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Association for Women in Communications Chapter Honors Paula Lopez, Perie Longo

Seasoned broadcast journalist and poet laureate/professor are honored with 2012 Women of Achievement Awards

Titled “From Breaking News to Awakening the Muse,” the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Association for Women in Communications annual Women of Achievement Awards luncheon was held Wednesday at the Hyatt Santa Barbara, honoring two accomplished women who embody different ends of the spectrum in communication.

Representatives from the offices of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf offered congratulations to the honorees, and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider was on hand to laud them in person.

Welcoming remarks were made by Dr. Lynn Jones, AWC-SB president, and Maria Henneberry, vice chairwoman of the AWC national organization, who later remarked, “Santa Barbara has a lot of people with high levels of personality!”

Presenting the award to Paula Lopez was one of last year’s honorees, beloved local columnist and journalism professor Starshine Roshell. She initially pointed out the inherent competition between broadcast and print journalists, but went on to describe the depth of respect and esteem she has developed over the years for her colleague and friend.

Lopez, who began her television broadcasting career in 1985 at KEYT, went to KCAL in Los Angeles in 1990 and returned to KEYT in 1996.

As a girl, she said, “I wasn’t photogenic and never had ambition to be in front of the camera, so it’s ironic that I’ve ended up here. Also, there were really no role models for me.”

Lopez told stories of her harrowing experiences anchoring live news broadcasts, including the Los Angels riots in 1992. Through those experiences, she is working to ensure there are strong role models for today’s girls.

Lois Phillips, president emerita of AWC-SB, introduced Perie Longo with great affection and admiration. Longo has taught speech and communication at SBCC and the Brooks Institute, as well as with the California Poets in the Schools Program.

Inspired by her experiences of helping others to “find their voices” through poetry, she earned her Ph.D. in counseling psychology, which led to her current involvement with Poetry Therapy. From 2007 to 2009, she was Santa Barbara’s poet laureate.

Longo read a humorous free-verse poem she had written only the day before, describing her vision of what the world would be like if run by poets. In addition to being a gifted wordsmith, she is a warm and funny storyteller, relating tales of her trip to Kuwait in 2005 to speak on “Poetry as a Path to Healing.”

A great communicator in her own right, Mistress of Ceremonies Dr. Kathy Gruver was poised and witty as she introduced honored guests and kept the program moving along smoothly. Gruver holds the position of marketing chairwoman on the board of the AWC-SB.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.

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