2021 Touchstone Awards are in the Books!

The 2021 Touchstone Awards were held virtually on October 21. More than 80 people attended to celebrate the best in community service and local journalism. We thank Dr. Nicole Kraft for a thought-provoking keynote address! You can watch a quick summary of the event or enjoy the entire event! Congratulations to all the winners!

Touchstone Winners

Touchstone Contributor Award
Meg Ressner & Richard Hylant

Touchstone Lifetime Award
The Lavalley Family

Touchstone Lifetime Award
Billie Johnson

Golden Touchstone Award
Rhonda Sewell

Golden Touchstone Award
Fletcher Word

Norm Cartwright Award
Ron Royhab

Print Daily – Hard News
Sarah Elms, Brooks Sutherland and Danielle Gamble, The Blade

Print Daily – Feature
Mary Bilyeu, The Blade

Photojournalism – Videography
JD Pooley

Photojournalism – Print
Jeremy Wadsworth, The Blade

Television – Hard News
WTVG 13 ABC

Television – Feature
Eric Oblander, BCAN

Radio – Show/Series
Deepa Bhujbal

Podcast
Kaitlin Durbin and Phillip Kaplan, The Blade

Social Media
BCAN Pulse

Student – Television
Spring 2021 UT:10 Crew, The University of Toledo

Student – Print
Riley Runnells, Ohio University

Scholarship Winners
Caleb Gill, The University of Toledo
Ryan Dick, Bowling Green State University

Touchstone Awards: The LaValley Foundation

The LaValley Foundation is a private charitable foundation established in 1993 by Richard G. LaValley and his wife Mary Ann LaValley. Since the Foundation’s inception, it has provided scholarships and made donations, mainly focusing on education and catholic interests throughout our community inspired by Richard and Mary Ann’s faith-based life and legacy.

Since their passing, their seven children have continued their mission within the LaValley Foundation. The Foundation generously continues to help many community organizations, schools, and faith-based interests, financially and through their volunteer time and leadership.

Richard G. and Mary Ann LaValley

Touchstone Awards: Meg Ressner and Richard Hylant

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

We are happy to announce that Meg Ressner and Richard Hylant are being honored with Touchstone Contributor Awards for their work bringing the Solheim Cup to Toledo.

Meg Ressner and Richard Hylant

Meg Ressner

Meg Ressner specializes in leading initiatives that optimize organizational performance.  From Human Resources, Sales, Customer Service, to Supply Chain Operations, she has a proven track record helping both for-profit and nonprofit organizations achieve and exceed their objectives.

Meg is a recognized change leader with experience in organizational re-design, strategic planning, succession planning, complex project implementations and process re-engineering … all centered around the integration of people, process and technology.

Meg formerly held the position of vice president, Human Resources Enterprise Organizations at Owens Corning. She was a member of the Global HR Executive Team, reporting to the Senior Vice President of Human Resources.  Prior to that, Meg served as vice president of HR for the Composites business, a 1 billion dollar division of Owens Corning. 

Meg earned her undergraduate degree in marketing from the University of Rhode Island in 1981.  

Meg and her husband Dick met in Chicago and relocated with Owens Corning to Toledo in 1989.  They fell hard for Toledo, in part because they knew they could have a real impact here.  Together they support youth initiatives such as the Growing Futures Together project and the Western Golf Association Evans Scholar’s Foundation for young golf caddies.  Making a difference in the community is important to Meg.  She previously served on the Owens Corning Foundation, the Board of David’s House Compassion, the Arts Commission Board and as Chair of the Women’s Initiative of the United Way.  Through December 2020, she served as President of the ProMedica Metro Foundation Board and as Chair of Avenues for Autism.  She remains active in the autism community as an advocate and participant in the Autism Provider Network of Northwest Ohio and served as the Volunteer Co-Chair for the 2021 Solheim Cup.

Richard Hylant

As President of Sales and Innovation, Richard oversees the recruitment and development of new and existing client executives in partnership with each of Hylant’s offices. In addition, he supports strategic sales, the PE/MA team and Hylant Global Captive Solutions. Hylant joined a group of privately-owned peer brokers in a technology fund called Broker-Tech Ventures, and he is working with the Hylant IT team in support.

As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, Hylant Board of Directors, & principal owner, Richard also works with the core team and office heads to assess potential acquisitions, industry focused teams; and targeted individuals to build out sales & support services for all Hylant offices.

Prior to current duties, Richard was a client executive for several years, sales manager and President of Hylant –Toledo. He has also had oversight of IT, marketing, carrier contracts and relationships, Hylant Administrative Services, Chicago and several other operations within Hylant.

Richard has served on several community boards and has led multiple fund-raising campaigns. He was an Ohio Cancer Research honoree (2007), a United Way board member and 2009 campaign chair, a Toledo Club board chair (2009), a March of Dimes campaign chair (2021), & a Marathon Classic board chair (2013 & 2014). In addition, he served as the Chamber of Commerce Board Chair (2015 & 2016), was a 10-year trustee for the Ohio Nature Conservancy, past trustee for ProMedica Health System, & ConnecToledo. Richard is currently a MetroParks Toledo Foundation board vice-chair and a Governor DeWine appointee representing Ohio for the Great Lakes Protection Fund & Ohio Lake Erie Commission.

He chaired Inverness Club’s successful bid for the 2021 Solheim Cup, the LPGA’s largest event, on behalf of the community and is currently co-chair of the event which is expected to draw over 150,00 local and international spectators.

Richard was a six-year board member for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, the industry’s largest trade organization, and was active in Washington, D.C. on several issues affecting customers and brokers. He also served on many insurance company advisory boards.

Touchstone Award: Fletcher Word

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 pleased to announce that we are honoring Fletcher Word with the Golden Touchstone 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

Fletcher Word

Fletcher Word is the owner and publisher of The Sojourner’s Truth, a weekly newspaper that serves the northwest Ohio area and brings its readers information about the local, state and national African-American community.

The Truth has been publishing in Toledo for 20 years and has expanded its readership during that time to over 70,000.

In 2008 the newspaper opened The Truth Art Gallery in its offices in the downtown area. The 2,000 square-foot gallery features the works of local and African artists.

The father of two, Fletcher Word has been a resident of Ohio for more than 35 years.

Fletcher Word is a native of New York City and was reared in the Washington, D.C. area. He attended Harvard College graduating with a degree in government.

He currently serves on the boards of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union and the Center of Hope Family Services.

In addition to his duties with The Truth, Word is also a frequent contributor on local television shows as a political analyst.

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. ##

Touchstone Awards: Ron Royhab

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.

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.

The first is Ron Royhab, winner of the Norm Cartwright Award for service to the Press Club of Toledo.

Ron Royhab

Ron Royhab’s journalism career spanned more than 40 years.

In addition to being an award-winning reporter and editor, Ron was a champion and ambassador for the Press Club of Toledo. He served several terms on the press club board and was its president in 2002.

Ron joined The Blade as managing editor in 1993 and was appointed executive editor four years later. In 2004, vice president was added to his executive editor title.

Before joining The Blade, Ron spent 25 years with Scripps Howard Newspapers in various reporting and editing positions, including chief of the Columbus Bureau and assistant managing editor of Scripps Howard’s Washington bureau. He also was an investigative reporter for the Cincinnati Post and the former Cleveland Press, managing editor of the El Paso (Texas) Herald-Post and assistant managing editor-news at the former Pittsburgh Press.

During his tenure at The Blade, the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for investigative reporting and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2000 and 2006. Over the years, Ron won numerous awards as a reporter and editor, but the most impressive personal award came in 2005 when he received the prestigious Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Foundation. The award, named after the late Washington Post editor, was established in 1984 to recognize significant achievements that enhance the quality of journalism in the United States.