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Published: Wednesday, 10/5/2011

Toledo native to be keynote speaker at Touchstone Awards

Journalists to be recognized for excellence in their field

Amy Braunschweiger. Amy Braunschweiger.

Amy Braunschweiger didn't know what she wanted to do with her life.

All she knew was that she enjoyed writing.

"I didn't declare a major [in college] until I was a junior," Ms. Braunschweiger, a Toledo native, said in a telephone interview. "And when I was freelancing, I wrote about music because I loved it. I didn't think of it as a career. I was just hitting what inspired me."

Her inspirations have taken her on a journey that included two stops in Germany, working as a financial reporter, and writing a book.

"You don't necessarily have to have the most obvious career path to have a career," Ms. Braunschweiger said.

"My career path hasn't been straight and narrow. I've covered everything from music and nightlife to abandoned buildings and taxi cabs, and now I'm in foreign affairs."

Tomorrow, Ms. Braunschweiger will share her writing adventures at the Touchstone Awards, where she will serve as the keynote speaker. The Touchstone Awards are presented by The Press Club of Toledo to recognize excellence in journalism. The Press Club will present awards for various accomplishments by local media. Scholarships also will be be awarded.

Ms. Braunschweiger graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a bachelor's degrees in English literature and German. The 36-year-old left Toledo in 2000 and moved to New York, where she resides.

In the 11 years she's been gone, she has worked as a freelance journalist, with articles appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and several other publications. She also worked as a financial reporter for Dow Jones.

As the recipient of the Congress Bundestag scholarship and the Arthur F. Burns fellowship, Ms. Braunschweiger had the opportunity to work in Germany, where her work appeared in two publications.

In 2009, her book, Taxi Confidential: Life, Death and 3 a.m. Revelations in New York City Cabs, was published. The book is a collection of 50 New York cab stories from the '70s through present day.

At the awards ceremony Ms. Braunschweiger plans to speak about exploring writing and the journey she has taken because of it.

"Writing has enabled me to go on these adventures that were of interest to me at the time. You learn about yourself and you learn about the world," she said.

The event begins at 6 p.m., with awards presented at 7:15 p.m. at the Toledo Club.

Ms. Braunschweiger works for the Human Rights Watch where she helps oversee the nonprofit's Web site, newsletter, and social media.

The agency works to defend and protect human rights, by focusing international attention where human rights are being violated.

"I've learned that writing does make change," Ms. Braunschweiger said. "You're writing the article for a reason and you get to see the impact. It really does end in change."

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.

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