on Women has begun promoting mentors and peer support for younger women.

And here’s where NFPW can come in. How simple would it be to partner one of our experienced members with a first-timer at the next national conference? That’s one of Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas’ ideas for the conference next year. The two can meet in Chicago “Face to Face” and then continue the mentoring via phone, email, text, Twitter or whatever the newest way to communicate will be.

We also don’t want to lose the lessons and stories of those who blazed the trails for us. Over the next few months, I plan to interview former NFPW presidents about their experiences and lessons learned. Our membership is rich with experience; we need to capture it and learn and grow from it.

NFPW also provides newer, less experienced members with outstanding leadership and learning opportunities. Assisting with a conference or serving on the state affiliate board or the NFPW board provides opportunities that often enhance leadership opportunities in the career sector. I learned my event planning skills by coordinating several conferences for Virginia Press Women and eventually co-chairing the 2007 NFPW conference in Richmond. When I began my career, I would not have known the first thing to do.

I first heard about social media years ago at an NFPW conference. I remember sitting in the room (I don’t even recall what state we were in) and being completely overwhelmed. I wasn’t alone. But I realized that was the future,and I needed to understand it. Today I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and have my own blog.

Without NFPW I would be behind the curve.

So let’s learn and grow,taking the wisdom of those who have gone before us. And let’s help our younger, newer members so that they, too, can continue to blaze the trail for the next generation.