Ambassador makes connections for JAWS

By Katherine Ann Rowlands, JAWS Immediate Past President

Promoting women’s leadership and taking time to support each other were the themes that resonated for me at several conferences I attended on behalf of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) the past couple of months.

A Women’s Caucus started three years ago got together again in February at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Seattle, and its leadership is eager to collaborate with JAWS on events and mentoring going forward. Finding ways to help young women writers is high on its agenda. With so many of our JAWS members writing books, we have a lot of wisdom to share with each other. For starters, we plan to do a joint mentoring panel at the AWP conference next year in St. Paul/Minneapolis and several AWP members plan to attend the JAWS conference in Palm Springs Oct. 31–Nov. 2.

Another great benefit to being in Seattle was the chance to restart a Seattle chapter for JAWS. Thanks to longtime members and newcomers, we were able to host a training event with a Tableau Software demonstration Feb. 27 at the Bloomberg offices and gather dozens of names for potential new members. It’s exciting to see our regional gatherings gain steam!

In March, I served on a panel at the 2014 Women’s Leadership Conference of Exceptional Women in Publishing (EWIP) in San Francisco. We gave tips on acquiring skills to produce multimedia content, getting published as a freelancer and getting hired at traditional media companies. Kara Swisher, co-founder of Re/code, was honored as the smart and wicked funny keynoter as she told stories about the importance of speaking up and forging your own “abnormal” or unusual path as technology transforms the media landscape. (Note that JAWS superstars Rita Henley Jensen, Gloria Steinem and Lynn Povich are all previous award winners.)

JAWS has renewed a reciprocal membership arrangement with Exceptional Women in Publishing (EWIP) so JAWS members can attend their events for a discounted rate and vice versa. EWIP was founded in 1998 by women who felt the need for an organization that addressed the leadership aspirations of women in magazine publishing. Sound familiar? Again, JAWS has lots in common with these women and we plan to collaborate on a Bay Area event later this year.

Other highlights were presentations by executive coach Wendy Wallbridge, board member Lisen Stromberg and advisory board member Lisa Stone at the Women as Catalysts for Change conference in Silicon Valley (on International Women’s Day March 8), discussing the need for women to mentor and sponsor each other to move ahead in the workplace. Veteran Washington, D.C. journalist Cokie Roberts at the East Bay Women’s Conference in San Ramon told great stories about the courageous women who helped found our country.

Every chance I get, I am handing out membership brochures, cards with information about our Oct. 31-Nov. 2 CAMP in Palm Springs and spreading the word about the great programming, networking and mentoring provided by JAWS. It is an easy sell, but the personal connection makes a difference so I am glad to be able to do this for JAWS!