People’s World receives top honors from Illinois Woman’s Press Association

CHICAGO – The Illinois Woman’s Press Association announced earlier this month that People’s World writers are among the recipients of top awards in this year’s 74th Mate E. Palmer Communications Award Contest. In addition, PW co-editor Teresa Albano will be the 2015 IWPA Silver Feather Award recipient.

The IWPA is believed to be the nation’s oldest organization of women writers, established in 1885 in Chicago and is the founding mother of the National Federation of Press Women, which was established in 1937. The awards contest is named after IWPA’s ninth president Mrs. Mate E. Palmer, a lifetime member of the association, having joined the year of its founding.

The Silver Feather Award was established in 1972 and is presented to the Mate E. Palmer Award Contest entrant with the highest point total. PW received six first place awards, one second place, two third place and two honorable mentions across journalistic categories. The recipients are:

Teresa Albano, News-Online, First Place:

Earchiel Johnson/photographer

New generation finds its voice and power in Ferguson, Mo.

Editorial-Online, First Place:

President’s immigration action expands democracy, time to carry it forward

News-Online, Second Place:

Unity was their cry-Fast food workers go global

Editorial-Online, Honorable Mention:

How long before that arc bends towards justice

John Dick, Writing, Opinion/column, First Place:

The biker and the reverend: How I learned history at work and

Celebrating my fellow women postal workers

Eric Gordon and Dale Greenfield, Writing/reviews, First Place:

“Citizenfour”: “The Shock Doctrine” plays out in the Patriot Act and

Freedom of the press? “Kill the Messenger” in review

Susan Webb, Writing on green/environment, First Place:

Dioxins unearthed at U.S. base in Okinawa stir furor and

U.S. covered up massive PCB contamination at Okinawa base

John Wojcik, Writing on government or politics, First Place:

Inside story on how one little city slew an oil dragon and

Labor movement demands immediate relief for 11 million immigrants

Blake Deppe, News-Online, Third Place:

Some 400,000 climate marchers paint New York green

Andrea Perkins, Writing on social issues, Honorable Mention:

Feb. 14 marches for missing Native women unite action with compassion

Joe Sims, Feature-Online, Third Place:

With #ICantBreathe, new movement for justice inspires

Tracing their roots to the women’s club movement at the turn of the twentieth century, the association was linked with other professional and women’s groups including the National Editorial Association and International League of Press Clubs. It was an auxiliary to the Illinois Woman’s Alliance which included 24 local communities, religious and professional organizations whose goal it was to establish a labor union for working women and children.

“It is an incredible honor and a humbling experience to be recognized by the IWPA,” said Albano. “As an organization that came out of the multi-faceted movement for women’s rights, especially for working-class women, the IWPA occupies an important space in today’s media landscape. All of us at People’s World want to thank the Mate E. Palmer Award Contest committee and extend our congratulations to each 2015 award recipient.”

IWPA President Becky Sarwate, also a recipient of multiple IWPA and NFPW awards, said she joined the organization five years ago so she could enter the awards contest.

“I had written a series of urban agriculture features for StreetWise and Suzanne Hanney, the editor-in-chief and a longtime IWPA member, suggested I enter my work in the contest.I did and won first place in the category at both state and national. Not bad for a new writer? I was hooked on IWPA and the opportunities it offers from that point on,” she said.

“Illinois Woman’s Press Association is our name and it has been since 1885. But we have evolved into a modern, 21st century communications organization representing both genders and a wide spectrum of professionals: book authors, poets, musicians, radio personalities, photographers, journalists, bloggers, PR professionals. The diversity of our contest categories reflects the diversity of our membership,” Sarwate said.

Although the IWPA started as a woman’s organization, its membership is open to men with the first male member joining in 1985. In fact, the current IWPA membership director is Dr. Tim Libretti, chair of Northeastern Illinois University English Department, who is introducing the association to a whole new generation of writers and communication professionals. Libretti, who won four first place awards in speech, essay, feature and social issue categories, said students appreciate being part of a group where they can find “community.”

“They seem to find the association a meaningful place to develop a supportive professional network, join a nourishing community of writers, and gain exposure and recognition for their published writing,” he said.

This year the IWPA celebrates its 130th anniversary and will host its Spring Awards Luncheon on May 16 at the Union League Club of Chicago. The special guest speaker will be Dr. Bradley Greenberg, author of the novel “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” and a special acoustic musical performance by IWPA’s Professional Contest Chair Diane Bushemi. To purchase tickets or program book advertisement go to: