After a short 15-minute business meeting, join Last Stand along with 5 of Key West’s notable story tellers for a fascinating and entertaining look at the Keys!

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Our panel features:

Our MC: Gwen Filosa

Gwen Filosa is a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter who covers the Keys for Miami’s NPR station, WLRN. She previously worked for the Miami Herald and the Key West Citizen.  Before moving to Key West in 2011, she covered criminal courts in New Orleans for the Times-Picayune. She was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and public service for their reporting on Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures that devastated the city. She also does standup comedy and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017, and local emcee. Gwen grew up in Indiana and is a graduate of Indiana University. 

Panelist: Rita Troxel

Rita Troxel arrived in Key West in 1974 to open Greene Street Theatre with her husband and a few VCU cohorts. In the late 80s Rita began working with Michael Whalton as one of the assistants organizing Key West’s major events. She went on to work for Newman & Associates Public Relations Firm and then began a 22-year stint as Film Commissioner for the Florida Keys. Since retiring Rita published a book of curated stories about our lives in the 70’s and 80’s Key West. On April 13, 2023, she has an opening exhibition of her paintings at Harrison Gallery in Key West.

Panelist: Roberta Isleib

New Jersey born clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib is the author of 21 mysteries, including A DISH TO DIE FOR, the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow (Crooked Lane Books.) The tenth book in her Key West food critic mystery series, THE KEY LIME CRIME, won the Florida Book Award’s bronze medal for popular fiction. Her first thriller, UNSAFE HAVEN, was published by Severn House in 2021. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime, and currently serving as president of the Friends of the Key West Library.

Panelist: Hays Blinckmann

A full-time Key West resident for two decades, Hays Blinckmann is an author, journalist, and artist. She is known for her fine arts career associated with The Studios of Key West, Harrison Gallery, and Lucky Street Gallery. After publishing her first novel, In The Salt, she joined The Keys Weekly as a journalist for many years and contributed widely to local publications. Now a full-time novelist, her titles include Where I Can Breathe and Yell Out Loud a young adult novel. In 2023, Hays Blinckmann will teach a writing course at the TSKW and publish her latest book, Here, Kitty. She boasts of raising two sons, remaining married during menopause, never leaving for a hurricane, and having an unhealthy obsession with Mahjong, pop culture, and current events.

Panelist: Linda Grist Cunningham

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor of Key West Island News, a digital news company located in Key West. She uses her columns to connect residents and friends of the island; foster the One Human Family culture; and advance understanding of share island goals. All with appropriate – or not – island attitude. Her columns also appear in the Keys Citizen. She and her husband, Ed, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with the Cat 5s.

Panelist: Nancy Klingener

Nancy Klingener is the Community Affairs Manager for the Monroe County Public Library (that means public information, outreach, and engagement). She arrived in Key West in 1991 as a reporter for the Miami Herald, expecting to stay two or maybe three years. Since then, she has worked at a variety of jobs, including at WLRN News, the Key West Citizen, the late, lamented Solares Hill and the Key West and College of the Florida Keys libraries.

“There’s no better way to capture the weird, wild, magical Key West than in the words of the people who lived it, loved it, and miraculously managed to remember it.  The island is one of those rare places where the true stories outshine the lore.”

Carl Hiaasen commenting on Home at the End of the World by Rita Troxel

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