2021-2022 Freelance Council Candidates


Christine Loomis

While the past year has been challenging for many freelancers, 2021 looks brighter. We’re not back to normal but I believe we’ll be well on our way by year’s end. So how can the Freelance Council best serve SATW’s freelance community as we navigate uncertainty? One way is by working to find meeting sites that inspire us and provide great story ideas. Several possibilities are in progress and I believe they’ll do just that. Another is by engaging more members to take part in our annual business meeting.


I’m excited to be part of that effort as we create a virtual come-one-come-all meeting this fall. I also believe we have to help one another. Let’s not indulge in the divisive conversations that have taken place in the past on our Facebook page and instead pull together. Let’s brainstorm ideas and solutions to help each other. You may not agree with every decision your FLC board makes, but I guarantee no decision is taken lightly. I volunteer to serve on this board, as do the other board members. I do so because I believe in the Freelance Council and in SATW.


I face many of the same work issues you do and I’m committed to making this council a viable resource. To that end, what can we do better? What do you want to see happen in the coming year? I’ve been privileged to be your Chair, in spite of the pandemic, but I look forward to a more dynamic council going forward. I want to hear from you. I can’t promise to always have answers or to have answers you like, but I can promise to listen. Reach out to me with your questions, ideas, challenges, hopes and thoughts as we navigate the coming months together.

First Vice Chair

Terri Colby

Joining the freelance council board in late 2019 was like being elected to “the term that never was,” as one colleague said. We only ever all met once, and everything that might have been on the agenda wasn’t. Do-over please. If I get a chance at a second term, I’d like to explore possibilities for expanded, in-depth professional development, either free or at reduced costs. The webinars put on by SATW have been a great asset to all members, including us freelancers. But there are many kinds of hands-on skills that need more than an hour-long online session.


Maybe we tack a two-day session onto the next domestic meeting and bring in a videographer to make us all better at producing website videos. Actual hands-on shooting, editing and production, with an expert along from start to finish. Or writing refresher courses with time to actually try out new story approaches and get one-on-one feedback. I myself have taught editing and headline writing, among other skills, at the university level, and I could see a whole day devoted to things like nut grafs, anecdotal ledes, headline writing, fact-checking, and web-specific styles, all with time for trying things out and getting feedback. In person. I’m an old-school journalist (25+ years) with a keen understanding that reinvention is what makes the future brighter.


But I’m also dedicated to the knowledge that those valuable skills I learned so many years ago are as relevant today as ever. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a Chicagoan through and through, proud of my Midwest roots and my time covering just about everything for The Associated Press, Minneapolis’ Star Tribune and Chicago Tribune. My last two gigs at Chicago Tribune were Travel and Books. How lucky was I? I’ve taught journalism at Northwestern and DePaul universities. I’m also an independent thinker and OK with bucking the trends. I welcome your consideration.

Second Vice Chair

Susan Kraus

The position of 2nd Vice Chair for Freelance Council focuses on site selection and development. It requires the ability to establish relationships with destinations, to clearly communicate the benefits that SATW can provide a destination, and also what SATW requires to create conferences that elicit member enthusiasm… and are marketable and fiscally viable for freelancers. To achieve this requires dialogue— within our Council & with a site— what we desire and what they offer.


Is there a balance of activities vs. time spent in transit? Appreciating local cuisine without spending half the day at a table? Respecting the needs of our host to show off their highlights vs. desires of freelancers to seek out less visible/known attractions? Insuring unique opportunities for writers, photographers and videographers? It’s the job of the 2nd Vice Chair to engage, follow up, and navigate the bumps that come with planning as well as initial selection. With decades of work as a mediator and therapist, I bring a skill set that specializes in respectful compromise and navigating “bumps.”


I’ve been in SATW for 14 years, a newbie by some standards. When asked to step up and co-chair the 2015 Central States conference, I did it. I ran for this position in 2017, losing to the esteemed David Lang. David is staying on as Sites Committee Chair. His continued work, and mentoring (which I’m counting on), will be a model for future transitions.


My goal is to foster informed continuity, so that experience, contacts and groundwork do not depart with a person but remain with the position. I have ideas and contacts for future sites, with membership driving our choices. I’m ready to start outreach when I’m in Alaska for three weeks this coming August, or in Panama next winter. I’m eager to hear your “want lists.”

Rina Nehdar

I’ve been a traveler since I was two years old. I crossed three continents and lived in four countries before I turned five. I’ve been a writer since I read my first words. Now that I’ve found my tribe of fellow travelers and writers, I want to help make our freelance council gatherings enriching for everyone. I want to make them unforgettable.

Donnie Sexton

I’m running for the 2nd Vice Chair-Site Selection for the Freelance Council. I’ve been a member of SATW since 2003, initially as an associate while working for the Montana Office of Tourism. In that role, I was the public relations manager, as well as the photographer for our office. I developed and led many press trips and created itineraries for individual writers traveling on their own.


My goal was to make sure each journalist on my watch was given the best of Montana experiences in order for them to write meaningful stories. In 2005, I helped secure a meeting site for FLC in Missoula, Montana, then organized all aspects of the meeting, which we capped at 20 members. On the side, I helped develop and lead photo workshops (international and domestic) through Popular Photography’s program, Mentor Series.


In 2016, I left my position with the state and relaunched as a travel writer and freelance photographer, moving over to the freelance side of SATW in the spring of 2017. I’ve participated in many SATW annual conventions, as well as some of the pre/post trips. I’ve witnessed first-hand how a destination can win over members with unique experiences and carefully curated itineraries executed to the maximum benefit of our members. I’m excited to play a part in finding potential sites for the freelance council that’s a win-win for both our members and the hosts. I will reach out to both associates and actives to develop ideas for inspiring FLC meeting sites. I bring to the table effective communication and organizational skills. It would be an honor to serve as 2nd Vice Chair. I would appreciate your vote.


Chelle Koster Walton

In running for reelection to the position of Freelance Council Treasurer, I hope to continue to contribute to SATW and my council in a real way. The past two years of my first term as treasurer started with the high point of the Japan meeting and then suddenly plunged, as did all of our lives and careers, into the abyss of pandemic. During that time, I actively stayed involved with monitoring FLC funds despite difficulties receiving reports and transactions information.


I am currently working with our council chair in improving the relay of financial data, which has become centralized to the point of closing off local information and communication channels. I have served, during my nearly 30 years as an SATW member, on the Membership Committee (until its dissolution) and in various temporary positions for meetings and conferences. Despite its direct opposition to the writing side of my brain, finances and I have solid background together. I have, in past lives, been a bookkeeper for a teachers’ credit union and for my husband’s business, not to mention my own. (Is not tackling a Schedule C qualification in itself?) I am an avid member of the FLC, having attended a number of our meetings whenever feasible. You are my peeps!


I still work full-time as a freelance writer, at least 85 percent of that dedicated to travel and food. This is my livelihood, so naturally I am interested in keeping the council’s livelihood pumping. Thanks for considering me for a second term as your council treasurer; I’m honored to serve you.


Barbara Ramsay Orr