Candidates for the Communicator of Achievement award are nominated by NPW members for exceptional achievement in the communications field, service to NPW/NFPW, and service to their communities. The COA award is the highest honor bestowed by NPW.

Mary Jane Skala Named NPW Communicator of Achievement

Kearney Hub lifestyles reporter Mary Jane Skala is Nebraska Press Women’s 2020 Communicator of Achievement (COA).

Skala honed her journalistic skills at the Sun News chain in Cleveland, Ohio, where she worked her way from reporter to senior editor in charge of 22 suburban newspapers.

During nearly all of her 40-plus years as a journalism professional, she has been a member of the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW) and one of its state affiliates, which she credits for helping her polish her career, make connections and see parts of the U.S. that she might never have seen.

Through one of those connections Skala found her way to the Kearney Hub and to Nebraska Press Women.

Skala has served both the national and state organizations as an officer and a board member for many years.

She has also won numerous writing awards in Ohio, Nebraska and national communications contests. Skala is a two-time national sweepstakes award winner of the NFPW contest – once in 1996 and again in 2020.

“The truth is, she can report and write about any topic from hard news and technical topics to personality profiles and light features. And she finds all those topics and every person she’s ever met interesting,” stated members who nominated Skala.

Some Past NPW Communicators of Achievement

Below are some former NPW COA recipients: back from left, Judy Nelson, Glennis Nagel, Ruth Brown, Martha Stoddard, Cheryl Alberts Irwin, Mary Pat Finn-Hoag; front row from left, Lori Potter, Joan Burney, Stephanie Geery-Zink, Terri Hahn, and Barb Batie at the 2011 NFPW convention after Terri was named runner-up to the national COA.

Past State Achievement Award Recipients

2019 Jill Claflin, Cozad
2018 Eileen Wirth, Omaha
2017 Judy Nelson, Lincoln
2016 Bette Pore, Grand Island
2015 Lori Potter, Kearney
2014 Ruth Raymond Thone, Lincoln
2013 Mary Pierce, Ogallala
2012 Sherry Thompson, Omaha
2011 Stephanie Geery-Zink, Lincoln
2010 Terri Hahn, Grand island
2009 Martha Stoddard, Lincoln
2008 Barb Micek, Fullerton
2007 Dr. Ruth Brown, Lexington
2006 Cheryl Alberts Irwin, Lincoln
2005 Glennis Nagel, Kearney
2004 Dorothy Fryer, Norfolk
2003 Barb Batie, Lexington
2002 Marianne Beel, Valentine
2001 Mary Pat Finn-Hoag, Norfolk
2000 Mary Bargman Crawford, Alliance
1998 Andrea Cranford, Lincoln
1997 Sue Fitzgerald, Lexington
1996 Gwen Lindberg, West Point
1995 Lori Potter, Kearney
1994 Evelyn Aufdenkamp, Clay Center
1993 Karen Stansbery, Brule
1992 Joan Burney, Hartington
1991 Mary Ann (Koch) Blackledge, North Platte
1990 Jill Claflin, Lexington
1989 Vicki Miller, Lincoln
1988 Judy Johnson, West Point
1987 Marj Marlette, Lincoln
1986 Judy Nelson, Lincoln
1984 Lois Lambley, North Bend
1982 Dr. Wilma Crumley, Lincoln
1981 Joan Burney, Hartington
1980 Marianne Beel, Valentine
1979 Lilly Frels, Hershey
1978 Lilas Thomas, Ogallala
1967 Helen Green, Fairbury
1961 Velma Price, Newman Grove
1958 Norma Carpenter, Lincoln

National Communicators of Achievement from Nebraska
2019 Eileen Wirth, Omaha
1993 Joan Burney, Hartington
1985 Lois Lambley, North Bend