By: Rachel Cansler
On Wednesday, June AWC-SB recognized broadcast journalist Paula Lopez and poet Perie Longo, at the annual Women of Achievement Awards luncheon at the Hyatt Hotel. The event titled From Breaking News to Awakening the Muse, honored the two women whose professional accomplishments distinguish them in the field of communications.
Attendees enjoyed the wit of mistress of ceremonies Dr. Kathy Gruver. In addition to the AWC-SB honors, Sharon Siegal, representative for Congresswoman Lois Capps, awarded Lopez and Longo with congressional recognition certificates for their service to the public. Jane Ferry, representative for County Supervisor Janet Wolf, also provided the awardees with certificates of recognition. Mayor Helene Schneider thanked Lopez and Longo for keeping the arts alive and thriving, stating that their triumphs will continue to resonate within all of us. Dr. Lynn Jones, AWC-SB’s president, and Maria Henneberry, vice chairwoman of the AWC National Organization, also greeted and expressed their gratitude for Lopez and Longo.
Writer and Columnist for the Santa Barbara Independent, Starshine Roshell, presented the award to Paula Lopez. Roshell had those in attendance in stitches as she described her personal relationship with Lopez and how that sometimes played out as professional competition between two print and broadcast journalists. She shared her fervent respect for her colleague’s integrity.
Lopez riveted attendees with stories of the breaking news she’s covered in her career, including the O. J. Simpson trial, and live coverage of the Rodney King trial and Los Angeles riots. The audience comprised largely of women listened to Lopez discuss how she went from a shy adolescent to a broadcast professional at a time when “no one in the field looked like her.”
Lois Phillips, AWC-SB’s founding president, introduced Perie Longo. Longo, Phillips explained, has transformed the imagery and flow of metaphors and language that is poetry into a form of therapy and enlightenment. After Longo attained her PhD in Counseling Psychology, the once public speaking professor and playwright tried her hand at poetry. She discovered its unconscious healing power. From 2007 to 2009 Perie Longo performed as Santa Barbara poet laureate.
Longo shared a humorous poem she wrote for the event. Titled “Breaking News with Paula” the poem explores how the world would be if it were ruled by poets. Longo shared her stories of traveling to Kuwait in 2005 to speak on poetry as a form of healing. She relayed heartwarming tales of her time in Kuwait and the funny poems her younger students came up with over the years. Longo advised the audience to never forget to “howl at the moon.”