2020 IRMA Awards Judges

Sara Samsoneditor and writer

sarasamson10@gmail.comSara is a Calgary-based, award-winning writer and editor with nearly a decade of publishing experience. She has worked on a variety of travel and lifestyle publications, most recently as the senior editor of WestJet Magazine. She also teaches journalism at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). During these strange days, you'll find her working from her kitchen table, reading old travel magazines in parks while dreaming up her next adventure, lingering on patios and binge watching old sitcoms.

Amy Rosen

Amy Rosen is a James Beard nominated, award-winning freelance journalist. Previously, she was the Editor-in-Chief of Modern Farmer, Food Editor at Chatelaine, and Food Editor at House & Home magazines. She writes regularly for publications including enRoute and The Globe and Mail, and her stories have appeared in the American anthology, “Best Food Writing”. Amy has written five cookbooks, most recently “Kosher Style” (Appétite by Randomhouse). She is also the owner of Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns. Twitter & Instagram: @AmyRRosen Website: Amyrosen.com

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.

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.


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      

James Reid james@jamesreid.ca

In his role at Rogers Publishing, James Reid was a key member of the team that launched Maclean’s tablet edition – the first Canadian publication available on the tablet. He went on to build and lead the team responsible for launching and supporting 25 different titles on tablet and smartphone, including Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Sportsnet Magazine. James currently oversees the content operations for all of Rogers Publishing properties across all mediums – app, web and print.

Arjun Basu

Arjun Basu has enjoyed a long career in content creation across all media. He has been an editor-in-chief, an editorial director and a strategist. He has helped start (or relaunched) countless custom media projects and has spoken at conferences in the UK, Canada and the US. He is also an award-winning author. A past president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation (Canada), he is a big fan of print specifically, and the marriage of words and pictures in general.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Melanie Ouimet

I have been in the field for the last 20 years as a graphic designer, mainly in the print magazine industry. I worked for many different magazines here in Quebec, Clin d’oeil, Les idées de ma maison, Châtelaine, Fairmont Hotel and Resorts magazine, Mercedes-Benz Magazine, Bombardier magazine only to name a few. I now work as a freelancer and I spend my free time riding my bike as much as I can.

Stacey May Fowles

Stacey May Fowles is a multiple award-winning journalist, essayist, and a bestselling author of four books. She has a fifteen year history working in magazines, and her bylines include The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Maisonneuve, Elle Canada, Toronto Life, The Walrus, Vice, Quill and Quire, and many others. Her most recent book, Baseball Life Advice, was published in spring 2017, and was selected by The Globe and Mail and Maisonneuve as a best book of the year. Fowles lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter, where she is working on a memoir to be published by McClelland & Stewart.

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.  

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.

This Year’s Judges:

Writing Judges:
John Andrews, Managing Editor, South Dakota Magazine
Deborah Baldwin, Former Editor of This Old House, Real Simple, and Common Cause
Arjun Basu, Freelance Writer
Al Bonowitz, Editor in Chief, AAA Hawai‘i, Editor in Chief, Northern New England Journey
Melissa Chessher, Professor & Chair, Syracuse University
Deb Cummings, publications editor at the University of Calgary, Veteran Journalist
Ian Doig, edits and contributes to GrainsWest magazine
Patti Edgar, instructor at MRU
Stacey May Fowles, multiple award-winning journalist
Aileen Gallagher, Associate Professor | Magazine, News and Digital Journalism
Elizabeth Hudson, Editor in Chief, Our State Magazine
Lisa Kennedy, Editor, SVP, Serendipity magazine
Joseph O’Donnell, Editor/Publisher, B-Metro and BHM Biz magazines
Amy Rosen, James Beard nominated, award-winning freelance journalist
Sara Samson, Editor at Westjet magazine
Jim Sutherland, Freelance Writer
Jennifer Tormo, Editor 225 Magazine
Stephen Vest, Editor & Publisher, Kentucky Monthly
Lisa Whittington-Hill, Publisher, This Magazine

Design Judges:
DeAnne Bedier, Creative Director / Designer at her own studio, DeAnne Bedier Design.
Anne-Marie Boissonnault, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Solisco
Natalie Gagnon, art director, publication designer, brand strategist and design educator
Sarah Hackman, Designer
Kelly Hartman, Hartman Design Studio
Dave McKenna, Art Director, 5280
Melissa Newman, Art Director, Yoga Journal
Colleen Nicholson, Art Director
Mélanie Ouimet, Conception et réalisation graphique
Sandi Pilon, Associate Art Director, Cottage Life
Tiffani Reding Amedeo, Art Director, New Orleans Magazine
James Reid, Director, Content Operations, Rogers