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Somerset, PA 15501

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Meritorious Service 

Each year Pennwriters, Inc. honors a member whose contributions to the organization have gone “above and beyond” the call of duty. A member who has accepted one or more of the committee chairs or offices of Pennwriters, and has taken it even further by not only performing the stated duties of office, but expanded on expectations and taken on unexpected roles, thereby helping Pennwriters to grow and flourish. A member who has proven to be a valuable asset to the writing and publishing world. 

2023:  Pauline Drozeski 
Pauline Drozeski served as Internet Activities Coordinator from 2011 to 2020, helping to moderated all Penwriter Yahoo Groups, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn Groups, and update content on the former website. She also worked as Online Course Coordinator and Pennwriters Presents coordinator, filling four board positions at one time. Though not part of her duties, Pauline sent out a Latest News email on a regular basis, and served on the Area 1 Mini Conference Committee, and was co-coordinator of the very successful 2019 Pennwriters Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. Pauline graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Penn State and lives in Erie. Her current projects include a non-fiction book.

2022:  Susan Gourley

Susan Gourley is a long time member of Pennwriters. She served as President the past two years and board secretary until 2015. She's been a Published Penn since 2011 and a 25 year-member of RWA. An independent, small press has published 27 of Suan's novels, with the majority written under her pen name, Susan Kelley.
Susan earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Lock Haven University and did her graduate work at Penn State University. She recently retired after 34 years as a public school teacher and currently works as a full time writer. 
Susan is a mother to five sons, one daughter, and she has  two granddaughters. She and her husband live outside of Hershey, PA.
2021: Hilary Hauck 

 Hilary Hauck grew up in England, and lived in Italy for over a decade where she taught English. She moved to the US in 2002, where she is a freelance translator of Italian into English. Finding her feet in new cultures brings a unique perspective to her writing, which includes poetry, fiction, and articles. She is grateful for the knowledge and support she has gained from the writing community, and she believes strongly in giving back. A member of Pennwriters since 2010, Hilary served as Area 4 Representative from 2012 to 2016, was the 2019 Annual Conference Co-Coordinator, and served as president of Pennwriters from 2016 to 2019. During her term as Area 4 Representative, she founded The Inkwell, a vibrant local group for writers, and she co-founded and served as vice president of the Allegheny Regional Festival of Books, a new venture to support regional authors and literacy. Hilary studied translation at City University, London, and holds the Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation. She graduated from RULE, a two-year leadership program through Penn State Extension, in 2017. Hilary's debut historical novel, From Ashes The Song, was released this year. She lives with her husband, son, dog, and two cats on a rural, wooded lane, where she loves to write, cook, and study photography.
2020: Madhu Wangu

Madhu Bazaz Wangu's unique Writing Meditation Practice (WMP) combines meditation, journaling, walking in the wilderness, writing with others, and reading. On the first Wednesday of March, 2011, she invited a few Pennwriters to practice WMP with her, and thus the first Mindful Writers Group was founded. That has since grown to five groups including Online Mindful Writers Group (OMWG) and Mindful Poets Group. Madhu Bazaz Wangu has written, narrated, and recorded three CDs "Meditations for Mindful Writers I, II, III." The daily practice of her guided meditation enhances attention, hones self-awareness, expands imagination, and increases productivity. A multi-award-winning fiction writer, she has also published non-fiction books on Hindu and Buddhist art. Her second collection of short stories, Little Journeys, is forthcoming in 2021. Currently, she is writing a guidebook titled, Unclog Your Flow, Enrich Your Daily Life: 365 Journaling Prompts and 13 Meditations for Writers. Read her inspirational daily posts at Online Mindful Writers Group
2019: Leslie Tobin Smeltz

Leslie Tobin Smeltz attended her first Pennwriters Conference in 2012. Volunteering to be a timekeeper at that event has led to many more service roles for the organization—first as Read & Critique chair (2013), then as Agent/Editor chair (2014-2017, 2019). In 2015, Leslie joined the Pennwriters Board as the public relations chair, promoting the organization and serving as the voice behind the Pennwriters Twitter account. In 2018, she co-coordinated the annual Pennwriters Conference and is slated to co-coordinate it again in 2020. Leslie’s attention to detail, her willingness to go the extra mile when it comes to taking care of the agents and editors at the conferences, and her overall positive attitude has given the organization a solid reputation in the agent/editor community. Leslie holds a bachelor's degree in History from Penn State and a master's degree in History from The University of Scranton. In March of 2018, Leslie began a second career as a guest teacher for several school districts in her area. She’s in her second four-year term as the Judge of Elections for her district, and was on the election board for two years prior to that. She also maintains active volunteer positions at her local elementary school library and her church.

2018: Todd Main

Todd Main is a graduate of Gannon University with a BS in Pure and Applied Science. His studies at Gannon University gave him an appreciation for different cultures and beliefs as well as a basic understanding of the laws of the universe. Serving as a Senior Technical Writer for 40 years with industry leaders AMSCO, GE, and STERIS has given him a broad foundation for understanding writing and the publication process. He has experienced the power of networking with like-minded creative people during his 10 years in Pennwriters. Founding and serving as group leader of the Fellowship of the Quill has instilled in him the drive to help others reach their dreams and goals. It has also fostered his growth as a novelist. The outstanding mini-conference held at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie is one of his many accomplishments. Todd’s objective as Area 1 Rep. is to focus on helping individual members attain their dreams and goals and to “Pay Forward” for all of the help he has received in his life.
2017: Heather Desuta

Heather Desuta was co-coordinator of the 2017 Pennwriters Annual Conference, a milestone event that celebrated the organization’s 30th annual conference. Heather has a journalism degree and has worked in publications management, editing and graphic design at nonprofit organizations and in higher education, including The Pittsburgh Zoo, Saltworks Theatre Company, Thiel College and the Pittsburgh Symphony. She has been a Pennwriter since 2010. Her first volunteer role with the organization was as a committee chairperson for the 2011 annual conference. After creating the logo and program booklet for that event, she joined the board as newsletter editor. In that position, she has fostered the evolution of the newsletter and has helped to shape the graphic identity of Pennwriters. She edits newsletter submissions, shares member news items, and passes along insightful quotes and information about the writing industry and the writer’s life. Heather has designed and created flyers, logos, website graphics, brochures, and many other printed and web materials for Pennwriters and serves on the conference and web committees.

2016: Colette Garmer

Colette Garmer is Pennwriters’ Jack(lyn)-of-all-trades.  Her commitment to ushering Pennwriters into the tech world has distinguished her.  She began volunteering as Raffle Basket Chair at the 2011 Conference.  That same year, Pennwriters had no Writing Contest because no one had volunteered to run it.  Collette came to the rescue with great renovations.  As Writing Contest Chair, she electronically rewrote the entry and the judging communication process, which saved the organization hundreds of dollars on copying and mailing materials.  She continued in that role until 2015.  In addition to Contest Chair, Collette was assistant webmaster to Dave Szymanowski, initiated Meetup, programmed Regonline, and helped with Facebook and the new website.

Pennwriters’ dedicated engineer, she built a new conference scaffold for members, by not only loading everything for the 2014 conference into the Regonline program but also by giving the organization an ability to text members about schedule changes during the conference.  Eager to help in any way, she created the first online election ballot that drew excellent voter response.  Anyone who has ever worked beside Collette would describe her as altruistic, dedicated, and driven.  She has contributed countless hours to Pennwriters, and her many accomplishments should be celebrated.
2015: Elizabeth Nazario

Elizabeth Nazario, commonly known as Charli Mac, wears many hats—big hats. In 2014, she organized the largest conference to date in Lancaster. Attendance numbers soared over 200, and she had more agents and editors in attendance than ever before. Charli’s Area Six blog and newsletter pull together a segment of dedicated writers that the organization has always had trouble reaching due to competition from strong local writing organizations in the Philadelphia area. Writers who need up-to-date agent news find that Charli is a good go-to person because of her involvement in the industry. Her presence on Twitter, in individual tweets about the organization, and as host of Pennwriters parties, embody the mission and goals of promoting Pennwriters and its members. In any given week, Area Six members can find a myriad of useful information about area events and opportunities for writers in her emails. Currently, she is updating our website, a Herculean task. Charli-Mac has given her time tirelessly, and her outreach to members from social media to conferences makes her truly worthy of recognition for service to Pennwriters’ members.

2014: Bobbi Carducci

Bobbi Carducci volunteered to be the Area 7 Liaison and help members living outside  Pennsylvania. Because her efforts grew Area 7, the Board changed the position to representative status. She has represented out-of-state members for 9 years now. Not only has she chaired and coordinated the Pennwriters poetry/writing contest, but she’s also been a workshop speaker at several Pennwriters conferences, and many will remember her as the conference luncheon keynote speaker last year. Bobbi is a multi-published, award-winning short story writer, magazine columnist, blogger, writing contest judge, and writing coach.  Her dedication to writing and writers extends beyond Pennwriters into the young writing community. Carducci is the Executive Director of the Young Voices Foundation, an educational nonprofit established to mentor emerging young writers. Bobbi created the Young Voices Foundation Awards, honoring books that inspire, mentor and/or educate readers of all ages. This veteran Pennwriter keeps areas outside PA from becoming Area 51. Attend any Board meeting, and her hand will be raised to volunteer. The Board appreciates her wisdom. Despite moving to VA, she did not break her Pennwriters connection. She has worked tirelessly and often anonymously and should be recognized.
2013:  Annette Dashofy

A Published Penn, Annette has been an active member since 2004. She served as Area Three Representative from 2006-2011, started the Area Three Yahoo Group, and hosted the South Hills Chapter. During her time as area rep, she helped organize several workshops including the popular Firearms 101, a joint Area Three and Area One venture. After four years as the conference donation coordinator, she took on the role of 2009 Pennwriters Conference Coordinator. Even after stepping down as area rep, she frequently contributes to the area and Pennwriters offline and online. She currently holds the office of vice-president. Whether she’s blogging, organizing a conference, helping other writers achieve their writing dream or making Board decisions, Annette is truly appreciated for her work in Pennwriters.

2012:  Nate Hardy

Shortly after joining Pennwriters, Nate Hardy volunteered to be the moderator for its online Yahoo Groups. He later introduced online critique group services and the ongoing inspirational quotes that appear in the newsletters. In his board position of Internet Activities Coordinator, Nate created national and international publicity, social networking, and promotion platforms for the organization. He created and hosted Pennwriters Presents–an online program of guest star literary agents, editors, and authors that became one of the top generators of visitor traffic for Pennwriters’ website. He launched Pennwriters Online Courses to make Pennwriters more competitive with other writer’s organizations, to provide year-round educational and networking opportunities to supplement the once-a-year Pennwriters Conference, to establish new member prospects and revenue streams, and to give fellow published Pennwriters members another outlet to promote their work and give back to the writer community. To help reposition the online courses and heighten international awareness of the product and the organization, he created a slogan contest that generated the online courses tagline, “Building Careers, One Course At A Time.” He led Pennwriters Conference workshops as well as taught online courses. With approval of the board, he split the Internet Activities Coordinator position into two by spinning off the Online Courses Coordinator role into a separate position. Nate Hardy has enjoyed developing new ways to help Pennwriters and has always been willing to assist writers whenever they need it.
2011:  Catherine McLean

Catherine joined Pennwriters in 1995, but her first volunteer activity was three years later when she gave a workshop at her local library on getting and giving critiques. Since then she’s promoted Pennwriters by giving many mini-workshops which led to her forming two Pennwriters groups, one in Meadville and one in Sharon. Not only has she been a workshop speaker at Pennwriters conferences, but she’s also been a room moderator, a Penn Pal, a timekeeper for agent-editor appointments, and has run the Silent Auction. She has relieved other volunteers in the Hospitality Room, at registration, and at the merchandise table so they had a break. Catherine was the Writing Contest Coordinator for four years, the Round Robin Critique Group Coordinator, and an Area 1 Representative for two terms.

2010:  Ayleen Stellhorn

Ayleen Stellhorn is a freelance editor and writer who lives in the Gettysburg area with her husband and two children. She copyedits and proofreads hobby/craft books for several publishers, and her articles and photographs have appeared in local and regional publications, including Lancaster Farming News and Pennlines, the monthly magazine for Adams Electric Cooperative. Prior to freelancing, Ayleen worked as associate editor at Stackpole Books/Magazine Division and as a book editor for Fox Chapel Publishing. She holds a BA in Journalism from Shippensburg University.
2009:  Jackie Werth

Jackie Werth, a member since 1992, has always offered a helping hand whenever asked. Even before becoming the Area 5 Representative, she diligently worked at organizing popular workshops, bringing in authors, editors, and agents as speakers.  The workshops became annual networking events for Pennwriters. Jackie stepped forward to take on the newly formed job of Coordinator of Area Reps and has managed the In Other Words contest at our conference.  At past conferences, she also served as the Editor/Agent Appointment Coordinator. When Jackie doesn’t hold an official title, she can still be counted on to help.  Her willingness to assist other Pennwriters is what makes her worthy of being nominated for the 2007 Meritorious Service Award.  Jackie Werth has proven to be a valuable asset to Pennwriters for nearly 15 years.

2008: Carol Silvis

Carol Silvis has been a Pennwriters member since 1994. As a teacher who encouraged her college students to use networking as a means of getting ahead, she immediately began volunteering her time offering assistance to other writers at local meetings, events, and annual conferences. In 2005, Carol took on the challenge as Conference Coordinator, bringing members The Write Connection conference held in Pittsburgh, which included memorable keynote speaker Al Zuckerman. Organizing the conference is a Herculean task that she handled with panache. Carol moved from the position of Conference Coordinator to Author Advocacy after the conference in 2005, until she returned as Conference Coordinator in 2007, with The Write Attitude and literary agent Daniel Lazar as keynote. After successfully completing the monumental task as coordinator yet a second time, where most would have stepped down for a well-deserved break, she immediately retuned to the Author Advocacy position. 

Carol continues to demonstrate a perfect balance between teaching (both Penn State and CCAC), home, Pennwriters, RWA, and Ligonier Valley Writers, all while continuing to write and publish both books and short stories. This in itself is a Meritorious task.
2007: Wanda Keesey

Wanda C. Keesey has been a member of Pennwriters since 1994. Wanda agreed to fill the unfinished term of the Area 5 Representative in 2000 and was then elected to another full two year term. As Area Rep, Wanda arranged several successful workshops and had even more success getting critique groups started in many towns in Area 5. Her helpful attitude goes way beyond Area 5, because she was instrumental in keeping Area 2 alive until an Area 2 Rep was elected. Wanda volunteered to assist at the Annual Conference in 1997, and has served as the Merchandise Table Coordinator every year since and plans on doing this huge job again in 2007. Ten 
years! She revamped the Area Rep Handbook and held the position of Coordinator of Area Reps. Being the helpful person she is, Wanda has generously given of her time to answer questions and provide guidance to members and potential members.

2006: Jamie Saloff

Jamie Saloff joined Pennwriters in 1993, jumped in with both feet and hasn’t stopped in all these years. Below is an listing of some of the past committes and chairs she has held over the years: Short Story Writing Contest Coordinator (1993); 
Writing Contest Coordinator (1994-1996); Area 1 Rep (1994-1996)
; Conference Coordinator (1997); 
Conference Committee Agent/Editor Appointments (1994, 1996, 2006); 
Conference Committee Registration (1999, 2005); Coordinator of Internet Activities ( 2001-2007); 
Web Committee Chair (2004 – 2010). By making improvements on so many things, Jamie has always gone a bit beyond what’s asked of her. At the 1997 conference, she started a new tradition of acknowledging members who had published during the year. She also revamped the annual writing contest. Jamie saw a need for Pennwriters to have a place online to chat, celebrate and commiserate. She began the Published Penns e-loop, and soon followed with 8 more groups which she oversaw on a regular basis. Jamie worked diligently to redesign our website, making it cleaner and easier to navigate. Jamie Saloff has proven to be a valuable asset to Pennwriters.
2005: James H. Hilbert

Jim Hilbert has been invaluble to Pennwriters throughout the years, embodying the true spirit of a meritorious member of our organization. It takes more than women to have an exceptional writers organization and nobody proves that better than Jim Hilbert, Pennwriters’ newsletter editor for most of the past nine years. He asked to stay on as editor even after he retired to Florida last summer, moving into his new home during Hurricane Charlie. Several hurricanes later, when many of us would have
been returning to Pennsylvania, Jim was preparing the Penn Writer newsletter, the one group benefit that reaches every member. The position of editor requires a person of intelligence, tact, wit, and now a strong ability to swim. Jim has selected the articles, edited, begged for copy, chosen topics, and given the group focus by honing in on the subjects that appeal to most members. Jim’s work is sometimes tedious, sometimes controversial (after all, he’s the one who gets those letters to the editor!) and always time consuming. And just when he gets one newsletter in the mail, it’s time to start the next. Jim also serves as a member of the board of directors and offers ideas to improve the overall group, as well as assisting in the day-to-day decision-making and provides a calm, fair sounding board to the rest of the Pennwriters directors.

2004: Paula Matter

Paula Matter joined Pennwriters in 1994 and hit the ground running. She has served as a tireless member of the Pennwriter’s Board of Directors since accepting the position of Authors’ Advocate in 2000, arranging a book signing for Pennwriter authors, designing the eye-catching new layout for the Author Advocacy Newsletter, attending several seminars seeking information beneficial to Pennwriter’s members, and co-moderating an email loop for published Pennwriters.

 As if her duties as Author Advocate weren’t enough, Paula served as Conference Chair for the 2002 Pennwriters Conference, with authors S.J. Rozan and our own Tamar Myers as keynote speakers, and fourteen editors and agents in attendance. Paula also served as the Conference Coordinator for 2004. She secured renowned agent Donald Maass and Pennwriter’s past-president Susan Meier as keynote speakers, and invited a host of
editors and agents from a variety of writing fields and genres, broadening the scope of the conference.

 Paula gives her all to each member from the newest beginning writer to the multi-published among us and certainly fits the criteria of going “above and beyond” the call of duty.
2003: Denise Meyers

Energetic and outgoing are two words that come to mind when I think of this person. Our winner, a member since 1994, has worn many hats during her 9 years as a member. She’s served on the Board as Area Rep and has organized and presented workshops on writing in her area. She’s also held the position of Vice President and took on the big job of running Pennwriters at a time when we were in need of a leader who has that energy I mentioned earlier. She’s accomplished many things while on the Board of Directors, including working with Writer’s Digest to get their editors as judges for our yearly writing contest. She works tirelessly for the group, going far beyond her duties to assure that Pennwriters provides the services it promises. And on a personal note, She’s the one who ALWAYS answers my questions patiently—and with a good sense of humor.

2002: Lorraine Henderson

2002 Meritorious Service Award goes a very special person who has been a member of Pennwriters since 1989. During these past 12 years, she has served the organization faithfully and energetically as Secretary in 1991; as Elections Chair from 1992 to 1995, and most recently in 2001 as the Area Three Representative. The Area Rep position, however, was no mystery to Lorraine Henderson, by any means. In the past, when Area Three had found itself Rep-less, Lorraine, along with her steadfast cohorts, Jan Franz, Donna Rushneck and Polly Moran, heartily stepped in to keep Area Three active by organizing such popular events as the Agent Luncheon in December. Although it was never recognized officially, there have been many times I remember Henderson, Franz, Rushneck, and Moran, whom the Board of Directors affectionately referred to as “The Law Firm,” listed on the back of the newsletter as the Area Three Rep. Perhaps Lorraine’s most important contribution to the organization has been her willingness to keep the Area Three monthly luncheons alive for 6 consecutive years, in which all that time there was only once she ended up eating alone. In the past year as the official Area Three Rep, Lorraine has held two highly successful workshops, bringing in new members and rejuvenating interest among the Pittsburgh membership. She helped revitalize Area 3 with lots of informative meetings, events and workshops. Certainly she has done that and more.
2001: C.J. Houghtaling

CJ has served on the board as an area representative. She has been a conference coorindator at least twice, putting together some of the organization’s most memorable conferences, and also originating the Saturday Night Race Track event which has become a tradition for Grantville conferences. CJ organized the poetry contest and served as web master. She has organized, reorganized and retyped our policies and procedures manuals. She has served as treasurer and was responsible for bringing a uniform system of record keeping to the group both in the form of our general ledger, and also in terms of forms for workshops, member reimbursement forms, and budget. She created and sold Pennwriters merchandise, hosted workshops, created critique groups, and assisted the Pennwriters president.

2000: Lisa Lepovetsky

Lisa has served Pennwriters over the years as Author’s Advocacy and Elections Chair, plus served as a guest speaker at many Pennwriter Conferences and workshops. She has been an inspiration to fellow board members and aspiring writers with her humorous approach to life’s unexpected turns. With a MFA in poetry and a penchant for writing horror and mystery, her works can be found in the “literary littles” as well as such consumer powerhouses as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Lately, however, her ship has come in – literally – as she spends time cruising the high seas with her mystery dinners.
1999: L. Susan Meier

In her over 25-year work history, Susan Meier has done everything from run the cash register for a drugstore chain to manage the office of a landfill. Though she spent most of her time as a legal secretary, she’s been a columnist for a small, local newspaper, sold advertising for target tabloids and peddled soft ice cream from a windmill. Susan has been a member of Pennwriters from the beginning and has served on the board as an Area Representative, Treasurer, and President. She has also been Elections Chair , Bylaws Chair and interim Area 4 Representative. “The best thing about Pennwriters,” Susan said in a recent interview, “is the networking. Writing is a solitary profession, and you don’t always have access to the latest news and information in the industry. Belonging to a multi-genre group like Pennwriters fills in some of the gaps. And the people are wonderful. Very friendly. Very helpful. I wouldn’t trade my membership for anything.” The author of 14 category romances for Silhouette Books, Susan recently gave up her full-time job in the Human Resources Department of Lockheed Martin AeroParts in Johnstown. She is married to Michael Meier and has three children: Michael, Sarah and Allen.

1998: Liana Laverentz

Liana Laverentz is a charter member of Pennwriters and was Pennwriters’ first critique exchange coordinator. She was also coordinator of our second conference, featuring Gary Provost, and served as one of our earliest contest coordinators. She then served two years as treasurer and three as president. At the same time, she founded the Erie area Pennwriters in Area 1, from which over a dozen board members over the years have heralded, including three presidents. For three years, she organized the Romance Writers Retreat at the Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs, in addition to several Erie area panels and workshops. She has volunteered and spoken numerous times at our conferences, completed a brief second stint as treasurer when we were between treasurers, and has served on the Meritorious Service Award committee.
1997: Nancy Martin
1996: Nancy Springer
1995: Victoria Thompson
1994: Martha Johnson