Magazine editor, artist, teacher, book publisher, free-lancer. Jo Ann Winistorfer, NDPC's 2002 Communicator of Achievement, has done it all.
Since childhood, Winistorfer knew she wanted to be a writer. At age 13, she designed and wrote The Neighborhood News, printing it on her dad's mimeograph machine and peddling it to neighbor-readers for a nickel a copy. The two-page newsletter had a circulation of around 20.
Now 50 years later, Winistorfer is a year into retirement from her job as associate editor of the North Dakota REC/RTC Magazine (now North Dakota Living), the most widely circulated publication in the state reaching 75,000+ homes, farms and businesses and with a readership of around 160,000.
Early in her career, Winistorfer worked as an artist and copywriter for KBMB-TV and as an artist for The Bismarck Tribune, Conrad Publishing and Simmons Advertising. Joining the REC/RTC Magazine in 1969, she was promoted to art director a few years later. In 1978, she resigned to teach commercial art to high school students at the Bismarck Vocational Technical Center, but after two years, returned to the magazine at the urging of her former boss -- this time as a writer-editor with the title of family editor. She was named managing editor in 1987 and associate editor in 1999.
Winistorfer says her all-consuming passion is genealogy. In 1989, North Dakota's centennial year, she began writing a monthly magazine column featuring genealogy how-to articles. Because of reader demand, she compiled these columns into a book called "Tracing Your Roots in North Dakota." The popular book soon sold out.
In 1998, Winistorfer and fellow NDPC member Cathy Langemo formed a company called Dakota Roots and together wrote and self-published a book called "Tracing Your Dakota Roots: A Guide to Genealogical Research in the Dakotas." The book has received four state and national awards, and the second printing is nearly sold out.
In addition to receiving NDPC and NFPW awards for her magazine work and book, Winistorfer served as publicity chair when NFPW met in Bismarck in 1974, also attended national conferences in Chicago and St. Paul, served as NDPC treasurer in 2000 and is now the NDPC historian.
Though supposedly retired with husband Nick at the Dam Site Angus Ranch near Pick City, Winistorfer free-lances for North Dakota Living magazine and started her own business -- WIN Editorial Services -- which includes writing free-lance articles and news releases for various organizations and serving as agent for publishing the works of other writers. Plus, she and Cathy Langemo continue their Dakota Roots partnership.
Family continues to be important to Winistorfer. In addition to their children Wendy, Scott and Shane, the Winistorfer family now includes six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In addition to honoring Winistorfer May 4 as NDPC Communicator of Achievement, she is nominated for the NFPW award and will be honored in Bismarck in September. In a letter of support for her nomination, North Dakota Living editor Kent Brick said, "She knew that the state's largest, most popular publication demanded the best journalism North Dakotans could produce and Jo Ann accepted nothing less for the publication or for herself."
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