Branch News

(See more news: NLAPW National Level News and News from Pen Women.)

In The Pen Woman, Fall 2019

Cape Canaveral Celebrates 50 Years

Scholarship recipient Bethany Davis performs at the anniversary luncheon.

In May, members and friends of Florida’s Cape Canaveral Branch gathered for their annual scholarship luncheon and to celebrate the branch’s 50-year anniversary.

Cape Canaveral Branch was founded in 1969 by an extraordinary author and musician, Dr. Elaine Murray Stone. One of her daughters, Pam Webb, is a member of the branch, and her sister Cathy Rayburn and nephew David Rayburn were guests at the luncheon.

Branch scholarship chair Anne Bonner introduced Marshall Frank, vice president of the Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, who presented this year’s $500 scholarship in music to Bethany Davis, a Cocoa Beach high school senior proficient in piano and cello. Davis, who will enter Boston College in the fall, performed a Bach piece on the cello as a finale of the luncheon celebration.

Greenwich Hosts Successful Open Mic Events

Ever wonder how your stories, poems, and memoirs sound to others? Greenwich Pen Women found out when the branch launched two Open Mic events in southwest Connecticut.

Greenwich Branch Program Director Diane Morello moderated and read at the Open Mic.

“Roughly 50 people attended the Open Mic events, and nearly half of those people had the courage to stand up and share their original work in five-minute speaking slots,” says Diane Morello, Greenwich Pen Women program director and letters member.

“The Open Mic events were a success,” she says. “People shared terrific work — mystery chapters, short stories, poetry, lyrics, blogs, free verse, memoirs, personal essays, science fiction, and children’s stories. We look forward to another success with the final 2019 Open Mic event on Oct. 21.”

The road map for launching an Open Mic series is something nearly any NLAPW branch can adopt.

“First, we brought the Open Mic idea to the board, then we added it to our program roster. Second, we contacted local libraries. We knew the libraries’ community missions dovetailed with Greenwich Pen Women’s community outreach,” Morello says.

“Third, we negotiated event dates, going out three to six months,” she says. “Finally, we vigorously promoted the Open Mic events through emails, word of mouth, newsletters, press, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, websites, writing communities, radio, and host libraries. Social media was invaluable: It had a multiplying effect on the people who heard about the event and decided to attend and share their work.”

Open Mics are live events, coordinated in real time. As people arrive, they sign up for five-minute time slots. A moderator — in this case, from Greenwich Pen Women — sets the stage, outlines the rules, manages the clock, and invites up the speakers.

“We have a vibrant writing community in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut. Open Mic gives people an opportunity to share their original work, meet members of Greenwich Pen Women, and learn about becoming members, Morello says. “When writers and creatives come together to speak their work aloud, they hone their skills and amplify the power of their voices.”

Des Moines Selects Art Student for Scholarship Award

Rachel Geyer

The Des Moines Branch awarded a $175 scholarship designated for a student at the Centre for Arts & Artists (CAA). The branch selected Rachel Geyer, who hopes to save money to study abroad in London one day. She was introduced to CAA by her high school art educator, Laura Lengeling, who is also a studio artist at CAA.

As a candidate and then recipient of a Brendan O’Brien Memorial Scholarship during her senior year at Newton High School, Geyer became more involved in CAA activities. In one instance, she spent the day demonstrating her art techniques to 250 students who toured CAA during an annual art tour.

Recently, she attended college full-time while holding down a job and family responsibilities. Geyer was also named to the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) presidents’ list for her academic excellence.

Diamond State’s Members Featured in Separate Exhibits

Diamond State Branch Members Maria Keane and Mary Lou Griffin had their paintings accepted into the Philadelphia Water Color Society  (PWCS) 119th Anniversary International Works on Paper Show. The juror was Joseph Zbukvic, an internationally renowned master water-colorist from Melbourne, Australia.

“Seated Model” by Maria


Out of 411 entries, 99 were selected for the show, which opened Sept. 8 at the Wallingford Arts Center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. This is the second PWCS international show for Griffin, which will earn her “signature member” status in the Philadelphia Water Color Society. Keane is already a signature member of PWCS.

Additionally, Diamond State Pen Woman Betsy Greer had her painting, “Sifting Beach Sand,” accepted into the Biggs Museum of American Art juried competition titled “The Biggs Body.” The competition was open to artists of the mid-Atlantic region and explored interpretations of human and animal forms.

The work chosen was judged on how successful the artist interpreted, evoked, or responded to the body. The exhibit runs through Nov. 17.


“Evening Reflections” by Mary Lou Griffin


Sifting Beach Hands” by Betsy Greer


Small but Mighty Des Moines Branch Celebrates 80 Years

By Laura Walth, Branch President

At the home of Kaukab Barni Merchant, the first allied professional art member in the history of the Des Moines Branch. Back row, left to right: Pat Underwood, Norma Wolff, Linda Hodges, Val Weaver. Front row: Laura Walth, Kaukab Barni Merchant, Elaine Erickson. Not pictured are Kimberlee Spillers (who took the photo), Karen Kellogg, and ML Hopson.

It has been 80 years since the Des Moines Branch became a chartered NLAPW member on Nov. 21, 1939. Seventy-six years later, in April 2018, our branch sponsored for the first time the Biennial, which took place in Des Moines, Iowa.

With about a dozen members remaining, we collaborated with other nonprofit organizations in our city and brought members together from across the United States. Some came to Des Moines for the first time and others attended their first Biennial.

Members from other states and members-at-large shared their knowledge and experience with those of us who have never organized a Biennial. It was a great opportunity to show other branches that even with a few members in your branch, a lot can be accomplished. 

Our oldest member, Dorothy Timmons, passed away at the age of 101. She was an inspiration to many of our members. She had a sharp mind and a willingness to join us whenever she could.

Our new members inspire us with creative and new approaches. Our creative minds never age.

In the past, the Des Moines Branch had more than 40 members. Today, we are beginning a new phase in the history of our branch with about a dozen members.

When our branches are built on a strong foundation, we can sustain the organization for the next decade. Our founding members were visionary and were willing to embrace the future with their new members, as both new and senior Pen Women learned to adapt to the new decade.

We have high standards within the organization, and this helps creative people to reach higher levels. Let’s embrace the new decade by helping other creative people express their art and invite others to join. If each of us brings one new member into the organization, imagine what we could do after accomplishing so much with a  smaller membership.

Attending the 50th Biennial in Washington, D.C., is a great way to inspire enthusiasm among Pen Women as well as future members who bring additional ideas to our organization.

Golden Gate-Marin Awards Scholarship, Hosts Exhibit

Scholarship recipient Katarina Ament with members of the Golden Gate-Marin Branch. Back row, left to right: Eric Oldmixon (Ament’s art teacher), Rita Weink, Lucy Arnold. Front row, left to right: Melissa Woodburn, Debra Patrick, , Cathy Moreno, Judy Barnett.

In April, the Scholarship Committee of the Golden Gate-Marin Branch of California met to determine who would receive this year’s $500 scholarship, which is awarded to a deserving female Marin high school senior who plans to pursue further art studies at a four-year college. After a lively discussion of all the candidates, they selected Katarina Ament from Branson High School.

Ament plans to attend Carleton College in the fall to major in art. She is a skilled 2-D artist, but is currently focused on installation art.

She hopes to help both individuals and society at large to look at larger issues such as mental illness. As an example, one of Ament’s installations deals with the stigma of depression.

Her interactive pieces integrate audio, visual, and tactile experiences to completely immerse the viewer in her work. She seeks to “promote empathy and understanding” and encourages discussions around mental illness, even providing brochures of helpful resources at her installations.

“She creates work with deep conceptual and emotional meaning and impact,” her art teacher said.

This is the first time the Scholarship Committee has chosen an installation artist, but the committee feels her dedication to making art for social good shows a level of maturity beyond most high school applicants.

Other Branch News


“Basilisk, Orchids, Frogs,” 30×34 watercolor by Lucy Arnold, is one of the works on display at the Redwood Foyer Gallery.

Golden Gate-Marin has a group art exhibit at the Redwood Foyer Gallery of the Marines Memorial Auditorium through Jan 3, 2020. The Redwood Foyer Gallery is a beautiful open space, which meant the participating artists could exhibit five or six large pieces each. The gallery is available to attendees of the Marin Symphony and other events at the Marines Memorial Auditorium. The Redwood Foyer Gallery is located at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael.




La Jolla Celebrates 60 Years with Anthology

By Elizabeth Yahn Williams, Member-at-Large, California

Recently, I enjoyed visiting the La Jolla Branch as it reveled in reading parts of “Celebrating 60 Years of La Jolla Pen Women.” Compiled and designed by Susanne Pistor, this anthology features members of the branch from 1956 to 2016. Its colorful cover reflects rainbows of educational, medical, musical, artistic, and scientific achievements.

Anthology project manager and co-editor Susanne Pistor

For example, readers will be fascinated to find that branch President Anne Hoiberg (founder of the Women’s Museum of California) has also served for 25 years as a research psychologist for the federal government. Her curriculum vita includes more than 130 scientific articles, book chapters, and reports — as well as two books and approximately 100 presentations at national and international conferences. After retiring, she volunteered as an election supervisor for the U.S. Department of State in “emerging” countries (eight missions).

Project master Susanne Pistor, a chemical engineer from Cologne, also has many international ties. Her bio tells readers that after immigrating to San Francisco (where she met her Japanese husband), she worked in the Midwest and on the East Coast, and then raised their family for 20 years in Tokyo, where she became a librarian at the American School. She photographed many of the images published in La Jolla’s anthology.

This photo by Pistor was used for the book’s back cover. The view of La Jolla’s floral coves faces south against the Pacific Ocean.

Liverpudlian Audrea Ireland-Liszt writes her bio as a prose poem; poet Doris Nichols Sutton includes photos of her days as a model; and composer Bette Miller provides images of her recent paintings, as does Beverly J. Hudson. And past La Jolla President Sandi Nielubowicz shares her Penguin’s festive group photo.

Kudos to the 30 members whose bios appear in the book.


In The Pen Woman, Summer 2019

Greenwich Connecticut Presents Successful Outreach

By Jean P. Moore, Publicity Coordinator

The Greenwich Connecticut branch (some 70 members strong) is “all in” on community outreach. One example: Art members coordinated a citywide show, “Creative Women: Artists of the Greenwich Pen Women,” in the fall that extended into this year. Related to the show was a panel discussion, “What Is Creativity,” which drew a large and enthusiastic audience.

Authors Guild General
Counsel Cheryl Davis with
Greenwich Branch President Sarah Darer.

For the past three years, letters members have joined hands with the Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich to facilitate a book discussion series. The first of these took place in 2017 and was comprised of three sessions in the spring and fall. The presenters selected the books based on criteria such as library availability and popularity of fiction and nonfiction titles.

The first season was so successful, the series ran again in 2018 with several new Pen Women presenters and new titles, and was extended to four sessions. We are currently in our third season. The titles selected are representative of book club selections, making the event similar to a book club; however, the event is free and open to the public.

Branch members at the Authors Guild event, from left: seated, Diane Morello and Stasha Healy; back row, prospective member Tina Nunno and members Barbara Ehrentreu and Leigh Grant.

The latest of our library outreach programs took place in April of this year, again at the Perrot, in conjunction with the Authors Guild. Our president, Sarah Darer Littman, introduced speaker Cheryl Davis, general counsel of the guild. The topic, “Protecting Your Intellectual Property,” proved a good one, drawing an appreciative audience of members and guests, many of whom stayed after the presentation to learn more about the topic and our branch.

There are more community outreach programs in the offing, all free and designed to enhance community relations. They include three Open Mic events, an opportunity to present, in five minutes, 500-1,000 words of creativity. These too will be presented in partnership with local libraries and branches.

One could say, when it comes to our public offerings, these are the bywords for Greenwich Pen Women events: “Free and Open to the Public.” We enjoy our community, our organization, and spreading the word.


Florida Pen Women Go Museum-Hopping

JoAnna O’Keefe (visiting from Omaha) and Mary Dall (Cape Canaveral).


Some Florida Pen Women have been on the road. On Valentine’s Day, the Vero Beach Branch invited the Cape Canaveral Branch to join them for a visit to the Vero Beach Museum of Art. After a docent tour of the museum’s traveling exhibit, “Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement,” the group enjoyed lunch in the Museum Cafe.

In March, the Cape Canaveral Pen Women traveled to Orlando to visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Modern Art, famous for its Tiffany exhibits. Florida members-at-large from Orlando met the Cape Canaveral women for a docent tour of the museum and lunch at the nearby La Scala Restaurant.


Golden Gate-Marin Hosts ‘Pop-up Party with Pen Women’

Event poster

The Golden Gate-Marin Branch hosted a “Pop-Up Party with Pen Women” on April 17. The purpose was to introduce the branch to the local community of one of the members, poet Lee Dunne, who resides at the Marin Valley Mobile Home Park in Novato, California.

Rita Wienk shows one of her photographs.

It seemed to be a great success, judging by the number of interested, engaged guests who attended. Dunne arranged for the use of the Community Room, which was a wonderful venue. The event was publicized with emails, flyers, and posters.

Many members stepped up to decorate, set up tables and chairs, bring treats, and make coffee and tea. Karen Sellinger (friend of member Lucy Arnold) provided lovely live classical guitar music. Dunne and her guest, future branch member Lorraine Walker Williams, read their poetry, which was very well-received. The rest of the branch members introduced themselves and showed examples of their artwork to the rapt audience, many of whom were artists themselves.


Santa Clara County Awards 2019 Scholarships

Santa Clara Pen Women Luanna Leisure, Pat Fisher, Louise Web, ShaRon Haugen, Mary Lou Taylor, Patricia-Dennis, Dorothy-Atkins, and Audry Lynch

Another successful year with outstanding applicants!  The scholarship team assisting were Nancy Bloomer Deussen, and Susan Zerweck for music; Patricia Dennis and Jeannie Carbone for art; and Luanna Leisure and Tina Williams for literary. Once again, members of the branch gathered together to offer a wonderful potluck lunch to the attendees.

Santa Clara Pen Women Patricia Dennis (left) and Luanna Leisure (right) with scholarship recipients Julia Torokhova, Ana Mata, and Katy Watts.

This year’s talented recipients were: Julia Torokhova, art; Ana Mata, literary; and Katy Watts, music. In addition, Raven Vujevich received a special award donated by Dorothy Finney in memory of her husband. Raven was unable to attend the awards presentation due to travel with her high school theater troupe but scholarship chair Luanna Leisure and co-chair Patricia Dennis presented the award to Raven on stage at her high school in front of a full house where she was performing in “Mama Mia!”

On May 3, another outreach program took place at the Saratoga Senior Center. Dorothy Atkins, outreach chair, organized this event as a luncheon. NLAPW’s “Why I am a Pen Woman” video was played as an introduction, followed by Atkins, who gave more information on the NLAPW and the Santa Clara Branch.

Lorna Kohler was introduced and entertained the guests as she sang and played guitar. Leisure then talked about the celebrity luncheon and the scholarship awards program. Dennis ended the event with a video of her photography slide show “On the outside looking in.” Other Pen Women in attendance and supporting the event were Pat Fisher, ShaRon Haugen, Mary Lou Tyler, Audrey Lynch, Louise Webb, and Katie Tyler.


Huntsville Honors Local Women with Creative Spirit Award

By Susan Livingston, VP Programs, Huntsville Branch

Art award recipient Deborah Brashear Simpson.

The Huntsville Branch, Alabama, hosted its biennial Creative Spirit Award luncheon on March 30 at the Hilton Garden Inn. Branch members nominated and elected area nonmembers who have contributed significantly to the arts in Huntsville. The women received awards in music, art, and letters.

This year’s awardees were Debra Brashear Simpson, an artist who also was one of the creators of the Monte Sano Art Festival, which has become a prime art festival in Alabama;  Beth Thames, a 25-year Huntsville Times columnist and NPR contributor; and Alex Hendrix, musician and the driving force behind the Women in Music Weekend.

Member Margaret Vann with guest speaker Ginny Kennedy.

Ginny Kennedy, news anchor and classical music host for WLRH, served as guest speaker. A silent auction also took place.

The luncheon was enthusiastically attended. One attendee commented that she had so much fun clapping for and honoring these women that she would love to be a part of an organization such as NLAPW.

Thanks to the Event Committee — Dinah Gilbert, Kate Leonard, Susan Livingston, Jessica Temple, Margaret Vann, and Carol Wissman — the luncheon was highly successful in meeting the branch’s objectives: honoring creative women, bringing attention to NLAPW, and attracting new members.


Sarasota Selects ‘Launching Leaders in the Arts’ Winners

Art winner Emily Aviles and teacher Marilyn Caruso.

It was a very festive afternoon on March 8 at the Bird Key Yacht Club as the Sarasota Branch honored its “Launching Leaders in the Arts” winners. The awards are given in letters, art, and music to high school seniors in Sarasota and Manatee school districts based on competitions. The purpose is to encourage further education in the arts after graduation and to develop confidence and self-esteem through participation in the awards program. 

At the awards luncheon, the awardees performed their music, read their composition or poetry, and displayed their award-winning art. The program also includes a survey of all participants, student awardee and teacher interviews on the branch website (, a follow-up with the awardees nine to 12 months later, and information about NLAPW’s student membership. 

Art winner Bianca Johnson.

Through the generous support of sponsors, branch fundraising events, and member donations, $8,800 was awarded to 13 students. The highest awards were funded by the David Altman Foundation in memory of late art member Betty Altman; the Sylvia Anderson Price Award in Writing, and the Amy Elder Family Award in Music.

This year’s winners are Claire Ellis, Mina Quesen, Julia Weber, Ryley Ober, and Cassandra Atzrodt for letters; Amy Portillo, Emily Aviles, Bianca Johnson, Sophia Sahr, and Zachary Timmons for art; and Bryant Crawford, Zainab Farooq, and Anthony Bilotta for music. Congratulations to these talented, creative young adults.


D.C. Branch Hosts Award-Winning Journalist

By Grace Reid, Past President

The D.C. Branch had the privilege of meeting Joseph Dalton, a general arts reporter and classical music critic for the Times Union in Albany since 2002, and the author of “Hope Ridings Miller, the Society Beat, and the Rise of Women Journalists.”

He earned a first-place award for arts and entertainment writing from the New York Associated Press and has twice received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music journalism. Dalton has also been a contributor to Time Out New York, Opera News, and The Advocate, among other publications. 

Award-winning journalist and author Joseph Dalton at Pen Arts.

Hope Ridings Miller is his first cousin twice removed. We also got to meet his sister, Cathy, with a delightful Southern accent from North Carolina. Their family originated from East Texas. We enjoyed lunch together with local members, Dupont Circle neighbors, and nonmembers from Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland. Barbara Nunes, the president of the Alexandria Branch, also joined us for lunch and the talk afterwards. 

If you haven’t read Dalton’s insightful book into the life of this pioneering woman journalist who covered the powerful vortex of politics, diplomacy, and society during a career that stretched from FDR to LBJ, then you absolutely need to order it. The book displays the wit and wisdom that Hope Ridings Miller showed in her writing and her grace in dealing with people in all stations of life. 


Pensacola Has Inspirational Year

The Pensacola Branch created a dynamic, cohesive theme for the 2018-2019 year, titled “Arise from Your Dreaming.” Our Poet Laureate Karen Morris conceived the project based on Vinnie Ream’s philosophy of  “Get out of the clouds and produce.”

Terry Henry gives a dramatic portrayal of Dorothy Parker. Photography by Anne Baehr

Due to this motivation, our group had the opportunity to develop presentations based on women writers and visual artists who personally inspired each of us. Our crew put their hearts and souls into their work and instead of a series of lectures, the result was the opportunity for each of us to step into the lives of amazing authors and painters who fearlessly broke new ground in their creative endeavors. These heroines pioneered innovations that deeply influenced generations of women. Using a variety of mediums that fully engaged the audience, our presenters brought these women to life.

We were awed by the skills of Edna St. Vincent Millay in using a traditional poetic form to portray the changing attitudes of the 20th century. We were transported through time, gazing at the life of women in the 19th century through the eyes of artist Mary Cassatt and author Mary Shelley. We explored the stunning, native folk art of Frida Kahlo, the beauty of New Mexico’s deserts with Georgia O’Keeffe, and the themes of cultural prejudice and conflict in the works of Edna Ferber.

Diana Obe completely envelopes herself in her
presentation on Frida Kahlo. Photography by Anne Baehr

The faith and courage of Corrie ten Boom, whose sacrifices saved lives during the Nazi reign of terror, were vividly brought to mind. Through theatrical presentations, we joined Dorothy Parker for a martini as she shared memories and gossip of her artistic journey, and we sat at Alice James’ bedside as she first began her journal. We traveled the road with Alice Walker from her roots in rural Georgia to worldwide acclaim for works in every literary genre, and we became acquainted with the textile magic of Anni Albers.

Whether the members of our branch are artists or writers, or a mix of both, through our passions and our inspirations, we learned not only about famous women throughout history, but we discovered a lot more about each other. Sharing the lives and works of those who excited our own creativity aroused us from dreaming and impelled us to learn more. Our year of inspiration left us ready to give life to creations that were hovering on the edge of dreams.


Long Island Members Exhibit at Art Show

Long Island Branch members whose work was exhibited at Long Island’s exhibit at b.j. spoke gallery included, among others, from right to left, Dolores Caporell, Karen Kirshner, branch President Melissa Assael, Joan Israel, Alicia Gitlitz, Phyllis Coniglio, and Diane Hawkins.



Long Island Branch Pen Women had a show at b.j. spoke gallery in Huntington, New York, through the month of April. Former National President Anna DiBella, who was invited by Karen Kirshner, attended the event, much to the delight of members. The artist-owned, nonprofit gallery is located just down the block from the historic, famous Roslyn deli, and is the last remaining dedicated private art gallery in Nassau County.



In The Pen Woman, Spring 2019

WNY Pen Women Celebrate Centennial

By Barbara Blackburn, Western New York Branch Vice President

In 2019, our Western New York Branch celebrates 100 years. Our roster of past presidents begins with Effie F. Burns, a Buffalo teacher and an ardent suffragette. While equality for women writers, artists, and musicians has gone up over the years, the number of our members has gone down. Still, our little local branch, despite its struggles to carry on, has remained  strong in spirit.

Branch President  Lorayne Simmons

Branch President Lorayne Simmons


Our group is fortunate in having the legacy of Olga Murray Lindbergh, who left a substantial endowment to our branch. We are able to donate generous yearly scholarships to aspiring writers, artists, and composing musicians. This coup has brought us respect from the community and appreciation from the scholarship recipients. We decided to turn over the management of the money to the Buffalo Community Foundation, which follows our guidelines for choosing recipients. We may attend the foundation’s meetings and are well aware of what is happening.

I joined Pen Women in the 1980s, after a knock at my door introduced me to Marion Elmer, who had read and enjoyed some of my local writings. Personal contact is a good strategy for attracting possible members. I feel that this approach works so much better than the digital approach. 

Anyway, at that time, we had more than 50 members, and we often met at the Park Lane Restaurant, no longer part of our city. Because of the geographical diversity of our members, we also traveled to different locations each time when we met on the third Saturday of each month. During recent years, we have been meeting every six weeks or every other month. These days, most of our tablemates come for the program as well as the conversation and cuisine. There’s truth in the saying,  “Ladies just want to have lunch.” Also, our gatherings have been fun.

Barbara and Alan Blackburn

Branch Vice President (and past president) Barbara Blackburn and her husband, Alan, were among the attendees who dressed in period costumes for the centennial.


To further extend our welcome and to guarantee a number closer to 20, we invite anyone interested. This new category, not recognized officially, is called “Friends of Pen Women.” Additionally, we now have a few male friends, who have been paid for their work (unlike the female “friends,” who still do not officially qualify for membership). Most of our guests who become friends are due to publicity in Olaffub (that’s the reverse spelling of Buffalo) by our own Dale Anderson, of the Buffalo News. He gave one of the best talks at Halloween on writing your own obituary.  For a small group and a small honorarium, we have secured quite a few local celebs, headed by Joanne Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic conductor, who shared not just her music but her poetry. Good publicity helps — not just a mention in a local calendar of events, but a write-up.

So, what’s the real secret to our branch’s longevity? It’s patience, perseverance, and publicity. I might add punctuality, meaning getting out the word in plenty of time.

Sean Kirst

Centennia event speaker Sean Kirst

When we have been led by artists as presidents, we have enjoyed more artsy programs. We have, in the past, sponsored a local juried art show at the famous Keenan Center in Lockport. We have hosted some meetings at famous venues around town, such as the Albright Knox Art Gallery (which has a restaurant), bookstores, and the Iron Island Museum, plus the historical Colored Musicians Club, with a tour of the church that aided the Underground Railroad. Last summer, we built a meeting around a local blues festival in the area of the celebrated club.

My choice for our last planned meeting was a local columnist, who was honored to be a speaker. I believe in choosing locally recognized speakers to boost attendance and to maintain membership, as we wait to rise again, with the vision of “The Dauntless Three,” Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue,  Margaret Sullivan, and Anna Sanbo Hamilton. We celebrated with a champagne toast and a birthday cake at the Eagle House Restaurant, a former stage-coach stop. Like our symbol the owl, we have our eyes set forward for the next hundred years.


Sarasota Hosts Holiday Fundraiser, Outreach Event

By Barbara Jendrysik


Dr. Wilma B. Davidson, Branch President Francesca Simon, Barbara Jendrysik, and Polly Curran at the holiday luncheon

The Sarasota Branch, Florida, hosted its annual holiday fundraiser luncheon on Dec. 12 at the Bird Key Yacht Club to benefit its “Launching Leaders in the Arts” awards program. The program supports local high school seniors. Awards are given based on competitions and encourage the students to continue their education, after graduation, in the areas of art, letters, and music. A performance luncheon takes place in March to honor the student awardees. 

Members and their guests were in the holiday spirit and raised over $1,400 for the awards program with a raffle and a silent auction. The silent auction tables were overflowing with special “treasures” that branch members published, created, and composed; and items donated by local businesses. Poinsettias were placed on all the tables and all attendees received a special “thank you” bag of freshly baked cookies made by board members. It was a wonderful event filled with holiday cheer.

And, on Feb. 16, at the downtown Sarasota Library, the Sarasota Branch hosted an informative panel discussion titled “The Artist’s Journey.” This outreach program consists of art, letters, and music members. It is designed to tell the community about each panel member’s “ups and downs” in her artistic journey.

Artist's Journey panel

Ronni Miller, Dr. Wilma Davidson, Dawn Spitz, and Miriam Cassell at Artist’s Journey.
Photo by Polly Curan

It was a full house! Members discussed topics such as roadblocks and successes along the artistic journey, putting personality into your work, creativity inspired by collaboration, and the impact that each member’s work has made on their lives. The panel consisted of  Dr. Wilma Davidson, Dawn Spitz, Miriam Cassell, moderator Ronni Miller, Dr. Alice Moerk, Cia McKoy, and Brenda Spalding.


Cape Cod Launches New Program

By Kathryn Kleekamp, Cape Cod Branch Secretary

At our board meetings over the past few months, we’ve been questioning how we can better meet the needs of our members. How do we enhance networking? Showcase member talents? Attract new members? Importantly, how do we bring the Pen Women name into the community and in some way serve the community?

We’ve formed both a literary committee and an art committee with the purpose of creating a model for panel discussions that our members might want to duplicate and participate in. Under the Pen Women umbrella, these satellite groups can provide panel discussions at venues throughout our Cape Cod, Massachusetts, area — libraries, cultural centers, adult education seminars, book festivals, etc.

Cape Cod Pen Women

Left to right: Panelists Terri Arthur, Janice Riley, Christie Lowrance, Kathryn Kleekamp, and Christina Laurie

For example, in the literary area, five Cape Cod Pen Women who are published authors got together to brainstorm a pilot program. Additionally, we identified what our first presentation would consist of. Four authors would each speak for 15 minutes and a fifth would moderate. We planned for a second hour to adequately address audience questions.

We met once to brainstorm, identify our topics, and generally talk about what we wanted to accomplish; and a second time to practice a run-through of the actual presentation. We named our presentation “Inside Writing.” The specific topics to be discussed are Every Word Counts, Finding the Story, Putting Experience into Words, and Developing Confidence as a Writer.

We currently have multiple upcoming engagements for our presentations.

This type of activity has many advantages. It provides opportunities to get Pen Women out in the community and share a vast wealth of experience with those who may just be starting their writing or artistic journey. Our public presentations welcome men as attendees as well as women. We have an opportunity to sell books at a display table. Working as a group, as opposed to a solitary person doing a book talk, one is more likely to get better attendance. Last and certainly not least, it’s fun and inspiring to work with sister Pen Women.


Santa Clara County Hosts ‘Celebrity Lunch’

By Patricia Dennis

The Santa Clara County Branch and the Diablo-Alameda Branch, California, welcomed National President Evelyn Wofford with two “get acquainted lunches.”  She presented the needs and goals of the League and urged members to get involved at the national level.

Santa Clara Celebrity Lunch winners

“Celebrity” winners, left to right, Anna Miakisk, Alexandra Beltran, Claudia Gray, Judith Tolley, and Elvira Rascov, with membership chair Susan Zerweck.


Santa Clara County went on to host its “Celebrity Lunch” fundraiser event at the Mariani’s restaurant in Santa Clara, honoring professional women who excel in their trade. This year’s achievers were: Claudia Gray, Elvira Rascov, and Judith Tolley in art; Barbara Sher Tinsely in letters; and Alexandra Beltran and Anna Miakisk (Annia Mia) in music.

Keeping with the theme of A Bit of Auld Ireland, the crowd was entertained with music by the “Keltic Katz” and the ever-delightful Susan Zerweck and Edie Matthews. Money raised will go toward supporting monetary awards for young women graduates and undergraduates pursuing a career in the arts.


NorCal Branches Celebrate Women

Five Northern California branches hosted their second Celebrate Women! Art Show Reception at the John O’Lague Galleria, Hayward City Hall in Hayward, California, on opening day Dec. 13. The show ran through March 1. The exhibit promoted NLAPW and the arts in general.

The exhibit was sponsored by the Hayward Arts Council (HAC). Winnie Thompson, Diablo-Alameda president, is the chair of Celebrate Women! and is on the HAC board. Her husband, Gerry, and Diablo-Alameda member Ann Maloney-Mason hung the show.

NorCal Pen Women

Pen Women from NorCal branches gather under the ornate Christmas tree for a group photo during the Celebrate Women! Art Show Reception in December.

The show presented 59 works of very accomplished artists, writers, and musicians, some of whom have international fame. Many of the members present gathered under the ornate Christmas tree for a group photo.

HAC President Heather Reyes introduced NorCal President Dorothy Atkins and Winnie Thompson, who presented certificates of commendation issued by National President Evelyn Wofford to Mayor Barbara Halliday, and Councilmen Al Mendall and Francisco Zermeno, who spoke of their great interest in seeing the arts flourish in Hayward. Assemblyman Bill Quirk and Congressman Eric Swallwell sent representatives to the event.

Diablo-Alameda member and Celtic harpist Margaret Davis with her husband, Kristoph Klover, enchanted the crowd of about 125. Diablo/Alameda member Debra Nimmer sang a spirited rendition of “When You Need a Friend.”

Patricia Dennis of the Santa Clara County Branch took photos and produced a lovely  “Celebrate Women!” video, which features many of the exhibition artworks. Watch the video on YouTube.


Boca Raton Showcases Teens’ Talents at Holiday Party

By Elaine Bossik

The Boca Raton Branch hosted a holiday party for teens on Dec. 14 at the Milagro Teen Center in Delray Beach, Florida. There was fun, food, and an abundance of talent on display.

Many of the teens demonstrated skills they were developing in music, art, dance, writing, and robotics. The teens participate in after-school enrichment activities offered at the center. They continue to impress the Boca Raton Pen Women with their spirit and accomplishments.

Several Pen Women shared their creative insights with the teens. Sheila Firestone, who organized the annual event, showed a YouTube video she produced, featuring her musical composition. Author and playwright Carol White discussed careers to consider in theater.

Artist Roberta Melman showed several original oil paintings and discussed her art techniques and style. Poet Marlene Klotz read an original poem. Janet Kleinman discussed how Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired her published book about him. And Vera Ripp Hirschhorn, author and university consultant, demonstrated stress-reduction techniques, a learning tool described in her new book on student development.

Refreshments and gifts for the teens were made possible through generous contributions from branch members.


In The Pen Woman, Winter 2019

Diablo/Alameda Artists Honored for Achievements

Diablo Branch award

Elizabeth Hack receives a Visual Arts Award from Artists Embassy International. Photography by Philip Lewenthal

At the invitation of Natica Angilly, vice president of the Diablo/Alameda Branch, members attended the spectacular Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in September for the Dance Poetry Festival.

Margaret Davis, Pat Doyne, Jo Ann Frisch, Elizabeth Hack, Ann Maloney-Mason, and Charlotte Severin were treated to an extravaganza of dance and poetry.

Diablo award 2

Charlotte Severin receives her Visual Arts Award.
Photography by Philip Lewenthal

The program was presented by Artists Embassy International, an arts organization dedicated to furthering peace and understanding through the universal language of the arts. Angilly and her husband, Richard, hosted the program, celebrating its 25th year.

During the event, Hack and Severin received Artists Embassy International’s 2018 Visual Arts awards.

Hack was honored for her work as editor of the journal San Francisco Peace and Hope: Light Up the Sky and for her many achievements in writing and visual arts. Severin was honored for her award from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Her painting, “Hollyhocks in My Garden,” was included in a set of note cards, which were sent to AAUW’s 84,000 members.


Chevy Chase Hosts Event with Three Guest Branches

Chevy Chase Pen Women recently hosted national President Evelyn Wofford at an event that included guests from three other branches: Bethesda, Alexandria, and District of Columbia.

Chevy Chase performers

  District of Columbia Branch President Grace Reid, flutist Nancy Stanly, and Bethesda Branch composer An-Ming Wang perform at the event hosted by the Chevy Chase Branch.

President Wofford spoke briefly about the plans and goals of the new administration, as well as new programs happening at Pen Arts. The Pen Women in attendance found her positive and open to new ideas to bring the League into the 21st century.

The Chevy Chase Branch is also focused on taking its membership into the 21st century by elevating and encouraging women who flourish in various areas of the arts. Chevy Chase is also encouraging unity among the local branches.

The program for the event was provided by District of Columbia Branch President Grace Reid on the piano and D.C. Branch member Nancy Stanly on the flute, who performed several pieces written by composer An-Ming Wang from the Bethesda Branch.


Golden Gate-Marin Chooses Art Scholarship Winners

By Catherine Bohrman

The Golden Gate-Marin Branch had a growing and thriving year in 2018. Although our members have primarily been visual artists in Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties, our branch has grown with five new members — two in art, two in letters, and another in music and letters.

Basset sculpture

“Bassett,” by 
scholarship winner Courtney Sharps.

We award an annual scholarship to a deserving female Marin high school senior who plans to further her education in the visual arts at a four-year college. This year, Courtney Sharps of Marin Catholic School received the $500 scholarship. She is a ceramics student who participates in advance-placement studio classes and is one of only a few to be given her own studio space at the school. Courtney will attend Syracuse University, where she plans to major in sculpture.

Female portrait

“Color Female Portrait,” by scholarship winner Sophie Levin

We also awarded Sophie Levin of Novato High School the Idell Weiss Memorial Award. She received a $150 gift certificate to use for art supplies at college. Sophie will be attending the Rhode Island School of Design. She has challenged herself to try multiple mediums, but focused on drawing, painting, and illustration for her submission.

The branch exhibited with the NorCal Pen Women this past winter at the John O’Lague Galleria in Hayward’s City Hall, in Hayward, at the Tiburon Town Hall in Tiburon, and at The Redwoods in Mill Valley, California. We are exhibiting once again with NorCal in Hayward this winter.

This year, our past President Lucy Arnold attended the Biennial in Iowa and came back very inspired by her fellow Pen Women. She co-chaired the Presidents Panel at the Biennial and received an Outstanding Pen Woman Award from former national President Virginia Campbell.

Our monthly meetings are not just informative. We treasure the friendship, support, and networking they provide. Our horizons widen as we welcome members in music and letters and discover new inspiration and collaborations.


All Cities Hosts Art Exhibit and Poetry Reading

All Cities Branch event

All Cities Branch President Denise Kolanovic reads during the branch’s poetry and art event in September.

The All Cities Branch Art Exhibit and Poetry Reading took place at Molloy College in New York on Sept. 22.

Pen Women Carolyn DeSoucey, Eleanore O’Sullivan, Dina Fine, and Lisa Hermanson featured their work; All Cities President Denise Kolanovic read poetry from the soon-to-be-published chapbook “Magnetized by Black Irises”; and Pen Woman Anna DiBella read from her new book. Other participants included the invited writer-in-residence from Molloy College, Barbara Novack.


Sarasota Showcases Members’ Work

The Venice Art Center was the latest venue to showcase the work of the Sarasota Branch. From Nov. 16 to Dec. 14, 20 art members filled the walls with 57 works of art. One of the works was an installation — a “first” for the branch’s exhibits — by new member Miriam Cassell.

Letters and music members joined in the exhibit with their books and CDs on display. Opening night was a true gala affair. Carol Doenecke, art chair and treasurer, coordinated the program.

Sarasota Pen Women

Sarasota Branch members celebrate on opening night.
Photography by Polly Curran


In The Pen Woman, Fall 2018

Pensacola Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Banquet, Show

By Karen Morris, Branch Secretary

Pensacola Pen Women gather at the celebration of their branch’s 75th anniversary.

Pensacola Pen Women gather at the celebration of their branch’s 75th anniversary.

A gala banquet highlighted the Pensacola (Florida) Branch’s 75th anniversary year. Hosted in a bayside banquet hall beautifully decorated by members (with inspirations created by Nancy Nesvik, who also designed the logo), the event featured live music, a display of collaborative art and poetry, presentations of some of the collaborative works, and former National Art Chair Pat Setser as a special guest.

Jane George and Judy Eggart visit before the dinner begins.

“Painted Sounds” (a concept inspired by the Atlanta Branch’s collaborative of this name) was the theme of the evening, as well as of our latest show at Artel Gallery. The show began when members teamed up earlier in the year to create art and writing inspired by one another. The presentations at the banquet consisted of collaborators Barbara Dunham and Patricia Gould-Black; Kathy Breazeale and Christine Salomé, Carol Loethen, and Jane Lies; and Nancy Nesvik and Diana Obe.

Branch President Mara Viksnins

Several speakers offered their perspectives. Longtime (now retired) membership chair Autry Dye relayed some thoughts, Mara Viksnins gave an enthusiastic message as the branch president, and Pat Setser offered congratulatory and inspiring remarks. A video titled “Then and Now,” prepared by Vice President Anne Baehr, showed highlights from the recent Des Moines Biennial and the “Painted Sounds” show at Artel.

Many members labored long hours to make this event possible, and their efforts gave our branch an unforgettable evening.


Portland Awards Scholarship to High School Graduate

By Anne Price Yates

This year the recipient of the Portland Branch, Oregon, $200 scholarship was Anna Nixon, a graduating senior at Westview High School. She will be going to the University of Pennsylvania next year, majoring in computer science, and has worked out special arrangements with the university to continue ceramics work, which she is passionate about. She also hopes to pursue a minor in fine arts.

Anna Nixon, scholarship recipient, with counselor Forrest Rosser, ceramics teacher Maureen Merritt and Portland Branch Pen Woman Anne Price Yates at the presentation of the scholarship at Westview High School.

Nixon has been a programmer on various robotics teams and has even organized a program to help students, especially young women, with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

She stumbled upon ceramics almost by chance in her freshman year and fell in love with it. She has taken four years of ceramics classes under Maureen Merritt, who has helped her learn a wide range of techniques.

“I don’t think I can properly put into words how grateful and honored I am to receive this award,” Nixon wrote.

The branch is delighted that Anna Nixon is our scholarship recipient this year and wishes her the very best in her studies and career.

Santa Clara and SASCC Promote, Encourage Young Artists

By Patricia Dennis and Luanna Leisure

Scholarship winners (left to right) Hannah Arelano, Micaela Daney, Selena Zhang, and Mona Reese. Not pictured is Ashley Torres.

The Saratoga Area Senior Coordinating Council’s (SASCC) Tylor Taylor, working with the Santa Clara County Branch, provided and awarded a $1,500 scholarship to writer Micaela Daney. She is graduating from Prospect High School with honors and has been accepted to UC Santa Cruz. The award was in honor of Louise Webb’s memoir class (see related story, pg. 20), which takes place twice a month at the senior center. The branch was honored and pleased to work with Taylor in a coordinated effort of supporting these young women as they pursue their careers.

In addition, the branch received a generous donation again from longtime member Felicia Pollack’s husband in her memory, as well as the Richard Rico Martin Memorial fund from Dorothy Fini.

The branch appreciates all other donations that helped support this cause. These additional donations allowed us to give two awards each in the category of letters and art.

In addition to SASCC award-winner Micaela Daney, the 2018 award winners were: letters, Ashley Torres; art, Selena Zhang (Felicia Pollack award) and Hannah Arelano; and music, Mona Reese. The scholarship committee consisted of Luanna Leisure,  letters (chair); Patricia Dennis, art (co-chair), and Nancy Bloomer Deussen, music.

In The Pen Woman, Summer 2018

Modesto Celebrates ‘Pen Women Presents!’

Modest Branch

Modesto’s participating artists and poets, from left to right, back row:
V.J. Vogelzang, Linda Sawyer, Henrietta Sparkman, Ann Williams-Bailey, Nancy Haskett; front row: Linda Prather, Chella Gonsalves, Carol David, and Sally Ruddy

By Nancy Haskett, Modesto Branch President

The Modesto Branch, California, was featured in the art and poetry exhibition “Pen Women Presents!” that took place Feb. 1 to March 27 at Modesto’s Carolyn Huff Photography Studio and Gallery. The exhibit included eight artists and three poets who displayed their works, including paintings, framed poetry, and note cards. In addition, seven branch members read prose and poetry aloud during open receptions on both Feb. 15 and March 15, as part of downtown Modesto’s “Art Walk” on the third Thursday of each month.

Featured artists were Chella Gonsalves, Carol David, Linda Prather, Sally Ruddy, Linda Sawyer, Jude Slack, Henrietta Sparkman, and Ann Wiliams-Bailey. Branch members with poetry on display were Nancy Haskett, Louise Kantro, and V.J. Vogelzang. Jill Adler, Lynn Hansen, Nancy Haskett, Louise Kantro, Linda Prather, Ann Williams-Bailey, and V.J. Vogelzang did readings.

Palm Springs Member Adds Music Category

Lois Batchelor Howard at the Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park, San Diego, the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world. She played Friday concerts for area fifth-graders.

Lois Batchelor Howard, a longtime letters member, is excited to now also be a new music member. She was active for many years in the La Jolla Branch and, after moving to Desert Hot Springs, she is a proud member of the Palm Springs Branch.

For music membership, three of her performed compositions were sent to National Music Chair Marcia Foster Dunscomb: “I Sought The Lord,” for soprano, baritone, and organ; a song, “To Mother”; and a children’s musical, “Circles.”

Now that she has retired, she has more time to dedicate to composing and writing.

Pensacola Honored for Highest Membership Growth

Left to right, Karen M. Morris, Nancy Nesvik, Ann Davis, Diana Obe, branch President Mara Viksnins,
2018 NLAPW President Virginia Campbell, and Anne Baehr.

By Mara Viksnins, Pensacola Branch President

At the Des Moines Biennial, the Pensacola Branch, Florida, was recognized for having the highest growth in membership for 2017-2018, and was honored to have its name affixed on a beautiful plaque presented by Virginia Franklin Campbell, NLAPW president, 2016-2018. The plaque will be displayed at Pen Arts in Washington, D.C.

We deeply appreciate this honor, which reinforces our goal of spreading the word about NLAPW, its meaningful history, and its vitality and sustainability for women in the creative arts.

The 49th Biennial was a wonderful experience for our branch’s Pen Women as we witnessed firsthand the incredible talent through the demonstrations, literary readings, musical presentations, and art works on display. The personal stories of triumphs over illness and addiction were especially moving and inspiring.

Laura Walth and her committees are to be commended for their organizational skills and awesome programming. Virginia Franklin Campbell and the board have put their hearts and souls into making this historical organization come to life.

We wish the new President Evelyn Wofford and her new board lots of success, and we look forward to the next Biennial in 2020.

Sarasota Awards Scholarships to High School Seniors

By Barbara Jendrysik

The Sarasota Branch, Florida, presented awards to high school seniors from Sarasota and Manatee schools in March at its annual Awards Luncheon. These awards, based on competitions organized by the branch, are given to seniors to encourage their education and interest in the arts. The students displayed their award-winning art work, read their compositions, and performed music at the luncheon.

The Sarasota Branch raised funds through member donations, a silent auction, and monthly meeting raffles.

The Betty Altman Art Awards were funded by the David Altman Foundation in memory of branch member Betty Altman. Sylvia Price funded the Dr. Sylvia Anderson Price Writing Award in memory of her late husband.

Additional donors included Publix Supermarkets, WastePro USA, ABC Books 4 Children and Adults, and the Duvall Family Studies Initiative.

Branch members who chaired the event were Amy A. Elder and Sylvia Price (letters), Alice Moerk (music), and Audre Marans and Barbara Jendrysik (art).


Cape Cod Explores Connection Between Art and Science

By Kathryn Kleekamp, Cape Cod Branch Secretary

The Cape Cod Branch presented “Art and Science — More than Meets the Eye” as part of ARTWEEK Massachusetts 2018. The speaking event on May 2 and the two-week art exhibition by Pen Women took place at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth.

Cape Cod is known as a premiere spot for scientific exploration. The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute are located here. Cape Cod is also a mecca for thousands of artists who live here or visit annually seeking inspiration for their work.

human dental plaque

Photo micrograph of human dental plaque by Jessica Mark Welch, who spoke about science as art.

While many consider art and science worlds apart, those working in both fields know the similarities far outweigh the stereotypical differences. Both require curiosity, careful observation, inspiration, discipline, passion, and commitment. When the layperson cannot understand technical jargon, the artist makes the concept more accessible.

Jessica Mark Welch, PhD, an assistant scientist at MBL, was one of three guest speakers. She showed her striking fluorescent microscopic images of bacteria organisms in the mouth.

Dr. Bob Reece, who has published two works of fiction based on nonfiction, shared his love of writing and described how a medical doctor finds a rich source of stories from years of working with patients. Dr. Bob Ryder, a retired orthodontist, talked about the golden mean and its importance in measurements both in his dental work and his work as an instructor of sculpture.

Dr. Reece summarized the meeting, saying, “You go to school to learn how to do something to make a living. The arts make living worthwhile.”

Central Ohio Presents ‘Seasons of Our Lives’

The Central Ohio Branch is a diverse group of professional writers, artists, musicians, and allied artists who come together to network and participate in programming that expands their horizons. They have combined some of their best work for a gallery experience that showcases the wide variety of talent in the organization as it invites visitors to engage with “Seasons of Our Lives.”

Central OH

Central Ohio Pen Woman Deborah Melton Anderson with her textile art, “Poem,” at The Works during the opening reception.

The show, designed to respond to the theme, “Seasons of Our Lives,” includes collaborations among members as well as individual works of fine art and composition. The theme required participants to respond to the question of what life season they are in or what pivotal time of life inspired the work.

Viewers are encouraged to examine their own “seasons of life” as they experience the exhibition, which includes paintings, sculptures, and textiles, along with literary and musical compositions.

The show began at The Works in Newark, Ohio, April 13 through July 6 and continues at the Carnegie Gallery of the Columbus Main Library in Columbus July 11 through Aug. 24.

Boca Raton Awards Four Art Scholarships

Boca Raton branch

The newly elected officers of the Boca Raton Branch at the installation/awards end-of-the-year luncheon meeting in April: Dr. Barbara Lunde, corresponding secretary; Sheila Firestone, second vice president of membership; Lea Becker, treasurer; and Prue Carrico and Elaine Bossik, co-presidents. (Not pictured are Janet Kleinman, first vice president of programs; and Brenda Dressler, recording secretary.)

Adapted from an article written by Pen Woman Meryl Davids and reprinted with permission from

The Boca Raton Pen Women recently awarded four scholarships totaling $4,200 to college students studying different areas of the arts: letters, music/dance, and visual arts.

Darah Abrams, who attends the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, received a $1,000 scholarship to pursue her studies in choreography. Abrams appeared in numerous shows at Dreyfoos and also at the Lake Worth Playhouse. She recently danced in, and was associate choreographer for, the show “Kiss Me Kate” at her school. And, she’s a brand new Pen Women student member!

Noelle J. Putnik, a student at Florida Atlantic University, received $1,200 to study the visual arts. Putnik is the daughter of Boca Pen Woman Michelle Putnik, who is a writer. (Noelle actually illustrated Michelle’s award-winning book, “Dobin.”) This art award is named for the late Dori Popoenoe, a longtime artist and member of Boca Pen Women who, with her husband, left money to the group to establish a trust for art studies.

Caitlin Nobile

Scholarship recipient Caitlin Nobile (left) at the Boca Raton April luncheon with her stepmother, Bianca, Catan.

Caitlin Lee Nobile received the other art award. Nobile received her bachelor’s of fine art degree from Florida Atlantic University in December, and will use her $1,000 scholarship to pursue a master’s in fine arts from the University of South Florida in Tampa starting this fall. She also recently applied for a NLAPW student membership.

The fourth scholarship was awarded to Alexandra Monte, who also won one of the three scholarships awarded by Boca Pen Women last year. Her $1,000 prize will enable her to continue her studies in creative writing. Monte attends Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and is currently working on a historical fiction novel that takes place in 15th-century France.

Monte’s award was presented at the March business meeting and luncheon of Boca Pen Women while she was on spring break. The other three awards were presented at the lunch meeting of the Boca Raton Branch on April 19.

Connecticut Pioneer Showcases Triple Threat

The Connecticut Pioneer Branch recently treated the public to works by its art, letters, and music members at an event titled “Spring Inspirations.” Framed art works in a variety of media, as well as poetry, adorned the walls of the Gertrude White Gallery of the Greenwich YWCA May 2-31.

The reception, which took place Friday evening on May 4, featured musical performances, poetry and prose readings, and the presentation of Junior Awards to three talented young women from Greenwich High School: writer Monique Nikolov, artist Ella Fitzgerald, and composer Jenna Handali. Branch President Thalia Cokkinos served as master of ceremonies and led the program with an impromptu piece on the harp.


In The Pen Woman, Spring 2018

Pensacola Attends Inspiring Florida State Convention

By Autry Dye, Pensacola Branch

Attending my first NLAPW State Conference in Daytona Beach, Florida, in December was an experience I’ll never forget. It takes many people to organize a state or national conference and have it come off smoothly. Many hurdles have to be overcome, and for the Florida State planners this year, this included a hurricane that damaged the original hotel where it was planned, resulting in the rush to find a new hotel that could accommodate the conference and be as close to the original date as possible. State President Carol Welsh Somma and her committees did it beautifully.

State winners: Nancy Nesvik, second place, art; Autry Dye, first, letters, and honorable mention, art; Mara Viksnins, Florida State Pen Woman of the Year; Staci Miron, Best of Show, art; Karen Morris, first place, letters; Anne Baehr, third place, art. Not pictured are Jacqueline Campbell and Helen Breton, both honorable mentions. Photography by Christine Salomé

Seven of our members traveled from Pensacola to Daytona Beach, where we were welcomed with open arms and big smiles. We enjoyed being with talented people. We had great weather and a lovely hotel. What was it like in two words? Awesome and inspiring.

To our great joy, our Pensacola Branch received five awards in art and two in letters, plus our president, Mara Viksnins, received the honor of being named Pen Woman of the Year for the state of Florida.

The closing memorial service was especially moving, a tribute to each member who had died during the last two years. A candle was lit for our own Donna Freckmann in memorial.

I would like to encourage every member to attend an NLAPW conference. You come away with a bond that cannot be broken by distance. Every speaker was well prepared and gave knowledge freely. They were very personable and inspiring. I am very proud to belong to this wonderful group of professional and creative women.

Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale Team Up for Show

The Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale branches had their first annual art and photography show at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton. Art chairs Tammy Seymour (Fort Lauderdale) and Prue Carrico (Boca Raton) organized the well-attended event. Exhibit dates were Dec. 28 to Jan. 24.

Fort Lauderdale art chair Tammy Seymour, first-prize winner, with Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale Branch president.

Prue Carrico, third place winner.











Winning entries were:
• First prize: Tammy Seymour, “Day’s End”
• Second prize: Sandy Hynds, “Spring has Sprung”
• Third prize: Prue Carrico, “Honeycreeper’s Brunch”
• Honorable mention awards: Joni Sack, “Hydrangea and Fruit”; Bea Donne-Merna, “Precious”; Kirsten Hines, “Contentment”; Marcia Hirschy, “Caverns”

Northern California Branches ‘Celebrate Women!’

By Jill Adler, Modesto Branch

Left to right: Alameda County District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle; Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday; Matt Turner, representative for Alameda County District 4 Supervisor Nate Miley; Diablo/Alameda President Winnie Thompson; NorCal NLAPW President Dorothy Atkins; State Assemblyman Bill Quirk (District 20). Photography by Gerry Thompson

The Northern California NLAPW branches presented the exhibit “Celebrate Women!” at the John O’Lague Galleria, Hayward City Hall in Hayward, California. The exhibit ran from Oct. 6 through Nov. 17, 2017.

“Celebrate Women!” represented the first collaborative exhibit of NorCal members. Although fine-arts members contributed the largest number of works, several letters members presented framed prose or poetry for display.
The brainchild of Diablo/Alameda President Winnie Thompson, “Celebrate Women!” pulled together 52 Pen Women. Thompson also coordinated the event for NorCal NLAPW.

Members of the NorCal Pen Women branches hosted a reception in October, which included food and wine for approximately 125 attendees.

Heather Reyes, president of the Hayward Arts Council, introduced NorCal NLAPW President Dorothy Atkins, who presented certificates of commendation issued by National President Virginia Franklin Campbell to several local officials. Among those attending were Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle, representatives for supervisors Nate Miley and Wilma Chan, and California State Assemblyman Bill Quirk.

Diablo/Alameda member and Celtic harpist Margaret Davis, accompanied by husband Kristoph Klover on guitar, provided musical entertainment. Exhibiting artists and writers mingled with patrons to discuss their works. Several members sold pieces from the exhibit.

On Nov. 3, the Hayward Arts Council also hosted a “We Love the Arts” fundraiser, featuring the opportunity to view “Celebrate Women!”

John O’Lague Galleria curator Winda Shimizu has invited NorCal NLAPW to exhibit again in 2018. NorCal consists of six branches: Diablo/Alameda, Golden Gate-Marin County, Modesto, Sacramento, Santa Clara County, and Stockton-Lodi.

A “Celebrate Women!” video, produced by Modesto Branch Vice President Jill Adler, features many of the exhibition artworks.

Watch the video on YouTube.

Muncie Members Learn from Inspirational Speaker

Some of the Pen Women and guests who attended the Muncie Branch’s December meeting. Nearly 20 people came to hear the program and socialize.

Members of the Muncie Branch, Indiana, met in December for a luncheon and a program by Rachael Phillips (center in photo with the red, black, and white scarf), who was featured in the anthology “A Door County Christmas,” among many other books and writings. The author, whose writing career began in her 50s, is a past winner of an Erma Bombeck humor award. She credited much of her success to her willingness to say, “Sure!” to writing opportunities that came along, whether she had experience in a genre or not. She then followed up with extensive research and hard work to accomplish the tasks.

After the keynote address, as a nod to the holidays and shopping season, members and guests were invited to share their creative works with the group. Art pieces and published books were presented to the group. Overall, the speaker and conversations created an exceptional meeting of making new friends and renewing acquaintances, and the beginnings of ushering in the new year as we look forward to more artistic endeavors.

Central Ohio Members Celebrate Milestones

Several members of the Central Ohio Branch have recent professional achievements.

“Red Hush,” fabric collage by Abby Feinknopf

Art on Display
Abby Feinknopf, Veena Bansal, and Dawn Petrill all had work included in the Columbus Museum of Art’s annual fundraiser, “An Evening with Art,” in March. Feinknopf’s fabric collage, “Red Hush”; Bansal’s oil painting, “One Fall Morning”; and Petrill’s acrylic painting, “All Things Hidden Shall be Revealed,” were all on display and available for bidding.

Abby Feinknopf hosted the opening of her exhibit at Copious in March. Her fabric collages, acrylic and paper collages, and latest bold acrylic paintings were displayed throughout the restaurant.

“Red Iris,” created by Vivian Ripley with her pastel “water method,” recently took best of show at an exhibit at the McConnell Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio. Her special watercolor technique is spotlighted in a chapter in “The Watercolor Landscape Techniques of 23 International Artists.” She developed the unique method using a large, flat, damp watercolor brush to move the pastel in a free manner to form the basis and much of the painting, with details added at the end. This method must be done on one of many pastel papers that will accept liquid treatment.

Renate Fackler’s sculpture, “Renate as a Lady Slipper Orchid,” will be in the gallery artists’ exhibit, “SELF,” April 6 through 29 at the Sharon Weiss Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.

New Books
Margaret Leis (Peg) Hanna has published her second book, “Peanut Butter on the Wall & Marshmallows in the Microwave, Memories of Raising Six Hannas in Gahanna.” Each chapter reveals true stories of the trials and joys of raising six children.

Rose Ann Kalister, award-winning playwright and author, has published her debut novel, “Sister of Saidnaya.” “It is the story of Nadra, a young Syrian woman who arrives in the United States in 1922 and settles with her family in Hedley, West Virginia. (See book review.)

Santa Clara County Salutes ‘Celebrities’

By Patricia Dennis

The nine celebrity achievers: Annette Tan, Judith Shernock, Lorna Kohler, and Ruth Huber in the front row; Tina Williams, Marcia Sivek, Pat Fisher, Lorraine Lawson, and Karen Franaenburg in the back. Mambership Chair Susan Zerweck is on the far left.

Each year, the Santa Clara County Branch members pitch in and work together to host a Celebrity Luncheon to honor individual women who have achieved professionalism in letters, music, and art. The proceeds of the event go toward the scholarship awards presented in April.

This year’s luncheon theme was “Make Mine Country Style.” A quick line-dance lesson, and guests were up and moving to the music of the Country Cougar trio. The highlight of the event were the 2018 honorees, all outstanding representatives of their perspective fields. Honored for their talents were: Pat Fisher, Marcia Sivek, Lorraine Lawson, and Annette Tan in art; and Karen Franzenburg, Judith Shernock, and Tina Jones Williams in letters. Ruth Huber and Lorna Kohler were the two musician celebrities. Our congratulations to these talented ladies — they are an inspiration.

As an opening of the celebrations, NorCal President Dorothy Atkins gave a compelling speech on what it meant to be a Pen Woman. A guest said that this talk was what inspired her to seek membership in our organization.

Here’s what Dorothy shared: “Some years ago, a woman approached me about becoming a Pen Woman. I knew nothing about the organization but I took a chance and joined. Here is what I found: an aura of creativity; strong, passionate women changing their communities with powerful brush strokes, written words that made me pause, photographs that took my breath away, melodies that touched my heart, poems that stopped me in my tracks, and stories that enlightened me.

“I was smitten, like falling in love for the first time. Why then had I not heard of the Pen Women before? Could this be true, women supporting each other, marveling at each other’s talents, attending their shows, and promoting other members? Slowly, I began to tell folks that I belonged to the National League of American Pen Women. I would say I am an artist, writer, storyteller — and I am a Pen Woman.

“Our branch memberships over the last year have increased significantly. We are being recognized as kindred spirits reaching out to others through outreach.

“In closing, I must add that I am a Pen Woman because I have to be. We give support and receive support from like-minded women. I am proud to be a part of that. We are living our gift.”

Greenwich Bestows 2017 Owl Award

Julie Dolphin was the 2017 recipient of the Owl Award, Greenwich Pen Women’s highest honor that is given yearly to a member who has distinguished herself in her field. An adjunct professor of world languages and literature at Manhattanville College, Dolphin has attained success as a freelance singer and composer. She has a long list of international credits.

She is an active participant in many volunteer activities in Fairfield County and the surrounding area. Recently, she created an enthusiastically received afterschool music program for children at the Byram Shubert Library.

The Owl Award was presented at the festive Greenwich Pen Women holiday luncheon at the Greenwich Field Club. President Deb Weir announced the winner, sharing the contents of a very, very long list of Julie Dolphin’s professional and academic accomplishments. It was the highlight of what has been a very busy year.

All Cities Branch Sponsors ESL Poetry Contest

The All Cities Branch sponsored an ESL Poetry Contest covering Nassau County school districts, New York, with high concentrations of English as a second language (ESL) student populations. Students had to write a poem with a maximum of 20 lines, in any form, about their home countries.

ESL Poetry Contest Winners: (Left to right): Martha Raudales, Nahin Flores, and Idalia Hernandez.

The winners of the contest are: Martha Raudales, third place for “My Dear Place”;  Nahin Flores, first place for “My Country”; Idalia Hernandez, second place for “My Beautiful Country,” from Roosevelt High School.

The contest was sponsored by the poetry committee of Anna Di Bella and Denise Kolanovic.

NLAPW President Virginia Campbell’s visit to New Mexico’s Yucca BranchTrip to the Courthouse

These photos were taken during a February 15, 2018 visit to the rotunda of the Sandoval County Judicial Complex in Bernalillo, NM.  Jane Maclean’s 30″ x 38″ historical still life pastel paintings, which tell the story of Sandoval County, are there on permanent display.

(L to R) NLAPW President, Virginia Campbell, Jeannie Gibson, and Jane Maclean (Yucca Branch Members). Painting title, “Blending Many Traditions to Form a Union.”


(L to R) Jane Maclean (Yucca Branch), Virginia Campbell, NLAPW President, and Jeannie Gibson (Yucca Branch). Painting title, “Carrying Old Traditions to a New World.”

Sandoval County Judicial Complex










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