Keene State to Recognize Five Women Who Help to Shape Our Region, State in Story Format
Each year, for more than three decades, and as part of Women’s History Month, Keene State College honors outstanding women of New Hampshire. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
“Storytelling and the dissemination of news give important visibility to our collective history,” said Misty Kennedy, business manager for external events at the college. “We are fortunate to live in a region where so many women are dedicated to this important and lasting work, in so many forms.”
Categories are Keene State Student, Keene State Faculty or Staff, Greater Monadnock Region and State of New Hampshire. At an on-campus celebration March 23, Keene State President Dr. Melinda Treadwell will present awards to five women: Melanie Plenda, Cecily Weisburgh, Jennifer Carroll, Dr. Marianne Salcetti, and Caitlin Howard.
This year’s honorees have been active in the news media – including print, radio, TV, blogs, podcasts, and social media – in education and in historical preservation. They are all consummate storytellers, Kennedy noted.
The on-campus recognition gala will be in the Mabel Brown Room, Lloyd P. Young Student Center, and will begin at 6 p.m. The award ceremony is open to the public. To RSVP, please visit https://www.keene.edu/campus/diversity/women/
Below is a brief overview of this year’s honorees.
State of New Hampshire Awardee
Melanie Plenda, Director, Granite State News Collaborative
Plenda is an award-winning writer, publishing for local and national outlets such as the Keene Sentinel, Aol.com, The Atlantic.com, Boston Globe Magazine, the Daily Beast, the New Republic, New Hampshire Public Radio, and Salon.com. She co-authored the book New Hampshire: First in the Nation, and she has worked as a freelance producer for NH Public Radio. She hosts a series called The State We’re In for NH Public Television and serves on the board of the NH Press Association and the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Plenda is also director of the Granite State News Collaborative, a statewide multimedia news collaborative that draws on and amplifies the strengths of its members to expand and add missing dimensions to coverage of issues of concern to the NH public. The Collaborative pursues inclusive and responsive coverage that builds public trust and holds government accountable to its citizens and provides communities the vital information they need.
Monadnock Region Awardees
(Please note, the selection committee chose two honorees for this recognition.)
Cecily Weisburgh, Co-Executive Editor, The Keene Sentinel
Weisburgh joined the Keene Sentinel as a general assignment reporter in 2001 and assumed increasing editing and leadership roles, including her promotion to Co-Executive Editor for the newspaper in 2022. Weisburgh and colleague Anika Clark are the first women to head the Sentinel’s newsroom in its almost 225 years. Weisburgh is regarded as a thoughtful, caring team leader; a wonderful wordsmith and storyteller, no matter the medium; and a top-notch frontline copy editor. She has developed a deep appreciation for and encyclopedic knowledge of the region, its institutions, and its people, which immeasurably strengthen and add important context to the paper’s reporting and its community journalism. She launched the Sentinel’s weekday digital newsletter, which now has close to 7,000 subscribers, and she exposed the newsroom to Trusting News, a series of principles grounded in transparency that help journalists earn more trust from readers. Weisburgh is an advocate for reporters getting out into the community, not just to cover the news, but to introduce themselves to residents, thereby strengthening connection to readers.
Jennifer Carroll, Education Director, Cheshire Historical Society
In her role as Director of Education at the Historical Society of Cheshire County, Carroll coordinates more than 150 public programs each year. As a dynamic speaker and educator, she performs the crucial task of telling stories about our collective past, forging connections with the present, and making the work of academics and scholars available and relevant to the community. Carroll brings to life the realities of marginalized groups left out of mainstream histories. She is leading the citizen archivist project “Recovering Black History in the Monadnock Region.” The project seeks to acknowledge and enhance understanding of black history and the history of marginalized groups in the region and the state. Her research and that of the citizen-scholars she coordinates has brought to light evidence of enslaved persons of color having lived in almost 60 percent of Cheshire County communities, including Keene.
Dr. Marianne Salcetti, Faculty Emeritus, Keene State College
As a journalist, Dr. Salcetti has spent her entire professional career telling the stories of her community. As a professor, she spent nearly two decades at Keene State College teaching students how to become storytellers. Throughout her career, she has been honored by her peers for outstanding reporting and teaching excellence. Her teaching and reporting have made meaningful and lasting change in her community. Dr. Salcetti earned national and international awards for her work with student journalists. In 2020, she received the prestigious Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment Award, and in 2021, she received an award from the New England First Amendment Coalition for “Outstanding Journalism and Open Government Advocacy.” These awards recognized her role in what began as a Public Affairs Reporting class assignment and ended in a landmark N.H. Supreme Court case that is reshaping “Right to Know” laws in the state. She has taught and inspired hundreds of stunts. Beyond the classroom, the lives of the people of New Hampshire have been impacted by her students’ reporting, and by her efforts to expand access to public information.
Caitlin Howard ’23, Administrative Executive Editor, The Equinox
When Howard joined the executive board of The Equinox, Keene State’s student-run newspaper, in 2021, she took the helm of the Arts and Entertainment section. She demonstrated a knack for leadership with her positive attitude and her collaborative approach with staff reporters. In her coverage of the college’s arts scene – theater, dance, design and music – Howard took a student-centered approach. She wrote feature stories and profiles about the college’s students and their talents. Her writing about clubs or organizations is always community and service-centered. In the Spring of last year, The Equinox did not have the staff to put out a consistent printed newspaper and had to move to a fully digital delivery. Howard and her small team focused on writing features and profiles to put Keene State students back into focus to make it known that the Equinox was a place for students to tell their stories.