My first stories were published in the Southtown Economist, a twice weekly newspaper in Chicago, while I was still in high school. That led to freelancing, then to a part-time reporter/editorial assistant position and, later, to full-time section editor and columnist. That’s when I switched to being a part-time college student for about seven years until I earned my bachelor’s degree at St. Xavier University. When the Southtown started its TV Magazine, I was assigned to coordinate it. I also wrote cover stories and features by talking with Ringo Starr, William Shatner, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Glen Campbell, Mark Harmon, Robert Conrad, Scott Bakula, Raymond Burr and others.
Since then, I have written articles for U.S. News & World Report, ABA Journal, Bar Leader Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald and more. While some stories won awards, I felt more rewarded just interviewing everyday people, Fortune 500 CEOs, judges, non-profit leaders and even President George W. Bush during a nationally televised press conference.
I also had a few stints on the “dark side,” which journalists call public relations. I was a speechwriter and a spokeswoman for the Illinois Attorney General's Office, serving both Democrat and Republican administrations, and I worked on some high-profile cases, including the execution of mass murderer, John Wayne Gacy. In addition, I volunteered in the same role with two gubernatorial campaigns. More recently, I became a contract writer and interviewed some of the nation’s premier researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.
Working on both sides of the fence was invaluable. I learned that public relations work wasn’t the “dark side” and real journalism wasn’t “fake news.” I learned of the many questions that reporters should be asking, but often were not. I also learned that integrity and respect are earned on both sides of that fence… and the public deserves the truth every time.
When I am not working, I love to travel, especially on religious pilgrimages. I walked in the footsteps of Jesus throughout Israel. I stood where St. Paul preached in Greece, Turkey and Italy. I was blessed by the Pope in Vatican City. I attended masses and candlelight processions in Lourdes, France, and Fatima, Portugal. I also stood in awe at the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain and at countless churches worldwide that housed artifacts and relics of saints.
While writing led me to newspapers, it also led me to my husband. A long-time newspaper colleague arranged for me to meet one of his buddies, Jim Tomczyk. That blind date has since led to 15 wonderful years of marriage. Our home is in Chicago, where I also love to cook, bake, garden, visit with friends and family, devour the news and, of course, write.
As part of a Daily Herald reporting team on the Illinois minimum wage:
As a reporter and coordinator for the Daily Herald’s four-part series "The Dream Foreclosed," about how residential foreclosures affected families:
As a reporter for the Daily Herald story about the impact of an acquisition on a small company:
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Website design and original photos by Jim Tomczyk