NLAPW National Level News

(See more news: News from Pen Women and Branch News.)


Mark the Date: 2020 Biennial in D.C.

By Sheila M. Byrnes, 2020 Biennial Chair

Image by Joseph Ken from Pixabay

As the Biennial chair, I am happy to inform you that the 2020 NLAPW signature event will take place in Washington, D.C., the home of our nation’s Capitol and the home of our historic Pen Arts Building and Art Gallery. The Darcy hotel, located only three blocks from Pen Arts, will be the conference venue.

Three full days of events are planned for the 2020 Biennial, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday, April 24 and ending at 7 p.m., Sunday, April 26. Registration will open Thursday, April 23, at 5: p.m., at The Darcy.

As details about the event become available, they will be posted online at The schedule and the registration form will be published in the Fall 2019 issue of Pen Woman.

DEADLINE EXTENDED~ Call for 2020 Biennial Workshop and Panel Proposals

Join us in Washington, D.C. for the NLAPW 50th Biennial, April 24-26. Discover for yourself how creative and intelligent letters, art, and music members inspire each other in artistic journeys and explore the sources of their creative development.

The Biennial Committee invites you to share your interests, talents, perspectives, and network with other like-minded individuals. Please consider submitting a workshop or panel proposal for the Biennial.

Include the following in your cover sheet:

• Title of your workshop or panel discussion.

• Presenter(s) name, branch affiliation(s) or MAL, address(es), telephone number(s), and email address(es).

• If you are submitting a panel discussion proposal, the primary contact person should be identified. Presenters’ names should appear only on the cover sheet.

Include the following in your proposal:

• The title of your workshop or panel discussion.

• The description of the session, including learning objectives and stating how the session relates to NLAPW.

• Proposed audience: letters, art, music, or all three combined.

• Type of session: Either a workshop or panel discussion. Typical workshop length is 45-60 minutes. A panel discussion might be 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

• Any special requirements, such as room setup (moveable chairs) or special equipment including technology. All rooms will have Wi-Fi capability.

• All proposals should be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Proposals are due by September 30. Send your cover letter by email to: with “NLAPW Biennial Proposal” as your email subject line, or by U.S. Postal Service to: Sheila M. Byrnes, 3622 Whispering Woods Terrace, Baldwinsville, NY 13027-8306.

The art, letters, and music chairs and their committees will blind-review all the proposals. The cover sheets with names will not be shared with reviewers to ensure no bias occurs.

Proposals chosen for presentation will:

• Inspire conference attendees.

• Contribute to art, letters, and music.

• Show evidence that the session is consistent with the NLAPW culture and will achieve its stated purpose.

A proposal submission represents a commitment to present the session at the conference as well as to register and attend the conference.

If you have any questions please contact Sheila M. Byrnes via email,

Outreach Through Generous Sharing

By Gail Speckmann, National Outreach Chair

Facts speak to our heads; stories speak to our hearts. We need both.

Donna Puglisi’s article shared below is about the outreach program that started with a “seed” moment (a presentation) and grew into a relationship. This is what I love about outreach. It blesses all concerned. We draw inspiration from one another.

Examples of generous sharing can be found all around us. The sharing of free information on the internet is a great example. So very many times we benefit from the knowledge, experience, and talents of others. And the gratitude we may feel from this is a good reminder that we should also give back in ways that we can. 

This is about a generosity of flow, not necessarily about the immediate, almost frenetic, need to balance giving and receiving. In our case as Pen Women, we have undoubtedly been enriched by the teaching and examples of others. 

For many of us, this is a time to share a rich harvest. With whom can we share this? It is often a matter of staying attuned as needs and opportunities arise. At other times, it is intentional. A planned targeting to meet needs.

Heart and head! Oftentimes, it results from the joining of many hearts and heads. We are blessed to be sharing our efforts with our Pen Women sisters.

A Working Formula for Community Involvement

By Donna Puglisi

The Cape Canaveral Branch is in perpetual motion.  We encourage our members to become active in the community. Through networking and outreach programs, we strengthen our bonds with other organizations, also striving for excellence and a richer quality of life. 

We value enlightening the community in the arts by having fun while educating both the young and the old. We work with local schools that want to expose young people to the arts, and at the other end of the life spectrum, we have created a most fulfilling relationship with our senior community.


The Cape Canaveral Branch at one of its author talks at One Senior Place.
Photography by Donna Puglisi

Our recent outreach program with One Senior Place in Brevard County has been very successful. It is an organization for elder care services and home to an extensive lineup of educational presentations, seminars, and events for the aging community.  It provides resources to aid in senior living, as well as advice concerning in-home senior care; assisted living placement services; legal, financial, and insurance matters; hospice and Alzheimer’s care resources; and much more.

The Cape Canaveral Branch is proud to be a part of this wonderful organization, providing author talks and creative craft workshops. With our author talks, which include novelists and poets, we encourage local seniors to expand their horizons and participate in our programs. 

The Legacy Club at One Senior Place, a small book club, kickstarted our author talks with a poetry reading from one of our branch’s published poets. This led to more author talks and creative workshops. The ball started rolling and we had a great program this year.

Barbara Fradkin, referral specialist at One Senior Place, said, “Working with the Cape Canaveral Branch of NLAPW has opened another cultural venue for seniors in Brevard County to experience every facet of the arts.  Our monthly events have been very successful. The ladies (and gentlemen) have enjoyed various author talks, craft demonstrations, and the camaraderie with the group. We hope to continue this wonderful relationship with the Pen Women and plan to expand our programs in the near future.”

The working formula between our Cape Canaveral Pen Women and One Senior Place doesn’t come in a pill bottle. A smile is worth a million dollars. We still believe that laughter is the best medicine.


Donna’s story got me thinking about our own possible connections in the Minnesota branch. Two of us in our branch have been serving as judges for Courage Kenny’s “Art of Possibilities” Show. Those who qualify to send in entries are artists who are dealing with physical and mental difficulties. The show is open to international entries.

Panting by Gail Speckmann

Now, I find myself musing as to how we could further expand on our relationship with the Courage Kenny organization. Donate award money for its show? Give presentations at the Courage Kenny Center? Teach workshops? 

This could apply to our varied arts modalities. We could explore with the patients through the theme lens of “courage.” We could donate books to their library. I was involved in the writing of a book titled “Fearless Women,  Fearless Wisdom,” in which stories of courage and recovery are told through the experiences of 40 women. This would be an excellent fit. All of these thoughts made me realize how possibilities were just waiting to be recognized.

Additionally, I have had my art selected a few times to be among the images for the Courage Christmas Cards, a fundraising effort for the organization. The most successful card of mine that was used is a painting of many candles, ablaze together.  I include this as a reminder that we light each other’s “candles” in a shared fire of creativity.


Recent News


Connecting with Local Libraries: A Great Outreach Opportunity

By Gail Speckmann, National Outreach Chair

A great outreach opportunity that was cited from the recent Branch Presidents Questionnaire involved connecting with our local libraries, benefiting both parties.

A great example is the link between  the Minnesota Branch, where I am a member, and the Carver County Library System. Angela Hunt is a librarian at the Chaska Library in Carver County. She is also an active and supportive member of our branch. I credit her greatly in taking the lead to bring about a successful connection.

For many years, the Carver County Library System has made Pen Women bookmarks available to attendees of its writers events. In October 2017, a collaboration event took place in which our Minnesota Branch hosted the monthly meeting at the Chaska library. It was an informational program for community members who were interested in learning about Pen Women and what we do.

Jeanne Emrich, one of the branch members, had assembled and shown a well-done PowerPoint about Pen Women with examples of members’ work. Afterward, time was allowed for Q&A from the library audience. Our branch presented a writing and art critique and invited the visitors to participate. Refreshments were offered as well.

The library publicized the “meet and greet” in its quarterly brochure, e-calendar, Facebook, Twitter, and in the newspapers. It also invited its writers groups to the meeting through e-newsletters, and Angela extended an additional invitation to the Arts Consortium of Carver County.

Before guests arrived, Angela gave a library tour to our branch, showing the main library gallery (which hosts a different local artist each month) and sharing how to get onto that roster (free gallery space with sales potential).

She also explained how to reserve rooms and mentioned that most libraries offer nonprofits free space use and “maker spaces” to individuals and groups. This is one way to help a Pen Women branch’s budget. In addition, the library system might know about free or small-fee knowledgeable presenters whom Pen Women might be able to utilize.

The library shared its quarterly brochures with us, showing the types of programming available for us to attend. This will allow our members to determine whether they, themselves, might qualify to apply as a presenter.

Angela shared the scope of most library classes, the process of becoming a presenter for libraries, the planning timetable, and the trends in programming. She helpfully suggested that, while libraries also offer programming by people who donate their services, this could be one way in which artists, writers, and songwriters might be able to supplement income: by being a performer, demonstration artist, or teaching artist at libraries. It might also help transition a person who doesn’t yet have the “paid professional” component to become a full Pen Woman member.

Since the visit, the NLAPW Minnesota Branch has hosted its regular monthly meetings at the Edina Library branch (more centrally located for our members), utilizing its free meeting room.

Some additional thoughts to consider that we as Pen Women could explore include:

• Partner with college or university libraries for a program or project.

• Visit in person with local librarians to find out if they know women who may be good candidates to become Pen Women. Do they know of writers groups or displaying artists who might have an interest in NLAPW?

• Volunteer to work as a group with library projects as part of our outreach work.

We would like to hear from Pen Women members from around the country. Please share ideas you may have or programs that you are currently doing with libraries in your area. Send your thoughts to We will post these on the NLAPW website.

Much of this article is closely based on Angela Hunt’s write-up for the library after October 2017 event took place.


NLAPW Outreach Reaches Out

By Gail Speckmann, National Outreach Chair

Outreach is at the very heart of our goals as an organization, vital to our growth and fulfillment of our mission “to support and promote creative excellence and professional standards among women in the arts.”

A particular goal of mine, as your new national outreach chair, is to receive input from branch presidents and members-at-large about their past and existing outreach programs. Several weeks ago, questionnaires were sent out by email (if you have not received this, please contact me at As results continue to come in, I will share this gathered information back with you. We can all benefit from knowing of each other’s successes, being inspired to build on these and further stimulated to develop new ideas.

Broadly, the categories that have been reported through the questionnaires include awards/scholarships; teaching programs, workshops, and speaking engagements; donations (particularly arts related); social events (e.g. potlucks, teas to reach out); exhibits and competitions; and community connections, including collaboration on projects with other arts groups.

A deeply enriching aspect of our involvement as Pen Women is that such a variety of the arts are represented. By balancing monthly programs among these, we can reach out through invitations to nonmembers with a broad range of interests.

Programs such as “Painted Word” that “cross-pollinate” the various arts are very inspiring. In future columns for The Pen Woman magazine and on our website at, various programs will be featured in depth.   

Consider ideas on how to particularly reach out to targeted groups of women, such as the newly or soon-to-be retired, supporting them in either revisiting or pursuing new artistic goals. Other potential groups could include the recently divorced or widowed, those who have lost jobs, and under-represented ethnic groups. There is value in identifying and addressing groups that may have particular needs that we could help meet. This may, hopefully, have the added benefit of leading to vital new membership for the League.    

All branches and members are also encouraged to find the little ways in which we can reach out. Everything does not have to be a big project. As each one of us deepens our awareness about needs in our communities, we can speak up and work together to find creative ways to bring about worthy outreach.


Membership News

By Beverly Goldie, Third Vice President

Have you viewed “Why Be a Pen Woman” yet? This relevant five-minute video created by letters member-at-large Rodika Tollefson would be a wonderful addition to your program library this year. It will inspire members and guests at branch meetings, board meetings, or recruitment events for years to come. We thank Rodika for her time and talent for filming and producing this professional work.

You can view it below or on YouTube.

Some branches are having a renaissance in membership, and I would like to recognize them. Charleston, West Virginia; Diablo/Alameda, California; and Coral Gables, Florida, have gained multiple new members this year. Soon, we will know which branch will win the award for the highest percentage of growth for 2018.

At the Biennial in Iowa, branch presidents and membership chairs shared many suggestions for increasing membership. The Pensacola Branch, last year’s winner, was spotlighted in the last Pen Woman magazine with tips for attracting members. Perhaps adding an outreach program, an all-discipline exhibit, or a distinguished speaker can add some spice to your branch. Challenging each member to invite a guest provides a personal outreach.

Also at the Biennial, we heard inspirational presenters Frank and Kimberlee Spillers tell us about the “WUCA Way.”  WUCA stands for welcome, understand, comfort, and appreciate, a methodology that creates a friendly, civil environment in an organization. Such an environment is necessary for maintaining and recruiting membership. Is your branch committed to this type of environment?

I am grateful to Frank and Kimberlee for sharing their knowledge with the League members and very pleased that Kimberlee is a now a letters member in the Des Moines Branch.



Scenes from Des Moines

Shutterbugs at the recent Biennial were asked to take photos in and around Des Moines for their chance to win some cash and booty. Pen Woman Sandy Huff sponsored the contest. Prizes were $25 for 1st place, $15 for 2nd, $10 for 3rd, and extra goodies for honorable mentions.

Winners were: 

First place: Darlene Yeager Torre, Central Ohio Branch

Second place: Anne Baehr, Pensacola Branch

Third place: Lucy Arnold

See the winning entries, plus honorable mentions and others.


Reimagining PenWomen Online 
for Ongoing Professional Development

By Candace L. Long, NLAPW President (2014-2016)

New NLAPW President Evelyn Wofford asked me to propose a way to revive our webinar (i.e., online training) initiative called PenWomen Online.  Webinars were an important part of our outreach training from 2012 to 2016.

History of PenWomen Online

I became a member of the NLAPW Board of Directors in 2010. With a decadeslong background in broadcast production and a commitment to developing new revenue streams, I proposed PenWomen Online to the board and spent the first year surveying members’ needs and researching the logistics required to bring it to life.

Our first webinar, “How to Create an Online Presence,” was offered free and featured Lynne Spreen as the instructor. It took place Feb. 21, 2012, with a total of 20 participants. Once the board saw the potential of reaching members and

Pen Women online

 nonmembers from all over the country for an hour of professional development, our excitement built. We began the trial-and-error process to arrive at a reasonable webinar fee to help offset WebEx expenses and, at the same time, develop a new revenue stream by offering training that appealed to all classifications.

Since 2012, we have offered 24 webinars to some 300 participants and generated close to $2,500.

Our most popular topic, “Writing for TV and Film,” featured a writer-producer panel of experts: Maureen Sappéy (whose book, “Letters to Vinnie,” is in development as a TV series), Marilyn Atlas (an award-winning producer and personal manager of actors and writers), and the late Claudia Ann Reame, (writer/producer of a miniseries based on the life of her ancestor, Vinnie Ream). This webinar “sold out” with 28 participants and netted the League $390 for that one 60-minute webinar training.

Going Forward

During 2018-2019, the League will repackage and offer the top-eight recorded webinars, one a month from September through May:

• “Writing for TV & Film”

• “Weaving Historical Research into Your Books”

• “Wired for Creativity”

• “10 Keys to Writing Your Memoir”

• “Spreadsheets 101”

• “Intellectual Property for Creatives”

• “Composers Forum”

• “Artists: To Jury or Not?”

• “Professional Development in 3 Easy Steps”

Step 1: We will promote each recorded webinar through Constant Contact.

Step 2: If you want to view it, click on the PayPal link and pay the $20 fee. 

Step 3: We send you a link to download the webinar to your computer to view whenever you like.

We hope PenWomen Online will be part of your own professional development. Or, smaller branches may wish to use these archived webinars in their monthly meetings.   

Let Us Produce Your Webinar

Many of you produce truly great work deserving of its own webinar story. If you are interested in how to package what you do for online training, please contact me for particulars.

New Membership Developments You May Not Know About

By Bev Goldie, 2016-’18 National Membership Development Chair

It was a pleasure being your national membership development chair for the last administration. As I hand over the reigns to the next chair, I’d like to share a few updates and resources that you may not know about.

Here are highlights from the last two years:

  • We welcomed almost 25 percent more new members in the past two years than the previous two.
  • The NLAPW Board extended an invitation to Melania Trump as an honorary active art member. (Her jewelry designs qualified her). We received a letter back from the White House declining our request last January.
  • All of the applications for each type of membership classification are online and include instruction sheets as well as frequently asked questions.
  • There are two videos at that can be used in recruitment and retaining members. The newest one, “Why Be a Pen Woman,” is an inspiring tool to show perspective members.
  • There is a webinar pay-per-view on to learn how to use Excel for members. Perhaps these skills could assist the branch treasurers.
  • There are new guidelines prepared to assist any member to start a new branch.
  • We welcome performers and instructors now with our allied professional classification.
  • We now have a plaque at Pen Arts to celebrate the winner of the branch with the highest percentage of growth for each calendar year. Pensacola, Florida, was the first recipient, with an unbelievable 73 percent growth! (Read more in Branch News.)
  • We’ll update the names of the new credentials officers on the applications in the next few months. We’ll send a Constant Contact email to roll out this information.
  • Did you know that if you assist the National Headquarters office with at least four hours per day of approved tasks, you can stay overnight for free at the Pen Arts Building? You would need to call in advance and make arrangements. The rest of the time, you can explore D.C.!

We depend on you to tell us if there are any new ideas to attract or retain new members. Please stay in touch with the new Membership Committee and keep up the good work!