These colleagues may be gone from this earth, but they live on in our memories and in our hearts.
RITA MADOLE Past President
Rita Madole was President of RWA/NYC from 1994-1996. She was a sales associate by day, and a Romance Writer at night, with capital letters. Under her guidance, the chapter’s “From Dream to Reality” Writers’ Conference became popular with writers, editors, agents and other industry professionals. Rita was published in short fiction, but unfortunately, she was not able to sell her contemporary romances before her death in 2001.
IRENE CUMMING KLEEBERG Past President
Irene Kleeberg was President of RWA/NYC from 1998-2000.She was always very enthusiastic and supportive of her fellow writers, and helped organize the Chapter’s Writing Workshop Series, which were held at the offices of the Editorial Freelancer’s Association, where she was on the Board. Irene also used her contacts to secure the Mercantile Library to hold the old Wine & Cheese Receptions, now the Golden Apple Awards. Irene was a member of Sisters in Crime and a board member of The Editorial Freelancer’s Association. She was a freelance writer and editor, and worked at Women’s Wear Daily and at Black Enterprise.Irene also did extensive volunteer work, including welcoming United Nation families to New York and working with the NYC Police Department’s 17th Precinct Community Council. Among the famous people she encountered in her lifetime, were Andy Warhol, whom she met when he did illustrations of shoes for WWD, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is also an alumni of Wellesley College where Irene went to school. Irene passed away in 2009.
MICHAEL J. POWAZINIK Past President
Michael Powazinik was President of RWA/NYC from 2000-2004. Before that, he worked at Romantic Times magazine and at Berkley as a publicist, before founding his own magazine, Romance Forever. Unfortunately, the magazine folded a few years after its launch. Michael will best be remembered for his exuberance. After his parents died, he regarded the members of RWA/NYC as his family. Michael was a mentor, a friend, a colleague, a brother to many. His enthusiasm showed in the joyous manner he greeted members, and the many funny stories he told at the meetings and in his articles.Michael also held a great love of European and British Royalty, and a deep fascination with Princess Diana, Jackie O and most of the First Ladies. He passed away in 2008.
KATHRYN HAYES Founder, Chapter Secretary
Kathryn Hayes was one of RWA/NYC’s Founding Mothers. She helped found the Chapter in 1987. Kathryn served as the Chapter’s First Secretary, and was the mentor of many of the Chapter’s early Presidents and members. She published several short stories in popular magazines, like The Star and True Love. Plus, she wrote children’s books under the name of Kathryn Hitte. In 2002, the RWA/NYC Board of Directors voted to rename the Chapter's Contest in her honor, the Kathryn Hayes "We Need A Hero" Contest. In 2020, the Chapter Contest was renamed, but the Board continues to honor Kathryn's legacy with the Kathryn Hayes' Member of the Year award.
FLORENCE HERSHMAN (aka Diana Haviland, Diana Browning) Charter Member
Florence Hershman began her writing career in 1977 with THE PASSIONATE PRETENDERS, which hit the New York Times’ Bestseller’s List. She would go on to write 15 more historical sagas under the names of Diana Haviland and Diana Browning. She receive Romantic Times’ award for “Best Historical Saga” and the West Coast Review of Books’ “Porgie.” Florence was a charter member of the RWA/NYC. She lived in New York City with her writer husband and their two cats. Her last book, DEATH IN THE LADIES MILE, was released in March 2006 from Five Star Press.
IRENE WEISSMAN Founder As one of the charter members of the New York City chapter of RWA, Irene Weissman contributed her time and talent to working for the chapter in a myriad of ways, from helping to distribute flyers at a national conference, to offering to read and critique in writers’ groups, attending and helping to set up several writers’ conferences, and being supportive of her fellow members. She brought a bubbly personality and enthusiasm to the group.