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Nominations Committee Chair

Eddye Gallagher
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@eddyegallagher

Nominations Committee Members

Michele Day
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@michday
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Jane Primerano
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@ReporterJane2
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Andrew Dyer
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@adyer619
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Ellen Eldridge
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@EllenEldridge27
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Akeem Muhammad
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@KeemOMuhammad
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Elle Toussi
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@ElleToussi
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Lynn Walsh
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Home > SPJ Election Central > Meet the Candidates

Call for Candidates


Jump to:
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Regional Delegate information


Election Central
Meet the Candidates

Skip to a position:
President-elect
Secretary-Treasurer
At-Large Director (two-year term)

Regional Coordinators:   2 - 3 - 6 - 10 - 11 - 12


Please note: Regional Coordinators no longer serve on SPJ's Board of Directors. For more information about this change, consult SPJ's bylaws.


President-Elect
Choose one

Matthew T. Hall
@sduncoveredWebsite

Current SPJ office: Secretary-treasurer; national board member since 2014; Bylaws, Executive and Finance committee member since 2017; Legal Defense Fund Committee and SPJ Foundation board member since 2018; SPJ Executive Director Search Committee member.

Current employment: Editorial and opinion director, The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Previous SPJ experience: Two-term former president, San Diego Pro chapter; former Region 11 director elected to the national board at EIJ in 2014, 2015 and 2017; former chair, executive director annual review working group in 2019, and Ted Scripps Leadership Institute graduate in 2014.

Past work experience: Former reporter at The Derry (N.H.) News, The Concord (N.H.) Monitor, The (San Diego) Daily Transcript and The San Diego Union-Tribune, where I have worked since 2001 and have also been a columnist and public engagement director, overseeing social media.

Education: 1994 English/journalism degree, University of New Hampshire; 2005 Western Knight Center fellow at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; 2017 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist at UNH, and 2018 Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio University.

Honors, awards and activities: Helped lead San Diego Pro to two national chapter of the year awards. Winner of numerous journalism awards, including the 2015 Herbert Lockwood “Woody” Award for humor writing and the 2018 social media personality of the year award from San Diego SPJ and the 2018 Jim Reiman Enlightened Management Award for Outstanding Media Management — the antithesis of the Dilbert Award — from the San Diego Press Club. Also: Social media addict. Baseball fan who has seen the Boston Red Sox win three World Series championships in person. Avid reader. Enjoyer of long walks. (Seriously.) Father.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: After a challenging year, SPJ leadership needs more stability, civility and transparency and a renewed focus on strategic, collaborative thinking. We need experienced, ethical, inclusive leaders who will listen and help the organization pursue its mission and grow. As an SPJ leader, I’ve improved how journalists across the country communicate with, advocate for and mentor each other. I’ve created media literacy programs and presented them in public settings and classrooms nationwide. I’ve championed media advocacy, creativity and credibility at the local, regional and national SPJ levels. I ask for your vote so we can all be stronger together.

Profile in brief
Matthew T. Hall grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in New Hampshire and worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and California before landing a job at the big metro newspaper in San Diego. The Union-Tribune, like SPJ, is not as big as it once was, but the company is innovative, nimble and smart about building a better community, three things SPJ also needs to be to survive.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
As a national SPJ board member since 2014, I have tried to focus on the bigger picture — protecting, improving and celebrating journalism and our membership — and I have been available and responsive to all members. As president-elect and president, I promise to continue that inclusive approach. As proof, here is my cellphone — 619-987-7786 — and a pledge that I’ll be quick to reply by text. I value and promise civility, stability and transparency, and I want to develop and implement a strategy that can help us retain and build our membership. It’s time for us all to stand in solidarity and show everyone just how vital journalism is to society and democracy.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
This year, I changed SPJ's approach to meeting minutes; I prepared them right after meetings ended to increase transparency and speed up the process of approving and posting them. I also helped SPJ catch up on timely quarterly financial reporting in the name of transparency. Earlier, I lobbied to keep regional coordinators' stipends at current levels as those positions fall off the board as part of our restructuring, to help keep strong connections between local and national leaders. These examples illustrate my priorities: openness and collaboration.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I want to promote our legal defense fund activity much better. That is a huge reason to support SPJ. So much of our energy and money goes to helping journalists in court nationwide, but we don’t promote this as well as we should. We need to better explain what we offer current and prospective members in many ways, starting with the benefits of our legal defense fund.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
Advocating for journalism, promoting media literacy and fighting fake news has never been more important. That belief is what drives me during long days on the job and what occupies a lot of my free time. It’s why I joined SPJ: to fight for and alongside a community of journalists who demand excellence of each other and expect ethical conduct by all, members and non-members alike. With strategic efforts, that attitude will help boost our membership.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
I’ve written a ton over the years, spurred some changes and won many personal awards. But for me, it’s all about the daily lives a journalist can improve, the communities that can be made stronger, the student and professional colleagues whose careers one can help. Last year, I received the 2018 Jim Reiman Enlightened Management Award for Outstanding Media Management — known as the antithesis of the Dilbert Award — from another journalism organization, the San Diego Press Club. I was honored to be recognized by my peers because it was a team award from a club outside SPJ and evidence of my collaborative style, proof my guiding principle is we’re all in this together. My proudest moment will be what’s next for all of us.


Michael Koretzky
@koretzky

Current SPJ offices: Region 3 director, Executive Committee member, Membership Committee member.

Current employment: Debt.com editor in chief.

Previous SPJ experience: University of Florida chapter president (1988), South Florida director (2005-07), national at-large director (2008-10), South Florida chapter president (2011), Region 3 director (2011-2019), and various task forces, project teams, and ad hoc committees in between.

Past work experience: Athens Daily News reporter (1989-90), Sun Sentinel reporter (1990-92), iCE Magazine editor and publisher (1992-94), XS Magazine A&E editor (1994-97), Palm Beach Free Press editor (1998-00), FAU University Press adviser (1998-2010), Jazziz Magazine associate editor and managing editor (2000-08), Globe, Star, National Enquirer copyeditor (2002-09), Money Talks News editor (2010-12), Lifestyle Magazine Group editor (2012-13).

Education: University of Florida (1983-1989), didn't graduate.

Honors, awards and activities: Regional Director of the Year in 2015. In 2012, SPJ president John Ensslin gave me an empty cigar box with one cigar scotch-taped to the top, calling it the "Out of the Box Award." But he never told me what happened to the other cigars.

Profile in brief
Expelled from Boca Raton Academy (1981) and the University of Florida (1989). Fired from the South Florida Sun Sentinel (1997), Jazziz Magazine (2008), and Florida Atlantic University (2010). Started and sold two magazines, one to the Tribune Company (1991), the other to the one-armed heir to the Listerine fortune (1999). Copyedited and designed for the trashy supermarket tabloids Globe, Star, Examiner, and National Enquirer (2002-2009). Not exactly a distinguished journalism career, but I’ve come to terms with it.

Candidate Q&A

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
Not a damned thing. God knows I tried. My last major effort was renaming SPJ as the Society for Professional Journalism. At last year's convention, an SPJ past president accused me of "playing a con game." Still not sure what the sting was supposed to be.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
There isn't one. SPJ doesn't want to change, and I'm no longer enthusiastic about changing it. I will keep taking its money, though.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ gives me money to do programming, and I deeply appreciate it. As risk-averse as SPJ is, it's given me money for programs in a homeless shelter and a funeral home, with zombies and dictators, and for students and pros. But I never ask anyone to join SPJ.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
Surviving this long in the business. I'm a B-list journalist and have embraced it. Five years after my death, no one will utter my name.

[Back to Top]


Secretary-Treasurer
Choose one

Rebecca Aguilar

@RebeccaAguilarWebsite

Current SPJ office: SPJ Diversity Committee Chair.

Current employment:
– Freelance contributor for White Rock Lake Weekly (Dallas, TX), Latina Style Business Magazine, and various other media sites.
– Guest Lecturer in Broadcast News Writing, 2019 Fall Semester, Richland College, Dallas, TX

Previous SPJ experience:
2009- Joined Digital Media Committee
2011- Digital Media Committee Vice Chair
2011-2012 - Diversity Committee Vice Chair
Current- Diversity Committee Chair

Fort Worth Chapter:
2011- 2012 - Board member
2012-2017 - Vice President of Membership
2017-2018 - Vice President of Programs

Past work experience:
KDFW-Fox 4, Dallas, TX
KNBC-TV, Los Angeles, CA
KPNX-TV, Phoenix, AZ
USA Today on TV, Syndicated National Show. Southwest Bureau Chief
WOAI-AM Radio, San Antonio, TX
KENS-TV, San Antonio, TX
CBS News Reporter Trainee, San Antonio, TX
KRIS-TV, Corpus Christi, TX
WLS-TV, Chicago, IL, News writer, Field Producer
WDHO-TV (Now WNWO-TV) Toledo, OH
CNN (Freelance)

Education:
– December, 2019: Will receive Masters in Journalism at the University of North Texas
– December, 1980: Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Bowling Green State University

Honors, awards and activities: I have been recognized with 50 awards and nominations for my work in journalism, including seven Emmy awards. My television investigations helped close down a corrupt Dallas school district, and also a foster care placement center. My work also uncovered several registered sex offenders were working for the US Postal Service and officials didn’t know it. It resulted in a federal job policy change.

I have also been awarded three fellowships: IRE Minority Fellowship, SPJ Diversity Fellowship and Fuente Latina Fellowship to Israel.

Diversity in news is a goal of mine. In 2017, I created “Latinas in Journalism” on Facebook. The group now has more than 2,000 Latinas who network about everything that affects us in the journalism business. We have been instrumental in getting Latinas work in newsrooms around the country.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: My goal as a secretary/treasurer would be to find new ways of generating money for the SPJ General Fund and the First Amendment Forever Fund. Now more than ever we need the money coming in for these funds that provide resources for our members in different areas.

The recent controversy involving SPJ and NAHJ was one of the key reasons I recently decided to run for the SPJ board. I strongly believe I can help improve our relationship with diverse journalism organizations including the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The recent developments over a sponsor made me realize that we are on opposite sides of the table and that has to change.

I sat on the NAHJ board for six years, including four years as the Vice President. I strongly feel I can help bring us together on common ground and help mend our relationship. At the same time, I can be instrumental in helping SPJ become more diverse, because it is time for change.

I also want to help find a good executive director for SPJ. I led the hiring process for the current executive director for NAHJ. I was able to interview the nine candidates for the position at NAHJ. Two other board members and I were responsible for determining the final two candidates for the NAHJ board to vote on for executive director.

Profile in brief
I am the daughter of undocumented workers turn green card holders. My mother became an American citizen in 1979, my father died before his dream to become a citizen became a reality. My parents who became civil rights leaders in Ohio and migrant rights advocates were my role models. They taught me how to give a voice to those who are ignored.

I became interested in doing radio and television, because my father had the first Spanish-language radio program in northwest Ohio. His work behind the microphone taught me the power of our voice. I have worked at several television stations and have covered some of the most interesting people and stories. Today I am a freelancer which means I am free to do what I want. I have recently started teaching broadcast journalism, but continue to cover assignments for various publications.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I’m a good leader, because I get things done. I’m also not afraid to speak up. I’m creative, innovative, organized, and think outside the box. I cannot stand when board members just keep the seat warm and do nothing. Members will see results if I am fortunate to become the next SPJ’s Secretary-Treasurer.

If I’m given a task to be done, I get it done. I proved it in the past year. I was asked to revamp and strengthen the SPJ Diversity Leadership Fellowship and I got the job done.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
When the new SPJ president asked me to take over the SPJ Diversity Committee I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I took on the challenge. I reduced the committee to only seven members.

We were able to attract various professionals from different news platforms. We immediately started working on revamping the Dori Maynard SPJ Diversity Leadership Fellowship. It was in drastic need of improving.

In 10 months, the committee and I were able to create a better application, and a more efficient application process. We received 21 applications; the most in the history of the program. We selected six outstanding journalists. They will take part in several events we have scheduled for them at EIJ19.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
If I become a board member I want to make diversity within the organization one of my main goals. We need to continue to find ways to collaborate with other journalism organizations that can expose them to our organization at a national and local level.

Diversity is key for our organization to survive. I want to continue coming up with ideas that can help our chapters attract people of different backgrounds (ethnic, age, religion, etc) and keep them as part of SPJ.New blood brings in new ideas. All voices should be at the SPJ table.

I also I want to find innovative ways to generate more money for our General and First Amendment Forever Funds. We need these funds to remain strong financially.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
The only we grow as journalists is to share our knowledge. Whether we are tackling the accusations of “fake news” or trying to find common ground with other journalism organizations; everything is a learning experience.

I brag about SPJ all the time, because it has resources that we all need as journalists. SPJ is the shoulder to lean on when the rug has been pulled from under your feet.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
I’ve been a reporter for 38 years and fortunately I’ve had several proud moments and achievements in my career. In 2007, NAHJ named me Television Broadcast Journalist of the Year.

In 2010, SPJ voted to recommend that newsrooms around the country discontinue using the phrases “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant.” I was instrumental in helping that decision become a reality after I spoke to the voting delegates and told my personal story.

In 2017, I was given a two year scholarship to get my Masters in Journalism at the University of North Texas. In 2018, I was named SPJ Diversity Committee Chair.


Andy Schotz

@spjregion2Website

Current SPJ office: Region 2 director.

Current employment: News editor, The Herald-Mail (daily newspaper), Hagerstown, Md., January 2018-present.

Previous SPJ experience: I have been Region 2 director since 2013. I am chairman of SPJ’s Awards and Honors Committee, which I joined in 2013.

My other SPJ service includes:

— Member of the SPJ Ethics Committee from 2004 to 2011, including three years as chairman
— Three consecutive terms as president of the Washington, D.C., Pro chapter, 2008-11
— Various national task forces and committees, including: policy review task (current); representation for members who don’t belong to chapters; financial policies for regional and chapter treasurers.

Past work experience:
— Interim managing editor, Bethesda Beat (daily news website), Bethesda, Md., July 2017-January 2018
— City editor, The Frederick News-Post (daily newspaper), Frederick, Md., September 2015-April 2017
— Managing editor, The Gazette (weekly newspaper chain), Gaithersburg, Md., January 2013-June 2015
— Reporter, The Herald-Mail (daily newspaper), Hagerstown, Md., January 2000-January 2013
— Reporter/editor, The Altamont Enterprise (weekly newspaper), Altamont, N.Y., April 1992-January 2000

Education: Bachelor of science, Business Administration, University at Albany (N.Y.), 1992; One semester at Ealing College in London, England.

Honors, awards and activities: Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award, 2013; SPJ Regional Director of the Year, 2014; Writing and photography awards from New York Press Association, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, The Associated Press, SPJ; Board member, International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Profile in brief
I started my newspaper career as a carrier, in elementary school on Long Island. I first planted roots in a newsroom in college, staying up all night, twice a week, to put out the paper at the University at Albany in New York. We were fiercely proud of having the only independent newspaper in the State University of New York system.

It was the equivalent of a full-time job that I fully enjoyed. It determined my path in life more than anything in a classroom.

I’ve worked at weekly and daily papers and for an online daily news site, always with roughly the same purpose — covering very local news.

Outside of work, I am a fan of traveling, films (especially about journalism), reading, running, dogs, and a good (or bad) pun.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
After years of volunteering with SPJ at different levels and in different capacities, I’ve understand how things work, how people work together, and, importantly, what doesn’t work.

I ...

— have thick skin
— am responsive and responsible
— see tasks through
— am patient and even-keeled
— can work with anyone
— don’t panic
— listen well
— admit when I am wrong
— will answer your question or find an answer
— have institutional knowledge, and know where to go and who to ask to get more information or sound advice
— like bullet points

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
Until 2011, SPJ members were not allowed to vote directly for their national leaders. All voting was done through a delegate system. Chapters sent delegates to the national convention to vote on candidates and issues.

There were numerous flaws. Chapters might fail to file an annual report and get no delegates. Delegates might not be able to attend the national convention. A large chunk of SPJ members didn’t (and still don’t) belong to a chapter.

SPJ’s national board refused multiple times to correct this flawed voting system.

In 2011, I used a process (possibly the first time it had been used) in which 10 chapters could petition to have an issue bypass the board and go directly to delegates for a vote. It worked. Convention delegates overwhelmingly approved the measure. Now, every member gets a vote.

I ran unsuccessfully for at-large director in the next election. I didn’t mind losing (the winner, Carl Corry, and I ran a cordial campaign). I took great satisfaction in knowing that several hundred people voted, far more than ever had in any other SPJ election.

I’ll also mention here something I tried, but couldn’t accomplish at the level I wanted.

Over a period of more than a year, I gathered about two dozen SPJ chapters in a consortium to try to negotiate more affordable rates for online contest platforms.

Ultimately, there were too many cats to herd, and disparate needs and preferences.

But there were mini successes — some chapters (including mine) ended up working together in small groups to leverage a helpful discount.

Maybe I’ll try again someday.

Finally, I also would like to mention SPJ’s First Amendment T-shirt efforts.

From June 28, 2018, the day five people were killed at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, until Dec. 31, SPJ sold more than 800 First Amendment T-shirts across the U.S., plus a few in Canada, to raise money for the victims and their families. That allowed SPJ to donate $15,000 from T-shirt sales, plus $5,000 from other sources, to two benefit funds.

I created the T-shirt sales effort in 2017, for a different reason.

Journalists and newsrooms need to do better in explaining what we do, how we do it, and why it matters.

Critics might have a sour opinion of “the media,” yet value principles of the First Amendment.

SPJ’s First Amendment T-shirts are meant to help bridge that gap and shift focus away from a “us vs. them” fight. The goal with the “I Back the First Amendment” shirts (our first design) was to literally get the First Amendment on people’s backs, in public, as much as possible.

There’s now a second design: a “Star Wars” homage — “May the First Be With You.”

Between both designs, we have sold or given as fundraising prizes close to 1,400 shirts in two years. I’ve packaged and mailed most of those from my home, always including a copy of the SPJ Code of Ethics, too.

(Note: Shirts will be sold this year at EIJ.)

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I approach SPJ governance with the same standards I expected of government bodies I covered as a reporter — openness, transparency, easy access to information.

SPJ, as a journalism organization, usually doesn’t hide beyond limits that other nonprofit organizations impose. Still, we too often fall short in ways that hurt our cause and our mission, giving our chapters and other members reason to lose confidence.

I’ve fought for openness within SPJ for years — advance notice of meetings and agendas; recaps of actions by the national board; livestreaming meetings; using social media to share information.

Whenever the national board meets, I usually write a preview of the meeting beforehand and a recap afterward, on the Region 2 blog, with links on Facebook and Twitter. SPJers have told me it’s the most reliable source of information about actions and discussions of the national board.

As an officer, I guarantee a consistent, thorough flow of information and discussion, both ways.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ is a terrific, powerful outlet for supporting journalism — ethical standards, First Amendment rights, championing open government and public records, diversity, practical training. It’s a dynamic resource and a superb network. It connects journalists of like minds and interests and it amplifies our individual voices.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
A few stand out, such as winning an award for an editorial supporting a high school girl who suffered in school for exercising her clear right not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

But I have gotten the most satisfaction in broader ways.

As a reporter, it was both A) telling people’s stories and explaining what makes them tick and B) holding government bodies accountable in big and small ways.

I love love love Sunshine Week projects, publicly testing governments’ openness and transparency. This year, I led a Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association study and multi-part package on police agencies greatly overcharging for documents — for no real reason other than tradition.

As an editor, I enjoy collaborating with reporters to strengthen their work.

[Back to Top]


At-Large Director
(Two-year term)

Choose two

Lauren Bartlett
@LBartlettLAWebsite

Current SPJ offices: Director At Large, SPJ national board; Ethics Committee member.

Current employment: Senior Director of University Communications, University of Southern California.

Previous SPJ experience: Director At Large, 2017 to present; Director At Large, 2010-2012; Ethics Committee member, 2010 to present; Finance Committee in 2011-2012; Communications Committee chair, 2011-2013; Public Outreach Committee chair from 2009-2010; Public Outreach Committee vice chair, 2008-2009; SPJ/LA Board of Directors, 1996-2014; president, SPJ/LA, 1998, 1999 and 2007; UCLA chapter, president, 1984.

Past work experience: Corporate communications, Blue Shield of California; media relations, Southern California Edison; media relations, UCLA; reporter, Los Angeles Daily Journal; The Associated Press, Los Angeles bureau.

Education: UCLA, bachelor’s degree in political science.

Honors, awards and activities: SPJ national, President’s Award for Distinguished Service, 2011; Howard S. Dubin Award Outstanding Pro Member Award, 2001.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: In these tough times for SPJ, we need directors whose resume shows not only concrete action but also a deep understanding of where we've been — so we can chart a path forward.

In my four years on the SPJ board, I’ve led and followed my fellow directors on many important initiatives — from big-picture issues (ethics) to governance issues (board transparency).

After two board members collectively embezzled tens of thousands of dollars, I chaired a task force with the unpleasant role of tightening financial controls so that never happens again. It was a thankless job, but it was crucial. During the last two years I've gathered board consensus and confronted two SPJ presidents to ensure our meetings are on time and transparent. Right now, I'm working with fellow directors to guarantee our search for a new executive director isn't shrouded in secrecy. In all of these things I've tried to gather consensus while doing what was right and be transparent. I haven't always been successful, but I believe SPJ needs those traits right now.

My platform is:
— Increasing public education efforts about what journalists do on behalf of society. With the president’s attacks on journalists, journalism and media organizations, we need to ensure that everyone from school children to senior citizens understand the difference between news and opinion. And knowing the difference between facts and propaganda also is crucial. A strong push for media literacy and partnerships with other journalism organizations and will help us achieve that goal.
— Enhancing SPJ’s good work nationally among journalists and the public as THE authority on journalism matters.
— Keeping the spotlight on the importance of ethics, which are crucial in our ever-changing media landscape.

My broad experience in SPJ, which includes serving as campus chapter president, pro chapter president, national board member and national committee chair, uniquely qualifies me to help the Society achieve its goals.

I ask for your vote to enable me to serve the Society with the enthusiasm I have brought to the organization since my college days.

Profile in brief
In my four years on the SPJ board, I’ve led and followed my fellow directors on many important initiatives — from big-picture issues (ethics) to governance issues (board transparency). My broad experience, which includes serving as campus and pro chapter president, national committee chair and national board member, uniquely qualifies me to increase efforts on media literacy, continue SPJ’s good work among journalists and the public as THE authority on journalism matters, and keep the spotlight on the importance of ethics, which are crucial in our ever-changing media landscape. I know what works and what doesn’t to help the Society achieve its goals. Please visit LaurenBartlettLA.com or follow me on Twitter.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
My broad experience in SPJ, which includes serving as campus and pro chapter president, national committee chair and national board member, uniquely qualifies me to help the Society achieve its goals. In these tough times for SPJ, we need directors whose resume shows not only concrete action but also a deep understanding of where we've been — so we can chart a path forward. With my previous national board experience, I also can provide guidance and stability on the board as the society completes its transition to a smaller, more strategic board.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
I have served on the national Ethics Committee since 2010, and I’m extremely proud of the work we did in 2013-2014 that led to the adoption of the revised Code of Ethics.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I want to see SPJ clearly define itself and excel at those core issues on behalf of its members and all journalists. We can do that by adopting clearly defined goals and creating a path for the Society to focus on those goals, which will come from a long-term strategic plan the board is expected to adopt in the next year. For a long time we have tried to be everything to everyone, and no organization can do that effectively.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ has been my passion since I was 18 and elected president of the UCLA chapter. Its mission is something I have embraced since my college days, and its focus on ethics, freedom of information and diversity I think are more important than ever in today’s challenging times.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
As a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the largest daily legal affairs newspaper in the country, I reestablished the civil courts beat, which had been dormant for more than 10 years. With the nation’s largest civil courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, I regularly delivered important news to a professional community. Not only did I report on important cases heard in the 50+ courtrooms, but also covered the judiciary as a branch of government, coverage lacking in mainstream media in Los Angeles. When there was a shooting in one of the courtrooms, a news analysis I had written the previous year was something many other news outlets turned to for insight because it described the lack of security and other problems at the courthouse.


John Brewer

Current SPJ office: None.

Current employment: President/Publisher, The Examiner Newspaper, Hugo, Okla.

Previous SPJ experience: None.

Past work experience: KITX 95.5 FM, Hugo, Okla; AM 1340 KIHN, Hugo, Okla; KTFX 102.3 FM, Muskogee, Okla; KTNT 102.5 FM, Eufaula, Okla; Hugo Daily News, Hugo, Okla; Choctaw County Times, Hugo, Okla; Choctaw Management/Services Enterprise (Gov't Contractor); Totally Tenkiller News, Vian, Okla; The Wave Runner, Paradise, Okla; Exec. Director, Tenkiller Lake Association, Cookson, Okla; The Examiner, Hugo, Okla.

Education: Hugo High School, Hugo, Okla; Southeastern University, Durant, Okla.

Honors, awards and activities: Chairman, Choctaw County Library, Inc. (3 years); Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Hugo; Vice-Chair, Merchants Cmte, Hugo Chamber of Commerce (4 years); Secretary, Choctaw County Development Assoc. (2 years); Parliamentarian, Choctaw County Genealogical Society (1 year); Member, NRA Golden Eagles; Member, Gun Owners of America; Special Recognition, Hugo Chamber of Commerce 2015; Government Relations Committee, Okla Press Assoc. (3 years); Public Relations Committee, Okla Press Assoc. (3 years); Hugo Lions Club (9 years—7 as Membership Chair & 5 as Projects Chair); Member, National Wild Turkey Federation; Member, Bowhunters International; Member, Whitetails Unlimited; Member, Ducks Unlimited; Former Board Member, Hugo Housing Authority. I love to hunt, fish, golf and work on my 1,040 acre ranch.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I'm seeking this position because I see a deficiency in the leadership of today's media. As the threeyear chairman of Choctaw County Library, Inc., I've witnessed plenty of ups-and-downs. However, the good has outweighed the bad because, in the end, bringing people together in a courteous, professional manner to discuss things calmly and rationally will always bring a better outcome. When I began volunteering with CCLI, we had many differences of opinion (which is good!) but we were able to coalesce. Now, three years on, through our combined fundraising efforts, mutual respect, quick and courteous board meetings and perseverance, CCLI is in better shape financially than ever in its 107 year history, including four employees and one part-time Administrative Assistant to the board. I would love to take credit for this, but the entire board deserves the credit. I'm very pleased and humbled to be part of such an amazing team.

Another reason I'm seeking this position is my desire to serve. I'm a member of Lions Club; our motto is 'We Serve'. I spent five years chairing the annual Hugo Lions golf tournament; each year, enough profit was garnered to help send at least five or six county students to college with the assistance of a Lions Scholarship. Of those few years, I'll always be extremely proud and humbled.

As a Presbyterian, service and education has always been a part of my life. I'm an Elder at First Presbyterian of Hugo. Being elected an Elder and having others perform the “laying-on of hands” was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I'm always amazed at what an awesome God I serve, and I do my best to remember His command, “Love one another....”

Fundraising? I do it daily. Manage budgets? Daily. Manage personnel? Every day. Respect and appreciate my fellow human? Humbly and graciously.

I believe it's time that the premier journalism society in the world has leadership it can trust, respect, rely upon, confer with and have the opportunity to enjoy mutual respect between the board, the staff and all members, past and present.

Profile in brief
John M. Brewer, 39, President/Publisher, The Examiner Newspaper, Hugo, Okla. Active in the community and its organizations. Elder, First Presbyterian Church. Love to hunt, fish and golf. Built a business from the ground up. Chairman of the County Library Board. I spend as much time as possible with my niece and nephews. Enjoy time with my two Yorkshire Terriers, Snickers and Miss Wulfie.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I could “talk myself up” at this point. But I won't; that's not me. Simply put, I strive to fight hard for the organization(s) I represent, while at the same time remaining fair and consistent in the line of business as well as with members and the public. When you are appointed to any type of local board of any significance (in my case the County Library board), you learn quickly to handle a multitude of personalities, questions, concerns, complaints and a plethora of other items. You're also in the public eye daily. Perception isn't everything, but it's 90% of the truth. I'm the best candidate because I know how to reach out to everyone, find a common-ground, common-sense consensus, in a completely ethical and transparent way, so as to keep the organization moving forward in a positive manner.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
I have been a part of an ad hoc group of SPJ members who have been pushing for more transparency from our board, as a whole, as well as regards the search for a new Executive Director. I'm proud to have been a part of this group and proud that so many members, regional chairs, chapters and chapter leaders have stood up and exclaimed proudly, “SPJ deserves better.”

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
My passion has always been internships. Journalism degrees are wonderful; but journalism school teaches you nothing about the “real world” newspapers, magazines, radio or television stations where you may land. I've had a wealth of experience. I had those experiences because someone took a chance on me.

Young people today need to understand that journalism is what we make it. Recently, we've all had a bad rap. We can change that; but it starts from the top and must trickle down. I want to tackle the embarrassing “names” that a handful of journalists have stuck the rest of us with; the lack of trust we have due to their unethical means of reporting, i.e., they lied to put a story out. Bad example for our young people.

I want to increase journalism internships; I want to increase donations for such. I want us to work closely with every Press and Broadcast association which SPJ can to ensure that we usher in a new era of ethical, well respected journalists.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ is important to me because of the ethics it has preached for so long. I have always been proud to carry my SPJ member card in my wallet (I still do!), but I've seen the ethics of journalism eroded the past few years. I fear the same has happened within our organization. I wish I were able to more fully be a part of SPJ Chapter life. However, I live in rural southeastern Oklahoma and a trip to the capital is an 8-hour round-trip. So I stick to my little corner of the state and try to keep ethical journalism alive; I talk to many other publishers daily and we all agree that “professional” and “ethical” must return to journalism. I want to fight for that; I want SPJ to always stand proudly.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
My best “moment(s)” are when I'm in the grocery store or walking down the street to the bank and I get stopped by a reader who says something like, “I loved that story about the kids feeding the elephant at the library”; or, “Mr. Brewer! Did you know that little girl who won the Easter Coloring Contest is my great-niece?”; or, “I appreciate what you said in your publisher's column about the state of the streets in 2 nd Ward.”

But one other “moment” comes to mind: in 2009, I started (along with the help from a retired publisher) The Examiner newspaper in my hometown. I started the paper with $325.00. That's correct, only $325.00, a borrowed computer, and extra space in my dad's “doghouse” room. Today, The Examiner has sales in excess of $400,000.00. Our original gross press run was 400 papers; today it's 2,300 paper. We also offer commercial printing and we're the local UPS Authorized Retailer. To go from a borrowed computer in a borrowed room to our own corporate building in downtown Hugo, I've been extremely blessed.Those, my friends...those are my best moments. The twinkle in the eye of the reader; their appreciation; their happiness with the good, wholesomeness of their hometown newspaper.

My best moment in journalism occurs each day I receive a compliment from one of our readers.


Ivette Davila-Richards

@IDRichards

Current SPJ office: At Large Director.

Current employment: I currently freelance as a Regional Assignment Editor at Fox News Channel.

Previous SPJ experience: I currently also serve as a board member with the local NY SPJ chapter, The Deadline Club, for the past two years.

Past work experience: I previously worked at CBS News as an Associate Producer for over 10 years, and before that at Spectrum—NY1 News as a Multimedia Media Journalist.

Education: I hold a Bachelors in Communications from Bernard M. Baruch College.

Honors, awards and activities: 1. Awarded a Media Fellowship to Israel by Fuente Latina to bring about awareness of the Storytelling of Latinos living in Israel.

2. Awarded a Best Regional Director Award by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: My goal as At Large Director is to increase diverse membership to the organization. I want to bring about Programming that will interest more journalists to join and get involved with their local chapters.

By collaborating with other journalism organizations and promoting the great work that we do, we can increase membership, and also make it more diverse.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I have over 10 years of National Board Experience. I served on the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, first as the local chapter President — raising it to be one of the largest chapters with active membership and Programming Events, later as Region 2 Director — visiting every chapter in the region and cross promoting each chapter's events, to lastly serving as VP of Broadcast where I held the first Latina Summit, and career fair.

I enjoy getting involved in my position, and interacting with the membership for the greater good.

Under the Deadline Club's tenure I have helped bring awareness to our affiliate partners of our workshops and events, while promoting membership.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
As Vice Chair of the Diversity Committee, along with the Chair, I helped change the format and structure to attract more journalists to apply to be a Diversity Fellow. We had more applicants apply this year than ever before. The program we have set for the fellows, during the upcoming convention is set to be incredible.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
One change I would implement if elected is to bring about more collaborative events with our affinity journalism groups.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
The Society of Professional Journalists is important to me because I love journalism and mentoring. Our Regional Directors, along with the National Board are dedicated to the membership and ensuring that educational programming is provided. I love to interact with our members and give back what knowledge I have of the business by mentoring many, and providing job opportunities.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
My best moment is journalism is when a story I've pitched, worked hard to ensure the elements are gathered, logistics is set — finally makes it to air, and makes people think about what they've seen and heard.


Michael Savino

@Reporter_Savino

Current SPJ office: Director At Large, SPJ board.

Current employment: I now work at a TV station, WFSB in Rocky Hill, CT, focusing on state government and on investigative stories. I also help with our coverage of courts and FOI-related issues.

Previous SPJ experience: I am completing my first year on the board of directors, but I have plenty of experience with the organization at the chapter level. I am treasurer of the Connecticut Pro chapter. I have been on the CT Pro board of directors since 2014, serving as president from 2016 to 2018.

Past work experience: I spent the first 12 years of my career working for newspapers, including more than a decade as a reporter. I covered municipal government, state and federal courts, and eventually state government. For the last 18 months in print, I was local and state editor at a local newspaper.

Education: B.S. in journalism and political science from the University of Connecticut.

Honors, awards and activities: I am also currently president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, entering my second term in the roll. The organization is the top lobbying organization in Connecticut for issues related to FOI, open government, and freedom of the press.

I was named to Editor & Publishers “Top 25 Newsroom Leaders Under 35” in April. Other awards and honors include CCFOI’s Stephen A. Collins Award for FOI reporting in 2016, the CT Pro Chapters’ President Award for service in 2015, and several CT Pro chapter awards for reporting.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I have amassed an impressive resume advocating for and helping journalists, especially in Connecticut. As president of CCFOI, I also lead our efforts in protecting and preserving Connecticut’s FOI Act. I also feel that I have done a lot of great work supporting journalism in Connecticut while on the CT Pro board. Now, I want to continue doing these things on the national level. I feel that I’ve found my role on the board as I complete my first year and I’d be a great advocate for SPJ.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
Admittedly, I haven’t caused a noticeable change in my first year on the national board. But as we undergo a long-term strategic plan, I have been advocating for using some of our existing resources (Journalist on Call, #Press4Education) to become a leader in media literacy. Improving media literacy is a crucial step in repairing the relationship between journalists and their audiences. If re-elected, I plan to continue to advocate for this.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
It’s no secret that board relations could be better. Tensions among board members have been the biggest frustration during my first year on the board. I know many SPJ members are also disappointed by our collective behavior. If re-elected, I want to help push for a more collaborative relationship between board members. I also want to make sure we’re practicing transparency and accessibility. With board shrinking, we need to make sure our members are aware of what we’re doing. They also need to be able to share their opinions with us.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
I know it sounds cliche, but SPJ has helped me be the journalist I am today. I never viewed myself as a leader until attending a Ted Scripps Leadership Institute session. Being on the CT Pro board has also pushed me into being an advocate for journalists and for transparency. I’ve been the board liaison to CCFOI, and that’s how I eventually became president. As the CT Pro president, I also knew it was my responsibility to stand with my colleagues when they face adversity. I want to make sure this organization can do those same things for other journalists.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
Obviously being named to Editor & Publisher’s “25 Under 35” list was a great honor. But I’d have to say being elected, and then re-elected, CCFOI president is my top achievement so far. It allows me to advocate for transparency, and people — both journalists and non-journalists — reach out to me for advice. It’s also an honor to lead an organization that has advocated for transparency for 55 years. Past presidents include some of Connecticut’s best publishers, journalists, and even a lawyer who recently became a judge. I’m proud my colleagues picked me to join this list.


Yvette Walker

@ywalker

Current SPJ office: At Large Board Member.

Current employment: Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.

Previous SPJ experience: Member, At-Large Board Member.

Past work experience: Night News Director, The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com; News Editor, The Kansas City Star; Entertainment Editor, The Austin American-Statesman; Asst. Features Editor, The Detroit News; Copy Editor, The Dallas Times Herald; Reporter, The Post-Tribune (Gary, Ind.).

Education: MA in Journalism, University of Missouri; BS in Journalism, Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Honors, awards and activities: Single Story, National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Awards; Vanderford President's Initiative Awards, University of Central Oklahoma; Special Section Honoree, Outlook, Great Plains Journalism Awards; First Place, Online Community Engagement, SPJ Oklahoma; KTA, Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism Honor Society; Award of Excellence, Society for News Design (for redesigned newspaper); Best Special Section, Outlook, Great Plains Journalism Awards; Special Projects award, The Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists; Best Magazine, Oklahoma Association of Black Journalists; Knight Award, Missouri Interscholastic Press Association; Best Column, Kansas City-area Society of Professional Journalists.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I won the one-year at-large board member a year ago, and I quickly learned that is not enough time to do the work that is needed. In just one year I sat on three task force committees, chairing one, and edited our flagship Ethics book. I have engaged in important conversations about where we are headed. I want to continue the work that I have begun in planning for the future of SPJ.

Profile in brief
Yvette Walker has worked in daily journalism for 35 years and recently moved to education for one reason only: to prepare the next generation of journalists in these tumultuous times. Serving SPJ as At-Large Director meshes with her experience in an evolving media world and her goals to help young journalists find their footing on a rocky path. As Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Administration at Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma, she supervises the Student Services office, which houses three Academic Advisers and the Community Inclusion Officer, as well as several student workers. She oversees Gaylord Hall’s technology and works closely with the IT specialists at the College, the Director of Communication and the Director of Development. She teaches the Introduction to Mass Communication class at Gaylord College and is a member of the Diversity Council at OU.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I am the best candidate because I know the news industry and have witnessed transformative times. I have worked with print, online and broadcast news in my career, and now work in educating the next generations of journalists. I have specialized in teaching news ethics and was the Ethics Chair at the University of Central Oklahoma. Now I am Dean of Students at Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma. I understand the difficulty of reporting in small communities as well as large; I have covered crime and features; and I have managed daily news operations. I have covered media issues as editor of the Journal of the National Association of Black Journalists. And as a black woman who has worked in white newsrooms, I understand why diversity is important.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
Learning from the past as we look to the future. As a one-year at-large board member of SPJ, I sat on three taskforce committees — recognizing the 110th Anniversary, of which I am chair, Long-term Strategy and Education.

I edited the latest edition of our Ethics tome, “Journalism Ethics: A Casebook of Professional Conduct for News Media” by Fred Brown.

Also, I have encouraged young journalists to become members and get involved. I see the importance of SPJ. This is an opportunity to bring new ideas and new people to the organization.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
Keeping our eye on the prize. SPJ’s next focus must be on reconnecting with journalists and industry members, recruiting new interest in the organization. What makes SPJ important and how can we work with media partners efficiently? Where is our place at the table? I say it is helping cut through the noise of those who criticize media, funding important efforts to keep journalism free, and training and energizing today’s journalist.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ and our industry partners are the solid foundation to fight against the slippery slope of bad journalism, and to fight those who think we are the enemy. SPJ membership — along with friendship and collegial experiences — can provide that. SPJ has one of the oldest code of ethics in media and is a lighthouse to many (particularly young) journalists needing help making decisions in covering news. Providing this guidance is not the only reason SPJ is important, but it might be the one that has stuck with me the longest.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
The moment that I will always remember is spending a long evening in the home of a Gary, Ind. Family, whose daughter was missing and potentially a victim of a serial killer. Police had found a body in Detroit and a family member flew out to identify it. The family allowed me to stay with them, awaiting the phone call that would say whether or not it was their daughter. It was. I’ve often wondered why they let me, a young reporter, be part of one of the most important nights of their lives. I think it was because they trusted me to tell the story of their daughter — alive or dead. Today, due to the mistrust in media, I’m not sure that would have happened. And that’s a shame. But I’m committed to helping build trust between the public and the news media once again. I believe SPJ can play a strong role in this, and I want to help. Thank you.


Haisten Willis
@HaistenWillis

Current SPJ offices: Member, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee. Member, SPJ Freelance Community. Immediate Past President, SPJ Georgia.

Current employment: Self-employed freelance journalist.

Previous SPJ experience: Member since 2014. Founding member of SPJ Georgia. Chapter board member since 2017, chapter president 2018.

Past work experience: Reporter & Editor, Newspapers of West Georgia, 2011-2014. Editor, France Media Inc., 2014-2016. Freelance Journalist 2016-present. Bylines in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Quill, SB Nation, Atlanta Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, France Media Inc. and Georgia Trend among others.

Education: BA, Georgia Southern University, 2008. MA, Mass Communication & Journalism, California State University, Fresno, 2010.

Honors, awards and activities: Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, 2017. EIJ delegate, 2018. Terry Harper Memorial Scholarship recipient, 2018. Member, Atlanta Press Club and Toastmasters International.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: My mission if elected as an SPJ Director At-Large is simple: to make the organization’s next 110 years just as strong as the first 110, and I ask for your vote in this effort. How do we do this?

– Continue to protect freedom of information. As a member of SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee, I am committed to ensuring that government doings take place in full view of the public.

– Strengthen relationships between SPJ from national to regional, local and hyperlocal, including at-large members not belonging to a local chapter. All can reach me at haisten.willis@gmail.com and (770) 862-4926.

– Commit to telling stories — including our own. At a time when outsiders attempt to define our work and profession, we must define it ourselves and convey that message to the public.

– Grow membership by confidently showcasing the great work we do and the values we espouse, including journalism ethics and professional development.

With your vote, I look forward to joining president-elect Patricia Gallagher Newberry and the rest of SPJ’s dedicated staff and volunteers in leading SPJ into the future.

Last year I led SPJ’s Georgia Pro Chapter as president, and this year I aim to put my skills to work at the national level. Need to know more? Check out HaistenWillis.com or shoot me an email. Thank you.

Profile in brief
Haisten Willis is an Atlanta-based freelance journalist who writes for outlets including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report. He is a member of SPJ's Freedom of Information committee and served as SPJ Georgia president in 2018.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
SPJ's board consists of nine members, and I believe I'm qualified to become one of them based on my past experience and goals for the organization. I've been a chapter president and national committee member, an EIJ delegate and an SPJ contest judge. I am also a freelancer, which is a growing constituency that greatly benefits from our organization. SPJ has gone through turbulent times of late, and I believe I can help stabilize the organization and get it back on track supporting and advocating for journalists.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
My work to date has mostly been at the chapter level. That said, I attended the first-ever meeting of SPJ Georgia in January 2014 and have helped our local group grow from an idea into a functioning organization. We've launched ground-up events, such as an annual freelance job fair which draws nearly 100 attendees each year, and advocacy work including a recent statement denouncing an anti-journalist state house bill which was picked up by news outlets as far away as England.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
SPJ should focus more on advocacy. Journalists are attacked, arrested, intimidated and denied access to public documents on a daily basis. We should become the go-to source for public statements and assistance for under-fire journalists.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
Without SPJ I could not have become a full-time freelance journalist. The group's networking opportunities and freelance community are crucial to my success. It is also a way for me to stay involved with other journalists as a business of one. Journalists should join SPJ for networking, for great programming and for ongoing educational opportunities at the local, regional and national level. I also happen to think SPJ is a lot of fun.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
It is hard to choose a single moment. To me the biggest achievement is actually getting to live and work as a journalist on a daily basis, which many cannot say in today's industry. It is my dream job and one I hope to continue experiencing as my career progresses.

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Region 2 Coordinator
Choose one

Jaymie Baxley
@PilotJaymie

Current SPJ office: None.

Current employment: I am a reporter covering crime, public safety and general news for The Pilot, an independently owned newspaper in Southern Pines, North Carolina. The Pilot was recently voted one of the country’s best community newspapers for three consecutive years by the National Newspaper Association.

Previous SPJ experience: None.

Past work experience: I previously served as Features editor for The Robesonian, a daily newspaper in Lumberton, North Carolina. Before that, I was a general assignment reporter for The Daily Courier in Forest City, North Carolina. Both resource-starved publications were owned by media conglomerates.

Education: I studied mass communications at Methodist University, a private college in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Honors, awards and activities: I have received seven awards from the North Carolina Press Association. These awards recognized multimedia coverage, general news coverage, arts and entertainment reporting and video journalism. I also shared a statewide public service award with my editor and managing editor for an investigative series.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: To advocate for the needs of working journalists who are being insufficiently served by our regional leadership.

Profile in brief
Jaymie Baxley is an award-winning reporter based in North Carolina. He currently covers crime, public safety and general news for The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines. Baxley previously worked at The Robesonian in Lumberton, N.C. He covered arts and was the newspaper’s Features editor. Before that, Baxley worked as a general assignment reporter for The Daily Courier in Forest City, N.C. His byline has also appeared in a handful of national publications.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I am a newspaper reporter in North Carolina, a state that is grossly underserved by the Society of Professional Journalists.

If elected to this position, I would seek to address and advocate for the needs of my fellow working journalists across Region 2. This organization should offer support and resources to reporters, photojournalists, columnists and editors in newsrooms where support and resources are in increasingly short supply.

Earlier this year, I reached out to both our current regional coordinator and state chapter president with a proposal to create an online pool of file photographs, datasets and other shared resources for SPJ members in North Carolina. I volunteered to spearhead the project, but my emails went unanswered.

The regional leadership was similarly silent following the deaths and departures of several journalistic lions in my home state. Such losses should at least merit a brief statement from this organization.

As coordinator of Region 2, I would also work to boost the organization’s presence outside of D.C. — which seems to receive a disproportionately large share of this region’s attention.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I would work to create an online press pool where journalists in our region can share resources with fellow members.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
A framed copy of the SPJ’s code of ethics is displayed on my desk in the newsroom. To me, the document is much more than a best practices tip-sheet. It is a daily reminder of our obligation to the public.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
Earlier this year, I led an enterprise reporting project focused on the plight of homeless residents in Moore County, North Carolina. The coverage inspired an ongoing, community-wide effort to open a homeless shelter in the county, where there is not currently a shelter, and led to the formation of a committee that will conduct the 2020 point-in-time count.


Stephenie Overman
@saovermanWebsite

Current SPJ office: SPJ Freelance Community events coordinator, co-organizer of the Washington, D.C., SPJ freelance group.

Current employment: Freelance journalist specializing in labor and health issues.

Previous SPJ experience: President of the Washington, D.C. pro chapter, president of the New Jersey chapter, co-chair of SPJ national convention in Washington, D.C., COO of national convention in New York.

Past work experience: 24 years as a full-time freelance journalist.

Education: B.S. in Journalism/Political Science from Ball State University, M.S. in Labor Studies from the University of the District of Columbia.

Honors, awards and activities: 2002-2003 Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award, 2019 Dateline Award for business magazine writing.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I’m seeking the Region 2 coordinator office because I believe in the mission of SPJ and believe I can contribute to that mission.

Profile in brief
Stephenie Overman is a full-time freelance journalist who specializes in covering labor/workplace and health issues. She writes regularly for Virginia Business magazine, Next Avenue (Twin Cities PBS national website for people over 50) and numerous trade publications. She’s written for Fortune.com, Salon, WhoWhatWhy, the Los Angeles Business Journal, Washington Post Express, Daily Labor Report and People Management magazine. Overman is author of the book “Next-Generation Wellness at Work.”

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I have experience working with SPJ chapters in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and New Jersey to build membership and put together journalism-related programs. I’ve also produced such programs in cooperation with other journalism organizations, such as the National Press Club and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
I helped update the New Jersey chapter’s constitution.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I’d work to help improve the flow of information about membership and dues status between headquarters and chapters.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
I belong to a number of journalism organizations that I find personally useful, but none of them matches the Society of Professional Journalists in devotion to the mission of supporting the First Amendment and promoting high ethical standards.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
My best achievement is that through all the twists and turns of this frustrating, fascinating business, I’m still writing and getting paid for it.

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Region 3 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Michael Koretzky
@koretzky

Current SPJ offices: Region 3 director, Executive Committee member, Membership Committee member.

Current employment: Debt.com editor in chief.

Previous SPJ experience: University of Florida chapter president (1988), South Florida director (2005-07), national at-large director (2008-10), South Florida chapter president (2011), Region 3 director (2011-2019), and various task forces, project teams, and ad hoc committees in between.

Past work experience: Athens Daily News reporter (1989-90), Sun Sentinel reporter (1990-92), iCE Magazine editor and publisher (1992-94), XS Magazine A&E editor (1994-97), Palm Beach Free Press editor (1998-00), FAU University Press adviser (1998-2010), Jazziz Magazine associate editor and managing editor (2000-08), Globe, Star, National Enquirer copyeditor (2002-09), Money Talks News editor (2010-12), Lifestyle Magazine Group editor (2012-13).

Education: University of Florida (1983-1989), didn't graduate.

Honors, awards and activities: Regional Director of the Year in 2015. In 2012, SPJ president John Ensslin gave me an empty cigar box with one cigar scotch-taped to the top, calling it the "Out of the Box Award." But he never told me what happened to the other cigars.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: For the money. I’ve won SPJ grants to teach ethics with poker, interviewing with zombies, deadlines with Scrabble, and the First Amendment with free food and fake violence. I’ve spent SPJ money in a mosque, a funeral home, a homeless shelter, and a beach motel. I’ve also paid college journalists to violate SPJ’s Code of Ethics and publish a newspaper without computers. Basically, I hate lectures and panel discussions.

Profile in brief
Expelled from Boca Raton Academy (1981) and the University of Florida (1989). Fired from the South Florida Sun Sentinel (1997), Jazziz Magazine (2008), and Florida Atlantic University (2010). Started and sold two magazines, one to the Tribune Company (1991), the other to the one-armed heir to the Listerine fortune (1999). Copyedited and designed for the trashy supermarket tabloids Globe, Star, Examiner, and National Enquirer (2002-2009). Not exactly a distinguished journalism career, but I’ve come to terms with it.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
Because I've done it since 2011, and I've done it well. I spend time and money in Region 3 helping SPJers — and non-SPJers — do whatever journalism programming that tingles their toes. And by "help," I mean spending cold hard cash and handling all the boring logistics so they can do the fun stuff. That's not the official job description, but it's been mine for nine years.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
Not a damned thing. God knows I tried. My last major effort was renaming SPJ as the Society for Professional Journalism. At last year's convention, an SPJ past president accused me of "playing a con game." Still not sure what the sting was supposed to be.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
There isn't one. SPJ doesn't want to change, and I'm no longer enthusiastic about changing it. I will keep taking its money, though.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ gives me money to do programming, and I deeply appreciate it. As risk-averse as SPJ is, it's given me money for programs in a homeless shelter and a funeral home, with zombies and dictators, and for students and pros. But I never ask anyone to join SPJ.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
Surviving this long in the business. I'm a B-list journalist and have embraced it. Five years after my death, no one will utter my name.

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Region 6 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Joe Radske

@JRadske

Current SPJ office: Region 6 Director.

Current employment: News Director, KVRR-TV, Fargo.

Previous SPJ experience: Vice President, Madison, WI Pro Chapter.

Past work experience: News Director, Milwaukee, Madison, Omaha.

Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee.

Honors, awards and activities: Adjunct Professor, North Dakota State University; Board Member, Communication Advisory Board, North Dakota State University; Past President, Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: The work is not done. I am very proud of the active chapters in Region 6. I want to help them continue their great work. I also want to make sure all our of members in Region 6 have the benefit of resources available from SPJ.

Profile in brief
I believe journalism is a calling. I heard the call when I fell in love with writing. I always wanted to tell stories and make a difference. My path has taken from from school in Wisconsin to newsrooms in the Badger state. I have worked as a sports reporter/photographer, assignment editor, producer and now managing the news department in Fargo, North Dakota. Along the way I've worked in newsrooms in Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Omaha and now North Dakota.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
The work is not done. The transition to Regional Coordinator is a chance to build on the work I've done as Regional Director. My SPJ career has been centered on Region 6. I reignited the Madison Pro-Chapter and served as it's Vice President. For the past 10 years I have held a leadership role with the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association, bringing together journalists from 6 states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Right now I am the News Director of the FOX affiliate in Fargo, North Dakota. My goal is to start and/or revive chapters in all the Region 6 states including the Dakotas.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
We as a board with I as the Region 6 Director have accomplished a number of significant things in my time on the board. SPJ has an updated and I believe more responsive Code of Ethics. There is also a grant process that local chapters can utilize to improve their programs. On a Regional level, I've both worked with and learned from some exceptional chapters in the MN-Pro, Madison-Pro and Eau Claire, WI Campus Chapter. My goal is always to be responsive to chapters while looking for ways to grow, revive chapters. That work will continue.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
Our biggest challenge right now is the hiring and integration of a new Executive Director. My input in the process as a SPJ leader will always be to make sure our members are served and our chapters are flourishing. We are also challenged with serving our non-chapter members. It's my goal to continue to reach out to them and to make sure their voices are heard on a Regional and National level.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ is important to me because journalism is important to me. I am very proud to be a journalist. I am proud of my fellow journalists. SPJ is not singular in it's commitment to journalism. It is critical to the survival of journalism. I tell journalists that joining SPJ will provide them the tools for ethical decisions and guidelines to freedom of information. As a member of SPJ you will be on the front lines supporting freedom of the press.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
The best moment is always watching young journalists grow into lifetime journalists. I am the News Director at the FOX affiliate in Fargo, ND and an adjunct professor of Advanced Broadcast Production at North Dakota State University. Both provide me with an inspirational view of young journalists learning the craft and making a difference every day with the skills they've learned.

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Region 10 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Donald Meyers
@donaldwmeyers

Current SPJ office: Regional Coordinator, Region 10.

Current employment: Reporter/Multimedia Journalist with Yakima Herald-Republic since 2014.

Previous SPJ experience: Region 10 director since 2017; Region 9 director 2010-2014; Member of the national FOI committee.

Past work experience: Reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune, 2007-2013; Editorial Page Editor at the Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, 1998-2007; Reporter with the Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, 1993-1998; Reporter with Suburban, East Brunswick, N.J., 1989-1993; Reporter with Daily Register, Shrewsbury, N.J., 1988-1989.

Education: BA in journalism from Brigham Young University; AA in Communications with emphasis on print journalism from Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ

Honors, awards and activities: 2013: Third place in business reporting in the Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists’ annual contest; 2011: First place in spot news in the Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists’ annual contest; 2006: First place in editorial writing in Utah Press Association contest. Received first and second place in editorial writing in Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists’ annual contest; 2005: First place in editorial writing in Utah Press Association contest. First place in editorial writing and second place in columns in Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists annual contest; 2004: First place in editorial writing and personal columns in Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists’ annual contest. Third place in best editorial and best editor’s column categories in Utah Press Association Contest; 2003: Third place for editorials in Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists’ annual contest. Received honorable mention for personal columns in the same contest; 2002: Third place award for coverage of Tom Green polygamy trial from the Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists and the Utah Press Association. Third place Utah Headliners Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists annual contest for editorial writing. First place for breaking news in Utah-Idaho- Spokane Associated Press Association annual contest for breaking news; 2000: Third Place in Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association annual contest for opinion column writing; 1996: Environmental Excellence Award from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII for comprehensive coverage of air quality issues in Utah County; First place for best editor’s column in Utah Press Association’s annual contest; 1995: first place in Utah Press Association’s annual contest for best editor’s column.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I have been an SPJ member for 30 years, and I fully believe in its mission, and I want to continue to give back to an organization that has given me far more than "a bill and a Quill." Also, our region's been through a bit of turmoil in recent years, and while we're getting things back on track, I would like to continue to see the process through and ensure we have strong chapters.

Profile in brief
Donald W. Meyers is a long-time SPJ member and a journalist who has worked at newspapers in New Jersey, Utah and Washington State in the past 30 years. He is also an open-government advocate and wants to make sure SPJ will be the best journalism organization in the country.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I have worked at pretty much all levels of journalism, from small community weeklies to metropolitan dailies. I have also been a chapter and national leader in SPJ, and I understand the challenges our members face in the field, especially in these economically uncertain times, and I will do my best to represent them and help connect them with the resources SPJ has to offer to help in their jobs.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
I can think of two. First, I successfully pushed for national committee chairs to get their registration paid for at EIJ. These people are part of SPJ's backbone and put in as much time as national board members but do it without the stipends. Giving them the option of having a free convention registration was a way to acknowledge that sacrifice and ease some of their financial burdens. The other was helping create the national Black Hole Award to highlight the most egregious violations of the public's right to know. In its first year, the award and the publicity it brought helped get Utah lawmakers to repeal the bill that gutted the state's Government Records Access and Management Act.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I would push for making sure we are known as the foremost advocates for journalists. I believe that is our strong suit, and we need to play to it more. When there are issues about journalism, we need to make sure we are the ones at the barricades, so to speak, pushing for both journalists as well as the public's right to know. I want to hear Meryl Streep telling people to donate to SPJ's Legal Defense fund.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
In an age when we have a president who was weaponized the phrase "fake news" and has declared us enemies of the people, SPJ stands up to defend journalists and establish the standard for our profession.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
When I won a public records lawsuit in Utah. That victory led to agencies from the state's higher-education system to local governments changing their procedures for releasing the names of finalists for top administrative posts.

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Region 11 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Deb Krol

@Debkrol

Current SPJ office: Regional Director, Region 11 [soon to become Regional Coordinator]

Current employment: Freelance journalist.

Previous SPJ experience: Valley of the Sun Pro Chapter — Secretary and Vice President.

Past work experience: I’ve worked in a variety of media positions, including PIO for a state agency [which gives me an edge when it comes to getting other PIOs to share info!], managing a tribal newspaper and editor for museum publications.

Education: Arizona State University — biology and American Studies.

Honors, awards and activities: Metcalf Institute 21st Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists (2019); UCLA/Ethnic Media Services Watershed Reporting Fellowship (2018); USC Annenberg Health Reporting Fellowship (2017); New America Media and The Gerontological Society of America Journalists in Aging Fellowship (2017/2018); SEJ Fellow, Society of Environmental Journalists; SPJ Diversity Leadership Fellow, Society of Professional Journalists; Program Scholar, UNITY Mentor Program, UNITY: Journalists of Color; Valley Leadership, Class XXVIII (2006-2007); Native American Journalists’ Association Tribal Media Awards, Feature Story, Environmental Story and News Story — Several pieces ranging from hard news to human interest features (2017, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009); Arizona Press Club Award, Human Interest Writing (2011).

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I’ve been serving as Regional Director and I enjoy supporting the chapters and members in our far-flung area.

Profile in brief
Indigenous storyteller Debra Utacia Krol is an award-winning journalist with an emphasis on Native issues, environmental and science issues, and travel who's fond of averring that "My beat is Indians." She is an enrolled member of the Xolon (also known as Jolon) Salinan Tribe from the Central California coastal ranges.

Krol's forceful and deeply reported stories about peoples, places and issues have won nearly a dozen awards.

Krol seeks to leverage her extensive journalism experience in Native America and in the mainstream to tell the real story of Indian Country.

With nearly 20 years’ professional experience, Krol has covered topics ranging from how the Tohono O’odham Nation addressed border incursions and Arizona tribal communities’ efforts to deal with Alzheimer’s disease, to how a diverse group of artists, gallery owners and activists worked to create a live/work arts overlay district in downtown Phoenix. Krol's Arizona Indian tourism guides have been distributed across the U.S., and her coverage of the impact of invasive species on Native communities has won her accolades.

Krol has written for Indian Country Media Network/Indian Country Today, High Country News, Huffington Post, The Revelator, VICE News, Winds of Change Magazine (the journal of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society), the Official Arizona Visitors’ Guide and many other publications.

She has also contributed articles and photos to two books, "First Families: A Photographic History of California Indians" (Heyday Books, 2007) and "Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast" (Heyday Books, 2008).

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I understand the region and I’m dedicated to ensuring that all journalists benefit from SPJ programs and policies.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
I’ve been working to help mainstream journalists understand why and how to better report on Indigenous communities.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
Well, this isn’t a board position any longer so I’d just support and advise the board on my region’s needs and issues.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
SPJ supports the First Amendment and journalist’s rights to report and dig into government records; without us, the public would have no idea what their government is up to.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
I guess that would have to be when community members forward my articles as “must-reads.”

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Region 12 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Jennifer Ellis

@jennifersellis

Current SPJ office: President, Arkansas Pro Chapter.

Current employment: Zoned Editions editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Previous SPJ experience: I got my start with SPJ at the campus chapter at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where I served as president for two years before graduating in 2013. I joined the Arkansas Pro Chapter's board of directors in 2015, helping revive the group, and served as vice president in 2016-2017. I have since served two consecutive terms as chapter president and was recently elected to a third. I was the chair of the planning committee for the 2018 Region 12 Life and Death Journalism Conference in Little Rock. I am also a 2011 graduate of the SPJ Ted Scripps Leadership Institute.

Past work experience: I was promoted to Zoned Editions editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about 3 1/2 years ago from special sections in the newspaper's promotions department, where I was a designer/writer for about 2 1/2 years. I worked briefly as a copy editor/page designer at the Pine Bluff Commercial after finishing my bachelor's degree at UALR, where I was a nontraditional student. During my time there, I served for 2 years as the executive editor of the student newspaper, The Forum, and worked as an editorial intern for 8 months at Arkansas Business.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in mass communication, newspaper/magazine concentration, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2013.

Honors, awards and activities: Among my highest honors was winning the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award in the small-chapter division in 2018, the same year Arkansas SPJ took the national Outstanding Small Professional Chapter and Professional Development Circle of Excellence awards. The chapter won the Diversity Circle of Excellence Award the previous year. I have won numerous editorial and design awards. I serve on Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act Coalition and the SPJ chapter’s programming and marketing committees — planning events, designing flyers, handling the chapter’s social media and website, and more.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Award-winning chapters take work. Programs, contests, conferences and the other projects our chapters do don't come together by themselves. I know because I've done the work. My wish is that every member belong to a chapter that is award-worthy. Through communication and collaboration on the regional level, that's possible. This spring, Arkansas SPJ wanted to honor the 50th anniversary of the Tinker v. Des Moines decision that affirmed freedom of speech doesn't stop at the schoolhouse gate. Chapter leadership quickly realized that printing the 1,000 black armbands we wanted was out of the budget, so that's when we decided to go regional in Celebrating 50 Years of Tinker. With a regional grant, Arkansas SPJ got to conduct its program, and other chapters in the region were able to take advantage of the work the Arkansas Pro Chapter did. With a national grant, the chapter also put together a traveling ice-cream social this past year called Get the Scoop ... and Check the Facts, in which speakers shared stories about how they got big scoops, ideas about how to cultivate sources on a beat and the importance of checking the facts. And attendees got to keep a promotional ice-cream scoop. We presented the program at five student chapters across the state. What if more chapters did programs that could benefit other chapters in the region? As regional coordinator, I hope to encourage buying promotional items in bulk to benefit multiple chapters and to facilitate replicating successful events that promote SPJ's mission at chapters regionwide to ease the strain on leaders of planning and marketing programs. That way, every member of Region 12 can be part of an award-worthy chapter.

Profile in brief
Proven leader dedicated to the highest standards of journalism. Champion for the Freedom of Information Act and First Amendment rights. A lover of SPJ and all things journalism.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
Best? I may not be the best. Surely, there is someone smarter, more qualified, better out there, but I’m willing to step up, and I'm a hard worker — I get things done. When I'm in, I'm all in. And I’m all in for SPJ.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?
Most of my involvement has been on the chapter level. I led the reinvigoration of both the UALR campus chapter during my time there and the Arkansas Pro Chapter by establishing a precedent of hosting monthly events and networking opportunities. I also helped raise the bar on the annual Region 12 conference. When I served as conference chair of the 2018 Life and Death Journalism Conference in Little Rock, we saw higher attendance than there had been in years and a robust schedule of sessions. The conference in Nashville this year followed suit with a fabulous turnout and lineup. Not everyone has the ability to attend the national convention, so offering top-notch educational experiences regionally is critical to the development of our area journalists. Let’s keep that going.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?
I want to see more communication and collaboration between chapters and members on a regional level. To do this, I plan to create a Region 12 blog to spotlight our members and highlight the amazing work they are doing, share programming tips and trials, and keep a dialogue going throughout the year. Let’s talk more than twice a year at regional and national conferences. There are plenty of free tools and platforms to make this happen.

Why is SPJ important to you? What do you tell journalists who ask why they should join?
There are some things about being a journalist that are just plain hard. Sometimes only other journalists really understand. SPJ links you with a network of people who get it! But more than that, I appreciate that SPJ offers a plethora of professional-development opportunities, helps guide the practice of journalism with the highest standards through the Code of Ethics, supports journalists with the Legal Defense Fund, FOI and Ethics hotlines, and protects sunshine laws and freedom of the press with advocacy.

What is your best moment or achievement in journalism?
I've always loved a good story — reading one, hearing one, telling one, writing one. As much as I am a fierce proponent of investigative journalism, freedom of information and work that shines a light on the dark spots in our democracy, my daily work highlights bright spots featuring people and community — the stories that bring people together, help us understand one another and motivate us to do better. I’ve told stories that have inspired people to reach into their pockets and donate thousands to causes near and dear to my heart, and for that, I’m the most proud.

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