Birmingham – From a farm on Copperhead Hill, Montgomery County teenager Helen Sheffield penned hundreds of poems. Her favorite books grabbed her and wouldn’t let her go until she finished the last page. Helen wanted to do this, too. She wanted to be a writer.
This desire led her to the El Dorado-News, the Malvern Daily Record, the Texarkana Gazette, The News-Star-World and finally USA Today. She told thousands of stories.
Helen Sheffield Plotkin won more than 130 individual and team awards from journalism and educational organizations for those stories. This month, the National Federation of Press Women honored her in Birmingham, Ala. as a Communicator of Achievement finalist from its affiliate, Arkansas Press Women.
“Helen is a former president of Arkansas Press Women and a wonderful asset to our state,” said Kristin Netterstrom Higgins, the current president of APW. “We were excited to nominate her for this national award so she can be recognized for her years as a reporter and a higher education leader. Communicator of Achievement is an apt description.”
The Communicator of Achievement award is the highest honor bestowed by NFPW upon those members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their field. The recipient, chosen from nominees selected by state affiliates, is recognized for exceptional achievement in the communications field, as well as service to NFPW and to the community.
Plotkin retired this year from Hendrix College as vice president for marketing communications. She directed all communications, marketing, public relations and brand management activities at the liberal arts college where she has worked since 1995.
Plotkin was recognized Friday, Sept. 9, in Birmingham, Alabama at the 2017 National Federation of Press Women Conference as a finalist for the national award. Randy Richardson, a member of Illinois Women Press Association, received the 80-year-old organization’s Communicator of Achievement. Richardson is the first male to receive the national award.
NFPW is a nationwide organization of professional women and men pursuing careers across the communications spectrum. Arkansas Press Women has been an affiliate of NFPW for more than 50 years.
Picture 2: Marsha Hoffman, the immediate past president of National Federation of Press Women, presents Helen Plotkin with an award at the National Federation of Press Women conference on Sept. 9, 2017 in Birmingham.