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.

Touchstone Awards: Billie Johnson

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

We are happy to announce that Billie Johnson is being honored with a Touchstone Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Billie Johnson

Billie Johnson is the President/CEO of the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc. In this capacity, Ms. Johnson has served senior citizens for more than four decades. Through her leader-ship, the Area Office on Aging has evolved from a small divisional office of “four staff”, into an agency of more than 185 employees, 2000 senior volunteers, over 180 service providers and a host of advisors and professional Board Members.

During Ms. Johnson’s tenure, the Area Office on Aging has become a comprehensive regional office on Aging that serves more than 190,000 older adults living in 10 counties. The Area Office on Aging is considered as one of the premier Area Agencies on Aging in the United States. The agency has received eleven national achievement and innovation awards.

Ms. Johnson is responsible for the development of three, wholly owned subsidiary corporations. These separate corporations provide apartment living for low income senior citizens living in North Baltimore, Defiance and Napoleon, Ohio. She also organized the agency’s Foundation Board and has been instrumental in developing a senior campus of 46 acres, that provides a full continuum of care for older adults.

Ms. Johnson is a recognized leader in the field of aging and has served on numerous national boards and state committees. She has been a speaker and presenter nationally and internationally on ag-ing and women’s issues. In the 80’s she was invited to participate as a workshop leader at the World Conference on Women/Forum ’85, in Nairobi, Kenya. In the 90’s, she was a presenter at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

Additionally, she is a leader in her community and serves on many local civic boards and foundations.

Further Accomplishments:

  • Developed a ten county, regional non-profit corporation to promote the health, well being and safety of older adults, persons with disabilities and family caregivers to foster independence. The corporation has an annual budget of over $33 million dollars.
  • Provided leadership for the Senior Services Levy Committee in Lucas County, and successfully passed six (6) levies for Senior Citizens in 1991, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019.
  • Elected by her peers to serve two terms as Vice President for the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
  • Inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame by Governor Ted Strickland in 2008.

Touchstone Entries are Now Open

For more information, click here for our entry form!!

You’ve done great work and we want to see it!! Each year, the Press Club of Toledo honors the best of journalism and community service in our area at the Touchstone Awards. This year, we have expanded the number of journalism categories to recognize even more of the excellent work produced in the Toledo region. We invite you to enter your work!!

An independent panel of judges will be evaluating stories from newspaper, radio, TV and internet journalists, as well as a new category for PR campaigns.

The 2021 Touchstone Awards Call for Entries is here (2021 Touchstone Awards Call for Nominations). It’s easy to enter and there’s no limit to the number of entries you can submit, but you must not delay! The deadline to enter this year’s Touchstones will be August 30, 2021!

Our 23rd annual Touchstone Awards Ceremony will be held on October 21 at the Toledo Club, with Dr. Nicole Kraft (author of “Always Get the Name of the Dog”) as guest speaker. In the meantime, please look over your work published between June 30, 2020 and June 30, 2021 and submit your best!

We will look forward to celebrating your journalism contributions at our 23rd annual Touchstone Awards