About Us

The Midwest Travel Journalists Association was organized in Wisconsin in 2017 to encourage a high level of professionalism and ethical practice among our membership and within the travel industry as a whole. MTJA members live and work in a 13-state territory that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

MTJA Active members work as travel writers, reporters, photographers and editors in print and electronic media formats. MTJA Associate and Alternate Associate members represent city, state and regional tourism destinations within our membership area, as well as major travel destinations, attractions and other entities.

MTJA members at spring 2017 conference in Frankfort, KY. Photo courtesy of April Cole and Visit Frankfort.

Code of Ethics
Midwest Travel Journalists Association is a not-for-profit organization of travel journalists which includes:  a) Active Members — journalists, writers, editors, photographers and broadcasters who report and comment on travel and tourism; and b) Associate Members — professional public relations people in the field of travel and tourism.

The purpose of the Association is to protect and upgrade travel writing as a profession by exchanging ideas, encouraging high professional ideals, fostering communications between travel writers and readers, and championing the cause of travelers from the Midwest.

Members of MTJA subscribe to the highest standards in the profession of journalism. In accepting and continuing in membership, each member agrees to abide by a Code of Professional Responsibility.

MTJA Board Members:
President, Gary Knowles (term ends April 2018), openair@aol.com
Active Vice President, Amy Lynch (term ends April 2018), amy@amylynch.com
Associate Vice President, Jessica O’Riley (term ends April 2018), Jessica.ORiley@IowaEDA.com
Secretary, Terri Weeks (term ends April 2019), terrigweeks@gmail.com
Treasurer, Lori Erickson (term ends April 2018), erickson.lori@gmail.com

Active Directors:
Rich Warren (term ends April 2018), rwarren212@aol.com
Carla Waldemar (term ends April 2019), cwaldemar@comcast.net
Sarah Jaquay (term ends April 2018), sjaquay@sbcglobal.net

Associate Director:
Marjorie Beenders (term ends April 2020), Marjorie@tbwgroup.net

Committee Chairs:
Clips/Scrapbook/Pinterest coordinator, Terri Weeks
Ethics, Gary Knowles
GEMmy Awards, Elizabeth Granger
Mark Twain Awards, Patricia Wood Winn
Mary Ethel’s Basket, Diana Lambdin Meyer
Membership Applications, Kathie Sutin
New Member Welcome and Orientation, Mike Whye
Newsletter, Becky Linhardt
Nominating, Marge Peterson
Professional Development, Amy Lynch
Public Relations/Publicity, Marjorie Beenders
Sites Director, Kathy Witt
Spotlight Awards, Toni Alexander
State Memberships, Marjorie Beenders

Mark Twain Award:

Midwest Travel Journalists Association Inc. announced its newest group of Mark Twain Award winners at the organization’s fall conference in Lafayette, LA on Oct. 14, 2017. The Mark Twain Awards are presented to MTJA members for excellence in travel writing and photography.

2017 Mark Twain Contest Winners
For work published in 2016

2nd Place:  Mary Bergin – Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook
1st Place:  Suzanne Corbett – The Gilded Table
Judge’s comment: “A beautiful and expertly researched history of a St. Louis Gilded Age institution.”

Honorable Mention:  Kathie Sutin – “Where there’s smoke: Southern barbecue”
3rd Place:  Katherine Rodeghier – “Birthplace of Beer”
2nd Place:  Carla Waldemar – “Dublin: Dining Destination”
1st Place:  Suzanne Corbett – “Culinary Odd Couple”
Judge’s comment: “A story full of charm that uses telling details to bring the cooks and food to life.”

Honorable Mention:  Mary Lu Laffey – “Grand Canyon”
3rd Place:  Bill Clevlen – “Rediscovering America (podcast)”
2nd Place:  Diana Lambdin Meyer – “Deeper Meaning: Divers at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii help to maintain USS Arizona and the memory of those who served on the ship”
1st Place:  Lori Erickson – “Touring Red Rock Country” (series)
Judge’s comment: “A great voice that painted the lives and scenery of Sedona vividly.”

Honorable Mention:  Jackie Sheckler Finch – “Honoring ‘The Possum’: Museum memorializes the ups and downs of country music legend George Jones”
3rd Place:  Randy Mink – “Indiana’s Sweet Tooth”
2nd Place:  Terri Peterson Smith – “Merry in Motown: Community blooms among the flowers, food and vibrant diversity of Detroit’s Eastern Market”
1st Place:  Amy Eckert – “Out of this World”
Judge’s comment: “Evocative writing that transports readers into space.”

Honorable Mention:  Randy Mink – “Spain’s Basque Country”
3rd Place:  Bobbi Sotonoff – “Synagogues, Sand Floors, & Majestic Pillars”
2nd Place:  Mary Bergin – “Republic of Korea DMZ tour provides surreal experience”
1st Place:  Diana Lambdin Meyer – “Night at Quebec City’s Ice Hotel”
Judge’s comment:”Dynamic storytelling that entertains and informs.”

Honorable Mention:  Mary E. Hall – “Remembering the Holocaust”
3rd Place:  MeLinda Schneider – “Dymaxion House”
2nd Place:  Mike Whye – “Where Hugh Glass Really Went”
1st Place:  Carla Waldemar- “The Flyway: Come for a stunning gathering of migrating cranes. Stay for a rich historical tour of Nebraska”
Judge’s comment: “Engaging writing that helps readers see and feel migration scenes.”

Honorable Mention:  Todd Wessell – “Heart of Ohio: Columbus Enjoys Rebirth as Hub for Restaurants, Arts, Sports, More”
3rd Place:  Paris Wolfe – “A two-year search for an OH-6 Cayuse helicopter leads to Pensacola”
2nd Place:  Paris Wolfe – Appreciation: “Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Falling Water work of architectural genius”
1st Place:  Todd Wessell – “Phoenix Rising: From Wildlife to Nightlife, Metro Area Has it All”
Judge’s comment: “Finely crafted details showcase the layers of Phoenix.”

Honorable Mention:  Janet Podolak – “Magic of Martinique”
2nd Place:  Todd Wessell – “Mexico’s Grand Getaway: Relaxation Comes First at Playa del Carmen Resort”
1st Place:  Todd Wessell – “Stuttgart, Standing Tall”
Judge’s comment: “A brilliant narrative that uncovers the highlights of Stuttgart.”

Honorable Mention:  Kathy Rodeghier – “Midwest state parks make for colorful autumn escape”
3rd Place:  Jackie Sheckler Finch – “Orangutans”
2nd Place:  Todd Wessell – “UnDeniable: Detroit’s Resurgence Evident in City’s Riverwalk, Downtown Areas”
1st Place:  Jackie Sheckler Finch – “Refinement to Relax In”
Judge’s comment: “Joyful action photos illustrate a story that sings with children’s delights.”

Honorable Mention:  Amy Eckert – “Food a Spark Plug in Detroit”
3rd Place:  Jackie Sheckler Finch – “Redemption Road”
2nd Place:  Todd Wessell – “Heart of Ohio: Columbus Enjoys Rebirth as Hub for Restaurants, Arts, Sports, More”
1st Place:  Todd Wessell – “UnDeniable: Detroit’s Resurgence Evident in City’s Riverwalk, Downtown Areas”
Judge’s comment: “Expert storytelling gives a strong sense of space.”

Honorable Mention:  Mike Whye – “We’re Watching You: South Dakota Birders Share a Passion for Feathered Friends”
3rd Place:  Paris Wolfe – “How bitter medicine saved Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Pub & Restaurant in Wisconsin”
2nd Place:  Paris Wolfe – “Asheville’s Bee Charmer: Oh, Honey”
1st Place:  Jamie Rhein – “Preserving Ohio’s heritage one plant at a time”
Judge’s comment: “Plants and gardener bloom in this vibrant profile.”

(No Honorable Mention)
3rd Place:  Mary Lu Laffey -“Dunguaire Castle invites groups to eat, drink and be merry”
2nd Place:  Diana Lambdin Meyer – “Visiting the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg”
1st Place:  Mary Bergin – RoadsTraveled.com
Judge’s comment: “A warm but authoritative voice makes the blog engaging and informative.”



“This writer’s prose consistently leaps off the page and captures the imagination. Each story opens with a scene that  quickly connects with readers, and that connection never leaves.”



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