Touchstone Awards: Rhonda Sewell

The 2021 Touchstone Awards are coming up on October 21. We’ll reveal the winners of our journalism awards that night, but we are happy to begin announcing the community winners now.

We are happy to announce that Rhonda Sewell is being honored with a Golden Touchstone Award for lifetime service to journalism and communications.

Due to public health recommendations related to indoor events, we have decided to move the Touchstone awards to a virtual format. They will be held on October 21, at 7 pm, and will be free for members and non-members alike. RSVP to pressclub@bex.net for login instructions.

Rhonda Sewell

Rhonda Sewell is the first-ever Director of Belonging and Community Engagement at The Toledo Museum of Art. A tireless servant leader and community advocate, Rhonda started her new Museum role in April 2021. Rhonda is the former Toledo Lucas County Public Library Director of Governmental and External Affairs where she worked 15 years. She is best known for her award-winning 18-year career as a noted journalist for The Blade newspaper.

Rhonda’s current work involves operationalizing and nurturing a culture of belonging and DEAI (diversity, equity, access & inclusion) guiding principles and measurable outcomes for the historic world-class Museum founded in 1901. She serves as Chair of the Museum’s DEAI & B (belonging) committee, and is an Objective, Program and Project Lead for the organization’s debut Agile Leadership model.  

During Rhonda’s tenure at The Blade, she represented the newspaper as a Features writer, the Neighbors West correspondent, and as an international reporter, during her early work at the paper, in England, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China and The Netherlands. A decade of Rhonda’s work was spent as the paper’s Fashion Writer and she also worked as the American Fashion Correspondent for CLEO Magazine, a former women’s publication based in Cairo, Egypt. 

During her journalism years, she held positions at WGTE PBS as the co-host of a weekly live show titled Thursday Night, and served as an adjunct instructor at Bowling Green State University in the areas of ethnic studies and mass communications/public relations.  

Rhonda volunteers her time as a Mayoral-appointed executive Board member and President-Elect of The Arts Commission, where she also Co-Chairs the organization’s Creative  Placemaking committee and serves on the Human Resources, DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) and Momentum committees.

Rhonda is a former Chair and served a six-year term on the Board of the ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital Foundation. 

Her previous Boards include (Chair), African American Leadership Council of United Way; (President) The Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Inc.; YWCA of Northwest Ohio; The Toledo Ballet; The American Heart Association; The Media Foundation Board of the Independent Collegian Newspaper at the University of Toledo; MADD Poets Society; The Art Tatum African American Resource Center at Kent Branch Library. She is a current member of the Advisory Council, and a cabinet member of the Empower HER campaign, both for the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, which honored Rhonda in 2018 for its Women of Distinction Award in the category of Community Responsibility. 

Rhonda has received numerous additional honors for her strong community engagement and advocacy including The YWCA Milestones for Women Award in Volunteerism (2017); The Jefferson Awards Top 10 finalist and Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Community Service (2016); Inspiring Woman of Leadership Award from the Maumee Bay Club of NANBPWC, Inc., (2016), among other awards for her community engagement and volunteerism. 

Rhonda is under contract with the University of Toledo Press to complete a book profiling transformative women from Northwest Ohio. She is a columnist for The Stalwart magazine, and has a loyal following on social media where she offers posts about a range of topics including genealogy, Black history, local happenings and Museum discoveries. She started two side businesses during the pandemic shutdown of 2020 – Rhonda Has Spoken, LLC, an e-commerce business promoting Black literature, and RBS Consulting, LLC, a professional development and strategy consulting business.

Rhonda graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Journalism, and completed Graduate coursework in International Journalism at the City University of London in England.   

Rhonda resides in Sylvania Township and is the proud mother of twin adult daughters, age 21, who are Seniors in college at The Ohio State University and at Ohio Wesleyan University. She counts her 6-year-old rescue mixed terrier Oliver Gavin as her furry son. ##