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Meet the Candidates

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Vice President
Secretary-Treasurer
At-Large Director (two-year term)

Regional Coordinators:   1 - 4 - 5 - 7 - 8 - 9


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


Vice President
Jump to: Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins | Rafael Olmeda

Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins

Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer, educator, author, higher education equity consultant and public relations expert with more than a decade of experience. Throughout her career she has worked as a television news anchor, reporter and producer in markets across the country. She has also produced branded video content and public relations and communication strategies for various companies.

Email: ashanti.blaize@gmail.com
Twitter: @AshantiBlaize
Instagram: @AshantiBlaize


Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

SPJ/LA President, SPJ National Executive Director Search Committee Chair

Previous SPJ Experience:

SPJ/LA Vice President
SPJ/LA Generation J Committee Chair
SPJ/LA Awards Committee Chair
SPJ/LA Region 11 Conference Steering Committee Lead
SPJ National Nominations Committee Chair
SPJ National Delegate Taskforce Member

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

As part of the SPJ/LA board, I’ve chaired several committees, served as vice president and now as president. With the national organization, I’ve served as Nominations chair, a Delegate Taskforce member and now chair of the Executive Director Search Committee. In each of these roles I’ve proven to be a motivational leader with a long track record of success.

In 2021, I helped build a coalition of journalism organizations, media unions and First Amendment advocacy groups across California to get senate bill 98 passed through the state legislature and signed by the governor. The law protects journalists covering civil unrest from being detained or arrested.

My chapter just hosted a very successful in-person regional conference in Los Angeles, attended by 150 student and professional journalists. I used my connections in the industry to help build the conference’s 15 session panels and workshops. I also brought in $6000 in sponsorships and kept costs low by identifying and partnering with a university for the venue. We raised more than $7000 for our chapter’s scholarship fund. Currently I’m creating a regional conference planning guide to be used by future SPJ/LA boards and shared with regions nationwide.

As the chair of SPJ’s Nominations Committee, I developed a series of virtual panels featuring current and former SPJ national board members to demystify the process of running for and serving as an SPJ officer. As a committee, we also created several infographics to help potential candidates understand the requirements of each open position at a glance.

Bio:

Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer, educator, author, higher education equity consultant and public relations expert with more than a decade of experience. Throughout her career she has worked as a television news anchor, reporter and producer in markets across the country. She has also produced branded video content and public relations and communication strategies for various companies.

She got her start working as an intern and field producer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's broadcasting unit, writing business reports for Sun-Sentinel media partner, WTVJ-NBC 4. Her first on-air position was at KFOX-TV in El Paso, TX, where she was a morning news reporter and fill-in news anchor. From there, it was on to the bright lights of Las Vegas, NV where Ashanti worked as a news anchor and reporter for KLAS-TV. There she won her first Emmy award for continuing coverage reporting.

From Las Vegas she went on to work for KXAS-TV NBC 5, the NBC owned and operated station in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX as a news anchor and reporter. While at NBC 5, Ashanti was recognized by the Lonestar Regional Emmy Chapter with two Emmy nominations-- one for news anchoring and another for news writing.

Currently she is a tenured journalism professor at Santa Monica College and the faculty advisor for The Corsair, SMC’s award-winning student-run newspaper. Under her leadership as faculty advisor, The Corsair Newspaper has won numerous national awards, including several Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards, known as the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism. She also serves as an equity coach for her department at SMC, leading two groups of faculty in decolonizing their curriculum and closing equity gaps specifically for Black and brown students.

Ashanti also served as the Assistant Director of Student Media for Loyola Marymount University, advising and overseeing the institution's award-winning student-run television station, newspaper and yearbook. She has also taught journalism courses at USC Annenberg, Loyola Marymount University, UCLA Extension and Richland College.

In addition to her work in higher education, Ashanti is now the president of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In that role, she has had the opportunity to build coalitions with California journalism organizations, media unions and First Amendment advocacy groups in order to lobby the state legislature to pass a bill into law that strengthened press freedoms in California.

Ashanti earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Columbia University and her Master of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Miami.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am the best candidate for this position because I have already accomplished so much as a chapter leader and a two-time committee chair at the national level of our organization, with a long track record of success. I believe in the greatness of our organization and am passionate about our mission. I have no doubt that the best is yet to come for us if we can focus more on what unites us, rather than what divides us. We will always be stronger together and my leadership style is rooted in that mantra.

I became a journalist because I wanted to tell the stories of individuals who felt they didn’t have a voice or platform to share their stories. I became a journalism educator to empower my students, the next generation of professional journalists, to do the same. I joined SPJ because I wanted to do more to ensure the sustainability of our industry and to guarantee journalists are still able to tell those stories and protect our democracy. I’m running for vice president of SPJ because I know I can help position our organization to better support professional and student journalists as we navigate unprecedented changes in our business. As a part of SPJ I have had the privilege to become a free press advocate, pulling together a coalition of journalism organizations, media unions and First Amendment advocacy groups to pass legislation in the state of California that will protect journalists covering civil unrest from being detained or arrested. That same coalition remains in place and we have stood up for journalists targeted by law enforcement officials; and journalism educators and student journalists that school administrators have attempted to censor. This coalition is a template that I know can work at the national level and as vice president, and eventually president of SPJ, I can build the coalitions that will help our organization strengthen press freedoms across the country and advocate for our members both here and abroad.

Serving SPJ is a calling that I answered back in 2017 when I joined the organization and SPJ/LA’s board. I have the ability and desire to do more in service to our amazing organization, and I ask to earn your vote for vice president of SPJ. Please reach out to me with your questions, issues or concerns. I’m here to listen and to make SPJ even better than it already is. I know we can accomplish great things if we do it together!

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

When I served as chair of SPJ’s Nominations committee, I felt as an SPJ member there was a lot of mystery surrounding how to run for SPJ board positions, what the requirements are in order to run for each position, and what is expected of board members once they win an election. I figured if I didn’t know the answers to these questions before reading every line of the SPJ bylaws, then other members might be in a similar position.

With this in mind, I suggested to my Nominations committee that we do a number of things. First, we needed to host several virtual panels featuring current and past board members so they could share why they decided to run for a board position, what that entailed, and what their experience serving on the board was like. This created an opportunity for members to ask questions and get the information needed in order to make a decision on whether to run for an SPJ board position. I also wanted to ensure each session was recorded so the information could be there for future elections and members considering a run for office. We successfully hosted three virtual panels featuring a total of 9 current and former board members and regional coordinators. Those videos now live on SPJ’s election central website and SPJ’s YouTube channel.

Second, I wanted potential candidates to be able to understand the requirements of each open positon at a glance without the need to sift through every line of the bylaws. What I suggested was creating infographics for each open position that highlighted the length of the open position’s term and the requirements each candidate needed to satisfy in order to run for a given position. These infographics have been pushed out on SPJ’s social media channels, in SPJ’s newsletters and on SPJ’s election central website. All of the infographics can easily be updated each year and re-used for future election cycles.

Finally, as a committee we decided drafting a list of frequently asked questions would be very helpful in for SPJ members trying to decide whether or not to run for a board position. We drafted nearly a dozen FAQ’s that now live on SPJ’s election central website.

I’m very proud of the work my committee and I accomplished in making SPJ board positions seem a lot more attainable to all of our organization’s members.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

There are a couple of initiatives I would like to spearhead within SPJ if I'm elected.

First, I would like to build a coalition of national journalism organizations, media unions and First Amendment advocacy groups, much like we have done in California. What we realized on the west coast is that we are stronger together. With a national coalition in place, we would better position our organization to lobby for federal legislation to help strengthen press freedoms in our country; to respond with a collective voice as issues arise that erode a free press; and to collaborate on programming, fundraising and broader initiatives that can help support journalists nationwide and abroad. This coalition could serve as a powerful complement to our SPJ Legal Defense Fund.

Second, I want to host an annual leadership retreat for SPJ chapter and community officers, much like the SPJ Future Leaders Academy. The goal would be to create a space where chapter and community leadership can come together to learn more about fundraising, increasing membership, filing taxes, planning regional conferences and collaborating with other chapters and communities both within and outside their regions. SPJ can serve as a bridge to connect the leaders of all of our incredible chapters and communities to ensure we are truly stronger together.

Third, I would like to collaborate with the SPJ Foundation to help chapters who are 501c6 organizations secure additional sponsorships and donations for regional conferences and even scholarships. In many cases, only 501c3 organizations are eligible to apply for grants. In addition, some individuals and companies are more likely to donate to a 501c3 organization rather than a 501c6 because of the ability to claim a tax deduction.

Finally, I hope to raise money to build a support fund for journalists who are struggling financially or who have been laid off so they may apply for funding to attend SPJ regional conferences and annual conventions. These events are such important ways for journalists to network and attend workshops to build additional skills that can position them to move forward in their careers. This fund can also be used to help journalists who may be struggling financially pay for both national and chapter dues to ensure they can still take advantage of being a part of our impactful organization.

Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ is important to me because of what the organization has become. I didn’t always feel welcome to join SPJ, simply because there weren’t a lot of SPJ members or leaders in the organization who looked like me. When I joined SPJ/LA’s board in 2017, I shared my concerns with my incredible board members and we made a commitment to start with SPJ/LA and recruit a more diverse board. We even had some long-time board members choose to become associate board members to give more diverse candidates a chance to serve.

As my own board started to diversify, I began to see a similar trend with SPJ’s national board. It made me feel like our organization had the ability to evolve and be representative of an increasingly diverse news industry. To see SPJ centering diversity, equity and inclusion at the highest level made me proud to be a part of our organization.

The evolution and diversification of our organization is not only one of the main reasons SPJ is so important to me, it’s also the only path forward for us to consistently achieve the four pillars of SPJ’s strategic plan:

  1. We are champions for journalists.
  2. We are fighters for the First Amendment.
  3. We are stewards for ethical journalism.
  4. We are producers of journalism’s future.

This is who we are and it would be an absolute honor to serve as SPJ’s vice president and eventual president to help our organization reach its full potential.

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Rafael Olmeda

My career as a full-time working journalist began in 1993 at the New York Daily News, where I covered underserved communities in the Bronx, my hometown. In that role I raised awareness about the conditions of public housing projects that were home to the poorest New Yorkers, and I told inspiring stories of faith from the borough's diverse religious communities. I exposed charlatans who preyed on the fear of AIDS patients by promising miracle cures and I started a column that resulted in the apprehension of more than 40 fugitives in five years.

Email:: rolmeda@sunsentinel.com
Twitter: @rolmeda
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/rafaelolmeda
Website: www.rafaelolmeda.com

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

At Large Director

Previous SPJ Experience:

At Large Director, national board (2020-2022)
Served on awards, bylaws, conference planning and freedom of information committees.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

I have been a tireless advocate for diversity, accuracy and professionalism in media. I called out broadcasters and publishers for their unfair treatment of the communities they are supposed to cover impartially, as well as for caving in to agenda-driven partisans falsely accusing professional journalists of bias.

I have served at the highest leadership positions of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and UNITY: Journalists of Color. I have experience developing and implementing strategic plans that elevate associations like ours from where they are to where members want them to be. I am proud of my record of inspiring future leaders of NAHJ and SPJ.

As at-large director, I have spent most of the last two years listening to members' concerns about how SPJ operates, both in the nuts and bolts of decision making and in terms of the messages our actions send to our members and profession.

I have sought to treat every SPJ member with the utmost respect, even when we disagree on particular issues. Where common ground is possible, let us find it and move forward. That has been my record whenever I have had the privilege of serving.

Leadership is about not only finding that path forward, but making the destination clear. I invite you to join me on a mission to make SPJ live up to its potential as an association that stands strong for its members and defends our highest professional standards.

Bio:

My career as a full-time working journalist began in 1993 at the New York Daily News, where I covered underserved communities in the Bronx, my hometown. In that role I raised awareness about the conditions of public housing projects that were home to the poorest New Yorkers, and I told inspiring stories of faith from the borough's diverse religious communities. I exposed charlatans who preyed on the fear of AIDS patients by promising miracle cures and I started a column that resulted in the apprehension of more than 40 fugitives in five years.

In 1999 I moved to South Florida, where I contributed to our coverage of some of the biggest stories in the country, including the 2000 election, the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons and, most recently, the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (for which I shared in the Pulitzer Prize).

My advocacy service began in 2000, when I was elected to the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I served the association for eight years, the last two as president. From there I became secretary and then president of UNITY: Journalists of Color.

In those capacities, I was involved in hundreds of crucial decisions. I wrote NAHJ's stand rejecting partnerships with organizations that declined to recognize LGBTQ rights. When the author of a poorly argued diatribe against diversity won national awards, I wrote our response challenging him to a debate with the then-president of NAHJ. I wrote a policy blocking tobacco companies from using our association to bolster their public image.

I wrote the NAHJ position addressing the use of the terms "illegal immigrant" and "illegal alien" more than five years before a similar measure was adopted by SPJ.

I also pushed NAHJ to become one of the first journalism associations in the country to warn of the threat of excessive media consolidation and advocate for net neutrality. I visited Congress in late 2006 to push for our position on those issues.

After taking time off to devote to my family and career, I returned to service in 2018 with NAHJ and was elected to the SPJ board in 2020.

My wife is a special needs service supervisor for a public middle school. We have two sons and a rotating roster of foster children (we currently have four). I also have two grown stepdaughters and three grandchildren.

I serve because I want all of them to have access to news they can trust, and that can't happen without the advocacy of SPJ in the face of those who oppose our mission.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I've been an advocate for sound, ethical and responsible journalism for my entire career, which spans nearly 30 years. For the entire time, I have been a working journalist, churning out daily stories, meeting deadlines, developing enterprise.

Throughout that time, I have also given back: I taught writing and journalism in college, and I served on the boards of other journalism associations before joining the SPJ board.

I am most proud of the fact that I played a key role in helping develop a strategic plan that encompassed long-term and short-term goals for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I believe SPJ's strategic plan could use a fresh pair of eyes to expand its vision.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

My most significant decision in SPJ came in the spring of 2021, when our board became engaged in an intense debate about whether the 2021 conference would be all-virtual or have an in-person component. Both sides of the argument made fair points. No one wanted to be responsible for putting the health of members at risk, but no one wanted to be wasteful of the $157,000 SPJ would forfeit by canceling its hotel contract prematurely.

I initially voted to forfeit the money, assured that SPJ could absorb the cost.

Two things changed my mind. First, I lost confidence that we could absorb the cost without seriously damaging our financial standing. Second, it became clear that the convention planners, not our members, would be the most inconvenienced if we had to pivot closer to the conference. I was the only board member to change my mind to hybrid, and it was the deciding vote.

As it turned out, a month before he conference, the board became unanimous in deciding that an in-person conference was too risky. We were willing to forfeit the cancellation fee at that stage. Fortunately for us, the hotel agreed with our assessment and waived the fee.

My one vote saved SPJ $157,000.

My other contributions in the last two years have been less visible. I participated in numerous discussions about our awards and offered several suggestions that were incorporated into the planning of the 2021 conference.

Over the past year I have served on the bylaws committee, working closely with the committee chairwoman to develop changes to eliminate the delegate system in favor of empowering all members to weigh in on major SPJ decisions.

I have also submitted a resolution calling on congress to make it a federal crime to target a journalist with violence.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Journalism needs an advocate. For generations, SPJ has been an advocate that speaks to the profession, providing needed continuing education in an environment that changes by the day with new technologies and demands. But our profession is under constant attack, and we need an advocate that speaks for our profession, not just to it.

SPJ is uniquely positioned to be the voice of our profession to the public, a role we have ceded to self-appointed "media critics" who’ve had a vested interest in undermining public confidence in our work for more than 50 years.

It's time we reclaimed the authority to speak for our profession, and we do that by developing a long-term marketing and public awareness strategy. We have none right now. We begin to change that with this election.

Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ is important to me because the truth is important to me. Facts are important to me. And right now we live in a country where the truth has become a matter of opinion and "alternative facts" demand equal time with those that can be documented.

The wrong people have taken on the role of educating the American public about what journalism should be. They have an agenda, and it is the antithesis of what Thomas Jefferson wrote about when he called the free press the guardian of American liberty.

I'm running for a stronger, more visible SPJ that fights for our members and the principles of our profession in the face of dishonest, self-appointed critics who confuse false equivalence for balance.

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Secretary-Treasurer
Jump to: Israel Balderas | Michael Koretzky

Israel Balderas

I'm an attorney, journalist and educator. As an assistant professor of journalism at Elon University, my teaching and research agenda focuses on First Amendment law and media ethics. Prior to my transition into the classroom in 2017, I worked as a TV news anchor/reporter at local stations in West Palm Beach, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina and El Paso, Texas. I also worked as a segment and line producer for FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace and Special Report with Brit Hume. My experience working in Washington, D.C. as a freelance journalist includes The Associated Press Latin America and Reuters.

Email:  newsesquire@gmail.com
Twitter: @jisraelbalderas
Facebook: @jisraelbalderas
LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/israelbalderas
Personal webpage: www.israelbalderas.com
Elon University Faculty Page: https://www.elon.edu/u/directory/profile/?user=ibalderas

 

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

National Board Member, SPJ Legal Defense Fund Committee Chair

Previous SPJ Experience:

I served both the Society of Professional Journalists and the SPJ Foundation as a national board member this past year. As a licensed attorney and chair of the Society of Professional Journalists Legal Defense Fund Committee, I'm responsible for vetting and guiding discussions regarding adding SPJ's support to various lawsuits filed by allied organizations advancing the First Amendment. I also supervise the Society’s financial interests in providing legal and direct financial assistance to journalists involved in litigation.

Wrapping up important work earlier this year, I served as a member of the SPJ Delegate Analysis Task Force. It was created by delegates attending the SPJ 2021 virtual convention last year to explore what level of equity exists, if any, regarding the SPJ delegate system. As a member, I was involved with investigating the various ways we can bring greater representation to the voting process.

Finally, I had the honor and pleasure of volunteering on the SPJ Freedom of Information (FOI) Committee two years ago. FOI serves as "the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation." As part of our service to the larger SPJ community, I worked on a group-led project that highlighted examples of reporting on artificial intelligence and tips for how journalists can find similar stories on such beats.

https://www.spj.org/algorithm/index.asp Not only was I responsible for compiling the story ideas section of the website for this importance resource, but I also was part of a webinar presentation on "Informing the public on the promise and perils of algorithms."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQrkQ-C4DJ4&t=5s

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

As a licensed attorney, I scrutinize the details. This past year, I've been quite vocal at our regular board meetings looking at the budget numbers. Often, I spoke out and raised concerns that the previous executive director was not taking into account how our current inflationary environment could hurt SPJ’s budgetary interests. Fiscal numbers make sense to me, and that is why a year ago I was making the argument that we needed to prepare for tough financial times ahead.

Bio:

I'm an attorney, journalist and educator. As an assistant professor of journalism at Elon University, my teaching and research agenda focuses on First Amendment law and media ethics. Prior to my transition into the classroom in 2017, I worked as a TV news anchor/reporter at local stations in West Palm Beach, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina and El Paso, Texas. I also worked as a segment and line producer for FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace and Special Report with Brit Hume. My experience working in Washington, D.C. as a freelance journalist includes The Associated Press Latin America and Reuters.

Prior to my academic appointment at Elon University, I served as an assistant professor of journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Based on my work as a faculty advisor to the student-led news publication The Beacon Today, I was selected by the Solutions Journalism Network as a 2019-20 LEDE Fellow. My work involved student journalists engaging their community with stories that informed, disseminated solutions stories and elevated untold stories and unheard voices. This work also offered keen insights into how best to teach solutions journalism in the classroom.

As a veteran broadcast journalist, I’ve been nominated for three Emmy awards (one as part of a TV station nomination) -- winning one for Best Continuing Coverage within 24 hours. I’ve also won multiple Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Awards and was named best TV news anchor by the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas. As a journalism professor, I produced a news documentary on the plight of Syrian refugees titled “Four Families in Mafraq.” The film received multiple accolades, including an Emmy®, a Telly, Ava Digital and Communicators awards. The experiential learning student project involved students majoring in journalism, film and intracultural studies who traveled to Northern Jordan to interview families fleeing their country’s civil war.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Anyone who has seen me on YouTube at our regular SPJ board virtual meetings knows that I take my service to the Society quite seriously. I have a fiduciary duty to serve the Board and its members with the highest ethical integrity. That means holding the confidence of our organization – what we do and why we do it - with the best financial and legal interests possible.

So, when I tell you that as Treasurer/Secretary I will carefully manage and scrutinize the financial well-being of SPJ, you know I’ll keep my promise. I’ll make sure our annual budget is properly balanced. I’ll make sure that our bylaws are followed and enforced. I want to work closely with the next SPJ executive director to make sure our expenditures and revenues are realistic and forward-thinking. I see a potential recession ahead, and that means we need to account for every dollar in our account. Simultaneously, I think we can expand our membership base by lowering our annual dues.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As a member of the Delegate Analysis Task Force, I strongly supported and advanced changing the SPJ delegate system. As it currently stands, the delegates – as the supreme governing body of SPJ – vote on bylaws amendments and resolutions. Sadly, the broad membership is not included in this important process, and I question this lack of equitable representation. The mandate of the Delegate Analysis Task Force was to “study the method by which the Society conducts business and whether its methods provide equitable representation to chapters, communities and members who are not affiliated with either.”

One of the many recommendations I strongly supported and advanced was to "Abolish the delegate system and follow the principle of 'one person, one vote' for voting on SPJ resolutions and bylaws amendments and permit all SPJ members in good standing to vote remotely on bylaws and amendments.

You can read the full report here: https://www.spj.org/delegatetaskforce.asp This proposal will now be debated and discussed at MediaFest22.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

The most likely outcome will be that the incoming SPJ board will be responsible for hiring the next executive director. If elected as Treasurer/Secretary, I will make sure:

  1. SPJ hires an executive director who has extensive human resource experience and demonstrated know-how with managing and balancing budgets in a responsible way,
  2. SPJ hires an executive director who comprehends the important role SPJ board members play in managing the affairs of SPJ, and
  3. SPJ hires an executive director who clearly understands SPJ’s mission to both the First Amendment AND ethical journalism.

That means the next executive director will often have to defend both, possibly leading to controversy. I will make sure our executive director has the courage to do just that.

Why is SPJ important to you?

Those working in news face some difficult times ahead. Journalists are doing some of the most important work now, in our nation's history, that strengthen the resolve of our democracy. From covering local politics to holding all people in power accountable, every working journalist may at times feel alone. But we are "the nation's most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior."

Sometimes, that may not be popular, but it's necessary. This is an organization that says, "you are not alone, we've got your back." SPJ is important to me because it brings us all together; to defend one another, yes, but to also lead as an organization by advancing the free-flow of information, and fighting against those that would try to stop us.

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Michael Koretzky

I've been a reporter and editor since 1989, starting and selling two magazines - one to the Tribune Company and the other to the one-armed heir of the Listerine fortune. I've freelanced for both The New York Times and National Enquirer. I've covered a Democratic and Republican national convention, two Space Shuttle launches, and a jazz festival in Istanbul. But my career highlight was Marilyn Manson threatening to kill me because I was the first to report his real name. It's Brian Warner.

Email: michael@koretzky.com

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

Region 3 coordinator

Previous SPJ Experience:

National board: at-large director (2008-2010) and regional director (2011-2019). Committees: Membership and Awards committees (multiple terms). Chapter: SPJ Florida president (2011 and 2022).

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

For all my faults, even those who don't support me have acknowledged that I actually do stuff. Programs happen, work gets done, results are significant.

Bio:

I've been a reporter and editor since 1989, starting and selling two magazines – one to the Tribune Company and the other to the one-armed heir of the Listerine fortune. I've freelanced for both The New York Times and National Enquirer. I've covered a Democratic and Republican national convention, two Space Shuttle launches, and a jazz festival in Istanbul. But my career highlight was Marilyn Manson threatening to kill me because I was the first to report his real name. It's Brian Warner.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

The SPJ board has lately had its share of motivated directors, but it lacks experience and historical perspective. As one of the longest-serving directors in SPJ history, I can offer that without be hidebound. SPJ can animist change, but it shouldn't repeat its old mistakes.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Before I was on the board, SPJ refused to stream its meetings or even post agendas. Chapter of the Year awards were decided by two people, the Wells Key by three people. That's since changed, thank God. But most importantly, the only new diversity program that SPJ has instituted since the pandemic started was mine. The Race & Gender Hotline started as an SPJ Florida and Region 3 project before winning an SPJ Foundation grant and then being adopted by SPJ National: https://www.spj.org/race-gender-hotline.asp

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

To survive, SPJ needs to focus. In our panic to stop the bleeding, we've neglected our chapters – the backbone of SPJ for more than a century. I'l advocate for chapter and community friendly policies – from a database hack to board representation. Details here: https://spjrefresh.com

Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ matters to me because of the untapped potential that's still there. We can be so much more. We can help so much more.

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At-Large Director (Two-year term)
Jump to: Joe Radske | Adam Sennott | Kevin Z. Smith | Peter Szekely

Joe Radske

I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Education began in city schools leading me to the University of Wisconsin. I interned, produced, executive produced and finally became a news director. My path started in Milwaukee, lead me to Green Bay, Indianapolis, Milwaukee (again), Minneapolis, Omaha, Fargo and now Eau Claire. I'm an active member of SPJ, RTDNA, Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association (past president). I volunteer with the Honor Flight. I volunteer my time to help young journalists aspire to being forever journalists.

Email: jradske@spj.org
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-radske-8a96233/

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

Region 6 Coordinator

Previous SPJ Experience:

Region 6 Director (2013-Present), Madison-Pro Vice President (2010-2014) - lead the effort to bring the Madison Pro chapter back.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

I'm a journalist. I'm a teacher. I've worked in a newsroom since I graduated from High School. I've been in the field and in the newsroom. I have also been teaching journalism at several universities in the classroom and in the field. I bring the experience of a Regional Director (when we were on the board).

Bio:

I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Education began in city schools leading me to the University of Wisconsin. I interned, produced, executive produced and finally became a news director. My path started in Milwaukee, lead me to Green Bay, Indianapolis, Milwaukee (again), Minneapolis, Omaha, Fargo and now Eau Claire. I'm an active member of SPJ, RTDNA, Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association (past president). I volunteer with the Honor Flight. I volunteer my time to help young journalists aspire to being forever journalists.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am the best candidate for this position because I have experience serving members at the national level -- previously as a national board member and currently as a regional coordinator. I love working with our chapters and their leadership. With our pro chapters it can be helping them secure a grant to hold an awesome journalism event. With our student chapters it can be building a strong group to start or sustain a chapter.

Regional Coordinators, formerly called Regional Directors, used to be on the national board. Chapters, communities and unaffiliated members deserve a direct connection to SPJ leadership. I will bring that connection back as a Director at Large.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

One of my proudest moments as an SPJ member was rebuilding the Madison-Pro chapter. With the help of SPJ leaders in the area along with journalists from local media, we brought back the chapter. The chapter president was honored by SPJ National as an outstanding chapter leader. We also hosted a weekend in Madison that brought together nearly all of the Wells Key winners.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

Every SPJ board meeting must include something that benefits journalists. If we don't address how the organization is working for working journalists, we're not doing our duty. We also must address the needs of our chapters. Chapter leaders should have a voice in our discussions. I'll work to add that to our agenda.

Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ is journalism. It protects, defends, educates and inspires. Among the names you call me, I am proud to be called a journalist.

 

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Adam Sennott

I am a metro correspondent for the Boston Globe. My byline has appeared in various publications, including the Washington Post, CommonWealth Magazine, Watertown Tab, and the Bunker Hill Community College Magazine. I also served as Editor-in-Chief of Spare Change News, a street newspaper in Cambridge, MA. that focused on homelessness and social justice. In 2014 I graduated from Emerson College, receiving my bachelor of journalism.

Email: sennott.adam@gmail.com

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

President, SPJ New England

Previous SPJ Experience:

Co-Founder of the SPJ Puerto Rico chapter (2022) Chair,
National Membership Committee (2021-present) Chair,
Delegate Analysis Task Force (2022)
Member of the SPJ Diversity & Inclusion Committee (2021)
Member of the SPJ Nominations Committee (2021)
Created SPJ Chapter Strong Leadership Series (2022)
Created SPJ College Outreach program (2021-present)
President of SPJ New England Chapter (Oct. 2019-present)

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

I have excellent organizational skills, which is why I have been successful and leading three groups simultaneously. While serving as President of the SPJ New England chapter, I have also led the SPJ National Membership committee and the SPJ Delegate Task Force simultaneously.

I have strong innovative ideas that have helped me increase membership as the chair of the national membership committee. My creative outreach programs aimed at attracting members have helped increase our membership both on the local and national levels.

I am a visionary, and that skill helped me launch the SPJ Chapter Strong Leadership series aimed at helping chapter leaders around the country improve their leadership skills and grow their membership.

I am fair and open-minded. As the committee chair of the Delegate Task Force and Membership Committee, I have had to juggle different personalities with various opinions. Still, my management style allows everyone to feel they are heard, and the outcome has been positive for SPJ.

Bio:

I am a metro correspondent for the Boston Globe. My byline has appeared in various publications, including the Washington Post, CommonWealth Magazine, Watertown Tab, and the Bunker Hill Community College Magazine. I also served as Editor-in-Chief of Spare Change News, a street newspaper in Cambridge, MA. that focused on homelessness and social justice. In 2014 I graduated from Emerson College, receiving my bachelor of journalism.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have spent the past several years learning as much as I can about SPJ, the issues the organization faces, and the needs of the chapters and communities that make SPJ strong.

As the leader of SPJ-NE I know how rewarding and challenging it is to be the president of a chapter. I know hard it is to recruit new members and keep the ones you currently have.

As chair of the membership committee, I have seen heard about how our student chapters are struggling as they come out of the pandemic. I have also seen how much SPJ desperately needs to continue reaching out to journalism students, who often aren't aware of how SPJ can help them as they embark on their careers.

As chair of the delegate analysis task force, I know how SPJ has gotten bogged down in the bureaucracy of our over complicated governing system. It's taken us away from our mission and caused us to lose focus on what's important to our membership. As a member of the nominations committee, I have seen the challenges SPJ has had in recruiting the organization's next generation of leaders.

As a member of the diversity and inclusion committee, I helped organize a discussion on discrimination Muslims face in the news industry. I have also set up programming to talk about the lack of diversity in newsrooms with the presidents of SPJ, NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, NAJA, NPPA. This is a yearly program SPJ-NE has been holding for three years running.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I want SPJ to focus more on journalism, programming, and issues that are important to our members. As an organization we spend way too much time discussing proposed bylaws changes and who gets to vote for those changes. We need to devote our time to supporting chapters and communities and promoting the great work that they do. We need to do more outreach to college students, so they know the benefits of membership, and actively recruit journalists from newsrooms big and small.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

SPJ MUST get control of its membership database issues. This is the single most important issue facing the organization. If we can't keep track of our members, we can't do anything.

Why is SPJ important to you?

As journalists we all know the challenges facing our profession. SPJ is an organization that will inspire you, energize you, and, most of all, prepare you to tackle the biggest, most impactful stories in your communities and on your beats. SPJ can help you be the best journalist you can be, and then give you the opportunity to pay it forward.

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Kevin Z. Smith

Kevin Z. Smith is the executive director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. In his 9th year at Kiplinger, he directs a global media training program directed at mid-career professionals. Kiplinger's primary focus is its yearly Kiplinger Fellowship, but Kiplinger outreach spans the U.S. and international locations. He has trained journalists in 10 countries. Smith spent 15 years at daily newspapers, 14 years in college classrooms before joining Kiplinger. He is a former SPJ national and chapter president.

Email:  smithk7@ohio.edu
Twitter: @ethicsmith

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

None

Previous SPJ Experience:

Former SPJ president (2009-10), 23-year member of ethics committee, chairman of ethics committee six years (1993-96, 2001-14) during two code revisions, Wells Key recipient (2014), campus adviser at-large (1997), Region 4 director (2006), secretary-treasurer, president-elect (2007-09) SPJ Foundation member for 10 years. Served with Project Watchdog, FOI, finance, resolutions committees; 43-year member.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

I have great familiarity with the board of directors having served on it for six years as a regional director, then as executive officers. I understand committee responsibilities, fiscal duties, membership outreach and the Society's governance and bylaws. I understand our profession inside and out and our many challenges. I know our standards and responsibilities. With a reduced board, experience is key to navigating this organization and a sense of history is relevant and useful.

Bio:

Kevin Z. Smith is the executive director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. In his 9th year at Kiplinger, he directs a global media training program directed at mid-career professionals. Kiplinger's primary focus is its yearly Kiplinger Fellowship, but Kiplinger outreach spans the U.S. and international locations. He has trained journalists in 10 countries. Smith spent 15 years at daily newspapers, 14 years in college classrooms before joining Kiplinger. He is a former SPJ national and chapter president.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I don't know that an ex-president has ever resurfaced to run for a board position and I didn't come to this decision quickly or without deliberation or consultation. SPJ has lost its appeal to many people inside our organization and to the many we should be recruiting. I hear people use words like disconnected and frustrated when talking about SPJ. No longer a foundation member and flexible with my employer, I have the time, energy, knowledge and experience to serve the Society well these next two years.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

1. In 23 years on SPJ's Ethics Committee, I chaired two revisions to our code. I contributed to four SPJ ethics case study books.

2. As president I expanded committee responsibilities and required each committee to undertake a project to further its contributions of SPJ and journalism at large.

3. Under my direction SPJ served as a leading voice to the FCC during its Future of Media Project (2009).

4. Served on a committee which proposed restructured chapter fiscal reporting guidelines and security measures to assist chapter treasurers.

5. Expanded SPJ outreach by adding a student chapter in Qatar.

6. Served as an SPJ delegate on three international junkets (Korea 2, Taiwan)

7. Assisted with the formation of two student chapters as SPJ adviser.

8. For three years I lobbied Congress for the creation of a federal shield law for journalists. I met with congressional members on five occasions.

9. As an officer I visited 20+ chapters in 30 states.

10. I've served as a convention trainer for the better part of 20 years.

11. Though Kiplinger collaboration we were once major sponsors of SPJ's JournCamps.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

1. We need to work more diligently with chapters to bolster membership and assure fiscal solvency.

2. We need to provide a stronger voice of student chapters.

3. Re-examine our relationships with corporate partners who are contributing to the rapid decline in American news outlets.

4. Like with the Future of Journalism project in 2009, SPJ should be be leading the initiative to protect our democracy as we watch our press rights and freedoms being threatened. All hands need to be on deck and SPJ should be steering the ship in many cases.

5. Media literacy should be a priority for SPJ. What would it take to develop a national-level program that could be executed at the chapter levels by our membership? Make media literacy a component of every chapter programming obligation.

Why is SPJ important to you?

I joined SPJ in 1979 in college. I didn't think a lot about it in my first years as a professional. But, once I did, there was no going back. I've committed more than 40 years helping this organization. I have the keys of the president and Wells to show for it. I'm looking to return to the board because I think a lot of members are feeling disenfranchised lately. The enthusiasm for SPJ is waning and we need someone who has a dedication to the Society and a track record of accomplishments to help us return some of our lost luster. It shouldn't be an elder member to make that happen, but it needs to happen. Someone needs to step up and I've never shied away from a challenge or giving my time.

 

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Peter Szekely

The son of immigrant parents, I grew up in New Jersey and was part of the Watergate generation of journalists whose passions were stirred by a display of what good reporting can do and how important it is to our democracy. That's what drove me to dedicate my life to being a working journalist as well as an advocate for them. I'm a long-time former correspondent with Reuters, the international news agency, and a past president of The NewsGuild of New York, a union that represents journalists and other news professionals at top media organizations based in New York.

Email: peasz@yahoo.com

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

Member, SPJ Bylaws Committee
Member, New York City Deadline Club Chapter Advisory Council
New York Chapter Advocacy Chair

Previous SPJ Experience:

President, New York City Chapter (2014-15)
Vice President, New York City Chapter (2013)
Treasurer, New York City Chapter (2010-12)
Assistant Treasurer, New York City Chapter (2009)
President and Treasurer, Northeastern University student chapter (1976-77)

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

As a newcomer to the SPJ board, I would bring a fresh perspective shaped by several decades as a member and leader of SPJ chapters, along with the very relevant experiences of a journalists’ union leader, a member of several executive bodies, and a lifelong career as a reporter for international news agency Reuters.

As president and secretary-treasurer of The NewsGuild of New York, full-time elected positions I had during a leave of absence from Reuters, I led a union of news professionals in America’s media capital from the depths of the Great Recession to the beginnings of a nationwide surge in organizing among journalists. Through it all, I hired staff, negotiated contracts, managed a treasury that grew steadily and led an overhaul of the Guild’s bylaws, as SPJ is now doing. Although I’ve never served on the SPJ board, I know how boards work. As a reporter at Reuters, I did double duty as a Guild activist, serving 12 years as chair of the New York Guild Executive Committee and member of the Executive Council of its parent union, The NewsGuild-CWA in Washington.

All this has given me a unique outlook on how to maximize the advocacy that SPJ needs to provide for its members: to press for access to information at all levels and to do everything in our power to enable journalists to practice their craft safely and free of government restrictions. 

Bio:

The son of immigrant parents, I grew up in New Jersey and was part of the Watergate generation of journalists whose passions were stirred by a display of what good reporting can do and how important it is to our democracy. That's what drove me to dedicate my life to being a working journalist as well as an advocate for them. I’m a long-time former correspondent with Reuters, the international news agency, and a past president of The NewsGuild of New York, a union that represents journalists and other news professionals at top media organizations based in New York.

After working at local newspapers in the Boston area straight out of college, I landed a job covering commodities and energy markets with Reuters in New York, beginning a relationship that lasted more than 40 years. Most of those years were spent in the Washington bureau, where I had an array of beats covering labor, the economy, securities regulation and general assignment stories that took me to every branch of government and most every federal agency. Among the major stories I covered were the 1980s insider trading scandals and stock market crash, a 1990s power struggle at the AFL-CIO and, of course, 9/11.

Along the way, I became an activist with The NewsGuild of New York, which represents journalists at Reuters and other major print, digital and broadcast news organizations, including Consumer Reports, WPIX-TV, The Daily Beast and The New York Times. As a rank-and-filer, I was elected local chair, presiding over the New York Guild’s Executive Committee meetings for 12 years. At the same time, I was also an elected regional vice president of our parent union, The NewsGuild-CWA, and served on its Executive Council. Eventually, I was elected secretary-treasurer of the Guild, a full-time job that brought me back to New York City. As the union’s No. 2 officer and later as its president, I hired and managed a staff of 10, bargained with news organization managers, helped organize new units and saw that our collective bargaining agreements were adhered to. In many ways, being Guild president is like being SPJ executive director, and that will be helpful when the board searches for a new executive director next year. Also, several of the Guild’s founding missions overlap with SPJ’s, including raising the standards of journalism.

After 10 years, I returned to Reuters in 2017, joining the National Affairs staff in New York. I covered major U.S. news stories, including the Covid pandemic, in a journalism world that had changed considerably in the intervening decade, before retiring from Reuters at the end of 2021.

Today, I’m ready for my next act in journalism as my wife and I prepare to move back to our home in Washington D.C. in 2023. With more free time, coupled with my passion for the craft and dedication to SPJ, I’d like to give back once again by serving as an at-large director of the Society that has been my guiding light all these years. I continue to be active in SPJ’s New York City chapter, The Deadline Club, where I previously served as a two-term president. My SPJ roots run deep. It was at Northeastern University, where I was editor of the student newspaper, that I was introduced to SPJ, serving as its treasurer and president and helping to plan the 1977 regional conference in Boston, with headliners that included Pulitzer Prize winners J. Anthony Lukas and Seymour Hersh.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

The breadth of my experience not only as a working journalist, but also as a union officer responsible for representing journalists, would give me a unique perspective on SPJ's governing body. My experience as NewsGuild of New York president, a position akin to SPJ’s executive director, will help me when the national board searches for a new executive director next year. My former job as Guild secretary-treasurer will be another asset as SPJ seeks to balance the budget during turbulent times for the news business and for the general economy.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As a member of the Bylaws Committee, I contributed to two alternative overhauls of the bylaws that will make them easier to understand.  While we were given the task of drafting language to replace our current system of convention delegates with one where members will have the final say in referendums, committee members officially remained neutral on the question. If the delegates decide to retain the delegate system, we offered alternative language that will still strengthen the bylaws.

At the chapter level, as a two-time Deadline Club president, we modernized the entry system of our highly respected awards contest and dramatically increased the number of entries. This gave the Club a more solid financial footing and allowed us to grow our scholarship program. Today we award much as $15,000 annually to journalism students. I currently chair of chapter’s advocacy committee. Most recently, we have work with other groups to exempt journalists from a recently enacted state law that bans the sale of protective gear that journalists need in hazardous situations.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

As an at-large director I would encourage my colleagues on the board to always keep our mission and our relevance in the forefront of our thinking—and to be a forceful advocate in these times when the rights and safety of journalists are often in jeopardy. By focusing more on journalism advocacy — and on helping to amplify the journalism advocacy of the chapters and communities — we would enhance SPJ’s visibility and attract new members. I would also take all necessary steps to get a more error-free membership processing system at SPJ and urge board members to engage with chapter and community leaders on a regular basis so that they are always up to date on the national agenda.

Why is SPJ important to you?

SPJ has been my moral and ethical compass as a journalist from the day I became involved as a student editor at Northeastern University. The SPJ Code of Ethics is unparalleled. I also value the work of SPJ leaders to improve FOIA, to advocate for journalists and to support freelancers and independent journalists who don’t have the benefit of contracts like those I negotiated. At this point in my career, serving as an at-large director on the national board would be the best opportunity that I see to give back to the organization that so many of us cherish.

 

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Region 1 Coordinator

Chris R. Vaccaro

Chris R. Vaccaro is a media executive, professor and author from Long Island. The Emmy Award and Murrow Award winner is Vice President of Digital News at Altice USA in New York. He is also the Director of Graduate Journalism at Hofstra University where he has been an adjunct assistant journalism professor for 12 years. Prior to Altice, Vaccaro was the Editor-in-Chief of The Topps Company (yes, baseball cards!), where he helped build the team’s digital division and launched mobile products. He also worked as an editor at the New York Daily News and Aol. His journalistic work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, Associated Press, The Athletic and more. He is also the author of six books. On the non-profit front, aside from SPJ and the Press Club of Long Island, Vaccaro is also the Executive Director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame on Long Island and on the board of the Italian American Baseball Foundation. He was inducted to the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2022. Vaccaro studied journalism at Hofstra, attended Stony Brook University for his master’s in public policy and has studied leadership in executive education programs at Harvard's Kennedy School, NYU's Stern School of Business, Columbia University's Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He is studying for his doctorate in leadership studies at LSU.

Email: c.r.vaccaro@gmail.com
Twitter: @CHRISVACCARO

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

Region 1 Coordinator, PCLI Board Member

Previous SPJ Experience:

Vaccaro has been the SPJ Region 1 Coordinator since January 2021, and served as the Assistant Region 1 Coordinator from 2015-2020. Additionally he was the SPJ Region 1 Mark of Excellence Chair from 2015-2020. He has been a board member for the Press Club of Long Island (PCLI) since 2010 and served as President of PCLI from 2014-2018. He has served as the awards chair for PCLI since 2010, helped found the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2014 and founded PCLI’s historic studies committee in 2017 to put historic markers at locations of historical journalism significance. He was also co-chair of three Region 1 Conferences in the last seven years. As president of PCLI, the chapter was recognized as National Chapter of the Year in 2016, and runner-up in 2014 and 2015, as well as Circle of Excellence Award winners for freedom of information in 2014 and 2017 and college outreach in 2015. In 2014 he resurrected the student chapter of SPJ at Hofstra University and has served as advisor since. In 2022 he built and launched the first SPJ Northeast Summer Journalism Institute.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

Any coordinator position is about leadership. To collaborate on all projects is the only path forward. I am an empathetic leader who understands how to serve in a volunteer leadership role. I believe in working with others, understanding the landscape of the region, the issues our local chapter leaders face and the points of advocacy that can strengthen the regional and national SPJ and chapter brands.

Bio:

Chris R. Vaccaro is a media executive, professor and author from Long Island. The Emmy Award and Murrow Award winner is Vice President of Digital News at Altice USA in New York. He is also the Director of Graduate Journalism at Hofstra University where he has been an adjunct assistant journalism professor for 12 years. Prior to Altice, Vaccaro was the Editor-in-Chief of The Topps Company (yes, baseball cards!), where he helped build the team’s digital division and launched mobile products. He also worked as an editor at the New York Daily News and Aol. His journalistic work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, Associated Press, The Athletic and more. He is also the author of six books. On the non-profit front, aside from SPJ and the Press Club of Long Island, Vaccaro is also the Executive Director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame on Long Island and on the board of the Italian American Baseball Foundation. He was inducted to the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2022. Vaccaro studied journalism at Hofstra, attended Stony Brook University for his master’s in public policy and has studied leadership in executive education programs at Harvard's Kennedy School, NYU's Stern School of Business, Columbia University's Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He is studying for his doctorate in leadership studies at LSU.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I’ve stabilized trust, communication and leadership in Region 1, have coordinated with national leaders as a key voice, built the first SPJ high school journalism institute in the northeast, raised the promotion and marketing of our pro and student chapters and laid the groundwork and vision for more immediate and long term change in the northeast. I’m looking to provide consistency in the region, while evolving SPJ on a grassroots level.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Debuting the first SPJ Northeast High School Journalism Institute was on of the most fulfilling experiences I've had at any level of SPJ. This past July at Roger Williams University, we worked collectively as a group of six SPJ leaders came together with a vision and executed for the sake of passionate students. We can't wait to do it again next year.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I’d like to see better communication between chapter leaders across the country and not just the northeast. I’ve seen first hand how great it is to have email threads and zoom chats with our region, but I’d like more cross-region communication between regional coordinators and chapter leaders.

Why is SPJ important to you?

I believe in supporting organizations that are bigger than me. I find value in collaborating with other SPJ members around the country to share ideas and help advocate for journalists and journalism collectively. To do that locally was a joy, to do that regionally is a privilege and to do that as part of a national team of leaders has been empowering.

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Region 4 Coordinator

Ginny McCabe

Named "Best Freelance Writer" in 2018, 2021 and 2022, and a Kiplinger Fellow in 2019, Ginny McCabe’s work can be seen in publications like Journal-News and Reuters. One of her books, Secrets Young Women Keep (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins) is an ECPA Silver Medallion winner and has been featured on the CBA Young Adult Bestseller Lists. Ginny is active in the Society of Professional Journalists where she serves the president of the Cincinnati Pro Chapter and as a SPJ Freelance Community board member. As SPJ’s Region 4 Coordinator, she works with professional and student SPJ chapters in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She also serves as the executive director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Email: gmwriteon@aol.com
Website: ginnymccabe.com
Twitter: @ginnymccabe

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

Region 4 Coordinator, President - Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter and Freelance Community Board Member (Secretary)

Previous SPJ Experience:

I have served as the Region 4 Coordinator (for 2, two-year terms.) I have served as a Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter - Board member (12 years;) as prior Secretary (5 years) and current President (Two, 2-year terms.) I also currently serve on the board of SPJ's Freelance Community (as current Secretary.) I have also previously served on SPJ's membership committee. I have led efforts to create a successful freelance program in Cincinnati modeled after the endeavors of SPJ's national Freelance Community. I have also been active in mentoring student journalists and partnering with other local journalism groups such as the Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists, Cincinnati PRSA, and the Cincinnati Police Department, to name a few.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

I am a lifelong journalist and I have served as a freelancer for decades. I am committed to the mission of SPJ and have served the organization in several leadership roles. Along with SPJ's other leaders, my hope is to further SPJ's work, globally, while strengthening chapters, communities and individuals, locally.

Bio:

Named "Best Freelance Writer" in 2018, 2021 and 2022, and a Kiplinger Fellow in 2019, Ginny McCabe’s work can be seen in publications like Journal-News and Reuters. One of her books, Secrets Young Women Keep (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins) is an ECPA Silver Medallion winner and has been featured on the CBA Young Adult Bestseller Lists. Ginny is active in the Society of Professional Journalists where she serves the president of the Cincinnati Pro Chapter and as a SPJ Freelance Community board member. As SPJ’s Region 4 Coordinator, she works with professional and student SPJ chapters in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She also serves as the executive director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Connect with Ginny at www.ginnymccabe.com and on Twitter @ginnymccabe.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

As Region 4 Coordinator, I would like to help further the efforts of the professional and student chapters in the region. I hope to be a resource to aid chapters and chapter leaders as we all work together to achieve SPJ’s goals. The work of a journalist has never been more important and SPJ’s voice is not only beneficial for all of us, but critical in these unprecedented times. Region 4 has many outstanding members and leaders throughout the region, and I’m so happy to be able to further the work of SPJ alongside all of you. I’m excited about the opportunity to further SPJ’s mission. I hope to help strengthen SPJ over the next two years and look forward to furthering the organization’s strategic goals and initiatives.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I am an encourager, a cheerleader and a team player. I’ve been actively involved with SPJ for more than a decade and have worked alongside strong leaders in Cincinnati including Hagit Limor, Tom McKee, Jenny Wohlfarth, and Patti Newberry, among others. I've appreciated the chance to work with regional coordinators and leaders like Jennifer Ellis, Amy Merrick and Lauren Bartlett. I also have built lasting relationships with other SPJ leaders and members throughout the region and on a national level. I believe those kind of relationships have contributed to strengthening SPJ's core initiatives and have led to supporting individual members on a consistent, on-going basis.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

I am hard working, consistent, and I'm willing to go the extra mile to support SPJ's mission and its members. I would like to continue to lend my strengths and abilities to the organization so that SPJ's goals can be achieved in a positive, effective manner.

Why is SPJ important to you?

I have a longstanding, successful career within news, media, and publishing organizations. My experience as a local SPJ leader has allowed me to further my leadership skills, while working hard with other chapter members on many notable programs and events in Cincinnati. Through regional conferences and other SPJ membership-wide events, I have also had the opportunity to get to know and work with many of the chapter leaders and members in our region. I am devoted to SPJ and desire to work together with others on a local, regional, and national level to accomplish SPJ’s initiatives and goals.

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Region 5 Coordinator

Nicole DeCriscio

I spent three years working as a full-time professional journalist in Indiana as a reporter, photographer and paginator before being laid off in 2019. During my tenure at one particular newspaper, the paper was sold twice within a year and a half. I previously served as a Public Relations Manager for an international non-profit, and I now work as an assistant for a local Human Rights Commission. I also freelance part-time and am in the process of starting a non-profit local news organization. My work has also appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Email: nicoledecriscio@gmail.com
Twitter: @nicole_dec
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-decriscio-bowe-05229858/

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

I currently serve as the Assistant Region 5 Coordinator and as a member of the national membership committee.

Previous SPJ Experience:

I participated in SPJ's Future Leaders Academy in Spring of 2022, and I was a small group coach for the inaugural Student Leadership Institute in 2021. I have served on the membership committee since 2019, and I have served as a volunteer for SPJ SMACK (Student Media Aid, Cash and Know-how) since 2016.

I previously was a two-term chair of the Generation J Community from 2016-2018. I am also a two-time participant in Region 3’s Will Write For Food program where I spent two consecutive Labor Day weekends in a South Florida homeless shelter with 20 other collegiate journalists to produce an issue of The Homeless Voice in 36 hours.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

The most important skill that I have, which I believe will allow me to succeed as a Regional Coordinator is listening and relationship building. I cannot serve members and chapters if I am not willing to first listen to problems and new ideas for SPJ.

Bio:

I spent three years working as a full-time professional journalist in Indiana as a reporter, photographer and paginator before being laid off in 2019. During my tenure at one particular newspaper, the paper was sold twice within a year and a half. I previously served as a Public Relations Manager for an international non-profit, and I now work as an assistant for a local Human Rights Commission. I also freelance part-time and am in the process of starting a non-profit local news organization. My work has also appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

As someone who has experienced SPJ as a student, young professional, leader and freelancer, I am in a unique position to have a well-rounded approach that does not neglect any one area of SPJ’s membership. The heart of my work with and for SPJ is education and outreach. I believe these areas not only provide the most tangible benefits to SPJ members, but it also sits at the core mission of SPJ. I have several ideas on how a Regional Coordinator can not only serve current members, but expand membership by educating fellow journalists, the public and elected officials about SPJ and SPJ’s mission.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

One of the SPJ projects that I am most proud of being a part of is the SPJ SMACK initiative. While I did directly benefit from the initiative and allowed my firing as a college editor to be the initial case for SMACK, I was happy to share my story and show that few student journalists have something to lose by standing up for themselves. SPJ SMACK has a mission that I believe in. So often, student journalists face the same amount of adversity as professional journalists but with far fewer options for recourse. SMACK aims to help student journalists fight back.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

The most significant change that I would like to make within SPJ if I am elected is an increase in communication. First and foremost, this communication has to start at the Regional Coordinator level as a whole. Historically, Regional Coordinators served on the national board. When the bylaws changed to have Regional Coordinators no longer on the board, an important element of communication, partnership and accountability was lost. I would like to help create quarterly meetings for Regional Coordinators to check in with one another, share what is taking place in their regions and most importantly be accountable to their positions as Regional Coordinators.

But the need for more communication also extends downward. This includes communication between chapters, to chapter leaders and to members throughout the region. To help facilitate this increased communication, I intend to create a Slack for chapter leaders to brainstorm and network with one another. I also would like to create a Facebook page for the region to help reach members as well.

Why is SPJ important to you?

Personally, I owe much of the journalist I am today and the career that I have had to SPJ either directly or indirectly. When I was a college student, I was removed as editor of my college newspaper for unfounded ethical violations. I was fortunate that a former SPJ board member, a former SPJ ethics chair and other SPJ members were willing to speak out in my defense and offer me support. Of course, not everyone can or should experience what I did, and there's not always the ability to make such a lasting and profound impact on someone's life and career. But, it was a wonderful example of what it means to exemplify SPJ's Core 4 before they were even identified.

That specific experience more than six years ago is what drives me to continue to serve SPJ and its members. As I continue to meet other SPJ members, I am constantly in awe of what SPJ's members are accomplishing, are capable of and how they help support other journalists and journalism.

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Region 7 Coordinator

No candidates at this time

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Region 8 Coordinator

No candidates at this time

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Region 9 Coordinator

McKenzie Romero

From her first experiences writing for the teen section of her hometown paper, McKenzie was caught up in the thrill and importance of journalism. She studied journalism and Spanish at Southern Utah University, where she joined SPJ and attended her first national convention and regional conference. After that, she was hooked!

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com
Twitter: @McKenzieRomero
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/mckenzie-romero
Facebook: facebook.com/McKenzieRomerojournalist

Current SPJ Office(s) Held:

Utah Headliners pro chapter board member

Previous SPJ Experience:

McKenzie has been a member of SPJ since her freshman year of college, holding multiple roles in her campus chapter, including president. She has served on the board of the Utah Headliners Pro Chapter for 10 years, including four as chapter president. She coordinated the adoption of her chapter’s new contest website, and volunteers each year in SPJ’s contest judging swap. She has served multiple years as an SDX judge.

Special skills to serve in the office sought:

McKenzie has worked for a decade for the Deseret News in aa combined newsroom with KSL-TV, KSL NewsRadio, and KSL.com, meaning she understands the needs and experiences of journalists on multiple platforms. She has also been an SPJ member at both the student and professional levels. She has considerable experience running and judging journalism contests. Her organizational skills, innovative thinking and networking connections have proven valuable in carrying out chapter training events and regional SPJ conferences. She is a hardworking servant of the Fourth Estate, well versed in Utah’s records laws, with experience uniting different newsrooms in defense of access for media and the public. She also speaks fluent Spanish.

Bio:

From her first experiences writing for the teen section of her hometown paper, McKenzie was caught up in the thrill and importance of journalism. She studied journalism and Spanish at Southern Utah University, where she joined SPJ and attended her first national convention and regional conference. After that, she was hooked!

Following 18 months of religious service in Guatemala after graduation, she worked in an internship in Washington, D.C., with Hispanic Link News Service before landing a job back home in Utah and joining the state’s pro chapter.

As a reporter for Deseret News in Salt Lake City she covered courts, crime and comic con before advancing to become the editor of the local reporting team. She has also dedicated 10 years to serving on the board of the Utah Headliners Pro Chapter, including four as president, where she focused on providing free and inclusive training to professional and student journalists in the state.

She has championed media access to courtrooms, public meetings and legislative proceedings, including organizing joint campaigns of multiple newsrooms to oppose closures. She represents her newsroom and SPJ among a coalition of local media advocating on First Amendment issues and defending records access laws.

Outside of work, McKenzie enjoys running, rock climbing with her husband, and trying to keep up with her toddler. Please connect with McKenzie on social media!
Twitter: @McKenzieRomero
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/mckenzie-romero
Facebook: facebook.com/McKenzieRomerojournalist

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Through my 14 years in SPJ, in my student and professional chapters, I have gained extensive experience that I can offer journalists in Region 9. I have been deeply involved in planning and leading training events and conferences; championing journalist access to records, meetings and courtrooms; judging and running journalism contests; preparing annual reports for SPJ HQ; and collaborating with First Amendment attorneys and lobbyists on legislative issues impacting journalists.

My passion for journalism runs deep, and I am always looking for ways to lift up others in our increasingly important field.

What is a specific change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As Utah Headliners chapter president, I modernized our contest website. I purchased and set up the new contest system, which was more professional and secure. The new system has helped us grow our contest entries, improve the experience for Utah journalists who participate, and simplify the judging process for the volunteers who review our entries each year.

What is a specific change you would make within SPJ if you were elected?

While not a specific change, I believe we must identify if there is need for change in our post-pandemic world. Under the weight of the pandemic, some chapters in our region — both student and pro — have weakened or been neglected. This is by no fault of our hardworking members, who have been doing all they can to endure on professional and personal fronts. It stands to reason that as so much has changed, the needs and abilities of our chapters may have also changed. I want to connect with our region’s chapters, help them evaluate their status, and identify what help or change they might need. How can we strengthen them, and what’s standing in their way? What challenges can we present to the board of directors and HQ?

Why is SPJ important to you?

I joined SPJ in my freshman year of college, when that year’s national convention was in Las Vegas, just a few hours away in a crowded campus van. The moment I walked into the convention with my new friends from the university paper, I felt my future in journalism come into focus. Packed in that one weekend were classes to learn from, journalists from around the country to network with, internships to apply for, and a promise that as I worked my way up in the industry, I could have the support of an SPJ chapter. That has remained true through my years of membership and my time serving on the Headliners board. SPJ was there for me from the beginning, and I look forward to being involved with the organization for many more years.

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