Jessica Savage is New Mexico Press Women 2018 Communicator of Achievement

NMPW President Loretta Hall (l) and 2018 Communicator of Achievment Jessica Savage

NMPW President Loretta Hall (l) and 2018 Communicator of Achievement Jessica Savage

New Mexico Press Women have named Jessica Savage as their 2018 Communicator of Achievement. The award was announced at the recent annual NMPW conference in Santa Fe.

Savage is currently a scholarship advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University, where she oversees scholarships for more than 300 students in 24 departments. She is also the media and communications director for the National Public Observatory where she publicizes astronomy outreach programs and works through press releases, feature stories and newsletter articles.

As an award-winning journalist with 17 years of experience in media relations she has been a regular contributor of feature stories and profiles in the Desert Exposure, a monthly newspaper, and Las Cruces Magazine. Many articles Savage wrote as a reporter for the Deming Headlight were published throughout the state and regionally through the Associated Press.

Jessica also has extensive experience in data management and retrieval systems, including a position with the Chihuahuan Desert Network, an inventory and monitoring arm of the National Park Service.

For the last several years, she managed the Zia Awards for New Mexico Press Women, a prestigious book award for authors in the Southwest. She has been a board member of NMPW for nearly a decade and is public relations director for the state chapter.

The chapter Communicator of Achievement award goes each year to a member who has a record of journalistic achievement and of public service. COA’s are also honored for their work with press women.

2018 NM Press Women Annual Conference a celebration of intelligent thinking and writing

(l to r) Dede Feldman, Anita Rodriquez, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Patricia J. Conoway

(l to r) Dede Feldman, Anita Rodriguez, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Patricia J. Conoway

One of the highlights of the 2018 New Mexico Press Women Annual Conference in Santa Fe this year was listening to the Zia Award finalists speak about their books. This year the category was non-fiction and Contest Organizer Bill Diven said the judges were very impressed with the quality and variety of the books submitted.

A Ranchos de Taos author whose culturally divergent family melded around recipes is the winner of the New Mexico Press Women Zia Book Award.

Anita Rodriguez accepted the award for her Coyota in the Kitchen: A Memoir of New and Old Mexico during the annual conference at the The Lodge in Santa Fe. The book is published by the University of New Mexico Press.

“I wanted to write about my family,” said said. “I wanted to write about New Mexico. I wanted to write about cultural conflict and confluence.”

Rodriguez also produced the art used on the cover and throughout the book. She took up painting after 25 years with her own company applying applying traditional adobe and masonry techniques to construction and building restorations.

Her tale of cultural collision springs from the unlikely marriage of her father, a dirt-poor northern New Mexican, and her mother, a Southern aristocrat.

“The family was so disparate, we covered such a wide range of classes and cultures, that there seemed no way to tie together all these stories except with something that all of us had in common,” Rodriguez continued. “That was food. Every family’s recipes are kind of like a map of the immigration route of your ancestors.”

The culinary merging led to such creations as creme de menthe with yerbabuena, she added.

Three other finalists were also honored at the conference for the 2018 Zia Book Award.

Patricia J. Conoway of Cerrillos, for Listening with My Eyes: An Abused Horse. A Mother with Alzheimer’s. The Journey to Help Them Both, a self-published book.

Dede Feldman of Albuquerque for Another Way Forward: Grassroots Solutions from New Mexico, published by Dede Feldman Co.

Lesley Poling-Kempes of Abiquiu for Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and their Adventures in the American Southwest published by University of Arizona Press.

The Zia Book Award is given annually to women authors living in or with a strong connection to New Mexico. The competition rotates among nonfiction, fiction and children’s books published during the previous three years.

A highlight of the conference was a Friday evening event billed as a conversation between NMPW incoming president and author Sherri Burr and Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder, Ghost Soldiers, Hellhound on his Trail, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeannette, Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier and On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle.

NMPW President and Author Sherri Burr and Author Hampton Sides

NMPW President and Author Sherri Burr and Author Hampton Sides

Their discussion revolved around techniques for approaching a complex non-fiction story and how to break it into easy-to-handle pieces, as well as finding stories that need to be told. Sides and Burr also discussed how and where to write, and how to research when information is scattered.

A morning keynote with Sara Solovich, the editor of Searchlight New Mexico explored a new path for journalists who want to work on longer investigative pieces. Searchlight New Mexico chooses a major subject each year and working in cooperation with newspapers and KOAT, the ABC affiliated television station in Albuquerque produces pieces about that subject throughout the year. Searchlight this year is focused on stories about early childhood in New Mexico.

A Saturday morning panel discussion on creating narratives featured Cindy Nava, a DACA recipient and national motivational speaker who writes for the Huffington Post; Karen Jones Meadows, a nationally known playwright whose play Harriet’s Return: Based Upon the Legendary Life of Harriet Tubman has been performed throughout the world; and Lorene Mills, the host of New Mexico PBS Tv’s longest running public affairs program Report from Santa Fe, showed the enriching perspective of cultural narrative.

A talk by Simon Romero, Southwest Bureau Chief for the New York Times brought a disturbing perspective to current effects. Romero has recently returned to New Mexico, where he grew up, from postings as a foreign correspondent covering Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. His intelligent dissection of the rise of autocrats in South America and the mechanisms they used to control and direct public discussion had eerie parallels to current events in the United States.

The conference was thought provoking and interesting. Please consider joining New Mexico Press Women in 2019 for the annual conference, which will be in Albuquerque in late April.

NMPW Conference Focus on Writing and Writers

The Lodge at Santa Fe

The Lodge at Santa Fe

It is time to register for the New Mexico Press Women Annual Conference. This year it will focus on writers and writing. Talk with local writers and learn ways to improve your own work.


Located at The Lodge in Santa Fe this year, the convention features a Friday night reception on April 27, 2018 and a full day of panels and activities on Saturday April 28, ending with the annual highly anticipated Communications Awards Banquet.

NEWS FLASH: Our Saturday evening keynote speaker, Santa Fean Caroline Fraser, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography!

For a detailed look at the agenda and a chance to register, check out the conference page.

Phil Casaus will speak to Northern NM Press Women

Phil Casaus (photo courtesy APS)

Phil Causaus
(photo courtesy APS)

Phill Casaus, editor of The Santa Fe New Mexican, joins Northern New Mexico Press Women and their guests at Joe’s Dining (Rodeo Plaza) Saturday at 11:30 a.m. He joined the paper last September after a 30-year career in journalism, mostly in New Mexico. Phill will discuss—and answer questions about—his plans for the local daily. Phill has previously worked in sports and on cityside for the ABQ Journal and was editor of the ABQ Tribune, before moving to Denver and the Rocky Mountain News.

Phill a native of ABQ, attended the University of New Mexico and his wife is a native of Santa Fe.

Finally, Phill was executive director of the ABQ Public Schools Education Foundation just prior to being named editor of The New Mexican.

Please email Emily Drabanski: edrabanski@yahoo. com  by Thursday, Feb. 8, to reserve a seat at the luncheon.  Please feel free to invite others to join us at the luncheon, but we need to get the group reservation to the restaurant.  Everyone pays for their lunch with a separate check. PLEASE NOTE: Joe’s charges a 24% gratuity–this pays for use of the meeting space and audio equipment.

Host of Native America Calling to Speak to Albuquerque Press Women

Tara Gatewood

Tara Gategood on Native America Calling

Tara Gategood, host of Native America Calling will speak to Albuquerque Press Women on Monday, February 12 at 12:30 p.m. The meeting is held at the Golden Corral. (5207 San Mateo NE). She will be discussing her call in show on KUNM and the concerns her listeners have and how well they track with information available in the main stream media.

In 2005,Tara joined the Native airwaves with the now 22 year old nationally syndicated call-in radio show Native America Calling. Each weekday she leads thought-provoking conversations with invited guests and callers on issues specific to Native American and Alaska Native communities and the people they connect to.

For more than 20 years she has worked in Indian Country in the arenas of art, music, health and community development. She has morethan 19 years of experience as a journalist. Beyond radio broadcasting, her palette of story sharing also includes working in Washington, D.C., South Dakota, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Mexico. She reported and photographed for several news organizations and her past works can be found in the Boston Globe, Aberdeen American News, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Transmission Magazine, Albuquerque The Magazine and Native Peoples Magazine.

She is a member of the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and is a former board of directors member of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity. She is the recipient of several NAJA awards for her work in print and broadcast journalism. She was also named one of the National Center for American Enterprise Development (NCAIED) 2015 “Native American 40 Under 40” Award winners. She is also the voice of the Indigenous Foundation music programheard on Santa Fe New Mexico’s KSFR 101.1 FM each Saturday.

Everyone is welcome at Albuquerque Press Women events. Individuals are responsible for their own meals. No reservations are required. Non-members will be charged an additional $5.