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Nominations Committee Chair

Lynn Walsh
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Nominations Committee Members

Michele Day
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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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Akeem Muhammad
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Elle Toussi
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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

Q&A with this year’s SPJ board candidates

Region 2 Director Andy Schotz asked each of the candidates to answer a short questionnaire. Here are their replies.

Skip to a position:
President-elect
Secretary-Treasurer
At-Large Director (two-year term)
At-Large Director (one-year term)
Region 10 Director

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.


President-Elect
Currently unopposed

Patricia Gallagher Newberry
@pattinewberryWebsite

Current SPJ offices: Secretary-treasurer, SPJ Board of Directors, 2017-18; member, SDX Board of Directors, since 2015; campus adviser, Miami (of Ohio) University SPJ Chapter, since 2000.

Current employment: Area director and senior lecturer, Journalism Program, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and faculty member since 1997.

Previous SPJ experience: Chair, SPJ Governance Task Force, 2016-17; co-chair, joint Region 4/5 spring conferences, 1990, 2005, 2016; co-chair, Region 4 spring conference, 2014; programming chair, joint Region 4/5 spring conference, president, vice president of programming, treasurer, newsletter editor, board member, Queen City (Cincinnati) SPJ, 1986-1994; president, treasurer, board member, University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter, 1980-83. Also serve as annual judge for Mark of Excellence and Sigma Delta Chi contests each year.


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Patricia Gallagher Newberry. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Past work experience: Freelancer, Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati magazine, 1997-present; business reporter, editor and columnist, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Indianapolis News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Crain’s Chicago Business, 1983-1994; news intern, North Platte Telegraph, Omaha World-Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lincoln Journal, 1980-1983.

Education: Bachelor of arts with journalism major, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1983.

Honors, awards and activities: President’s Award, 2017; Region 4 Campus Chapter of the Year, 2003.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: At a time when the press is under extraordinary attack, I endorse the Washington Post’s 2017 mantra, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Never, in my lifetime, has the press been more vilified. Never has good journalism — and defenders of good journalism — been more important. I seek to be your president-elect to join President J. Alex Tarquinio, Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie and other SPJ volunteers and staff in continuing our important work in promoting and protecting good journalism. I will also devote considerable time in the year ahead to the board restructuring approved at EIJ17 and, even more importantly, a strategic plan for the years ahead. Democracy does, indeed, die in darkness. Journalism provides the light. As president-elect, I am devoted to engaging SPJ in multiple ways to help in that critical endeavor.

Profile in brief
Patricia Gallagher Newberry has been an active SPJ member for more than 35 years. After serving as president of her campus chapter as a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Newberry returned to leadership positions as an officer of the Cincinnati chapter from 1986 to 1994. She has served as adviser to the Miami (of Ohio) University chapter since 2000 and became SPJ Region 4 director in 2013. She also began serving on the Sigma Delta Chi board in fall 2015. In 2016-17, she chaired the SPJ Governance Task Force that recommended reducing the size of the board and creating a strategic plan for the Society. Newberry began teaching journalism at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1997 after 15 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist. Newberry and her husband, Doug, live in Cincinnati with the Best Basset Hound in the World, J.J. Magoo, and, depending when you ask, their three young-adult children. Off-hours, Newberry swims, reads, eats, drinks and sleeps.

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Secretary-Treasurer
Choose one

Matt Hall
@sduncoveredWebsite

Current SPJ office: San Diego Pro board member since 2011; Region 11 director and national SPJ board member since 2014; Bylaws Committee member, Executive Committee member and Finance Committee member since 2017

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

Previous SPJ experience: Former president, vice president and secretary, San Diego Pro chapter; region 11 director and national SPJ member elected in 2014, 2015 and 2017; Ted Scripps Leadership Institute graduate in 2014; SPJ/Google News Lab trainer in 2015


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Matt Hall. Open this interview in SoundCloud

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 was also a columnist and the 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; 2018 Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio University

Honors, awards and activities: Winner of numerous local and state journalism association awards. San Diego Pro chapter president when it was named SPJ chapter of the year in 2015. Husband. Father. Avid reader. Journalism movie buff.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I believe journalism needs experienced, ethical leaders. I believe credibility and creativity matter more than ever in our industry. I believe that a free press isn’t free, that journalism costs money and that less journalism costs society more. I would love the chance to work with you and the public to prove how quality journalism is crucial to democracy. As an SPJ leader, I’ve improved how journalists in the western U.S. communicate with, advocate for and mentor each other. I’ve created media literacy programs and presented them in libraries and classrooms. I’ve championed fiscal responsibility and smart spending for SPJ at the local, regional and national level. Now I want to do more for SPJ, and I have three goals that would make us stronger. I want to increase newsroom diversity, media literacy and journalism advocacy. I ask for your vote so we can do this together.

Profile in brief
Matthew T. Hall grew up in Massachusetts reading multiple daily newspapers as a kid. Then he went to college and worked at a series of newspapers in New Hampshire, covering the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary in 1996, where he once saw veteran columnist Robert Novak picking food off a buffet table while ignoring the same ol’ stump speech from Steve Forbes. Hall thought, “I could do that,” and eventually, he did. After nearly 20 years as a newspaper reporter, he became a columnist at the big city paper in San Diego, writing four columns a week and living the dream. But the journalism gods had other plans for him. He went on to manage the newsroom’s social media and then its opinion team, becoming a national role model for digital opinion journalism and audience engagement. He still enjoys good food, but his ethics are such that he’ll buy his own when getting lunch or even coffee with a source.

Nerissa Young

Current SPJ office: Adviser, Ohio University chapter

Current employment: Associate lecturer, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University

Previous SPJ experience: Chairwoman of Project Watchdog Committee, 15 years on national Ethics Committee including 1996 code revision, five years on Journalism Education Committee

Past work experience: Consultant to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop best practices for reporting on suicide, Business Reporter and News Editor at The (Columbus, Miss.) Commercial-Dispatch, reporter and weekly columnist at The (Beckley, W.Va.) Register-Herald, professor at Oklahoma State University, Shepherd University and Marshall University


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Nerissa Young. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Education: Fellow at Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism Institute at Arizona State University, Journalism and Trauma Conference fellow at Reynolds Journalism Institute at University of Missouri

Honors, awards and activities: Outstanding Region 4 Pro member, David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award, member of Ohio University site team for Electionland’s Sigma Delta Chi award and Online Journalism Award, panelist and moderator at numerous SPJ regional and national conferences

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: One of my goals will be to promote education and discussion about effects of trauma on journalists and the communities they cover. We are losing too many good journalists because we do not let them acknowledge their humanity in how they care for themselves and report with compassion and sensitivity. That lack of compassion and sensitivity is one reason why the public likes to hate journalists. We need to remind the public that journalists are their advocates, not their enemies.

Profile in brief
Nerissa Young has 30 years of experience in radio, magazines, newspapers and journalism education. She grew up on the family farm in West Virginia. Young has taught journalism at Ohio University, Marshall University, Shepherd University and Oklahoma State University. She worked at daily newspapers in Beckley, West Virginia.; and Columbus, Mississippi; and for a mom-and-pop radio station in Hinton, West Virginia. Young brings nearly 30 years of SPJ service at the local, regional and national levels to her candidacy.

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At-Large Director
(Two-year term)

Choose two

Tess Fox
@tesstakesphotos

Current SPJ office: Region 10 assistant director

Current employment: Copy editor/designer, The Bend Bulletin, Bend, Ore.

Previous SPJ experience: President, University of Idaho student chapter 2017-18; Region 10 assistant director, 2018-present

Past work experience: Communications intern, University of Idaho, 2017-18; Creative director, Blot Magazine, 2017-18; Corporate communications intern, Charlotte Hornets, 2017; Sports editor, The Argonaut, 2016


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Tess Fox. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in art and music, University of Idaho, 2018

Honors, awards and activities: First place — Student Investigative/Watchdog Reporting, Idaho Press Club

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: During my term as president of the University of Idaho student chapter, I helped take the chapter from years of inactivity to 17 members and a robust annual report. When recruiting members, I noticed few students knew what SPJ was.

I believe if SPJ is going to continue as a key resource for journalists, the organization has to start engaging with students and young professionals more aggressively.

This is where I come in. My experience building a student chapter makes me the best candidate to help grow SPJ’s profile and establish an SPJ membership as a necessary tool for any young journalist.

In the at-large director role, I would work closely with the membership and Generation J committees to boost membership among young people. Bringing this demographic into the fold establishes another generation of high-level professionals and First Amendment protectors.

In addition, I hope to hear and find solutions to all over problems members encounter.

Profile in brief
Tess Fox graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho. Fox began her love of journalism in high school when she was recruited for her high school newspaper as a photographer. Today, Fox is a copy editor and page designer for The Bend Bulletin in Oregon. When she isn’t working, she listens to podcasts, hangs out with her cat and spends too much time on Twitter. Fox is running for at-large director to encourage young people to get involved with SPJ.


Mike Reilley
@journtoolbox

Current SPJ office: Former SPJ national board member.

Current employment: SPJ digital trainer with Google News Initiative program; visiting professor, University of Illinois-Chicago in data and multimedia journalism. Founder and editor, JournalistsToolbox.org.

Previous SPJ experience: SPJ national board member (2014-15; campus adviser at-large); founder and adviser, SPJ/ONA DePaul; served on several local and national committees; editor of SPJ's JournalistsToolbox.org since 2007 (founded the site in 1997).


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Mike Reilley. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Past work experience: Staff writer and copy editor, Los Angeles Times; one of 11 founding editors of ChicagoTribune.com; editor, national desk, WashingtonPost.com; 12 years as a journalism faculty member at Northwestern University, Arizona State and DePaul University. Journalists Toolbox and SPJ Google trainings.

Education: Northwestern University (MSJ, 1995), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BJ, 1989).

Honors, awards and activities: David Eshelman award for SPJ Campus Adviser of the Year (2013), two-time ONA OJA award winner, student website RedLineProject.org won more than 50 national, regional and local awards. SPJ/ONA DePaul chapter was a two-time national and three-time Region 5 campus chapter of the year.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: With your help, I would like to return to the board and work with Alex Tarquinio and Patti Gallagher Newberry to develop a strategic plan for SPJ. My background is in teaching and training with journalism technology, and I would be a strong advocate for both in formulating the strategic plan. This was something Patti discussed with me when she asked me to run for this position.

In the SPJ-Google program, I've trained more than 3,700 journalists over the past 2 1/2 years. I've visited more than 60 newsrooms and have seen the need for training — fact-checking techniques, data tools, research methods and more. They have never been more important than now with the current state of the news media. This is an area where SPJ can help. This is an area where we as a board can help. This is an area where I can help.

Profile in brief
Mike Reilley is a trainer for SPJ's Google News Initiative program and is a visiting professor in digital and multimedia journalism at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He also is the founder and editor of SPJ's JournalistsToolbox (@journtoolbox). He is a former reporter and copy editor at The Los Angeles Times, web editor at the Chicago Tribune and has worked on the national desk at WashingtonPost.com. He taught journalism full-time for 13 years at Northwestern, Arizona State and DePaul. Mike founded DePaul's award-winning SPJ/ONA DePaul chapter and advised it for five years. He's a graduate of Northwestern University (MSJ, 1995) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BJ, 1989).


Robin Sherman
@Edit_DesignLinkedIn

Current SPJ office: Manager of the Georgia Chapter LinkedIn group.

Current employment: Freelance publication editor, content developer and designer.

Previous SPJ experience: Member.

Past work experience: More than 35 years in journalism/editorial management, e.g. editorial director for a business-to-business (B2B) journalism publisher managing 100 editors/artists on more than publications; daily/weekly newspapers; freelance content developer, editor, designer, consultant; writer of journalism-related articles; conference speaker on ethics, editorial development, editorial advisory board management, digital skills training.


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Robin Sherman. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Education: BA, sociology, The George Washington University; MA, journalism, University of Georgia.

Honors, awards and activities: Georgia Press Association, National Association of Real Estate Editors, launched community radio station.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office:
1) Help our journalism colleagues do their work more effectively. To give back. Journalism is in crisis. I want to help SPJ aggressively improve news organizations’ internal procedures, be transparent and teach news literacy.

2) I have the time to serve. As a freelancer, I’m a volunteer who actually works.

3) Provide ideas based on 20 years with a related journalism association, American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). Served as executive director, associate executive director, board of directors, ethics, research, and program committee chair and newsletter editor.

4) Develop new revenue for programs.

5) Be part of a team developing original research. I’ve conducted research about advertising pressure on journalists, digital training programs by management for their staff and use of editorial advisory boards.

6) Improve Quill magazine. Give it a clearer mission that helps members do their work more effectively, in part by generating more solutions content and presenting it more accessibly — my strong suit.

Profile in brief
Robin Sherman provides freelance editorial and publication design services primarily for business-to-business journalism publishers. Previously, Sherman was the corporate editorial director for a large B2B publisher with more than 30 titles and 100 editors and artists. His primary responsibility was to raise ethical and quality standards, incorporate solutions journalism into the corporate mission, and make content accessible, useful and understandable. Sherman has developed content and design for more than 40 business and consumer publications. More recently, Sherman was the editor and designer of Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metal Fabricator magazine and designer and layout editor of Seniors Housing Business magazine. He’s also worked for daily and weekly newspapers in various news positions. For 20 years, he volunteered in numerous capacities for the American Society of Business Publication Editors, including serving as its executive director, member of the board of directors and chair of its ethics, research and program committees. He even helped launch a community radio station working directly on governance and programming issues and chaired the station’s executive task force.


Mercedes Vigón
@VigonmWebsite

Current SPJ office: None

Current employment: Assoc. Professor & Assoc. Director, International Media Center, School of Communication and Journalism, CARTA, Florida International University, 2001-present.

Previous SPJ experience: Member. Mercedes has taken students to the NAHJ and SPJ conventions, trainings and meetings. Since 2001, she has collaborated with the SPJ student chapter in her role as NAHJ academic adviser. Mercedes also uses SPJ resources in many of her courses.


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Mercedes Vigón. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Past work experience: News Director, Fifth Avenue Channel Net Financial News, 1999-2000. CBS-Telenoticias, Executive Producer, Line Producer, Business News Producer, 1994-1999. Previously, she worked for UPI in the Miami bureau and in the Spanish daily ABC, Madrid.

Education: Ph.D. and Master of Science, Broadcasting Journalism, University of Miami. Master of Arts in the ABC Daily Print Journalism Program, and Bachelor of Information Science, Journalism Track, at the School of Journalism, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.

Honors, awards and activities:
— Takahashi, B., Pinto, J., Vigón, M., & Chavez, M. (2018), Mediating Demand, Degradation and Development. Palgrave MacMillan.
— Director, producer and writer of “Islam and Buenaventura,” a documentary that narrates the experiences of the Muslim community of Buenaventura, Colombia, through interviews with relevant community members and scholars.
   — Funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Research Council (SSRC) and the LACC at FIU.
   — Award of Merit, International Film Festival For Spirituality, Religion, and Visionary (IFFSRV) (December, 2015)
— Director, producer and writer of the “The Story of a Story” a 30 minutes documentary that follows an investigative journalist to Nicaragua. (Funded by the Foundation for Ethics and Excellence in Journalism with support from the Miami Herald and published August 2008 in the IMC Online TV).
— Editor, of a series of articles on Schizophrenia which won the NAMI National Prize NAMI for Outstanding Media for the Education and Public Service provide by a Newspaper in 2003. This series was the final project for the course Advanced Public Affairs Reporting (Chihuahua, Summer 2002). It was published by the daily El Diario de Juárez and in its online version, January 2013 in Mexico.
— Editor of the award-winning book, “Ciudad Juárez, una Frontera en Crisis” (“Ciudad Juarez, Border in Crisis”), published by Ichicult, Mexico, 2004 (Award: Instituto Chihuahuense de la Cultura)

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: It is simple: investigative journalism, investigative journalism and investigative journalism. I believe in the watchdog role of journalism in society; but, I used to be agnostic. I understand why some young professionals have doubts. I have made it my mission showcasing the importance of good independent journalism and contributing to put it into practice. Many journalism students at the university have never experienced a threatened democracy, or when they have, they lacked a clear understanding on the role they could play as journalist to safeguarding democracy. Empowering them, one story at a time, is my main priority.

Profile in brief
For the last 17 years, Mercedes Vigón has been in the School of Journalism, recently renamed as the School of Comm. + Journalism, at Florida International University. It has been a privilege for her. Launching a Master’s program for seasoned Mexican journalists working at Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, leading investigative seminars with Nicaraguan journalists and the Violeta Chamorro Foundation, helping develop a modern election coverage in Paraguay national dailies to make sure the presidential candidates — such as Nicador Duarte Frutos — understood the dissatisfaction of the people with the judicial system, or training independent “citizen/journalists” in Cuba, she has witnessed the transformation of civic societies. Those contributions became small sparks and defenses for democracies.

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At-Large Director
(One-year term)

Choose two

Michael Savino
@Reporter_SavinoWebsite

Current SPJ office: Connecticut Pro Chapter immediate past president

Current employment: Local and state editor, Record-Journal (Meriden, CT)

Previous SPJ experience: Connecticut Pro Chapter president 2016-2018, board member since 2014

Past work experience: Staff writer, Record-Journal (May 2016-present); Staff writer, Journal Inquirer, Manchester, CT (2011-2016); Staff writer, the Chronicle, Willimantic, CT (2007-2011)

Education: Bachelor's degree, journalism and political science, University of Connecticut


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Michael Savino. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Honors, awards and activities: President, Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information (July-present), board member since 2014; Immediate past president, Bob Eddy Scholarship fund (July-present), president July 2016-July 2018, board member since 2014; Stephen A. Collins Award, CCFOI (June 2016) for FOI reporting; Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, board member (July 2017-present); Several Connecticut SPJ awards for reporting and podcasting

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I love that SPJ gives me the chance to me to support and advocate for other reporters and for journalism as a whole in Connecticut, and now I want to do the same on a national level.

If elected as a director at-large, I want to help SPJ become a leader in advocating for the physical and mental well-being of journalists. I have no doubt SPJ will continue to play a role in defending journalists, but I also think we have the opportunity to help our colleagues deal with the stress that comes with doing our job.

Studies have found journalists are as prone to PTSD as police, veterans and others we cover. Similar to what SPJ has done with ethics, I want to help SPJ come up with best practices and establish partnerships with other organizations to establish a hotline and additional resources.

Profile in brief
Mike Savino is an editor for the Record-Journal in Meriden, Conn., where he also continues to do report on stories and produce a daily podcast for the Record-Journal’s website. Prior to becoming an editor, he covered state politics, courts, municipal government and higher education for three newspapers during his 11 years in journalism. He has also carved out a role as an advocate for disclosure, transparency and public access. He was nominated in June to be president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, won its Stephen A. Collins Award for FOI reporting in 2016 and is also on the board of directors for the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government.


Yvette Walker
@ywalkerWebsite

Current SPJ office: None

Current employment: Assistant Dean, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, The University of Oklahoma

Previous SPJ experience: Member. Have used SPJ and Quill resources in classrooms since 2011. Daily user of SPJ Code of Ethics!

Past work experience: Night News Director, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Okla., 2006-2015; Features, News Editor and Ombudsman, The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Mo. 1997-2006


Former SPJ National President John Ensslin interviews Yvette Walker. Open this interview in SoundCloud

Education: Master of Arts, Journalism, University of Missouri-Columbia; Bachelor of Science, Journalism, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Honors, awards and activities: 2016 Feature: Single Story, National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Awards; 2014 Vanderford Initiative Award, The University of Central Oklahoma, Given by the President for Exceptional Initiative in Support of Character, Civility, Community and Leadership; 2014 First Place, Online Community Engagement, SPJ Oklahoma

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Serving SPJ as At-Large Director meshes with my experience in an evolving media world and my goals to help young journalists. I strongly believe in these things:

— That the increasing enrollment in schools of journalism and media means there is a new generation of reporters, creators and visual storytellers who need our help to guide them on firm shores, not the rocky footing we find ourselves on today.
— That scholarship, ethics and values MUST remain the foundation of what we do.
— That our industry must recruit, welcome, encourage, support and promote a diverse group of people.
— That we must encourage educators.
— That news literacy, media literacy and collaborative work across the media disciplines is invaluable and critical to our survival.

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 (OU), 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.

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Region 10 Director
Currently unopposed

Don Meyers

Current SPJ office: Region 10 Director

Current employment: Reporter/Multimedia Reporter with the Yakima Herald-Republic in Yakima, Wash.

Previous SPJ experience: Region 9 director, member of SPJ’s national FOI Committee, FOI Chair William O. Douglas Chapter, past president of the Utah Headliners Chapter, former board member of Utah Headliners Chapter.

Past work experience: Site manager, Utahsright.com 2012-2013; reporter, Salt Lake Tribune 2007-2013; Editorial Page Editor, Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) 1998-2007; Reporter, Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) 1993-1998; reporter, Greater Media Newspapers (New Jersey) 1988-1993.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Brigham Young University. Associate Art’s degree in communication from Brookdale Community College.

Honors, awards and activities: 2013: Third place in business reporting in the Utah Headliners Chapter annual contest. 2011: First place in spot news in the Utah Headliners Chapter contest. 2006: First place in editorial writing in the Utah Press Association’s annual contest. Received first and second place in editorial writing in the Utah Headliners Chapter annual contest. 2005: First place in editorial writing in the Utah Press Association’s annual contest. First place in editorial writing and second place in columns in the Utah Headliners Chapter annual contest. 2004: First place in editorial writing and personal columns in the Utah Headliners Chapter annual contest. Third place in best editorial and best editor’s column categories in the Utah Press Association’s annual contest. 2003: Third place for editorials in the Utah Headliners Chapter 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 and the Utah Press Association’s annual contests. Third place Utah Headliners Chapter annual contest for editorial writing. First place for breaking news in the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association’s annual contest for breaking news. 2000: Third Place in the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association’s annual contest for opinion column writing. 1996: Environmental Excellence Award from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 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 the Utah Press Association’s annual contest for best editor’s column.

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I’ve been an SPJ member for nearly 30 years, and I’ve gotten more out of it than “a bill and a Quill.” It has allowed me to meet with some of the best minds in journalism and be part of an organization that stands for the best in journalism and the public’s right to know.

Serving in SPJ is a way to give back.

In Region 10, we’ve had a bit of a rough time. I have been working with both national and the chapters to bring things back to an even keel, as well as restore trust and transparency to the office of regional director. I would like to continue that work.

I also want to help SPJ uphold the values of our profession during trying times for our industry as a whole. I want to work with our chapters to help serve our members, make their concerns known to national and reactivate chapters.

I will make sure our regional conference is a place where professionals and students can come together to share knowledge, network and inspire each other to do better journalism.

I thank you for your consideration and ask you for your support.

Profile in brief
Donald W. Meyers, who is running for Region 10 Director, joined SPJ almost 30 years ago. He served as a member of the Utah Headliner's Chapter board of directors from 1996 to 2013, holding a variety of positions including president-elect and president, and served on the chapter's FOI and Ethics committees. He was appointed as Region 10 director in 2018. Don also was a board member of the Utah Foundation for Open Government, a coalition of open-government advocates, including SPJ. Nationally, Don has served on SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee and wrote the initial rules for the national Black Hole Award. He also served as Region 9's director from 2010 to 2014. He has worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Utah and is currently a multimedia journalist with the Yakima Herald-Republic in Yakima, Wash. He and his wife, Margaret, have four children who have picked up his habit of reading a newspaper over breakfast.

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Region 1 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Jane Primerano

Current SPJ office: Region 1 Director

Current employment: Freelance

Previous SPJ experience: Member of the Executive Committee, present. President of the New Jersey Professional Chapter, 2012-14. Board member of NJPro since 2004.

Past work experience: Editor of three weekly newspapers in New Jersey, daily reporter, weekly reporter.

Education: Wagner College, BA in English/Secondary Education.

Honors, awards and activities: New Jersey Press Women Communicator of Achievement, 2003. Numerous state NJPW and SPJ writing and photography awards.

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? I have been RD for Region 1 since I was appointed to fill Rebecca Baker's unexpired term in November 2015. I have successfully supervised regional conferences each year, including one in Philadelphia where we are in the process of recruiting for a new chapter or a satellite of Keystone. I hope to have Philadelphia up and running during my term as Regional Coordinator and then focus on forming a chapter or satellite in Upstate New York. I have been active in recruiting members for all of my chapters and helping my campus chapters in any way I can.

Profile in brief
Currently, and for the past several years, Jane Primerano has been freelancing with an emphasis on agriculture and agri-business and, more recently, on lake and water quality problems in northern New Jersey. Prior to that, she worked at weekly and daily newspapers and ventured briefly to "the dark side" as a copywriter at a public relations firm. Prior to her involvement with SPJ, Primerano was involved with New Jersey Press Women (NJPW), an affiliate of National Federation of Press Women. She served as NJPW president for three years and was coordinator of a program called "Adopt an Adviser," which paired pros with high school newspaper advisers. It was the impending demise of NJPW that sent Primerano to an NJPro board meeting because she wanted the chapter to take on what had been NJPW's work with high school journalism teachers. It worked too well and she ended up on the board. Primerano serves as liaison between NJPro and the Garden State Scholastic Press Association, which brings together about 70 professionals and 600 to 700 students each year for a fall conference. One of her passions is working with student journalists, high school and college. Primerano has worked on regional conferences since long before she was RD, so she feels she has become as expert as anyone can in putting them together.

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Region 4 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Paul Kostyu

Current SPJ office: None

Current employment: Associate professor and Chair, Department of Journalism and Communication, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio.

Previous SPJ experience: Member since 1995; President, Central Ohio Pro Chapter (2003-2004); Central Ohio board member (1995-2008); Editor, SPJ National Convention newspaper (2000-2005); Judge in various journalism writing contests sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists (multiple years).

Past work experience: Associate professor of journalism, Ohio Wesleyan University, 2013-present; Statehouse reporter, Cincinnati Enquirer, 2011-2013; Senior Outreach & Education Specialist, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, 2009-2011; Reporter (part-time), Columbus Business First, 2008-2009; Statehouse bureau chief, GateHouse Media, 2007-2008; Statehouse bureau chief, Copley Newspapers, 2000-2007; Associate professor of journalism, Ohio Wesleyan University, 1990-2000 (full-time), 2000-2012 (part-time); Instructor of journalism, Bowling Green State University, 1986-1990; Assistant director of public relations, Bowling Green State University, 1985-1986; News Bureau Chief, layout editor, reporter, Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record, 1978 - 1985; Area news editor, reporter, photographer, The Advertiser-Tribune (Tiffin, Ohio), 1973-1978.

Education: Bowling Green State University, doctorate in mass communication and master’s in popular culture; University College of North Wales, non-degree program in Welsh history and culture; Heidelberg College, bachelor’s in English and biology.

Honors, awards and activities: First Place, Coverage of Environment, Ohio SPJ (2006); First Place, In-Depth Reporting, Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors (2006); Second Place, Single Report, Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors (2006); Second Place, Community Service, Associated Press Society of Ohio (2006); Third Place, national Society of Environmental Journalists (2006); Second Place, Investigative Reporting, Associated Press Society of Ohio (2005); Kiplinger Fellowship in Public Affairs Journalism, Ohio State University (2005); Outstanding Journalism Award, Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers (2005);

Pulitzer Prize nomination for beat reporting (2004); First Place, Use of Public Records, Ohio SPJ (2004); First Place, In-Depth Reporting, Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors (2004); First Place, Single Report, Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors (2004); Second Place, Breaking News, Associated Press Society of Ohio (2004); President’s Award, national Society of Professional Journalists (2004); First Place, Enterprise Reporting, Copley News Service (2004); First Place, Investigative Reporting, Associated Press Society of Ohio (2003); First Place, Enterprise Reporting, Associated Press Society of Ohio (2000); Two-time national finalist for college journalism professor of the year (1998 and 1999); Best faculty research paper for “Nothing More Nothing Less: Case Law Leading to the Freedom of Information Act,” AEJMC, Southeast Colloquium (1993); First Place, graduate division, 1989 Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii/AEJMC Ethics Competition for research paper titled “Doing What’s Right: Teaching Ethics in Journalism Programs” (1989).

Presenter, “Media and Foreign Policy,” Great Decisions series on U.S. Foreign Policy, Worthington, Ohio (May 2018); Presenter, “What Can I Do About Fake News,” Kiwanis Club, Delaware, Ohio (March 2018).; Presenter, “Media and Foreign Policy,” Great Decisions series on U.S. Foreign Policy, Delaware, Ohio (February 2018); Presenter, “Covering the Ft. Lauderdale Shooting,” Central Ohio SPJ annual banquet (April 2017); Presenter, “Accessing Public Records,” Ohio Scholastic Media Association (October 2015); Peer reviewer, National Public Records Project, Global Integrity and The Center for Public Integrity (2015); Presenter, ”Astronomy and Journalism: Covering the Martian Beat,” Astronomy series at Perkins Observatory, Delaware, Ohio (August 2015); Guest speaker, Delaware (Ohio) Hayes High School, journalism students (July 2015);

Guest speaker, “Journalism Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” Willowbrook Retirement Community, Delaware, Ohio (April 2015); Guest speaker, “Libel and the fight for Civil Rights,” Delaware, Ohio, Kiwanis Club (February 2015); Panelist, Journalism Landscape, Midwest Democracy Network (June 2009); Moderator, First Amendment panel, Ohio Wesleyan University (March 2009); President, (2007-2008), Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association, vice president (2005-2006), secretary and treasurer (2003-2004), secretary (2011-2012); President, Central Ohio Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists (2003-2004); Board member (1995-2008); Editor, SPJ National Convention newspaper (2000-2005); Elder, trustee, First Presbyterian Church (multiple years); Presbyterian Church USA delegate to Brazil (2000), South Korea (2007); Assistant Scoutmaster, Chaplain, Boy Scouts of America, Troop 318, Delaware, Ohio (2001- 2006); Church representative to Troop Committee (2008-2011);

Faculty fellowship at National Geographic Magazine, photo department (1999); American Press Institute fellowship at Ann Arbor News (1996); Participant, American Society of Newspaper Editors Institute for Journalism Excellence (1995); Fellow, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla. (1994); Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.; Former member, Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors; Panelist, Ohio State Bar Association seminars about the law and media (multiple years); Director, Technology Summit for Ohio Newspapers, Ohio Wesleyan University, grant-supported (1994); Director, Special Project, Law Division, AEJMC, national convention, Washington, D.C. (1995); Research chair, Law Division, AEJMC, national convention, Atlanta, Ga. (1994); Organized Ohio high school journalism workshop, Ohio Wesleyan University (1993); Editor, Communication Law and Policy Newsletter, International Communication Association (1991-1993); Reviewer of manuscripts for Longman Publishing Group (multiple years);

Judge in various journalism writing contests sponsored by SPJ (multiple years); Panel Moderator: Law Division, AEJMC, national convention, Atlanta (1994); Law, newspaper and history divisions, AEJMC, Southeast Colloquium, Charleston, S.C. (1994); Law Division, AEJMC, national convention, Montreal (1992); Law Division, AEJMC, Southeast Colloquium, Blacksburg, Va. (1987); Judge for refereed papers competitions for AEJMC and ICA (1991-1993); Panel discussant: Newspaper Division, AEJMC, national convention, Montreal (1992); Panel Member, “The Freedom of Information Act: Past, Current and Future,” Bowling Green State University, Mass Communication Week (1991); Ohio Wesleyan University membership: Committee on the Status of Women, Academic Conduct Review Board, Employment Grievance Review, Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, Media Council, Faculty search committees for chemistry, English, politics & government and public service librarian (1991-2000).

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? Over my career as a journalist, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of people — high school students, college students, colleagues, government officials and the general public — in a variety of situations. I see the position of regional representative as a continuation of the dedication I have shown to the profession for 45 years. My interest always has been to educate anyone and everyone about the benefits of a free press in a democracy. The press is under attack now more than perhaps any time in our history. It is vital that we educate people about what it is we do and why. It is also important that we work with colleagues to ensure they have the data and financial resources, knowledge, ethical guidance and support to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. I want to be a valuable resource for them.

Profile in brief
Paul Kostyu tripped into journalism when he graduated from then Heidelberg College (now University). A family friend referred him to the local newspaper, which had just changed hands. They hired him despite a lack of a journalism courses. Kostyu fell in love with the profession and still feels that way 45 years later. This job has led to experiences he never thought he would be exposed to. Kostyu has interviewed presidents and presidential wanna-bes; he’s covered murders and witnessed six state executions, viewed Lake Erie from the top of a tall sailing ship, exposed excessive spending and corruption and wrote stories that changed state laws. And he’s met and written about the most interesting people across the country and in the United Kingdom. Kostyu’s photos of the aftermath of the Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting went worldwide. He has won numerous awards and garnered a Pulitzer nomination. As an educator, he has worked to educate and train generations of journalists, who have gone on to do great things across the country. Kostyu provides them with a firm foundation in ethics, the law, data journalism, reporting and critical thinking skills. He has also talked to community groups about the important role the press plays in society and in their lives.

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Region 5 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Amy Merrick
@amyjmerrickWebsite

Current SPJ office: I am the adviser to the DePaul University SPJ chapter.

Current employment: I teach journalism at DePaul University and advise our student magazine, 14 East, in addition to serving as SPJ adviser. I also write about business for a number of magazines as a freelancer.

Previous SPJ experience: I’ve advised the DePaul chapter since 2015, and we co-hosted the annual Region 5 conference in 2018. I manage our region’s Twitter account, @SPJRegion5.

Past work experience: I spent 11 years as a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal. Before joining DePaul, I was deputy editor of Capital Ideas magazine, published by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. My writing has been published by The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times, among others.

Education: I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University, and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Honors, awards and activities: DePaul received the SPJ Region 5 campus chapter of the year award in 2017. I have twice received the Excellence in Teaching award from DePaul’s College of Communication. I am a member of the College Media Association, the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? Our region is full of outstanding, experienced reporters and news outlets, passionate student journalists learning their craft and committed readers and viewers who support quality journalism and the First Amendment. As regional coordinator, I want to create more opportunities for collaboration, learning, training and conversation.

Through newsletters, online learning and in-person meetings, we can exchange best practices for reporting techniques, ethics and events. I would like journalists in our region who publish high-profile stories to share how they uncovered the news and what they learned during the process. I also want to invite more chapters, both professional and student, to help our region set priorities and plan and promote events.

Our surveys around the regional conference indicated that SPJ freelancers and job-hunting journalists are looking for more support. I would like to match early-career journalists, freelancers and those facing a career transition with newsroom leaders for resumé review and mentorship.

Profile in brief
Amy Merrick is a journalism instructor and the faculty adviser for the SPJ chapter at DePaul University, named the 2017 Region 5 campus chapter of the year. She also advises 14 East, DePaul's award-winning magazine. A former longtime Wall Street Journal reporter, she writes about business, economics and politics for the websites of The Atlantic, The New Yorker and Chicago magazine, among others.

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Region 7 Coordinator
Choose one

Leah Wankum

Current SPJ office: Kansas City Press Club board member, June 2018 - present.

Current employment: Shawnee Mission Post reporter, June 2018 - present.

Previous SPJ experience: Member since November 2013 - present; University of Central Missouri student chapter vice president, January 2015 - May 2016.

Past work experience: Assistant news editor of the Muleskinner, August 2013 - May 2014; managing editor of the Muleskinner, August 2014 - May 2016; editor of Richmond News, August 2016 - November 2017; contributor for Startland News, spring 2018; reporter for Shawnee Mission Post, June 2018 - present.

Education: Bachelor of Science, Public Relations, University of Central Missouri, December 2014; Master of Arts, Mass Communication, University of Central Missouri, May 2016.

Honors, awards and activities: SPJ National Winner, Breaking News (Large Division), 2015; SPJ Region 7 Winner, General News (Large Division), 2015; SPJ Region 7 Finalist, Breaking News (Large Division), 2015; Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics and Integrity: Winner, Graduate Student Paper Competition, 2015; MCMA 3rd Place, In-depth Reporting (Div. 2), 2013.

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? Journalism, especially hyperlocal journalism, is under pressure to evolve as quickly as the society it serves. Yet journalism today is not so different from yesterday; it still means strategic thinking about news outlets as businesses that act in the best interest of their audiences and readerships, delivering accurate, timely news in impactful ways.

Those ways are changing. As a young journalist born and raised in the Midwest, I understand the demands of audiences young and old, and the pressures their news outlets face to stay relevant AND stay in business. My news outlet is thriving under a subscription-based model. That’s not easily done. Media ethics are as important as ever in today’s climate. I believe I have the talent and energy that is necessary to serve news outlets in Region 7.

Together, let’s build a collaborative, positive network built on journalistic values that are just as relevant in the 21st century as they were in the days of the penny press.

Profile in brief
Leah Wankum is a reporter for the Shawnee Mission Post, covering Shawnee, Mission and Merriam, Kansas. She's a native mid-Missourian with a master's degree in mass communication from the University of Central Missouri. Her studies have primarily focused on media ethics and digital storytelling. Leah has a hyperlocal news background out of rural Missouri, Kansas City and the Shawnee Mission area. When she's not writing or taking pictures, she's curled up with a good book and a cuppa Joe or playing fetch with her cat, 50 Cent.

Katelyn Mary Skaggs
@KM_Skaggs

Current SPJ office: Assistant director of region 7.

Current employment: Currently, the News Editor for Southeast Arrow, the student-run newspaper on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. I will be a reporter for the Jefferson County Leader starting in January.

Previous SPJ experience: I joined SPJ in 2015 and have been very active with my campus chapter and local professional chapters. I am currently serving as assistant director for region seven.

Past work experience: I have been the News Editor for the Arrow, the student-run newspaper on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University, since October 2016. I have freelanced in the St. Louis area and completed summer internships with Current News Journal and the Jefferson County Leader.

Education: I will be graduating with my bachelor's in December from Southeast Missouri State University.

Honors, awards and activities: I was the 2017 to 2018 Missouri College Media Association President.

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? I am about to graduate with my bachelor's degree and I think I could best serve region seven by bringing student and professional journalists together. Professional journalists have so much to share and teach about journalism and telling compelling stories, while many student journalists have lots to share about growing technology and social media. I would love to see both groups come together and share ideas and wisdom. I would like to see region seven plan more education activities across the region with both groups. (I have always believed learning should never stop.) I would like to help chapters across the region make their education resources available to everyone, which can be done by livestreaming educational activities or sharing resources on a group Facebook page.

Profile in brief
Katelyn Mary Skaggs grew up in Jefferson County, Missouri and found her passion for journalism while in high school. Her high school newspaper did not have the first amendment right almost all newspapers have because of being a private school. She learned fast how important the first amendment is and now is a strong supporter of it. She started attending Southeast Missouri State University in August 2015 as a journalism major and will graduate this December with her Bachelor's degree. She became active in SPJ as a freshman in college and have been very involved in both professional and students chapter since 2015.

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Region 8 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Kathryn Jones
@kajones1956LinkedIn

Current SPJ office: Adviser, Tarleton State University SPJ chapter.

Current employment: Instructor of Journalism, Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas (2014-present); contributing editor, Texas Monthly (2004-present); freelance writer, The New York Times (1993-present); independent author.

Previous SPJ experience: Served as vice president of the Trinity University campus chapter. Guest speaker at SPJ functions. Helped coordinate the 2016 Region 8 conference held at Tarleton.

Past work experience: Staff writer, The Dallas Morning News (1986-1991), Dallas Times Herald (1984-1986), Harte-Hanks Austin Bureau (1981), Corpus Christi Caller-Times (1979-1981); writer-at-large, Texas Monthly (2000-2003); editor, Glen Rose Reporter (2010-2012); adjunct instructor of journalism, Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas (2002-2004); freelance writer for numerous newspapers, magazines and online news sites.

Education: Master of Liberal Arts, Southern Methodist University, 2000; Bachelor of Arts, journalism and English, Trinity University, 1979.

Honors, awards and activities: Texas Institute of Letters council member (2017-2018); fellow, Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University (2013); Nancy Monson Award from Texas Press Association and Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas for promoting open government (2011); “Journalist of the Year,” West Texas Press Association (2010 and 2012).

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? Journalism is under attack as never before. Journalists’ ethics, accuracy and fairness receive intense scrutiny from those in power who want to undermine our credibility. SPJ is the guiding light for journalists in this changing, volatile environment. I can best serve this region by being visible, visiting every professional and university chapter and being an active advocate for journalists, whether they are working professionals or student journalists.

Profile in brief
Kathryn Jones first became involved in SPJ as vice president of the Trinity University campus chapter in the late 1970s. She spent more than 30 years as a newspaper and magazine reporter, editor and columnist for organizations such as The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times and Texas Monthly magazine, and continues to write for newspapers and magazines and to author books. Jones began teaching journalism as an adjunct at the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas and now teaches full time at Tarleton State University. She and her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and fellow teacher Dan Malone, live on a ranch southwest of Fort Worth where they raise Texas Longhorns and wine grapes.

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Region 9 Coordinator
Choose one

Ed Otte

Current SPJ office: Region 9 Director

Current employment: Retired

Previous SPJ experience: Elected to SPJ Board of Directors in 2016. Served on Regional Fund Task Force. Attended Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in July 2016 in Denver. President of SPJ Colorado Pro board 2014-2016. SPJ member since 1989.

Past work experience: Retired in August 2010 after serving for 15 years as executive director of the Colorado Press Association. Previously worked at newspapers in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

Education: Adams State College (now University), Alamosa, CO

Honors, awards and activities: In 2004, the Colorado High School Press Association (now Colorado Student Media Association) gave Otte its Friend of Scholastic Journalism award "in appreciation of his work to improve journalism education." On Aug. 26, 2010, the governor signed a proclamation declaring the date Ed Otte Day in Colorado, citing his journalism accomplishments. In February 2011, received the CPA Friend of the First Award "in recognition of his commitment to a free press and the public's right to know." Otte was adjunct journalism faculty at Colorado State University (1991-1995) and served on journalism advisory boards at Metro State College-Denver (now University), University of Colorado-Boulder and Community College of Denver. He also served as president of Colorado Associated Press Editors & Reporters in 1992 and on the CPA board of directors (1993-95)

How do you think you can best serve this region for SPJ and local journalists? As regional coordinator, I will continue working with Region 9 pro and college chapters on membership and programming, and with state chapters on regional conferences.

Profile in brief
Ed Otte is a candidate for Regional Coordinator in Region 9 after serving a two-year term as Regional Director. Prior to the RD position, he was president of the Colorado Pro chapter board.


Rhett Wilkinson
@rhettritesWebsite

Current SPJ office: N/A

Current employment: Chronicle Progress, freelance

Previous SPJ experience: Member

Past work experience: The Inquisitr, Bleacher Report, Patch, Vote Smart, City Weekly, Medium publications (ami), Deseret News, steemit, HubPages, Good Men Project, Utah Policy Daily, Standard-Examiner, Aggie BluePrint, Rocket-Miner, Daily Herald, Thought Catalog, Philipsburg Mail, Utah Stories

Education: BS journalism; area certificate (public & social affairs)

Honors, awards and activities: 12-time award-winner from the Society of Professional Journalists & Religion Newswriters Association over just four years; Washington Post Advisory Panel member; Society of Professional Journalists judge. Featured in Liberalis magazine, on NPR affiliate KSJD

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I would like to help in having the SPJ visit campuses and inspire students to do journalism. The key is getting at the heart of the issue of journalism in decline. That is through influencing the hearts and minds of the people who are determining what to do with their lives.

Field representatives could do this work, or I would do it if there were not enough resources for that. (And even with field representatives, I would probably still do it.) My work schedule allows it since I can work — and take off time — whenever I want.

I also would want to be an ambassador of a program for free memberships for students entering college. These would last a year to two years, long enough for the students to make a decision on their major while also not binding SPJ to costs of doing that too long. This could also allow for SPJ to save money by doing this in lieu of scholarships.

I have already volunteered for journalism — and doing so even when I have been between journalism jobs and was wearing a cast for more than a year, which was for writing a lot. I co-founded a magazine in college and who saw a billboard go up in town on the topic of an article I wrote just two weeks earlier. I have studied Federal Election Commission documentation and challenged the Secret Service, writing one or more stories for each action. All of that was for free.

Besides having proven myself in method in approach, I understand modern tools necessary for journalism today. (As an example, I know why Google+ is the most important sharing platform.)

I’m adept at journalism, given the publications I have written for and my work being seen in ESPN, Pew and USA Today.

And having worked in journalism in multiple states in Region 9, and four areas in one state, I have gained a professional grasp of what the region needs, especially since I have been able to compare and contrast cultures from these states. I have learned from that experience that Region 9 needs more folks committed to journalism leading and working for its media outlets.

Profile in brief
Rhett Wilkinson wants to incorporate field representatives and be an ambassador of a membership program for students entering college. He knows the region, having worked in multiple states within it. Rhett has worked for organizations like The Inquisitr, Vote Smart, Bleacher Report and Patch. He has demonstrated a commitment to volunteering for journalism.

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