2019 IRMA Awards Judges

Dayanti Karunaratne

dayanti.karunaratne@stjoseph.com Dayanti Karunaratne is the editor-in-chief of Ottawa Magazine, the city magazine for the capital of Canada. She has worked as an editor and writer for 13 years, and has been leading the Ottawa Magazine team since 2013. Dayanti began her career at the desks of the Port Hope Evening Guide and the Ottawa Citizen, and spent time editing and reporting for the Molokai Times, which allowed her to gain valuable experience covering rural and Indigenous issues. She holds an honour’s degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa and a diploma in Ski Resort Operations and Management from Selkirk College in Nelson, B.C.
Dayanti spent her Judging Honorarium on a biplane ride over the Ottawa River!

Deb Cummings

dcumming@ucalgary.caArea of Expertise: None, although I have researched dozens of countries and interviewed scores of celebrities and academics. Mostly, I get to write about what I find interesting. Which is, pretty much, everything. I am, what some would call, a veteran journalist who has been a reporter, features writer and editor for three decades. Half my career has been spent toiling in daily newspapers, the other half in magazines — with a few GAP years in between. With a passion for social development issues and travel, I has reported on more than 40 countries. Currently serving as publications editor at the University of Calgary, you may also find me teaching journalism at Mount Royal University. Along the way I have won more than a dozen Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awards and am a two-time winner of the Travel Media Association of Canada’s feature writing award.  I love to read, write, hike, canoe and ski in the mountains. I also like to garden and paint, but am rarely effective at either.

Natalie Gagnon

design@nataliegagnon.caNatalie is a Vancouver-based publication designer, design educator and ceramicist who brings content, minds, and clay to life with strategic design, clear communication style, and artistic focus. With nearly a decade of art direction and marketing experience in the magazine industry (Vancouver, Western Living, Modern Dog, Modern Cat, NUVO, and Montecristo magazines), and eight years developing and teaching post-secondary design courses for Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, she is well-equipped to solve a diverse variety of communication and learning needs. When she’s not covered in clay at the pottery studio, Natalie envisions and designs impactful, iconic content and inspires students to be passionate designers.

Ian Doig

iandoigmedia@gmail.comIan Doig edits and contributes to GrainsWest magazine, the quarterly agricultural publication of the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley. In 2020, he was awarded the Star Prize for Print by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. The former editor of Fast Forward Weekly, Where Calgary and WestJet Magazine, he is a long-time judge for the B.C. & Yukon Community News Media Association Ma Murray Awards.

Al Bonowitz

Bonowitz.Al@aaa-calif.comAl Bonowitz is editor in chief of AAA member magazines for Hawai‘i and Northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and assists with Westways, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s 4.65-million circulation magazine for its Southern California members. The best part of his job entails learning about his territories by visiting each one twice a year to meet with writers and publicists. In his spare time, he enjoys baseball, reading nonfiction, dining, and playing the drums.  

Pete Nguyen

Pete.phi.nguyen@gmail.comPete Nguyen is an award-winning designer, illustrator and art director from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He has over a decade working in magazines, with 4 of those years art directing at Avenue Magazine Edmonton. He is currently art directing with Berlin Communications, and navigating the world of craft beer as a partner of Sea Change Brewing Co. He stays busy off-the-clock with his band The Weekend Kids, and his two cats Bizzy and Boop. INSTAGRAM: Personal @pete.nguyen, Berlin Communications @berlin_comm, Sea Change Brewing Co @seachangebrewingco  

Melissa Chessher

mchesshe@syr.edu Melissa Chessher is a magazine professor and director of the Magazine, News & Digital Journalism Graduate Program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She possesses more than 20 years of experience in the magazine field as both a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in more than a dozen magazines, including Marie ClaireSelfHealthGlamour, ShapeFitnessMen’s Health, and Parents magazines, and her investigative feature for Self magazine on the challenges faced by women who work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer was part of a package that earned an Ellie Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors in the category of personal service. As an editor, she worked on the launch of Real Simple, the largest magazine launch in Time Inc. history. In 2016, she was named one of Folio magazine’s Top Women in Media Award and routinely serves as a judge for the ASME’s Ellie Awards.   Melissa Chessher | Professor & Chair Magazine, News & Digital Journalism (Undergraduate, Graduate) Director | Newhouse Graduate Newspaper Fellowship for Minorities Core Faculty | Renée Crown University Honors Program Co-Director | Fashion & Beauty Communications Milestone pronouns: she/her   S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications 315.443.4038 | mchesshe@syr.edu 215 University Place, Suite 318C, Syracuse, N.Y. 13244 Syracuse University      

Deborah Baldwin

Deborah Baldwin is a New York writer and editor. She is a former staff editor at The New York Times, This Old House magazine, Real Simple and the International Herald Tribune, and was editor of Common Cause magazine in its heyday. Her freelance pieces have appeared in The Times, The Washington Post, Medium, PassBlue and other publications, including two anthologies devoted to Paris.

Brett MartinFreelance Illustrator


Brett Martin is an internationally exhibiting artist and illustrator.

Brett specializes in detailed line work, character design and hand lettering. He is an avid consumer of fantasy, sci-fi, the occasional crime drama and nature programs. One can usually find him filling sketchbooks, travelling, expanding his personal library, petting cats or waiting tables.

Contact Brett [for contract work and commissions]: hello@bybrett.ca

This summer Brett will be featured on a Collective Arts beer can label as part of Series 13 and appear in a group exhibition (Mergeculture Gallery, Tampa, FL) to celebrate the new release!

Website: https://www.bybrett.ca/

Collective Arts: https://collectiveartsbrewing.com/art-submission/animated-armour/

Mergeculture Gallery: https://mergeculture.com/2019/07/15/art-and-beer-exhibit-collective-arts-brewing-tampa/

Honorarium:I had no hesitation in taking my honorarium on a spree at one of Toronto's best independent shops for comics and books, The Beguiling!

Valerie Berenyi

valerie.berenyi@gmail.comValerie Berenyi is a free-range writer and editor with an extensive background in magazine and newspaper editing, feature writing and publications management. She was editor at Avenue and Swerve magazines and worked variously as a section editor, reporter and columnist at the Calgary Herald. Now she loves to travel and write about her adventures, contribute as senior editor to Toque & Canoe and use her storytelling skills for a variety of clients. When she’s not at her home-based office with Luna the cat on her lap, she is happiest skiing, snowshoeing, cycling, swimming, hiking and generally being out in nature.

Jessica Sedgwick

Jessica Sedgwick is the Art Director of Chicago magazine and was previously the Art Director of Splash magazine and a Features Designer at the Chicago Sun-Times.
She has won design awards from the Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Awards.

Andrea Maibaum

design@southdakotamagazine.comWhen she's not standing by the side of the pool yelling "Quit breathing!" at her daughter, new swim team mom and longtime South Dakota Magazine staffer Andrea Maibaum is hard at work creating the layout and look of that bi-monthly publication. She is the chief designer of the advertising and editorial pages, as well as books and promotional materials.

Glenn Stout


Glenn Stout has been a full-time freelance writer since 1993. He has served as Series Editor of The Best American Sports Writing anthology since its inception in 1991, is the author or ghostwriter for 45 juvenile sports titles and the author or ghostwriter of nearly twenty adult trade titles, including Nine Months at Ground Zero, a biography of Trudy Ederle entitled Young Woman & the Sea, (currently under development as a major motion picture), and New York Times bestseller The Pats. His next book is a true crime yarn from the Jazz Age. Glenn also serves as a consultant and editor on book proposals, longform features and book manuscripts. His latest feature, "The Mother Library," recently appeared in Yankee. He lives in Vermont and is a citizen of both the United States and Canada.

His honorarium went toward a new water heater.

John Andrews


John Andrews has been a staffer at South Dakota Magazine for 13 years, the last seven as managing editor. He has searched the gumbo hills of southwestern South Dakota for the rare Fairburn agate, lost his publisher’s money betting on horse races in Aberdeen (it was less than $100) and eaten lutefisk with Norwegians in Summit. In addition to producing a bimonthly magazine, he and the staff are currently combing the magazine archives to complete a book of essential South Dakota stories. Its release in late 2019 helps commemorate the 35th anniversary of South Dakota Magazine in 2020.


Megan Hillman

http://meganhillman.comMegan Hillman is an award-winning designer, visual problem solver & hand-letterer residing in sunny Boulder, Colorado. She’s previously designed for Old House Journal, New Old House, Arts and Craft Homes, and Martha Stewart Weddings. When she’s not shortcutting in InDesign you can find her writing letters with the Colorado Correspondence Coalition.

Hal Niedzviecki

hal@brokenpencil.comHal Niedzviecki is a writer, speaker, culture commentator and editor whose work challenges preconceptions and confronts readers with the offenses of everyday life. He is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction and the publisher/founder of Broken Pencil: The magazine of zine culture and the independent arts. Links: Home page and blog: http://www.alongcametomorrow Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HalNiedzvieckiwriter Twitter: http://twitter.com/halpen Magazine: http://www.brokenpencil.com

Valerie Fortney

valfortney@yahoo.caValerie Fortney is a veteran Canadian journalist with extensive experience in magazines, broadcasting, and newspapers. Her feature magazine and newspaper writing has appeared across North America and around the world. In the 1990s, she was the founding editor of Avenue magazine, a Calgary publication that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. In the early years of Avenue, Fortney, her editorial and design team and contributors won several regional and national awards, including Best New Magazine at the 1997 National Magazine Awards. During her 20-year tenure at the Calgary Herald newspaper, Fortney served as lifestyle editor, feature writer and columnist. Her writing saw her nominated for many regional, national and international awards; in 2002, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award for her writings in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City. In 2006, Fortney was part of an investigative team that won the Daniel Pearl Award for Print Journalism, along with the UK-based Commonwealth Writers’ Union Words and Pictures Award. Their project, which traced the origins of North American men scamming young Indian women of their dowries, also won Fortney and her team the B.C.-based Webster award for best news reporting. Fortney's first book, Sunray the Death and Life of Captain Nichola Goddard received widespread critical acclaim after its release in 2010.The book profiles the life of Forward Observation Officer Captain Nichola Goddard, who earned a place in Canadian history on May 17, 2006 when she became the first female Canadian soldier to die in combat, but beyond that who consistently pushed the limits imposed on the female sex. The book was longlisted for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.  

Chris Bowerman

Chris Bowerman is freelance writer, journalist and consultant with print, web and digital experience in oodles of organizations. He was a longtime communications and marketing strategist for UBC’s Okanagan Campus, hands-on in project management, content strategy, website development, writing, editing and photography. Prior to that he held positions as Executive Editor for Avenue Calgary magazine (RedPoint Media) and Senior Editor at Swerve magazine (a Calgary Herald publication). From a pre-press and design background, Chris launched into a journalism career at the Calgary Sun daily newspaper with a desking gig that included travel writing and a dining column. Freelance clients include WestJet Magazine, Western Living Magazine and the National Film Board of Canada. He’s based in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Patti Edgar

pedgar@mtroyal.caPatti Edgar’s writing can be found in newspapers, magazines and online. She teaches in Mount Royal University’s journalism program and mentors youth through the Alexandra Writers' Centre. Her middle grade novel, Anna Analyst, will be published by Yellow Dog/Great Plains Publications in the spring of 2021. An essay on her struggles to learn a second language was published in the anthology Waiting (University of Alberta Press). Ms. Edgar holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

Richard Johnson

richardjohnson0707@gmail.comRichard A. Johnson is an award-winning writer, editor and facilitator in Victoria, B.C., and the long-time organizer of Canada's National Magazine Awards. He is thrilled to be an IRMA judge for the opportunity to read so many new stories and writers, and he spent his judging honorarium on a dinner out on the town with his wife and their insatiably curious two-year-old.

DeAnne Bedier

info@deannebedier.com DeAnne Bedier is an award-winning designer, an alumni of the Alberta College of Art & Design and has 16 years experience specializing in branding and print design. DeAnne is currently the Creative Director / Designer at her own studio, DeAnne Bedier Design. She has been the creative lead on numerous projects and publications and has won local, national and international awards for her work.

Melissa Newman

melissanewman36@gmail.comMelissa Newman has made her career specializing in print design and art direction and is currently working as a consumer direct designer at outdoor retailer, Orvis. She formerly served as Art Director for Yoga Journal and other niche national magazines. Melissa lives in New England with her goofball Golden Retriever, Harper, and partner, Zack. Travel is a passion, and she's currently on a quest to visit all of the major U.S. National Parks.

Jim Sutherland

sutherland.jh@gmail.comJim Sutherland lives in Vancouver and writes whatever people will pay him for, most recently the best-selling Earls Restaurants cookbook and more, Eat a Little, Eat a Lot.