Teresa Wippel is the Edmonds 2019 Citizen of the Year

Teresa Wippel at work. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

The Edmonds Kiwanis Club announced Monday that it has named Teresa Wippel, My Edmonds News publisher and long-time Edmonds resident as its 2019 Citizen of the Year.

“We had a flood of nominations this year,” said Kiwanis member and past Citizen of the Year Frannie Cohen, who served on this year’s selection committee.  “There’s a plethora of people doing fantastic things every day in our community, and was a real challenge narrowing it down.  But as we sifted through the nominations, Teresa’s name kept rising to the top.

“Her dedication to our community is nothing short of awesome,” Cohen continued. “She puts in so many hours going to meetings, community events and forums so the rest of us don’t have to. She gleans the important information, and reports what she’s heard without bias. Politics can be so one-sided, but thanks to her dedication and integrity, what you read on My Edmonds News is the truth. Teresa walks down the middle and keeps her own opinions out of her reporting.  She gives us objective, fact-based information so we can make our own informed opinions.”

A native of Ellensburg, Teresa’s dedication to journalism began early.

“I have always loved to write,” she says. “I remember putting together my own ‘magazines’ with paper and pencil when I was in elementary school and writing poetry and short stories. When I wrote my first news story as a freshman in high school — I’ll never forget it as it was a profile of the high school drama teacher — I was hooked. At Ellensburg High School, I was fortunate to have a high school journalism teacher (thanks Steve Rogers!) who saw something in me and encouraged me to keep at it.”

While in high school, she hit a critical fork in the road. She was following her love of writing on both the school newspaper and the yearbook, but she also found a passion for drama, acting in the school productions. Then Watergate hit.  Awestruck by the work of Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein, she found the inspiration to leave the stage behind, dedicate herself to journalism and in her words, “change the world.”  But it was more than youthful enthusiasm; it set her firmly on the path of her life’s work.

“Thank goodness the movie The Post came out recently to remind people of that important time in the history of journalism and its role in our democracy,” she said. “My favorite line in that movie is when Katherine Graham says, ‘Journalism is a first draft of history.’”

Coming across the mountains to Seattle, she entered Seattle University as a journalism major with a minor in political science, working all four years on the school newspaper The Spectator, serving as editor in chief during her senior year.  After graduation she worked for several community weeklies, a daily newspaper in Port Angeles, the UPI Seattle bureau, and stints in public sector communications including public information officer for the Seattle School District.

Married in 1982, she and her husband Matt Waldron moved to Edmonds’ Lake Ballinger neighborhood in 1987, where they raised their two children and where they still live.

“In the summer of 2009, I was between jobs and was trying to decide what to do next,” she explained. “My husband Matt has his chiropractic practice in Mountlake Terrace, and had been advertising in an online news website, MLTnews. He said — ‘I think you should start one in Edmonds because if you don’t, someone else will.’”

The rest, as they say, is history.

“When I started My Edmonds News in 2009, I felt I had come full circle, having started out in community journalism and now coming back to it,” she explained. “The difference though is that I now had deep roots in the community that I was reporting on. Our kids were raised here, went school here, and were involved in sports and other activities here.

“But despite my long-time interest in government and politics, I had never been to a City Council meeting until I started My Edmonds News. I was too busy working (mostly in Seattle) and being a parent,” she laughed. “So I figured that if I was going to start covering the community, I’d better start with city government. I went to my first city council meeting and introduced myself to then-Mayor Gary Haakenson and some of the councilmembers.”

And she’s been to practically every council meeting since, listening, taking notes and photographs and reporting back to her readers, who with rare exceptions see the coverage the next morning in My Edmonds News.

“I called it ‘MY’ Edmonds News for a reason,” she explains. “I want every reader to think of it as their personal place to come for news and commentary, to be a participant rather than a passive observer in their community. My mission has always been to cover stories in a way that moves the community forward, and I encourage those who work for me to do the same. That doesn’t mean we don’t cover negative stories, but I believe we go the extra mile to be fair to all sides.”

And in one of those curious twists of fate, in 2012 MLTnews– the original inspiration for My Edmonds News– was about to fold. And a year later the publisher of Lynnwood’s online news source, Lynnwood Today, also announced he was planning to shut it down. Wippel stepped up to the plate, agreeing to acquire both sites, only because “I knew that if I didn’t, those nearby communities — which had lost their print newspapers a few years earlier — would have NO news coverage.”

The three online sites now comprise the My Neighborhood News Network, dedicated to comprehensive coverage of important news in all three communities including all school board and city council meetings, even high school sports.

“We work really hard to communicate through both stories and photos all important news in the community,” she continued. “We strive to inform and inspire our readers to become involved citizens by covering key issues from start to finish, with context that can only come from being there every step of the way. In the end, I believe our approach to news gathering makes our communities stronger.

“I’m still amazed I get to do this work,” she added. “For me, it’s a dream come true. Using my writing and reporting skills to serve my community is the best job ever. It feeds my soul.”

Teresa Wippel with historian and writer Betty Gaeng.

Looking ahead, Wippel plans to continue covering the community for many years to come. A history buff (she just started her third term on the Edmonds Historical Museum board), she said that one her greatest joys running My Edmonds News has been working with long-time historian and writer Betty Gaeng. “I always say she is my role model for what I want to be when I grow up — still writing and very active at age 92,” she said.

The Citizen of Year program, started in 1994 with its first award to Stan and Valerie Dickison. Other winners have included city officials like Dave Earling (1995) and Laura Hall (1996), business owners like Rick Steves (2017) as well as organizations like the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club (2015) and the Edmonds Petanque Club (2016).

Wippel will be honored at the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday, May 23 at Salt & Iron restaurant (open to the public, with registration available here) and as is customary for Citizens of the Year winners, will ride in the 2019 Edmonds Kind of 4th of July Parade.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Congratulations to Teresa Wippel for being named the Edmonds Citizen of The Year. She is very deserving of this recognition as a contributor of objective news and writings about our city. The Edmonds Kiwanis Club is also to be commended for their diligent work in the selection process. It will be enjoyable to witness Teresa’s honorary position in Edmonds’ 4th of July Parade.

  2. Great Choice. Thank you for all your hardwork Teresa and providing us citizens with amazing day to day information about our community and allowing a place for community to interact and stay informed. Congratulations to you and your family! -nice story Larry

  3. Congrats and more than well deserved. Your live coverage of council meetings alone qualify you for sainthood.

  4. This makes my day. Teresa makes a real difference for Edmonds. Next she will win for Lynnwood and MLT!

  5. Finally! Some news that warms the heart! Teresa has negotiated the reefs and shallows of providing news and a platform for public debate, and has never lost her fairness or her let public interest flag or waver. How she does it, I can’t imagine – but she deserves the reward. Heart-felt congratulations, and long may she continue to serve our community in the way she does! Our most needed and useful citizen?

  6. Without Teresa, high school sports coverage would be sorely lacking. Such a dedicated, kind, hardworking woman who deserves the entire community’s gratitude for so much!

  7. I cannot tell you how pleased I am that you have been selected as Edmonds’ Citizen of the Year. OUTSTANDING! And very well deserved. In the many interactions that you and I have had over the years, I have always been impressed by your professionalism and the way you take an interest in what I and others try to communicate through MY Edmonds News. I also enjoyed learning so much about your personal education and work history. You are truly a gift to our City. Congratulations.

  8. Thanks for being an important part of our city. Your effort to accurately report on “All things Edmonds” in a timely manner is greatly appreciated. Because of you, MEN has become a vital source of local information to me and I am proud to be a monthly supporter.

  9. Without a doubt, a spectacular choice for Edmonds Citizen of the year. Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace take note. Congratulations to my good friend, Teresa Wippel.

  10. Great article, Larry!
    Congratulations Teresa – you have done such a wonderful job bringing heartwarming stories, inspirational opinions, unbiased journalism, and fascinating event coverage and so this recognition is long overdue. You are an outstanding role model for all of us and to me – your tireless coverage of Council Meetings is and has been remarkable.

  11. It’s so easy to take someone like Teresa Wippel for granted. What a great role model she is for all of us. She is the epitome of “fair and balanced.” So deserving of this award. So glad we don’t take her for granted!

  12. Congratulations Teresa, well deserving. I don’t live in Edmonds anymore but reading myedmondsnews on line keeps me in touch with Edmonds.

  13. What a fantastic choice! Teresa makes the world better every day and we are lucky to have her journalistic, first-step-in-history, view of our town. Congratulations!

  14. Well deserved. Surprised it took so long. Proud to have been a tiny,tiny, part of your success story. Thanks for all you do for Edmonds.

  15. What great news! The perfect choice. Teresa, you are a marvel and contribute so much to the community. Congratulations!

  16. Congrats to Teresa, and thanks for all you do for our communities. We are so fortunate to have you and your publications.

  17. Congratulations, Teresa! We love starting our day with My Edmonds News. Great coverage as the result of lots of hard work!

  18. This is fantastic and so well deserved! I enjoy the fruits of Teresa’s labor in our Edmonds community nearly every day.

  19. Great for you Teresa. I have very few hero’s, but you are definitely one of the few. Your professionalism and absolute service and dedication to this town are beyond amazing. So much enjoyed learning of your background on how you got to this honor. I too loved being on the school Newspaper at “the real” Edmond’s High School (Tigers Forever) as the feature Editor in my Senior year. However, I wasn’t really all that good at it, obviously. Thanks so much for the great publication and putting up with my “occasional” incivility. You are the BEST. Clint

  20. Whoopie!!! Congratulations Teresa, a well deserved honor indeed! As all who have already commented have said so well, your tireless work has made MEN the first thing we all read every morning. From sports to council meetings to all things art and everything in-between, you shine a light on the things we care about and the things we need to know about. Thank you and congratulations!!

  21. Congratulations, Teresa! Your care and concern for the city are evident not only in the time you put in for meetings and maintaining the website, but I think you deserve an extra diamond in your tiara for the level of concern made evident by sponsoring the Three Practices workshops. Few people would put the effort in to encourage honest, open exchange of ideas like you have.
    If you don’t have a tiara already, I think you’re up for another award.

  22. Congratulations Teresa. You provide a trusted, dependable voice for all of us. When I look at email each morning, MEN is one I always read. So grateful for your steady dedication and skill
    Sherry Willis.

  23. Congratulations Teresa! It’s well deserved. Thank you for making a difference to the people of Edmonds.

  24. Congratulations, Teresa. Thanks for your continuous dedication to making Edmonds a better, more informed community.

  25. Congratulations Teresa – most deserved. You are a true community treasure and a wonderful example of service over self. All of MEN’s reporting on the Senior Center has been first rate. The first thing I do when I get to the Center every morning is to look at MEN to see what’s happening. One behalf of all of us at the Center – thank you.

  26. Congratulations Teresa! Even when I get behind some mornings and hit the Delete button without opening email after email, I can never bring myself to bypass MEN. Thank you for your dedicated service to getting non-biased news out to our community year after year. Well deserved!

  27. Sometimes a person steps in and changes the dynamics of an entire community. When I came to Edmonds 20 years ago it was an information “black hole.” Local news and information was available only to those with the time and enthusiasm to dig for it. Teresa with her spotlight of MEN and later expansion to Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace changed that. Thanks Teresa, you have made a positive change in the entire SW Snohomish County region. We are all better for it.

  28. Well said, Jim–and extremely well done, Teresa. Under your most capable and intelligent leadership, MEN has become our community’s looking glass. Your deep dives into the issues that impact Edmonds and all of South County make us think, interact, and
    respond in ways that simply make our community stronger.

    Thank you and congratulations, Teresa. Your recognition as 2019 Edmonds Citizen of the Year is very well-deserved.

  29. A well deserved honor Teresa! Edmonds is truly a better place because of you! A big congratulations! Thank you for all you do.

  30. Congratulations! Your tireless effort and tight journalism provides a great service. So many people I talk to around our city say its hard for them to find information about what happening. I always suggest they start with M.E.N.. You help us find connections that we didn’t know were available. Thanks for serving Teresa.

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