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Diane Joy Schmidt is an internationally published and award-winning  writer and photographer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She covers social, ethical and environmental issues of the Southwest United States, with special coverage of the Navajo Nation and the Jewish community. Her columns, personal essays, profiles, enterprise and investigative reporting and photography have won national contests and been published internationally.

She won first-place from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Region 9 Top of the Rockies in 2016 for her personal columns in the Gallup Independent and second-place in 2017 and 2015; first-place Rockower awards from the American Jewish Press Association, in 2017 for Excellence in Personal Essay, and two first-place Rockowers in 2015  for her reporting and photography in the NM Jewish Link about the BDS movement first-place from SPJ in 2014 for Education reporting in the Gallup Independent about healing from the wounds of history, the Holocaust and the Navajos’ Long Walk, first-place from SPJ for radio features for commentary for KUNM-radio  in 2013 about MLK Jr., and first-place for reporting  from the Native American Journalist Association in 2012 for the Navajo Times about the hate-crime of swastika-branding of a Navajo youth.

She is from Chicago, where she was a regular columnist for the Chicago Tribune and regular contributor to the Sunday Tribune Magazine; as a photojournalist she was a photo stringer for Time, Forbes, Town and Country, The Reader, Chicago Magazine, In These Times and others, and adjunct faculty in photography at Columbia College. As a professional photographer, her corporate clients included Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Lands End, major banks and hospitals.

Since 2008 she has been a regular op-ed and religion columnist for The Gallup Independent daily newspaper, is senior correspondent for The New Mexico Jewish Link, and most recently is a contributor to Hadassah Magazine and the Intermountain Jewish News. Her column now also appears on the Times of Israel Blog (since 2015 – featured, 2 million circulation). She also has served as Albuquerque correspondent for The Navajo Times.

Her photo books include the art monograph The Chicago Exhibition (Melrose, LA 1985 and Braus, Munich), the children’s book Where’s Chimpy (Albert Whitman, 1988) in print 25 years and adopted by the Downs Syndrome Congress,  and I am  a Jesse White Tumbler (Albert Whitman, 1989), and her books cumulatively have sold over 80,000 copies. Her photography is featured in the book “Chicago: Classic Photographs” by Chicago’s legendary photographers, published in April, 2017 by Richard Cahan, City Files Press/Chicago. Her  essay “What Chanting a Prayer Just Might Do for You,” won  first-place award from the American Jewish Press Association Rockower Awards for Excellence in Personal Essay, and from the National Federation of Press Women.  She recently completed a political memoir, Darkening of the Light, about her experiences as a photojournalist covering the civil war in El Salvador in 1981.

From 1992-96 she was Director of Photography for magazines of the Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Arizona. She has been in New Mexico since 1997, where she is president of Creative Projects Associates, and together with her husband Frank Morgan, humanist, educator and cultural translator, has produced  major bilingual health-care books and trainings for the Navajo Nation – on diabetes, nutrients, suicide prevention and Navajo psychology.

She  earned a BA from Prescott College in Comparative Literature, a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in Photography/Design,  and in 2002 a MA in English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Mexico where she also taught creative writing. She is currently enrolled in Antioch University Santa Barbara’s Creative Writing and New Media MFA program.

Contact for journalism/photojournalism assignments, talks, and  commentary.


2017 Returning Fellow 2015-16 Journalist-in-Aging Fellow, New America Media Foundation/GSA

Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies Awards:

  • 2017 2 Awards – 1st Place  Arts and Entertainment Single Profile, for “Evelyn Rosenberg and her Explosive Art,” for the New Mexico Jewish Link, circ. <10,000 and 2nd Place Personal Columns,  for Gallup Independent  circ. <30,000 for 3 columns: “The First Shall be Last: One for the Money,” “There Once Was a Woman Who was Apologetic,” and “Beneath the Surface.” (“First shall be last” and “Apologetic” also appeared in NM Jewish Link)
  • 2016 1st Place Personal Columns  for columns as posted in Gallup Independent “Spiritual Perspectives” Religion column  2016 Award for 3 columns: “Serendipity and the Power of Daydreams,” “Who by Fire,” and “The Merkabah and the Exegesis of a License Plate.” (also appeared in New Mexico Jewish Link.)
  • 2015 2 Awards First-place Education Reporting for “The Long Walk and the Holocaust,” and 2nd Place Personal Columns, including “An answer so simple, I couldn’t see it,” “Play catch with balls, not missiles,” and   “Alternative perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,”  for Gallup Independent, 10,000-29,999 daily.
  • 2013 First Place, Radio Features, “Martin Luther King Jr.s’ Message Important in Corporate Age” KUNM-NPR Albuquerque’s community powered public radio station.

American Jewish Press Association
1st Place, 2017  36th Annual Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Personal Essay, for the NM Jewish Link, for “What Chanting a Prayer Might Just Do for You.”

1st Place, 2015 Two Rockower Awards, American Jewish Press Association
First-place for RepPHOTO GROUP AJPA Rockower 2015 by Illana Goldmeierorting and First-place for Photography,  for articles on BDS movement at University of New Mexico, for New Mexico Jewish Link.

New Mexico Press Women/National Federation Press Women    2017 wining entries written for New Mexico Jewish Link with New America Media Journalist-in-Aging Fellowship:

    • First Place – Arts & Entertainment (previews) – for “Fractured Faiths, groundbreaking and controversial exhibit”  and “Evelyn Rosenberg and Her Explosive Art”
    • First Place – Health – “Albuquerque, is it a place where Jews can retire?”  and “Studies on Dementia, Q&A with Dr. Gary Rosenberg”
    • Second Place – Single Poem – “There Once Was a Woman Who Was Apologetic” Fall
    • Third Place – Religion – “Trump the Religious” and “Swastika Graffiti on UNM Campus: How headlines got it wrong and why it matters”
    • Honorable Mention – History – “After 523 Years, Spain offers citizenship to descendants of those who fled Inquisition” and “Internationally known anti-Israel Speaker at UNM: Richard Falk”

    National Federation of Press Women (1st place entries submitted from states)

    • Third Place – Arts and Entertainment (previews) – for “Fractured Faiths, groundbreaking and controversial exhibit” and “Evelyn Rosenberg and Her Explosive Art”
    • Honorable Mention – Health – “Studies on Dementia, Q&A with Dr. Gary Rosenberg” and “Albuquerque, is it a place where Jews can retire?”
  • 2016 New Mexico Press Women First place, single photo, White House, and first place Specialty articles: Religion  for NM Jewish Link2015
  • 2015 Eight New Mexico Press Women awards, including second-place, NMPW Communications Award of Excellence for Individual Achievement with cash award, and three first-place awards for Specialized Reporting: Religion, Photography/Reporting, and Essay in a Book.
  • 2015 National Federation of Press Women, third-place, Essay in a Book, for “What Chanting a Prayer Just Might Do for You.” Essay excerpted from Music: Carrier of Intention in 49 Jewish Prayers, editors Kimberly Burnham and Elizabeth W. Goldstein, preface by Rabbi Shefa Gold, Creating Calm Publishing Group, 2014.
  • 2012 1st Place, Reporting, Native American Journalist Association, NAJA for Navajo Times 

Current Fellowships:
Journalists in Aging Fellowship, New America Media, to write on aging in New Mexico, 2017-18 Returning Fellow, to attend IAGS San Francisco; Fellow 2015 – 2016, and to attend GSA, Tampa, Fl.
Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, sponsored by the Retirement Research Foundation.  Articles first published  New Mexico Jewish Link.

Scholarships from AJPA and JFNM to attend General Assembly and AJPA conference, Washington, DC, 2015 to receive two Rockower awards, for reporting and for photography, and again in 2016.

Past, notable:
Robert R. McCormick Poynter Institute, Specialized Reporting Institute on Child sexual abuse, St. Petersburg, FL 2012

Governor’s Award, 1999-2000  University of New Mexico

Volunteer of the Year, 1994 Arts Genesis/ Old Pascua Yaqui youth arts/literacy/prevention program, Tucson

National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship in Photography, 1986, for series on Chicago at night.

Past community service, member of the board:
New Mexico Press Women, Communications Contest Chair, 2014-15 and board. Doubled contest participation and national awards.
New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, board, publicity committee, 2013-14
Society Professional Journalists Rio Grande, board, conference comm, 2012-3
American Society Media Photographers, Chicago, board 1991-2

Current member: PEN, Society of Professional Journalists; Religion Newswriters Association; American Jewish Press Association; National Federation Press Women/New Mexico Press Women; JAWS; New Mexico Jewish Historical Society; Hadassah.

MA  2002  Creative Writing Program, University of New Mexico
BFA 1976  Photography/Design, Rhode Island School of Design
BA   1974  Comparative Literature, Prescott College, Arizona

Twitter: @dianeschmidt22
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dianejoyschmidt