Lifting Women Up: Highlights from the AWC National Conference

by Lisa Osborn, AWC-SB president

“You have to sometimes fight to have your voice heard, even if you might lose your job,” explained journalist Tara Gatewood. The radio host and member of Isleta Pueblo is the recipient of the AWC International Matrix Award, the ultimate AWC honor, for achieving the highest level of professional excellence. 

In her acceptance speech at the Clarion Awards in Kansas City, MO, Gatewood shared a story about encountering extreme racism on one of her first assignments, for a newspaper Aberdeen South Dakota. She went on to share uplifting and inspiring stories about her life and career, sharing with communicators in the audience, “the most important part of your story is what the person who reads it does when they put it down.”

Central Coast radio listeners might recognize Tara Gatewood’s name and her calm, steady voice, as host of “Native America Calling.” The live daily call-in program that airs on KCSB FM 91.9, the radio station where I work. So, the opportunity to meet Gatewood was one of the things I most looked forward to in attending the AWC National Conference.

I had the opportunity to speak with Gatewood and learn more about her latest professional endeavor, as director of the Fund for Indigenous Journalists: Reporting on Missing and Murdered Women and Girls, Two-Spirit and Transgender People (MMIWG2T) at the International Women’s Media Foundation. She said she is hopeful that an upcoming Martin Scorcese film about the 1920s murders of indigenous women of the Osage Nation after oil was discovered on tribal land will raise awareness of the lack of media and law enforcement response when indigenous women go missing, which happens at an alarming rate.

Other Highlights

Other highlights of the 2022 AWC National Conference include meeting and spending time with AWC members from other parts of the US, and meeting our national board leadership. They are looking for AWC members to fill spots on the national board – and it would be nice for Santa Barbara to have a voice on the national AWC level. If you might be interested, let’s talk! I will connect you with the national president, Anita K. Parran.

It was refreshing to spend time with a diverse group of women from across the country -and  college students in attendance, members of AWC student chapters in Oklahoma and Texas. 

Our AWC-SB board member Erica Schweitzer’s presentation on “How to Get your Message Across On Camera” was well received. I can tell you that Erica represented Santa Barbara AWC very well (Thanks, Erica!). My other favorite session was on Building a Diverse Workplace with Dr. Andrea Hendricks. I highly recommend her book – or live presentation – if you are interested in learning more about increasing DEI in your groups and spaces. 

The annual AWC Clarion Awards was another highlight of the conference, attracting guests beyond AWC members. It was fascinating hearing stories about covering the war in Afghanistan with Voice of America war correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem. Her team picked up several Clarion Awards. Our AWC-SB chapter member Bonnie Carroll was on hand to receive her award for her newsletter Life Bites. Judith Smith-Meyer (FoodbankSBC) is our other local 2022 Clarion recipient, earning an award for FoodbankSBC’s annual report. 

This was a worthwhile opportunity to see Kansas City for the first time – and to get to meet so many other AWC communicators from all over the country. AWC hosts a national conference every two years – and I highly encourage you to add this to your calendar for the fall of 2024.

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