The New York Press Club has recognized Woman Around Town with two of its 2010 Journalism Awards. The website won one of the Club’s most prestigious honors, the Rev. Mychal Judge Heart of New York Award, named for the FDNY Chaplain whose death on September 11, 2001 was the first reported fatality during the terrorist attack. Each year, this award goes to a journalist or team whose work is found to be the most complementary of New York City. Carol Toscano (above) was singled out for her profile of Hilary Boyajian, a designer who creates beautiful, fashion forward clothing for breast cancer survivors. The website’s second award was in the Entertainment category. Alix Cohen (photo, below) won for her review, The Lily’s Revenge—A Flowergory Manifold, a presentation of the HERE Arts Center.
The awards will be presented at the Press Club’s Annual Awards Dinner, Monday, June 14, at the Water Club in Manhattan. An enduring tradition among members of the New York media, these awards recognize excellence in journalism as practiced by writers, editors, photographers and those who work in multimedia. Hundreds of entries were considered in more than 20 different categories. Judges include well-known journalists, former journalists and academics from notable journalism schools in New York. Other news outlets winning awards include the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, WCBS-TV and Fortune Magazine. Woman Around Town is the only website not connected with a major media outlet to be honored with these awards.
For Carol, winning the Rev. Mychal Judge Heart of New York Award is particularly meaningful. “It’s serendipitous since 9/11 was what propelled me out of the corporate world and into a freer, more creative environment,” she says. “And Fr. Judge was such a revered and giving member of our New York City community, I couldn’t wish for a bigger honor.”
Carol is a lifelong New Yorker, growing up in the Bronx where she attended Our Lady of Grace School on Bronxwood Avenue before moving to Long Island. She graduated in the class of 1982 from West Babylon High School and then St. John’s University Queens Campus in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism. After working as a science editor for several years, she took a corporate job but realized, “There was a lot more to life than what I was seeing in the day-to-day of the business world. Everything was always just about money and closing the deal and when you’re a creative person living in that environment, it skews your perspective and you feel beaten down.” Then came 9/11. “I stood at a window and watched that second plane fly into the Trade Center and all of the horrible things that came after,” she recalls. “It was a terrible moment but it made me realize how precious time is.”
Carol took a chance and was accepted into the MFA writing program at The New School—a program that accepts less than 10 percent of all applicants. For two years, she held down her corporate day job while attending graduate school fulltime in the evening. Armed with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, Carol started publishing short fiction, won fellowships and residencies and took screenwriting classes at NYU Film School. In 2008, she began working freelance in the non-profit sector, writing magazine articles for a children’s charity.
In 2009, Carol began writing for Woman Around Town. “It was a site that appealed to me, to everything I wanted to do—to celebrate women’s accomplishments, the city, theatre, food, film, events, causes, people—all of the best things about New York City,” she says. “WomanAroundTown.com is a fun, constantly interesting, constantly changing website that isn’t trivial. I was allowed to go out and find the stories that mattered to me and write about them.”
A small item in one of the city’s morning newspapers about Hilary Boyajian caught Carol’s eye. Because breast cancer has struck members of her family, Carol is an advocate, participating in fundraising events for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Avon Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. “It was a story that was important and I felt that Hilary wasn’t getting enough attention for her work,” she says. “She’s a pioneer. It made me a little mad, frankly. So I tracked Hilary down and wrote about her. Plus, I love living in New York City and writing about its people and everything it offers.” While writing about Hilary, Carol discovered they both received degrees from The New School in 2005. “It really makes you wonder about the idea that there are no coincidences in life,” she says.
Hilary Boyajian (in photo at left) says she was thrilled when Carol contacted her about Chikara, her fashion line for breast cancer survivors. “It was refreshing to work with someone who recognized the importance of the concept and was so determined to cover the story. I appreciated her keen attention to detail and sensed she felt as strongly about Chikara as I did. The article captured everything Chikara is about and is the best representation of the brand I’ve received. I only wish our paths had crossed earlier while in school. But it’s nice to know that our work ultimately brought us together.”
Alix Cohen spent her first 11 years in New Jersey. She produced plays in the basement of the house and remembered all the words to songs from musicals. Frequently in the city with her mother, she was exposed to the arts at an early age. Visiting Manhattan’s museums and attending Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts remain clear memories. Her grandmother, who lived here, made sandwiches so that junk wouldn’t be consumed during the Radio City Music Hall movie and show combos presented at the time. She knew how to read before kindergarten, developing and maintaining an appreciation for the written word.
In New York City, first at Rudolf Steiner and then The High School of Music and Art, Alix excelled in the visual but always wrote…first essays and short stories, then reams of poetry. At Reed College, she did a bit of everything in the theater department. And wrote. And drew. Theater, she thought, would chew her up and spit her out. Writing never crossed her mind as a vocation. She turned to art.
Alix’s professional life has been primarily concerned with design and product development serendipitously lurching from textiles and fashion to toys, room décor and furniture. She’s been Special Project Director at The Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries and Creative Director at several manufacturing companies. During this varied tenure, in addition to other responsibilities, she wrote press releases, fundraising materials, exhibition and retail catalogs, packaging and web copy, advertising and advertorials. She was also a (lyricist) member of the BMI Musical Theater Workshop.
Two years ago, finding herself…between things, Alix indulged her appetite for the arts by spending even more time exploring this great city: magic, burlesque, puppets, circus, cabaret, exhibitions, lectures, concerts, dance, film, theater on and Off Broadway…she looked up at architecture and down at street art. Writing for Woman Around Town affords an opportunity to share and comment on these experiences; to introduce off the grid performances and events and support interesting companies; to publicly recognize accomplishment and originality; to speak with artists as people, not just in terms of their craft.
The Lily’s Revenge, subject of the award winning critique, was an extraordinary piece of theater. Its story was ambitious and unique, its production zealous and wonderfully designed, the talent abundant. HERE Arts Center is a valuable and fertile community. Alix felt lucky to be there.
The muse is fickle, though not so much as critics who are often not as constructive as they might be. Alix endeavors to act otherwise. She’s grateful for the venue, the people she’s meeting and whatever audience she’s garnered; sufficiently unjaded to be genuinely inspired by talent and having a wonderful time.
“Woman Around Town is thrilled to have two of its writers recognized by the New York Press Club,” said the website’s co-founder Debra Toppeta. “When we started up a year ago, our intention was to give voice to many of the women and creative forces that make our city so exciting. And we wanted to tell those stories through quality writing.”
Founded in 1948, the New York Press Club is a professional organization of members and former members of the news media. Professionals who are Press Club members represent all types of media including the Internet, TV, radio, wire services, daily newspapers, weekly and monthly publications, as well as those in public affairs and public relations.
To read the award winning Woman Around Town articles, click on the links below:
To see the complete list of New York Press Club Award winners, go to: