September 12, 2009

Verna Gates Receives National Lifetime Achievement Award

San Antonio, Texas --- Citing the difficulties of journalism: from being ousted from a corporate headquarters, to being threatened with lawsuits, arrest, and bodily harm, Verna Gates accepted a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation of Press Women. Gates has covered topics ranging from bomber Eric Rudolph, church arsonists, Ten Commandment public display challenges, environmental injustice, corporate corruption and features such as Internet dating and travel. The Communicator of Achievement Award is presented annually to journalists based on professional achievement, community service and service to the organization. The top award winner was American icon, internationally syndicated lifestyle columnist Heloise, with Gates the runner-up.

Heloise and Verna Gates
Heloise and Verna Gates

Based in Birmingham, Gates received the Communicator of Achievement Award from NFPW affliate Alabama Media Professionals before arriving at the national conference as one of 15 finalists from around the nation. Watch Verna's acceptance speech on YouTube.

Gates' career began as one of the original 50 employees of CNN who launched the news network. She worked for CNN as a writer/producer for four years. A freelance writer for 26 years, Gates writes for international, national and regional publications. She has been a correspondent for TIME Magazine and has worked as a correspondent for Reuters for eight years.

Besides her demanding writing career, Gates maintains a high profile in the community. She founded and serves as executive director for an outdoor education non-profit, Fresh Air Family, Inc., that launched in 2006. Today, it offers more than 200 events per year, directs two after school programs and two more in-school programs. The outreach is more than 55,000 people. Fresh Air Family recently received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

As an ethnobotanist, Gates teaches at Miles College as a visiting professor and speaks around the Southeast. She recently lectured at the Birmingham Museum of Art, interpreting the plants appearing in the upcoming American exhibit, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

About Heloise

The internationally syndicated column, Hints from Heloise, started 50 years ago with a housewife fulfulling a dare to get a job. The original Heloise broke publication records by almost instantlly attracting nearly 600 newspapers to run the lifestyle column. Today, the daughter of the original Heloise continues to write for more than 500 newspapers seven days a week. She is also a contributing editor and columnist for Good Housekeeping magazine. She has authored 11 books and hosted a national radio show. A popular speaker, she is invited to talk on topics ranging from women's issues to business advice. She recently launched Life Skills 101 for college students. Her lifestyle tips appear in podcasts and is soon to launch a new blog at www.heloise.com .

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