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Michael Barnes

Banner Brunch for Women Communicators of Austin

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That was one of the most informative five hours of my year so far. At the Banner Brunch for Women Communicators of Austin, I must have met 200 or 300 leaders at the Hotel Van Zandt. Then I learned of the group’s illustrious history since 1929, as well as its mentoring, networking and other services.

wca

Alanna Plair and Teddy VonFeldt at Banner Brunch for Women Communicators of Austin

The big hit of the program, emceed by KUT host Jennifer Stayton, was the keynote speech by Austin’s Meredith Walker, co-founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, a campaign to give, not just teen girls, but others a chance to be themselves and to “get their hair wet” through full participation in life. Walker, who started out with journalist Linda Ellerbee and later ran the guest host-and-artist program for “Saturday Night Live,” was, of course, funny, newsy and instructive.

Then came the awards, adorned with videos and well-thought-out acceptance speeches. (All except one. More on that later.)

Former American-Statesman Editor Sandra Kleinsasser won the Gladys Whitley Hearst Outstanding Member Award — she’s a role model for “Life after the Statesman,” which she performs gracefully, elegantly and passionately. Jennifer Perkins of Cogent Public Affairs took home the President’s Award.

Next came the Anne Durrem Robinson Creative Initiative Award, nabbed by Rachel Clemens of Creative Suitcase. Much love was expressed for the next winner, Lee Maczygembiawho at ninetysomething won the Gene Barnwell Waugh Mentor Award. No doubt the snappiest of the awardees was KVUE reporter and anchor Quita Culpepper, who accepted the award for Outstanding Austin Communicator.

Then came my turn in the blazing spotlight.

Me to my editor: “I didn’t know we were supposed to talk.”

Sharon Chapman: “Oh Michael … you’ll talk.”

(Actually she whispered very sweetly, “You know you can talk,” but I know how she phrased it in her mind.)

Thanks to WCA for the Liz Carpenter Lifetime Achievement Award.