RWA Emma Merritt Service Award

The RWA Emma Merritt Service Award is presented for the accumulated body of work a member has contributed as a volunteer to RWA. The award is not only for service to individual chapters, but is intended to honor major commitments of service to RWA. A member may receive the RWA Emma Merritt Service Award only once in a lifetime. In the past, the RWA Emma Merritt Service Award has also been known as the Golden Rose and the National Service Award.

To nominate a member for the RWA Emma Merritt Service Award, click here or e-mail


2017 RWA Emma Merritt Service Award

Cindy Kirk

Cindy Kirk

Cindy Kirk joined RWA in 1996, the same year she began writing romance. She attended her first conference that year and was hooked. She hasn’t missed an RWA national conference since!

She sold her first book in 1999 to Harlequin and has been publishing steadily since that time, writing for several different publishers. She’s written everything from inspirational romance to sexy contemporaries. Her fiftieth book, a small town contemporary romance published by Montlake, will be released next month.

For the first fifteen years of her publishing journey, Cindy worked full-time, wrote full-time, and volunteered in various capacities in her local chapter. She also served on several committees at the national level, as well as volunteering while attending national conferences.

From 2007–2015, Cindy served on the RWA Board of Directors. She was a director for two terms, the PAN liaison for two years, then finished out her board service as president for the 2014–2015 board year. But she isn’t through volunteering yet. She’s currently the assistant chair for RWA’s Leadership Development Committee.

Cindy encourages anyone thinking of volunteering to give it a try. While she understands finding the extra time to volunteer isn’t always easy, she firmly believes it’s worth it.


Past Emma Merritt Service Award Recipients

  • 2016: Nikki Enlow
  • 2015: Lorraine Heath
  • 2014: Trish Milburn
  • 2013: Nancy Haddock
  • 2012: Laura Hayden
  • 2011: Michelle Monkou
  • 2010: Jennifer Crusie
  • 2009: Sherry Lewis
  • 2008: Linda Winstead Jones
  • 2007: Gayle Wilson
  • 2006: Shirley Hailstock
  • 2005: Carol Prescott
  • 2004: Alicia Rasley
  • 2003: Debra Dixon
  • 2001: Libby Hall
  • 2000: Claudia Yates
  • 1999: Janis Reams Hudson
  • 1998: Robin Lee Hatcher
  • 1997: JoAnn Ferguson
  • 1996: Christine Pacheco
  • 1995: Rita Gallagher, Cathie Linz, Debbie Macomber, & Karan Richardson
  • 1994: Margaret Brownley, Patt Marr, & Maggie Osborne
  • 1993: Darlene Layman, Harold Lowry, aka Leigh Greenwood, & Nora Simpson
  • 1992: Emma Merritt
  • 1991: Kathy Clark & Jeanne Triner
  • 1990: Marian Jones
  • 1989: Jan Milella
  • 1988: Jasmine Cresswell & Selwyn Young
  • 1987: Linda Nusser
  • 1986: JoAnn Ross
  • 1985: Marianne Willman

Historical Note: from 1985 through 1989 the award was known as the Golden Rose. From 1990 through 1995 it was known as the National Service Award.