Every year, the Women's Press Club of New York State presents prestigious awards to communicators in four categories:
Congratulations to our 2017 Award Recipients!
Media Person of the Year:
Melissa Hale-Spencer, editor and co-owner -- The Altamont Enterprise
Melissa Hale-Spencer got her first reporting job at her parents’ Adirondack weekly newspaper, The Lake Placid News, in 1975. Her father, Ed Hale, a newspaperman from the old school, taught her how to write by editing her work with a thick, black copy pencil. She grew up believing words could change the world.
For the last three decades, Hale-Spencer has worked at The Altamont Enterprise and is now its owner along with her husband, Gary, and Marcello Iaia. She has won many awards for her work from the New York Press Association, ranging from columns and editorials to in-depth news and features. She is the paper’s editor and eight times has been named to the Golden Dozen for superior editorial writing by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors and once won the Golden Quill. This year, she won two first-place awards from the National Newspaper Association: Best Editorial, “Preventing harassment can be a matter of life or death,” examining the anguish of a 12-year-old Berne girl who tried to kill herself because of the bullying she faced, and Best Health Story for “Anaplasmosis: Little-known tick-borne disease on the rise,” about an often-undiagnosed illness that can be fatal.
Excellence in Career Achievement:
Tracy Ormsbee, Publisher, Adirondack Explorer magazine
Tracy Ormsbee, formerly a senior editor at the Albany Times Union newspaper, became the third publisher of the Adirondack Explorer magazine on March 1, 2017. Ormsbee served as senior editor for features and sports at the Times Union as well as executive editor of Times Union Magazines. She led the team that creates the newspaper’s features and sports content as well as two magazines, and was also the lead editor for the Sunday newspaper. She headed the Times Union’s Women@Work magazine and professional network, and managed the Women@Work Executive Board consisting of top businesswomen in the Albany area.
Long active in state and national journalism organizations, Ormsbee has served as president of the board of the New York State Associated Press Association. Prior to joining the Times Union in 2002, Ormsbee spent 10 years at the Star-News in Wilmington, N.C., rising to features editor.
Woman in the Media:
Barbara Bartoletti, Former legislative director -- NYS League of Women Voters
Barbara Bartoletti has been a member of the League of Women Voters since 1978 and served as the legislative director for the League of Women Voters of New York State from 1988 until June 2017 when she retired. In that position, Bartoletti oversaw all legislation of interest to the League in the New York State legislature.
Bartoletti has been a statewide lecturer on advocacy/issues and topics such as informed and active participation in government. In addition, she has provided political commentary for local television outlets in the Capital District. She is a staunch advocate on good government issues, as well as other issues important to the League.
She has worked extensively in central Asia, where she has presented at conferences, and led training workshops in advocacy, media relations, and building coalitions. Bartoletti has also given numerous workshops for not-for-profit advocacy organizations to help them impact state government. She is a member of the Regents Advisory Commission for Accreditation of Proprietary Colleges and the Federal Election Assistance Commission Advisory Board in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Gillibrand is a staunch advocate and a voice for the voiceless across New York and around the country. Her top priorities include rebuilding the American economy to increase good-paying jobs, adding more products stamped with the words “Made in America” and supporting the creation of new small businesses around New York State.
She led the effort to repeal the “Don't Ask Don't Tell” policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military; she wrote the STOCK Act, which made it illegal for members of Congress to financially benefit from inside information; and she fought to provide permanent health care and compensation to the 9/11 first responders and community survivors who have diseases caused by the toxins at Ground Zero. She is a leader in the fight to protect victims of sexual assault, working to reform the justice system for sexual assault survivors in the military and on college campuses.
Gillibrand is a champion for the economic empowerment of women and working families, and has authored legislation to raise the minimum wage, make quality child care more affordable, create universal pre-K, ensure equal pay for equal work and create a national paid leave program for all American workers. She is a vocal advocate for strengthening America’s armed services, national security, and military readiness, and supports an independent investigation into Russian cyber-crimes against our government institutions. Her bill to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and make gun trafficking a federal crime has bipartisan support.
Hall of Honor Inductee:
Chris Jansing, MSNBC news anchor and senior national correspondent
Chris Jansing (née Kapostasy) is an MSNBC news anchor and senior national correspondent for MSNBC, appearing on programs from Morning Joe to Rachel Maddow and the 11th Hour with Brian Williams. She previously was NBC News' senior White House correspondent and host of MSNBC's “Jansing and Co.", as well as an NBC news correspondent and anchor.
Jansing joined NBC News in June 1998. She has covered numerous presidential campaigns and anchored coverage of breaking stories including September 11, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the nuclear crisis in Japan, and eight Olympic Games. Her reporting for NBC Nightly News and the TODAY Show ranged from the White House and worldwide travel with President Obama, to the volcano eruption in Iceland and the death of Michael Jackson.
Jansing has worked as a correspondent for “Dateline NBC,” “Rock Center,” and as a substitute anchor for “Weekend Today” and the weekend edition of “NBC Nightly News.” Under her maiden name of Kapostasy, she co-anchored the nightly news for WNYT-TV Albany where she was honored with numerous awards for excellence in journalism. She has won three Emmys and has been awarded two honorary doctorates.
Read about Our Previous Award Recipients:
Woman in the Media: Marcia J. White, former president and executive director, Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Marcia J. White joined the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in March 2005 at a critical moment for the Capital Region’s premier summer entertainment venue. SPAC, which celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016, had experienced years of financial deficits and was in need of significant capital improvements.
Under White’s leadership, SPAC enjoyed 11 consecutive operating budget surpluses. More than $20 million was raised in major gifts, including $5.22 million in the 50th anniversary capital campaign, and title sponsorships with major companies. Physical improvements, totaling more than $5.7 million,were made to SPAC’s amphitheater and other facilities.
White, who left her post at the end of 2016, shepherded SPAC through artistic changes, including a shorter New York City Ballet residency. A new summer residency was established with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The dance season was broadened to include tours by international ballet companies including Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet, as well as modern dance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Martha Graham Dance Company and Twyla Tharp.
White joined SPAC after 20 years as a top political adviser and public relations strategist in the New York State Legislature. She is a former nurse.
Excellence in Career Achievement & Hall of Honor Inductee:
Benita Zahn, Anchor/reporter, WNYT NewsChannel 13
Benita Zahn is an anchor and health reporter for WNYTNews Channel 13. She also co-produces and hosts the weekly Health LINK program on WMHT and writes a column for the “Live Smart" page that appears each week in the Times Union.
A seven-time Emmy nominee, Zahn is the recipient of numerous awards from media and health organizations including the New York State Broadcasters Association and the American Heart Association. Her assignments have included several national political conventions, 9/11 and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Katrina.
Active in local theater, she has appeared in productions at the Capital Repertory Theatre, Park Playhouse, Albany Civic Theather and Schenectady Civic Theater, among others. She likes to run and also competed in the 2015 Lake George Triathalon.
Zahn holds a master’s degree in bioethics and a doctorate in professional studies/bioethics from Albany Medical College/Alden March Bioethics Institute.
Media Person of the Year: Lisa Robert Lewis, editor, The Troy Record, The Saratogian and Weekend
Excellence in Career Achievement Award: Susan Arbetter, host and producer, Capital Press Room
Media Person of the Year Award: Zephyr Teachout, organizer, educator, scholar, political candidate
Hall of Honor Inductee: Liz Bishop, reporter and anchor, CBS 6 News
Media Person of the Year: Jennifer Gish, formerly of the Times Union
Excellence in Career Achievement Award: Vikki Moran, Capital Region Living Magazine
Woman in the Media Award: Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
Hall of Honor Inductee: Judy Sanders, reporter and photographer