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Byliner Awards honor top women achievers in communications

WIC KarmaTinaDacia WIC Awards 2013

By Patrick B. McGuigan
Associate Publisher

The 2013 Byliner Awards honored a diverse group of Oklahoma City women for their impact in professional fields directly in or touching communications. This month’s gala dinner, held at the Skirvin Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City, honored Carol Jean Gray of The Children’s Center, Judge Reta M. Strubhar (retired), Joan Gilmore of The Journal Record, Denise Northrup of Gov. Mary Fallin’s staff, Marnie Taylor of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, state Supreme Court Justice Noma Gurich and Brenda Jones Barwick of Jones Public Relations.

Gilmore’s award was the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the local chapter of Women in Communications, which has now hosted 55 annual awards programs.

Barwick’s business has been rated one of the nation’s top 200 PR firms. Brenda worked for President Ronald Reagan, and later as one of his appointees in the State Department Foreign Service. She is a past vice chair of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Brenda Jones Barwick is an advisor to the editor and founder of, an online news service

Justice Gurich has nearly a quarter century of judicial service, and has been named to judicial offices by four different Oklahoma governors. She joined the state Supreme Court in January 2011.

Taylor became president of the Center after spending several years as a board member. She is active in several local groups, including Sunbeam Family Services, the Junior League, World Neighbors, the ReMerge Council and Friends of the Mansion.

As chief of staff for Gov. Mary Fallin, Northrup is a policy advisor and strategist to the state’s chief executive officer, and runs the office on a daily basis. Past work includes her direction of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and work for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.

Featured in the “new pioneer women” series on The Oklahoman editorial pages in the mid-1990s, Judge Strubhar was the first woman to serve on the state Court of Criminal Appeals. A former high school teacher, she earned a law degree in 1980, going on to serve in many legal capacities, including as the only state judicial appointee to the Federal Criminal Rules Committee.

Gray began at The Children’s Center as a volunteer in 1977 – rising to become chief operating officer in 1977. She is the recipient of many honors, including Humanitarian of the Year for Southwestern Christian University, and a “woman of the year” nominee from The Journal Record.
Originally planning to work for The Chicago Tribune, Gilmore came to Oklahoma City instead. After a career of nearly three decades with The Oklahoman, she joined The Journal Record in 1984. Her prior honors include awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and the Newspaper Foundation.

The Association of Women in Communications began in 1909 at the University of Washington in Seattle, and has been organized in Oklahoma City for more than a half-century. Proceeds from the annual Byliners Awards dinner finance scholarships for collegiate women in communications’ fields, and educational programing for the group’s members.

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