The Photo Managers Impact Scholarship

The goal of the scholarship is to identify and award a professional Photo Manager with a passion for working with clients who are experiencing a chronic illness such as cancer or Alzheimer’s or have experienced the death of a child, friend, or family member. The project can be in progress or completed. The desired outcome is a Legacy Project, for example, a memorial slideshow, a photo collection that has been organized, scanned, backed up, and made accessible, a photo book, or a compilation of letters.

Sharon Wunder passed away peacefully on October 8th, 2023. This scholarship honors her legacy and her desire to impact professional photo managers offering legacy services.

2024 Scholarship Recipients

Teresa Townsend, owner of Tapestry Life Stories

Teresa Townsend

I want Tapestry Life Stories to be resource people go to preserve their legacy. I want to educate people on the importance of leaving a legacy whether they have family or not; their story will resonate with someone in the future. Telling one’s story through words and photos is a treasure for those who receive it, but maybe even more, it is a gift to the storyteller.

Workshops, oral interviews, and slideshows/video montages are my passions. I have been putting together narrative stories, photos, music, and creative transitions to create storytelling slideshows. I am collaborating with a filmmaker to include video, and together, we want to approach hospice and retirement communities. Honestly, when I began, I was not sure I could work with individuals with terminal illness. But through experience and education, I see it differently.

My heart is also with parents who have experienced loss, caregivers, and seniors. Through my own personal experiences and working with clients, I know the healing power of photos and stories. It can be healing for any loss, and as I recently discovered, even the loss of a pet. Stories tell the stories behind the photos, and photos help to tell the story. While focusing on the areas I most want to serve, I want to outsource more of my other services to other photo managers. I am excited to be back on the path I began.

Dionne Merriott, owner of Captured Memories Photo Solutions

When I read about the Impact Scholarship, I knew I wanted to apply because my business was born out of loss. In 1995, almost a year after the loss of our newborn daughter, I knew that the photos and movies we had of her life were irreplaceable treasures and I had to find a way to create a remembrance we would always have. Of course, that led me to preserve my family’s other photos and memories and evolved into helping others do the same.

Even as an experienced photo manager, I look forward to attending the annual conference and seeing new products and old and new friends. I’m always looking for ways to expand my business, handle the business side of it better, and serve clients better. Conversations with other Photo Managers are an important part of what I take home with me. If I am awarded the Impact scholarship, I plan to create my own scholarship fund for families in crisis so they can enjoy their memories sooner.

I want to continue working with families who have gone through a loss or serious illness because those are the families that need us the most. They need us to coach them on the importance of not just photos in a book but the legacy storytelling that goes along with it. I want to be able to create a safe space for these families to talk or just be quiet as they remember their loved ones. Even though we don’t want to admit it, we all need to create a legacy because none of us will live forever. I want to be a legacy photo manager who gives people comfort, understanding, and peace of mind as they share their memories and create a legacy for future generations.


AMOUNT: $3,000 USD x 2 recipients

USE: The Photo Managers Conference in Columbus, Ohio, including registration, flights, hotel room, additional meals, and expenses.

GOAL OF SCHOLARSHIP: The purpose of the scholarship is to reward a member of The Photo Members who can demonstrate a passion for creating a legacy project for a client who has suffered a serious loss or chronic illness. The project can be in progress or completed. The Photo Manager should be able to demonstrate a connection with the family or client as part of the process.

REQUIREMENTS: An active member of the Photo Managers who is either working towards certification or has obtained certification.

SELECTION COMMITTEE: Cathi Nelson (CEO), Kim Kiehl, Isabelle Knudsen, Sharon Wunder, and Advisory Board Members; Allison Freedman, Courtney Plaster, Bruce Holroyd, and Teri Winfield.

About the Impact Scholarship

Sharon Wunder joined The Photo Managers in January of 2021 with excitement and dreams of success. She loved engaging in daily chats about business planning ideas and, like many, organized her photo library as her initial training. Yet during that time, she started experiencing health issues, and she was scared. The story below, written in 2023, is in her words and her vision for a scholarship as a way of giving back.

I was grateful and inspired to have a new set of very cool “virtual” friends that seemed to get me, kindness that was not forced. This WAS refreshing and unique. And the support offered by our CEO, Cathi Nelson, was unheard of. Professionalism. Ethics. Education. Something you did not run across every day anymore.

Cathi made it feel safe to go grab those dreams. Anything could be possible in this new field that had not been fully built yet, A Blue Ocean for sure. As a creative - I was excited to be a part of building my empire. Building my community such as this one.

Finally, I’d found my home. Then came the diagnosis. Brain cancer. And not just any kind - stage 4 “incurable” Glioblastoma. The most aggressive incurable cancer is also served up without a plan to release the disease. Terminal. Tears. Fears.

Fast forward to today - I am choosing no more chemo, no more choices that drain my energy, no more surgeries. I know my life is fleeting fast. I feel it in my body. I understand that surgery does not stop tumor growth. I understand doctors will do anything to try and give me more time, but I refuse to live in a hospital. I want to live out the good days I’m being offered. 

My goal is to leave a gift, something magical. Something that gives back and can keep on giving. I’m so very grateful that I now have my legacy photo library set up for my future generations to enjoy and to be able to find efficiently to set up my celebration of life slide show and to help my kids remember the good times I was there for them in their childhood.

Sharon Wunder

Donations are handled by our fiscal sponsor, Compass Rose Legacy Foundation.