A love of writing attracted Nora Cleland to the communications business.
Now Cleland, a rural Baldwin resident who edits a Kansas University publication, is working to help others turn their writing talents into careers through her work with the Kansas Press Women (KPW) organization.
"I believe in women's professional organizations, and I think they should be professional organizations and not Wednesday afternoon tea parties," Cleland said in a recent interview.
"Wednesday afternoon tea parties are all right," Cleland said. "But a professional organization is a professional organization and it should provide training and networking and et cetera."
Cleland, editor of "The Oread," KU's faculty-staff weekly tabloid newsletter, was honored as the year's Communicator of Achievement by KPW at its 50th anniversary meeting in October.
"I was totally surprised," Cleland said.
SHE NOTED the recognition probably came because of her long career in journalism and her commitment to KPW, a 200-member statewide organization of journalists that includes some men in its membership.
Cleland, who was born in southeast Kansas near Sedan, said she had been interested in writing since she was a youngster.
"As long as I can remember, I wanted to write," she said. "I was the editor of the school newspaper and editor of the yearbook."
As a student at KU, she worked for the University Daily Kansan, and after graduating with her journalism degree in 1949, she worked at the Journal-World, writing news about KU and about farming and covering the 1951 flood.
In 1953, Cleland began working as a secretary in KU's School of Architecture, where she did promotional writing and arranged social events.
AFTER HER SECOND daughter was born in 1958, she said, she decided to put her career on hold for a while.
During the next 12 years, Cleland and her husband, Myles, a farmer, had another daughter and a son, and she held a variety of non-journalism jobs including school bus driver and substitute postal clerk.
In 1971, she returned to KU as a records clerk in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Three years later, she was hired to develop a hometown program for KU's Office of University Relations that involved using a computer system to send news about achievements of individual students to newspapers in their hometowns.
She also helped coordinate other external KU news releases, and seven years ago, she became editor of "The Oread," the university's internal news publication.
CLELAND, WHO joined KPW in 1978, has been on the its board of directors for several years and has held four elective offices in the organization, including president from 1988 to 1990.
"The organization has not grown that much in membership, but it has grown a great deal in what we offer," she said. "What we're headed toward is more professional development."
She said KPW offered four $500 scholarships annually, to one student at KU, Wichita State University, Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University.
Additionally, she said, "We have just established a professional development fund, which is for our own membership."
Eventually, she explained, KPW hopes to offer stipends to members to help pay for short courses or other special classes desired for professional growth.
Lastly, she said, "the national organization has a job network, and I think we'll see more of that at the state level. . . . We hope to make it stronger professionally."