Branch News

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


In The Pen Woman, Fall 2020

Diamond State Members Stay Active

Although many regular routines were disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions, Diamond State Branch, Delaware, members have remained active and productive during this pandemic.

Art member Anna Bellenger received the first Women in the Arts Award from the Chester County Chapter of NSDAR (National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution). Her accomplishments in creating new techniques and unique works of art are so strong and the recommendations so glowing that the approval process was very rapid.

This award does not require NSDAR membership, but it does require that the nominee be recognized for her accomplishments in her field as well as innovative in her techniques. Bellenger has demonstrated both. Sometime this autumn, the American Heritage Committee will present her with the award certificate and pin.

Art and letters member Maria Keane presented at the Fourth Annual Delaware Art Museum Writers’ Conference  in July. The conference topic was “Untold Stories” and Keane’s presentation was titled “Mary Magdalene: Saint/Sinner, Let’s Get It Right, Searching the History of Her Spirituality.”

The workshop suggested methods to research the valuable lives of women whose worth may have been overlooked or misconstrued in the annals of history. The conference was a virtual experience via Zoom.

Letters member Billie Tavalini hosted Lewes Creative Writers’ Conference — an event she founded — virtually, via Zoom, in August. The 13th annual conference began with readings on a Friday evening, followed on Saturday by two open sessions and two small critique workshops for poets. For prose writers, there were two open sessions and a small critique workshop in fiction and one in nonfiction.

The Diamond State Branch helps sponsor this event each year as part of its outreach program.

Greenwich Changes Guard While Social-Distancing

Sarah Littman, retiring president of the Greenwich  Pen Women, presents the president’s gavel to incoming  President Lee Paine

Sarah Littman, retiring president of the Greenwich
Pen Women, presents the president’s gavel to incoming President Lee Paine.
Photography by Josh Littman



Greenwich Pen Women made a smooth transition from retiring President Sarah Darer Littman to incoming President Lee Paine, the first local member to be admitted to the group in all three categories of art, letters, and music. The branch has been active in Greenwich since 1955.



Santa Clara County Introduces Two New Members

By Patricia Dennis

The Santa Clara County Pen Women recently welcomed new members Lori Howell Thompson and Gail Lockhart.

A multitalented, exuberant lady that is always on the go, Lori Howell Thompson started writing at a very tender age.

As a youngster, she could be found with pen and paper in hand, writing poems and stories while the other kids were playing. She carried her love of writing throughout the years and had articles published in the Carmel Pine and Monterey News and Views. Thompson was also the co-founder and publicist for the Monterey Poetry Review magazine, which had a circulation of 4,500 in three counties.


Lori Howell Thompson

To date, Thompson has written two children’s books, “An Adventure with Joshua and Hoppy Frog” and “Joshua and Rocky the Otter.” In addition, her mystery novel, “Reflections,” won awards as a converted screenplay.

Her personal quote is, “I live to write and write to live.” Thompson believes that life is a continuing story and her mind is always whirling around ideas how best to express that. She is already working on her next book.

Thompson is also an artist.

“I only took up painting two years ago when a dear friend saw my doodling and encouraged me to carry it further,” she says. 

Since then, she has expanded from pencil to acrylic and oil. Two of her latest paintings are in the process of being juried in to an art show at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.

Thompson said that when researching NLAPW, she was highly impressed that the organization was founded in 1897 and that it promotes, encourages, mentors, and supports fine art, writing, music, and much more.

“It is so encouraging to be able to be supported by like-minded women,” she says. “I want to be part of that and in turn help others by giving them the confidence to embrace and share their own talents. When a woman has confidence, she can step out and do almost anything.”

Also multitalented, Gail Lockhart joined under letters but will soon add art to her membership as well.

As a financial adviser for more than 15 years, Lockhart thought it important that children were also given the opportunity to learn about money. 


Gail Lockhart

“Why not write a book for children,” she says. “They spend money; they work for it — let them know more about it, for they are the future of our buying and investing society.” 

Her book, “Timmy and the Money Tree,” received a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award from the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs. In this children’s story, a little boy named Timmy and his family make a special trip to learn how paper money is made and distributed. Her second book, “Timmy and the Ice Cream Man,” teaches children the importance of correctly counting change. She is now working on her third, “Timmy and Allowances.”

Lockhart has further unleashed her creative side by becoming a stained-glass artist and a painter. 

“For years, I have tried working with other mediums, beadwork, and drawing, but my heart was telling me they were not for me, until I discovered stained glass. Designing and creating my stained-glass pieces brings out a creative side in me that I did not know how to access,” she says. “Stained glass just makes my heart sing. I see a beautiful piece of colored glass and I ask myself, what design can I make with this?”

She says she joined NLAPW because she wanted to be part of an organization that gives back to the community — and that’s exactly what the branch’s annual scholarships do.

“I am inspired by the talent of the club and appreciate the camaraderie and support that is offered,” she says.

Boca Raton Supports Organizations in Need

The Boca Raton Branch has made donations to two Palm Beach County organizations, Milagro Center and Helping Hands, that provide food for families in need.

Milagro Center is an after-school outreach program for children of all ages. Because the branch won’t be able to hold its annual holiday party for the center this year, the Pen Women will connect with the teens via Zoom.

Helping Hands is a food pantry and has four locations throughout Palm Beach County. The organization distributes thousands of bags of food each month.

The Boca Raton Pen Women have scheduled a September Zoom meeting to introduce the branch’s board of directors. Several new members who recently joined also will have a chance to introduce themselves.

Honolulu Selects Winners in Annual Competition

Honolulu Branch is excited to announce the winners of the 2020 Lorin Tarr Gill Writing Competition. This contest is funded by members of the Gill family — a major, much appreciated commitment.


Anita ’Ilima Stern won second place in the poetry competition. A Honolulu Branch friend, Stern has attended every meeting prior to the pandemic and starts each meeting with a Hawaiian greeting.

The branch also acknowledges the honored judges, who included Tess Black, Dr. Craig Howes, Christy Passion, Dr. Craig Santos Perez, Leigh Saffold, and Frank Stewart. Each is a published author or editor who devoted time and effort to support NLAPW’s Honolulu Branch.

The competition operated entirely online, with a Zoom celebration of the winners being planned. The awardees are:

  • Fiction: Jeffery Ryan Long, first prize for “Notion of Forever”; Susan Soong, second place; Deborah Ross, third; and Tom Gammarino, honorable mention.
  • Poetry: Leslie A. Hayashi (member), first place for “Goodnight Mom, Goodnight Dad”; Anita ’Ilima Stern (friend of the branch), second; Eric Paul Shaffer, third; and John Simonds, honorable mention.
  • Nonfiction: Eric Paul Shaffer, first place for “Gnats in the Kula Sunset in March”; Kristin M. McAndrews, second; Tabby Viso-Naffah, third; and Sabra Rae Feldstein (member), honorable mention.

Diablo-Alameda, Santa Clara County Join in Meeting

By Winifred Thompson, Diablo-Alameda Branch President

The Diablo-Alameda and Santa Clara County branches had their first joint Zoom meeting in August to discuss the effects of racism and prejudice on members of color and those who are immigrants. National President Evelyn Wofford participated from Washington, D.C.

Julie Cohn, Diablo-Alameda Branch vice president, was Zoom host and moderator. Keynote speakers were NorCal President Dorothy Atkins and Diablo-Alameda Branch Treasurer Usha Shukla.

“You have to be uncomfortable before you are comfortable to approach the subject of racism,” Atkins said.

During the joint meeting, Pen Women from both branches shared comments about how racism is based on color and how racism is learned, taught, and perpetuated.

“It’s easy, but unfair, to stereotype immigrants,” Shukla said. “We must strive to treat all people as we would want to be treated — regardless of their country of origin.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, members agreed that they must change the narrative and speak out against hate. Being callous to a person can destroy their self-respect. We must work together to educate and enlighten.


In The Pen Woman, Summer 2020


Synergy and Symbiosis Featured in Pensacola Branch Projects

By Karen McAferty Morris

This past spring, our Pensacola Branch embarked upon two projects that have brought members together to promote creativity and strengthen relationships: an online writers group and a pairing of artists and writers from different Florida branches, both of which call to mind the scientific terms synergy and symbiosis.

Branch President Barbara Dunham envisioned a partnering project long before the pandemic, and our branch Poet Laureate Claire Massey and I organized a writing group after in-person meetings came to a halt in March.

Barbara conceived the idea during the Florida State Conference in November 2019 after presenting a collaborative project with fellow branch member Patricia Black-Gould. In a desire “to bring state branches closer together,” she sent out a call for artists and writers of different branches to team up and spur on the creative process.

There are now 22 teams of two persons each from the Pensacola, Cape Canaveral, and Jacksonville branches.

“It was a blind pairing among the entrants,” Barbara explains. “Most teams are comprised of an artist and a writer, but we do have a couple of teams of just artists.”

She sent guidelines that allowed freedom in the process, but included a Sept. 1 deadline for completion of the project and suggestions for sharing the results, adding that each branch was “free to feature their collaboration at a fall branch meeting and at the state convention,” where she may organize a presentation for the workshop agenda.

“Cactus Flower” by Pam E. Webb

“Cactus Flower” by Pam E. Webb

I have the pleasure of working in tandem with Pam E. Webb, a watercolorist from the Cape Canaveral Branch, who beautifully captures scenes from the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Florida Keys. Over a few weeks, we exchanged personal information and sent each other samples of our work. I perused her website ( and soon had written two poems, “The Straw Ladies” based on Pam’s “Exuma Straw Market” and “The Heron” based on her “Quiet Flight.”

Pam created “Cactus Flower” inspired by a passage from my poem “The Ease of Spring.” I have been excited and gratified to work with Pam and look forward to more new pieces stemming from our alliance.

In April, to encourage our local writers to create new pieces and share them (since workshops and writers groups were shut down), Claire and I began an online group called Write On, organized very simply. Once a week, I’d send out one email to the 12 writers who signed up, which contained several prompts from Claire, followed by pieces that the members had sent to me from the previous week’s prompts. Group members were encouraged to send feedback to each writer via email.

Writers groups are important. Claire explains, “By thoughtfully critiquing the work of others, your ability to critique your own work grows exponentially.”

Some of her prompts included these:
• Explore life’s polarities. Think freedom/confinement, dawn/dusk, loss/gain, suspicion/trust.
• Be inspired to write a poem, story, or memoir after reading a good quote, such as, “We contain all the ages we have ever been.” (Anne Lamott)
• Here’s a new twist on an old favorite. Describe a very early, detailed memory. Looking back over all that has happened in your life, tell us why you think that event or those moments held a lasting significance.
• Take anything we find normal today (shopping malls, infomercials, microwaves) and write from the perspective of an archaeologist 5,000 years in the future, who has unearthed this stuff. He or she is tasked with explaining the historical/religious/sociological significance.

“Most emerging writers are not afraid to write,” Claire believes. “They’re afraid to share the result. The right group bolsters courage and promotes a mutual honing of skills.”

We have been gratified by the interaction of the writers, their devotion to their craft, their courage in sharing, and the helpful comments that have contributed to the revision process of fellow writers.

I hope all of us who have been involved in the branch-to-branch teamwork and the electronic writers group have been as satisfied as I have. I have created new work and received excellent feedback that has improved my writing — and I have made valuable new acquaintances.

So, symbiosis (a relationship where individuals or groups depend upon each other) and synergy (combined power that is greater than what is achieved separately) are terms that can certainly be applied to the creative process.

Keeping in Touch While Staying Apart

The inability to host meetings due to lockdowns across the country has made it tough for Pen Women to keep in touch.

Branches are missing their inspirational get-togethers — but many have been getting creative and moving their meetings and other events online instead.


Pen Women ZoomDiablo-Alameda Branch, California, had its first Zoom meeting on April 23, with Usha Shukla and Julie Cohn leading the meeting.

“It was wonderful to finally get to meet so many of you and to put beautiful faces to the names I’ve been reading in all the emails this past year,” returning member Susan Wight wrote to the branch after the meeting. “I’m so glad to be back in the warm embrace of Pen Women again. I look forward to future Zoom get-togethers with all of you!”

Indeed, branch President Winnie Thompson said more Zoom meetings were planned. Members were getting the hang of “zooming,” as they call it, and were looking forward to more. The branch is also planning online art shows.

Washington, D.C.

DC-ZoomOn May 2, Washington, D.C., Branch had a very constructive meeting where many interesting topics were discussed (including membership, Biennial, planning social events, and envisioning the future). Pen Women brought up solutions and discussed them in a very collaborative way.

Participants included Pen Women Nancy Kyme (branch president), Darlene Allen (treasurer), Grace Reid (membership committee chair), Marie-C Marcoux (archivist), Marie-B Cilia De Amicis (historian and membership committee member), and Inger Mcphail (membership committee member); guests Lillian Gaskin, Katherine Gotthardt, Ceceile Kay Richter, and Katharine Taylor; and prospective members Sally Canzoneri (photographer) and Camilla Bozzoli (water colorist and illustrator).


Modesto-ZoomThe Modesto Branch, California, had its final business meeting of the year via Zoom, and 18 members were able to attend. The officers, board members, and chairpersons for 2018-2020 were acknowledged and thanked, and a new slate of officers was installed for the upcoming two-year term. In addition, the branch voted to put forward the application for a new letters member.

Despite the uncertainty in regard to opening up public places, the branch is going ahead with a planned exhibit to honor the ratification of the 19th Amendment. “Women in America” will be an ekphrastic exhibit with branch artists and writers pairing up to display their works for this theme. Art pieces and prose and poetry will be hung side-by-side in a local gallery, and if restrictions are still in place by July, it will become a “virtual” exhibit.


In The Pen Woman, Spring 2020

Outreach Program — an Effort of Love for Community

By Patricia Dennis, Santa Clara County Branch

Sock drive photo

Left to right, Santa Clara County Pen Women
Luanna Leisure, Dorothy Atkins, and Patricia Dennis work on the sock drive.

What is a successful outreach program? It is an opportunity to let the community know about the National League of American Pen Women, Inc.

This can be done in many ways and we all know that word of mouth goes far. Pair that with determination and the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Outreach is an effort of love. Love for the branch and love for the community. Dorothy Atkins is at the forefront as a prime example of a caring member. Her ideas are always in the works. This year, it was a sock drive, with the theme “Socks for cold feet and beyond.”

The branch partnered with the Saratoga Senior Center and branch member Louise Webb’s memoirs class for greater exposure. The groups collected socks for the less fortunate and unsheltered individuals through March 2020. They delivered more than 600 pairs of socks to the United Presbyterian Church, which in turn ensures that the homeless community receives them. 

The idea was so well received that even a local country band, The Country Cougars, pitched in and promoted the sock drive at its own holiday party.   

Efforts like these promote Pen Women as being an active member in the community!


Boca Raton Branch Receives Holiday Surprise

Pen Women from the Boca Raton Branch have been hosting a holiday program for teens at the Milagro Teen Center in Delray Beach, Florida, every Christmas season for the past five years. The Milagro Center offers after-school enrichment activities for local youngsters.

Boca-Raton Pen Women

Dayle Herstik, Elaine Bossik, and Vera Hirschhorn receive the gift from Milagro teens. Photography by Carol White and Sheila Firestone

This past Christmas, the branch was asked to host two parties — one for a younger group and one for an older group. The Pen Women accepted the proposal from the Milagro Center and, under the direction of Sheila Firestone, prepared refreshments, a holiday program, and gifts for 90 teens.

Many branch members attended the event to lend a hand. They met the youngsters, shared insights into their own creative work, and discussed careers in the arts.

Milagro teens perform at the event.

Milagro teens perform at the event.

The teens surprised the Pen Woman with demonstrations of their many talents that were nurtured by the skilled Milagro staff members. Boca Raton Pen Women have watched these teens grow over the past five years from shy youngsters into confident and poised young people, eager to hone their skills and talents. They read original monologues, sang songs they had practiced, and played musical instruments.

There were gift cards for all the teens so they could choose their own gifts this season, as well as other gifts. And they surprised the Pen Women with a special gift they created — an original painting, with the words, “Thank you, Boca Raton Branch, National League of Pen Women.”

The branch hopes to continue this gratifying and worthy community outreach program for the Milagro Teen Center for many years to come. Generous contributions from Pen members made this holiday event possible.


Wellesley Welcomes Two New Members

By Priscilla Cogan

Wellesley Pen Women welcome Carole McNamee (second from right).

Wellesley Pen Women welcome Carole McNamee (second from right).

On Jan. 13, the NLAPW Wellesley Branch celebrated the addition of our newest member, Carole McNamee, PhD (doctorate in computer science and another in marriage and family therapy). A delightful addition to the branch, she has a wide range of experience in academic computer theory, expressive arts workshops, book art, and now as a solo artist. Her life motto is to welcome change and explore the question: What next?

Earlier in 2019, we were lucky enough to welcome a new member, Mara Levin, a visual artist who does incredible work in animal portraits. We are really looking forward to seeing her studio on her horse farm! She has a great sense of humor and a winning personality.


Honolulu Finalizes Schedule for June Writers Conference

By Luanna Meyer

The Honolulu Branch has announced the full schedule of speakers for its Honolulu Writers Conference, June 6 and 7, at the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa. The conference opens with a Saturday evening session featuring presentations open to the public, beginning with an official proclamation from Mayor Kirk Caldwell announcing Honolulu Writers Day. The mayor’s proclamation encourages residents and families across the generations to recognize the full value of writing skills — and the significant links of those skills to successful employment and personal fulfillment — and to make reading and writing lifelong pursuits.

Saturday’s program will begin with the keynote presentation titled “The Fool’s Errand: Belief, Humility, and Writing Outside Your Experience” by bestselling author of “Lucky Boy,” Shanthi Sekaran. She will also present a separate workshop, “Bringing Characters to Life Through Dialogue.”

Among the featured speakers sharing their expertise, experiences, and enthusiasm for writing will be Pen Woman Leslie Hayashi. A trial judge for 25 years, she will present a session on “Writing for Children: Mistakes, Myths, and Money,” overviewing publishing for children and sharing lessons about common mistakes and assumptions. She is an award-winning published author of short stories, magazine articles, and 10 books featuring unique treasures of Hawai‘i.

In addition, there will be a diverse array of workshops, performances, and presentations for aspiring and accomplished writers alike by outstanding authors and performers.

Up-to-date information is regularly posted on our website or you may contact me at 

Should the coronavirus require either rescheduling or cancellation of the Honolulu Writers Conference, registrations will be fully refunded with the option of re-registering


Pensacola’s Art Show Honors Heroines

By Karen McAferty Morris

Following a season of presentations on their artistic and literary heroines, the Pensacola Branch capped off the theme with an art show titled “Legacy of Heroines,” which took place Dec. 10, 2019-Jan. 12, 2020 at The Wright Place Gallery in downtown Pensacola.

Gaylene Brotherton

Gaylene Brotherton stands next to the puppets Christmas tree.
Photography by Mara Viksnins

Organized by Bev Elliott, the event showcased approximately 45 pieces, including acrylics, oils, photography, collage, and weaving, by 18 participating artists.

Earlier in October, members had made “puppets” of their heroines at a workshop led by Sandy Ford. The puppets, 3.5-by-12-inch rectangles decorated with colorful paper cutouts reminiscent of such artists and writers as Frida Kahlo, Karen Blixen, and Hannah Senesh, were arranged on the wall of the Wright Place as ornaments on a Christmas tree by Gaylene Brotherton.

“Celebrating the creative forces within us; inspired by the women trailblazers before us” was the subtheme, as expressed by Nancy Nesvik, who designed the publicity items. Anne Baehr created a collage poster of early Pensacola Pen Women, and her puppet was used on the promo pieces.

“The amazing, talented women of our local branch really pulled out the stops for this show,” said Elliott, calling it “a beautiful gathering of art.”


Sarasota Members Launch Private Art Series

By Wilma Davidson

On Jan. 9, five talented Sarasota Pen Women art members created a private gallery for the residents of Grand Bay in their Longboat Key Clubhouse. These Pen Women delighted and wowed the audience with their talent and stories of how they came to be artists. They shared with the audience not only their art but also what drives it.

The audience and the Pen Women equally welcomed this event and the opportunity to spread around art and admiration for the presentation. This was the first of a four-part series to be presented monthly at Grand Bay.

Left to right, Pen Women who participated in the event: Polly Curran, Miriam Cassell, Lolly Owens, Marge Bennett, Wilma Davidson (vice president), and Dirce Kennedy.

Left to right, Pen Women who participated in the event: Polly Curran, Miriam Cassell, Lolly Owens, Marge Bennett, Wilma Davidson (vice president), and Dirce Kennedy.


Santa Clara County Honors Members and Achievers

This year’s Celebrity Luncheon honored more than the achievers. President Luanna Leisure made a surprise announcement, acknowledging 11 members for their membership of over 20 years with the National League of American Pen Women, Inc.

National President Evelyn Wofford presented the awards and then in turn was honored by NorCal President Dorothy Atkins for her own 33 years as a Pen Woman.

The women honored were:

• Carol Green (20 years)  • Geraldine Scaife (20)

• Tola Minkoff (21)  • Ursula Meier (26)

• Audry Lynch (26)  • ShaRon Haugen (28)

• Louise Webb (28)   • Susan Zerweck (28)

• Patricia Suggs (33) • Alice Ann Glenn (38)

• Barbara Chamberlain (48 years, lifetime member)

Eight talented ladies were then honored for their achievements in their respective fields: Tracy Beardsley, Danielle Dufayet, and Holly VanHart, art; Jade Bradbury, Danni Burton, and Lisa Marino-Becker, letters; and JoAnnah Nagler and Khalilah Ramirez, music.

Nagler’s duo played music for the preluncheon entertainment and Ramirez performed a lively peace dance during lunch.

Branch award recipients

Left to right, Danni Burton, Khalilah Ramirez, Danielle Dufayet, Holly VanHart,JoAnnah Nager, Tracey Beardsley, Jade Bradbury, and Lisa Marino-Becker. Photography by Patricia Dennis


Sarasota Honors Young Arts Leaders

It was an afternoon of festivity on March 11 at the Bird Key Yacht Club as the Sarasota Branch honored its Launching Leaders in the Arts Program winners. The branch gives out the awards in letters, art, and music — based on competitions — to high school seniors in the Sarasota and Manatee school districts.

Nicole Colton

Nicole Colton won the Betty Altman Award of Excellence for her oil painting, “Lady Le Fleur.” Photography by Polly Curran

The purpose is to encourage further education in the arts after graduation and also to develop confidence and self-esteem through participation in the awards program.

At the awards luncheon, the student awardees performed their music, read their compositions or poetry, and displayed their award-winning art.

Through the generous support of sponsors, fundraising events, and member donations, over $10,000 was awarded to 13 students. Sponsors included The David Altman Foundation (in memory of Art member Betty Altman), the Elder family, pianist Eleonora Lvov (who performed a benefit concert), ABC 4 Children & Adults, the National Association of Social Workers-Florida Chapter, Publix Supermarkets, the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, and members of the Sarasota Branch.

The 2020 winners are: 

• Letters: Madigan Wilford, Christopher Miscannon, Anna Grady, Isaac Tellechea, Clareese Keniston, Farrah Cavus, Ashley Cendere (letters chairs: Madelaine Ginsberg, Judy Allen, branch President Francesca Simon)

• Art: Nicole Colton, Cara Kaminski, Kaley Rio, Jordyn Chiodo, Keanna Jones  (art chairs:  Marie Garafano and Joy Pat Robertson)

• Music: Kerry Carr (music chair: Anne Marie Vale)

Congratulations to these talented, creative young students!    

Student winners of the Sarasota Branch 2020 Awards Program. Right,

Student winners of the Sarasota Branch 2020 Awards Program.


In The Pen Woman, Winter 2020

Pensacola Participates in Local Cultural Festival

By Terry Henry, Pensacola Branch

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to take a glimpse inside a salon of artists and writers, and talk to Georgia O’Keeffe about her work or listen to the witty quips of Dorothy Parker at The Algonquin? Pensacola Pen Women created such a venue on the evening of Nov. 5 at Artel Gallery in conjunction with Pensacola’s annual Foo Foo Fest, a 12-day celebration of culturally creative happenings under one banner, designed to attract visitors to Pensacola. 

Karen Morris, Andrea Walker, Pat Black-Gould, Claire Massey, Staci Miron, Gaylene Brotherton, Terry Henry, and Ruth Goldberg at “Artists, Poets Live!” — a Pen Women event for Foo Foo Fest.

Karen Morris, Andrea Walker, Pat Black-Gould, Claire Massey, Staci Miron, Gaylene Brotherton, Terry Henry, and Ruth Goldberg at “Artists, Poets Live!” — a Pen Women event for Foo Foo Fest.

“Artists, Poets Live!” featured members reading the poetry of Mary Oliver, Naomi Nye, and Hannah Senesh, while others assumed the identities of Georgia O’Keeffe, Anni Albers, and Dorothy Parker, interacting with and entertaining guests during the evening.

“Taking part in local arts events is an effective way to communicate the mission of the NLAPW,” said Karen McAferty Morris, event chair. “These events create opportunities to embrace art and literature, while showcasing the creativity of our local members.”


Boca Raton Kicks Off New Season with Luncheon

Left o right: Pat Wilson, Prue Carrico,
and Jo Jo Harder.

The Boca Raton Branch kicked off the 2019–2020 season with a luncheon and silent auction at the Indian Spring Country Club in Boynton Beach, Florida, on Oct. 17. Members came together to begin a new creative year with plans for writing workshops, art shows, music programs, and community outreach events. Many guests joined to meet the member artists, writers, music composers, and patrons of the arts.

A silent auction, which is a highlight of Pen Women’s opening luncheon, is a primary fundraiser for a student scholarship program. Proceeds from the auction fund scholarship awards for talented students who need financial assistance to pursue careers in the arts. An annual community outreach event for teens at the Milagro Center in Delray Beach is also supported through this event.

Traffic at the auction tables was brisk, as attendees bid and outbid each other for one-of-a-kind items, including original artwork by Pen Women artists. A bonus book table displayed Pen women authors’ books at discounted prices.

Honolulu Plans June 2020 Writers Conference

By Luanna Meyer

The Honolulu Branch will host its Honolulu Writers Conference on June 6 and 7 at the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa. The conference opens with a Saturday evening session open to the public, with an all-day Sunday program featuring presentations and workshops aimed at multiple writing genres, including literary and commercial fiction, nonfiction, family history, poetry, journalism, children’s literature, scriptwriting, publishing, and marketing.

Conference keynote speaker Shanthi Sekaran

Of special note is keynote speaker Shanthi Sekaran, a New York Times bestselling author, who will share her insights on vivid storytelling and character through wit, empathy, and artful writing. Her most recent book, “Lucky Boy,” was awarded best book of 2017 by NPR, the Women’s National Book Association, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers and was described by People Magazine as a “page-turner that’s touching and all too real” with “a generous understanding of how modern issues — from illegal immigration to income inequality — play out in people’s lives.” We feel extremely fortunate to have this inspiring young writer on our program.

Among the many other featured presenters on the program will be Susan Scott, a letters member, author of a memoir and nine nonfiction books on nature in Hawai‘i, and a journalist whose widely read marine science column “Ocean Watch” is published weekly in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Another presenter is Christine Sleeter, internationally known for her work in multicultural education, having published over 20 books in her academic field, as well as two novels.

We invite accomplished and aspiring writers alike to participate in this exciting opportunity to enhance your writing, connect with other writers, and enjoy time in exciting Honolulu on the beautiful island of O‘ahu. Registration opens in January. For more information, see  or contact me at

Des Moines Celebrates 80 Years

By Laura Walth, Branch President

On Nov. 2, we celebrated 80 years of the Des Moines Branch at Mainframe Studios, a new nonprofit model for providing permanent, affordable workspace for artists of all disciplines.

Making this connection with director Siobhan Spain was a wonderful opportunity to spread the word that the Des Moines Branch is here to support the arts. Our guest speaker, Anna Steenson, was a great example of someone who was able to combine writing, visual arts, and music composition to create a film called “INK,” explaining dyslexia. Having dyslexia herself, she has found the ability in what some may think is a disability and uses her creativity in the field of video production and music as a profession. Her presentation generated a lot of discussion on the topic of the arts as a viable profession.

Left to right: Branch President Laura Walth, Norma Wolff, ML Hopson, Linda Hodges, Elaine Erickson, Kaukab Barni Merchant, and Vice President Pat Underwood,.

The newly created space we were in was designed for another nonprofit organization called Momentum, which believes in the transformative power of art as a tool that can build confidence, inspire hope, and develop resilience.

This connection was another wonderful opportunity for our branch outreach in the community. Momentum provides free art opportunities to underserved populations that include an annual juried art competition and exhibition, as well as art workshops offered throughout the year.

Another great connection made was with Sarah Schroeder, who is working on the celebration of the 19th Amendment in 2020 by bringing other women’s organizations together to celebrate women’s right to vote. She was thrilled to find out about our organization, and we are looking forward to helping her with this celebration.

Santa Clara County Members Receive Awards

By Patricia Dennis

During the summer, the Santa Clara County Branch theme was “Be Creative!” Eleven talented members of the branch displayed their art at the Coastal Art League Gallery in Half Moon Bay. All of the artists have received awards or honorable mentions in their field of art. They brought a variety of mediums to celebrate the Solstice and Earth’s bounty.

Coastal Art League exhibiting artists, left to right: Back row, Judy Bingman, ShaRon Haugen, Annette Tan, Cyra Cowan, Jeanne Carbone, C. Gray. Seated, Tracy Beardsley, Dorothy Atkins, Patricia Dennis, and Jude Tolley. Not pictured is Marcia Sivek.

Participating were acrylic artists Dorothy Atkins, Tracy Beardsley, Annette Tan, and Jude Tolley; oil artists Cyra Cowan and ShaRon Haugen; photographers Judy Bingman and Patricia Dennis; watercolor and mixed-media artist Jeanne Carbonne, and multimedia artist Claudia Gray. The event was well attended and a true Pen effort.

Pen Women also showed up in the spotlight at Campbell Art Guild awards. For the second year in a row, Jude Toley won Best in Show with one of her beautiful portraits. First-place in photography was Karen Franzenburg, followed by Patricia Dennis in second place and Claudia Gray in third.

Mary Lou Taylor participated in multiple book signings with the release of her new poetry book “In the Beginning,” paired with the memorable art of David Park’s genesis suite. 

Dorothy Atkins with her book “Heady Scent of Lilac” and Audry Lynch with “Steinbeck Remembered” were among local authors to participate in the San Jose Woman’s Club Chill Out and Read Summer Social, kicking off the celebration of 125 years of supporting strong women doing amazing things. The San Jose Woman’s Club enjoys a great relationship with the Pen Women and supports our outreach program. Dorothy Atkins’ book will also be featured in the Martin Luther King Library in San Jose.

Cape Cod Branch Pen Women Collaborate on Book

By Terri Arthur, Cape Cod Branch

book coverCape Cod Branch Pen Women Christina Laurie and Elizabeth Moisan recently collaborated on a newly published book, “The Lobsters’ Night Before Christmas.”

In this book, the well-known poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by The Rev. Clement C. Moore has been cleverly adapted to the creatures of the ocean as they celebrate Christmas Eve. Under the waves and surrounded by swaying eel grass, Sea Santa makes his yearly journey in a clamshell sleigh pulled by his faithful minnows with names like Silver, Peamouth, and, of course, Rose Red.

The book combines the holiday classic with delightful newness, and Laurie knew how important the illustrations would be to make her story viable and saleable.

“I had to find someone whose work I admired and who I knew could draw lobsters,” she explained. “When I asked Liz (Moisan) if she could draw lobsters, she said, ‘I can draw anything!’ And she can.”

Christina Laurie and Liz Moisan

Author Christina Laurie (right) and artist Liz Moisan show the result of their collaboration.

Moisan chose to use the soft watercolor hues of greens and blues of the ocean, giving readers a feeling that they are looking under water. Her illustrations are softly exuberant, bringing the story’s sea creatures to life.

Both women bring experience to this joint effort. Laurie is no novice to the art of story and poetry writing for children. Her first poem was published in 1976. Since then, her works have appeared in magazines, anthologies, and periodicals in the United States, Canada, England, and Japan. She has authored two poetry books and has written a wildly popular alphabet book for all ages, “C is for Cape Cod.”

Book illustration

An illustration by Liz Moisan from the book.

Moisan’s career spans 49 years, and for most of that time, she designed high-end carpets “to the trade.” She retired from the home furnishings industry in 2014 and started to illustrate and design books full time. She hopes to retire soon from creating art for other people and start working on her own projects: two novels and 14 children’s books she plans to write and illustrate.

Collaboration between the two women began with an agreement and a contract to firm up all of the essential details.

“Every step of the way to the finished book required discussion, understanding, and finding a place that made us both happy,” Moisan says.

Once Laurie sent her the manuscript, Moisan produced a storyboard showing rough sketches. When both agreed on these sketches and layout, Moisan started to paint in the illustrations in the soft hues reminiscent of a Monet painting.

The use of rhythmic rhyme works together with swaying of the eel grass and seaweed.

As seaweed waved gently in the deep stormy waves

Casting shadows that swept by our caves,

Deep down in the ocean the mini-fish swam

While Sea Nick brought toys for each lobster and clam.

At the end of the book, readers will learn facts about lobsters, giving this charming fantasy a touch of reality. This is a coastal Christmas tale sure to delight all who read it.


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.


The Pen Woman magazine is free to members. Extra copies available for purchase here.