Communicator of Achievement

The Communicator of Achievement Award is the highest award New Mexico Press Women grants to a member to recognize outstanding achievement in journalism and communication. All New Mexico winners proceed to compete in the National Federation of Press Women Contest, where New Mexico has had more winners than any other state.

NMPW Communicators of Achievement   

(Woman of Achievement until 1991)

1963    Frankie McCarty
1964    Val Cooper
1965    Mildred Latini
1966    Ruth Bush Jones
1967    Kathryn Morris
1968    Cathie Bower
1969    Regina Tatum Cooke
1970    Alice Gruver
1971    Mary Olin Harrell
1972    Laura Robertson
1973    Glenna Lee Gallemore
1975    Grace McCallum
1979    Kathryn Morris
1980    Sherry Robinson
National First Runner-Up
1981    Faye Plank
National Winner
1982    Tricia Hurst
1983    Jean Jordan
1984    Della Kilcrease
1985    Mary Thompson
1986    Lynn Peters
1987    Marie Hirst
1988    Anne Hillerman
1989     Mamie Carter
1990    Mamie Carter
1991    Cathy Robbins
1992     Marsha Vohs
1993    Pat Graff
1994    Hollis Walker
1995    Denise Tessier
National First Runner-Up
1996    Virginia Dooley
1997    Linda Harris
1998     Chris Burroughs
1999     Carolyn Mullenax Edwards
2000    Sandy Schauer
2003    Susanne Burks
2004    Kathy Cordova
2005    Ree Strange Sheck
National Winner
2006    Emily Drabanski
2007    Connie Gotsch
2008    Cary Herz
National Winner
2009    Susan Walton
2010    Tom Berner
2011    Bud Russo
2012    Cheryl Fallstead
2013    Carol Kreis
2014    Sherri Burr
2015    Anne Hillerman
National First Runner-Up
2016    Loretta Hall
National Winner
2018    Jessica Savage
2020    Damien Wills
2021    Sherri Burr
 National Winner
2022    Margaret Cheasebro

 Note: No awards were made in 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 2001, 2002, 2017 or 2019.

 This list was compiled by current historian Robert Flinkman and long-term historian Denise Tessier.


Remember to Nominate Someone for Communicator of Achievement

The Communicator of Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by New Mexico Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women upon those members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their profession.

The recipient, chosen from nominations by NMPW members, is recognized for exceptional achievement in the communications field, service to NMPW/NFPW and to the community.

For specifics on building a nomination packet, rules for entry, nomination form and more, visit the 2021 Communicator of Achievement Rules page. Also, there is nothing barring self-nomination.

For more information, contact NMPW COA Chair Marilyn Ward.

Damien Willis Recognized as National Communicator of Achievement Nominee

Photo of Damien Willis in a standing thinker poseDamien Willis of Las Cruces was recognized as a nominee for the 2020 Communicator of Achievement Award from the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW). This prestigious award has been given for 63 years. Willis was one of 10 nominees recognized during a virtual celebration held in lieu of events at the organization’s annual conference, which was canceled this year due to the pandemic.

Now in its 83rd year, NFPW is a nationwide organization of professional women and men pursuing careers across the spectrum of journalism and communications. The Communicator of Achievement award is the highest honor bestowed by NFPW upon those members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their field. The recipient, chosen from nominees selected by state affiliates from around the country, is recognized for exceptional achievement in the communications field, as well as service to NFPW, the affiliate organization and the community.

Willis, vice president of New Mexico Press Women, has built a career in journalism and communications now exceeding 20 years. His work has included 13 years as a popular local radio-station DJ, public relations officer for the local attorney general’s office and Las Cruces Public Schools, and traditional newspaper journalism. He has written 800 consecutive columns on entertainment for the Las Cruces Sun-News and is now lead reporter and coach for the paper.

Sandy Michel Nance of Wheat Ridge, Colo., a retired journalist and public relations professional, was chosen from among the nominees as NFPW’s 2020 Communicator of Achievement. Nance was one of a handful of early female news bureau staffers with United Press International (UPI), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for reporting at the Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune, worked in public relations for Mountain Bell and US West, and was a publications editor for the American Water Works Association.

New Mexico Press Women Awards Sherri Burr Communicator of Achievement Award

Sherri Burr was named the 2014 New Mexico Communicator of Achievement, the organization’s highest honor, at the annual New Mexico Press Women conference in Las Cruces on April 26.

Burr, a Regents Professor at the University of New Mexico, served as New Mexico Press Women’s Vice-President and Bylaws Committee Chair and is currently chair of the NMPW 2015 state conference. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Princeton University and Yale Law School, Burr has authored or co-authored 20 books, published hundreds of articles and written four columns. Her audio books, Sum & Substance on Entertainment Law and Sum & Substance on International Law, are part of Thomson West’s “Outstanding Professor” series, which purportedly “captures America’s best law professors on compact disc.” As Chair of the Law School’s Art Committee, she spearheaded the launch of an Art Gallery to showcase community creativity.

Burr has spoken at a NFPW conference, and received numerous NFPW and NMPW awards for her publications and television show ARTS TALK. She strives to live her life purpose to teach and create, while caring for a brother who has been in a coma since 2009.

Communicator of Achievement Award

The Communicator of Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by New Mexico Press Women upon those members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their profession. New Mexico’s winner will be honored at the state conference in Las Cruces, Saturday, April 26, and then forwarded to compete at the National Federation of Press Women’s annual conference, Sept. 4-6 in Greenville, S.C.

Anyone can nominate a NMPW member for consideration for Communicator of Achievement, but must complete the entire packet (see appropriate links below). The nominee must be a living member of both NMPW and NFPW, in good standing for at least two years, with no lapse in membership. Nominees are judged in three criteria: professional achievement (60%); community service (20%); and NFPW/affiliate service (20%). Previous nominees can be nominated again, so long as they have not been selected by NFPW.

The COA Award winner and the runner-up are announced at the Communicator of Achievement Award Banquet at NFPW’s annual conference. Each nominee is featured in NFPW’s AGENDA newsletter prior to the conference and spotlighted at the awards banquet.

See Rules here:
Click here for entry form:
Click here for checklist before submission:

Complete nomination packets should be e-mailed to Diana Sandoval-Tapia BY FRIDAY, MARCH 21 at, with hard copies mailed to be received by March 21 to:

Diana Sandoval-Tapia, CoA Chair
19 Aldea Place
Los Lunas, NM 87031