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Meet the Candidates


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Election Central
Meet the Candidates

Skip to a position:
President-elect
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.


President-Elect
Choose one

Jump to candidate:
Rebecca Aguilar
Sue Kopen Katcef


Rebecca Aguilar
@RebeccaAguilarYouTubeLinkedIn

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I believe SPJ is one of the best journalism organizations in the country, and as President-Elect, I will make it stronger and the membership prouder.

I have a deep passion for journalism and still have fire in my belly. I know the challenges journalists today face inside and outside the newsroom and classroom, and I want to make sure members know SPJ is here to help them survive.

I have been a reporter for 39 years, and today I continue working the streets even during the pandemic. I have faced my own challenges, including being laid off and fired. I know many members are professors or college students. We have challenges in the classroom, too, because of COVID19.

I currently teach media writing at a community college in Dallas. When the pandemic happened, I quickly adjusted from teaching in the classroom to teaching over Zoom. I want to make sure SPJ is the support professors, and students need during the good and bad times.

I have continuously proven that I get things done. I am not a board member who keeps the seat warm; I work for the members 24/7. Volunteering to lead SPJ is important to me.

Current SPJ Office:
– SPJ Secretary/Treasurer
– SPJ Diversity Committee Chair

Previous SPJ Experience:
– SPJ National:
2009: Joined Digital Media Committee
2011: Digital Media Committee Vice Chair
2011-2012: Diversity Committee Vice Chair
2018-Now: Diversity Committee Chair

– Fort Worth SPJ Pro:
2011-2012: Board member
2012-2017: Vice President of Membership
2017-2018: Vice President of Programs

Professional Experience:
– Freelance reporter for White Rock Lake Weekly (Dallas, TX), Texas Metro News (Texas), Garland Journal (Texas) and The Americano News (NYC)

– Guest Lecturer, Media Writing, 2020 Fall Semester, Dallas College at Richland Campus, Dallas, TX

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

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

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

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

In 2019, I was awarded the SPJ President’s Award for my work in revamping the Diversity Fellowship and improving the program.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have a proven track record that I get things done. A month after I became the SPJ Secretary/Treasurer in 2019, Region 10’s treasurer asked me to help get their money that had been taken from their bank accounts. I got on it right away and was able to help get the issue resolved.

SPJ President asked me in 2018 to take over the Diversity committee and revamp the Diversity Fellowship. I moved on it quickly. I established a more robust committee, and we were able to make the fellowship stronger and better for #EIJ 2019.

I’m also not afraid to speak up. I’m creative, innovative, organized, and think outside the box. I cannot stand when board members just keep the seat warm and do nothing. Members will see results if I am fortunate to become the next SPJ President-Elect.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

In October 2019, a few weeks after I became the SPJ Secretary-Treasurer, leaders with Region 10 informed me that a former leader had taken several thousand dollars in funds from their bank account, and they felt that SPJ had not done enough to help them resolve the issue. I got on the problem right away. Leaders with Region 10, Western Washington, and Portland chapters provided documentation they had gathered before I came on board. I was able to help develop the case against the individual who was then currently under investigation by authorities, and the outcome was positive for Region 10. Today the former leader is paying back the funds through payments. I am also keeping on top of the police investigation that continues.

In September 2018, the new SPJ president asked me to take over the SPJ Diversity Committee. I did not hesitate to say “yes.” She wanted the Dori Maynard SPJ Diversity Fellowship revamped from top to bottom because it was in drastic need of improvement.

When I took over, I reduced the committee to seven members. I knew we had our work cut out for us. In 10 months, the committee created a new application and a more efficient process to apply. We received 21 applications, the most in the history of the program. We selected six outstanding journalists.

The Fellowship program at #EIJ19 was also revamped. We included “Breakfast with the Fellows” where journalists from NBC News, CBS News, and Graham Media Group gave motivational presentations to the fellows about the vital part they play in a diverse media landscape. We also had afternoon “Aha moments” where the fellows shared who they met and what they had learned from the panels and workshops.

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

When I was a board member with SPJ Fort Worth Pro, I was able to grow our awards and contests when I proposed we start the Spanish-language categories. This helped SPJ Forth Worth include the Spanish-language media in Texas. As a result, we brought more diversity to our awards program, more diverse members and raised more funds through the increase in award entries.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Here are some of my goals as President-Elect:

– Lower membership fee. Right now, several of our members are strapped for money. A lower fee will help our members who are struggling and bring in new members who want to belong to SPJ. I helped make this happen with another journalism organization, and it almost doubled the membership.

– Diversity and Inclusion: George Floyd’s death changed the landscape in journalism too. It opened our eyes to systemic racism, stereotypes, and unconscious bias. SPJ still lacks diversity. My goal is to work with our various committees and explore ways to bring diversity and inclusion to all our committee projects—more details to come.

– SPJ Leadership Mentoring Program: Every election period, we are begging people to run for a board position, and often candidates run unopposed. We need to change that scenario. That’s why I am proposing a mentoring program to grow the next leaders for our board. I have a detailed plan that will involve national and chapter board members.

– Focus on Freelancers: I have been a freelance reporter since 2008. I hope to work closely with the SPJ Freelance committee and find ways to help freelance journalists find more opportunities, better pay, and, most of all, hear what they feel has been missing.

– Improve our relationship with NAHJ. I helped bring NAHJ to EIJ in 2012 when presidents with RTNDA and SPJ approached me with the idea at #EIJ in Fort Lauderdale. I strongly feel our collaboration helped SPJ and NAHJ become better journalism organizations. I know many of the candidates running for the NAHJ board, and I strongly feel we should be working together again.

– Develop collaborations with other journalism organizations: NABJ, AAJA, JAWS, NAJA, NPPA, ONA, and IRE. We are all dealing with the same issues during the pandemic. I strongly feel that we can serve our members better by having workshops, panels, and virtual conferences together, starting on the local level. I have reliable contacts in each of the organizations, and I will immediately begin the collaboration conversations.


Sue Kopen Katcef
Website@UMNewsieLinkedIn

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I am seeking SPJ office because I believe that I bring the passion and experience as a long-time SPJ member and leader needed to continue to grow SPJ’s role in providing help and support for journalists in the battle to defend the First Amendment and keep the public informed.

Journalism is essential to a democracy. But journalism is facing challenges that test even the most dedicated among us: the elimination and/or contraction of jobs; physical threats or attacks; and verbal assaults from the highest elected office in the country. We also face the ongoing challenge of making certain our newsrooms better reflect the diversity of the communities we cover—and that includes both staff and leadership.

While I believe there is strength in numbers journalists often aren’t the best advocates for the cause we hold dear.

That’s where SPJ comes in. And that’s why I am seeking the position of SPJ President-elect.

I believe that SPJ has and must continue to be that voice which represents ALL who “commit acts of journalism.” I want to be that voice and motivating force for change.

I believe that SPJ, with our Legal Defense Fund, Code of Ethics and Ethics Hotline provides resources critically important to helping journalists. But we must do a better job of making others aware of those resources and what they offer.

I want to also grow SPJ’s membership. In particular, I want to see an all-out-effort to improve retention of members—both veterans and students/post-grads.

In addition, the journalism profession of today involves the growing participation of some many might think of as “non-traditional” journalists: social media editors, drone operators, data visualization designers and positions yet to be created. These positions are now as critical to the work we do as those of us who use a pen & pad, camera & microphone. I want to see our membership roll expanded to include ALL who play a role in both news gathering and its production in all of its various forms.

I want SPJ to better reflect the journalism of today with an eye always on tomorrow.

That is why I am seeking the office of SPJ President-elect.

Current SPJ Office: Chair, SPJ National Awards and Honors Committee

Previous SPJ Experience:
– National Board Member:
   - Vice President Campus Chapter Affairs (2013-2019)
   - Campus Adviser At-Large (2005-2010)

– SDX Foundation Board member (2013-2019 & 2007-2010)
– Chair, SPJ National Awards & Honors Committee 2019- & 2012-2013; member 2011-
– Campus Adviser, University of Maryland Chapter, 1999-2019
– D.C. SPJ Pro Chapter
   - Corresponding Secretary, 2001-2013

– Maryland Pro Chapter
   - President, 1993-1995
   - Vice-President, 1985-86
   - Scholarship Chair (1997-2006); Membership Chair (1993-1995)

– Chaired more than a half dozen Region 2 conferences
– Co-chair SPJ National Convention, Baltimore, 1992

Professional Experience:
– (Current) Freelance reporter, Maryland Public Television (October 2019--)
– University of Maryland, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, Broadcast Bureau Director-Capital News Service/Sr. Lecturer, 1999-2019
– WBAL Radio, Baltimore; news anchor/reporter
– Maryland Public Television, 1987-1992
– Congressman Ben Cardin, Press Secretary, Jan. 1987-Dec. 1987
– Speaker Ben Cardin, Md State House, Legislative/Press Aide, Sept. 1985-Dec. 1986
– WCBM/Metromedia Radio, Baltimore. Reporter/Anchor 1980-1985; 1976-1979
– WJZ Television, Baltimore, Reporter Sept. 1979 — Feb. 1980
– Associated Press Radio, Editor/Reporter, Oct. 1975-April 1976
– AP Broadcast Stringer (Washington, D.C.) Aug. 1974-May 1975
– ABC Radio, Washington, Desk Assistant May 1975-Nov. 1975

Education: University of Maryland, B.S., Journalism

Honors, Awards and Activities:
– NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences -Emmys), National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter: Education Committee, (2011- )
– Coordinator “Face Time with the Pros” regional student broadcast news seminar co-sponsored by NATAS/NCCBC & CAPBA
– Co-author/editor of “A Journalist’s Guide to Maryland’s Legal System”
– Inducted NATAS, NCCBC Silver Circle for Outstanding Contributions to the Broadcast Industry, March 2017
– Distinguished Service Award, DC-SPJ Chapter, 2010
– Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society, Initiated Dec. 2007
– SPJ Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award, 2002-2003
– SPJ David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award, 2001-2002
– University of Maryland Panhellenic Association Outstanding Faculty Member, 2002

Reporting Awards from:
– Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association: 2000, 1999, 1995, 1983, 1980, 1979
– New York Festivals Bronze Medal, 1999
– RTDNA Regional Awards: 1999, 1997, 1996
– Maryland State Bar Association Gavel Awards: 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993, 1983
– American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, 1981

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I know first-hand that journalism can make a difference.

It’s not often you can win a battle over FERPA with a university. But, my students and I did just that. We sought information concerning how many students had been disciplined by the Student Board of Conduct on (civil) charges relating to sexual assault during a 10-year-period. It took a number of semesters of persistent reporting but we succeeded in getting an opinion from the office of the Maryland Attorney General telling the University it had to release that information to us because it was not protected by FERPA.

It took several years and several hundred dollars, but that persistence paid off and it made an enormous change in the reporting of sexual assault stories on our campus from that time forward.

Backed by the Maryland SPJ Pro Chapter many years ago, I was the coordinator and co-editor of “A Journalist’s Guide to Maryland’s Legal System.” It was a first-of-its-kind (at least in Maryland) legal primer for journalists and news organizations (and it was just recently updated). It was a much needed resource and I was only too happy to have developed the project and see it through.

For two decades as a full-time instructor and ten more before that as an adjunct at my alma mater, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, I have trained and mentored young journalists who are now well into their careers in front of and behind the camera & microphone at stations, large and small, around the country as well as at a few networks.

I’ve worked nearly every phase of the business: a summer job at my small hometown newspaper doing everything from writing stories, to searching out court records to shooting photos and writing headlines; radio anchor/reporter (WCBM/Metromedia) as well as a TV reporter in Baltimore (WJZ & Maryland Public Television). And I even had a turn on the “other” side as the press secretary to a former MD House Speaker who was elected to Congress and was with him his first year on Capitol Hill.

Now, I’ve had to reinvent myself a bit yet again.

I’m currently a freelance reporter for Maryland Public Television. Since the pandemic hit in March I’ve been shooting (on my iPhone) and editing all of my video packages now airing on our MPT news show, “State Circle” (as well as posting to social media).

Throughout, I’ve been an active member of SPJ (since my sophomore year in college) with leadership roles at the local and national level.

Those positions include:

– President, Maryland Pro Chapter
– University of Maryland Student Chapter Adviser
– Washington, DC Pro Chapter, Corresponding Secretary
– SPJ National Board—Campus Adviser-At Large
– SPJ National Board—Vice-President Campus Chapter Affairs
– SPJ National Awards & Honors Committee, Chair (and long-time committee member)
– Co-chair SPJ National Convention, Baltimore, 1992
– Chair/coordinator of more than a half-dozen successful Region 2 conferences

I believe I bring the length, depth and variety of experience needed for the position of SPJ President-Elect. And it is for those reasons that I believe I am the best candidate for this position.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

A few include:

– getting the board to approve an extension of the post-graduate reduced membership fee for a third year and creating a further incentive for post-grads by offering a two-for-three year deal (i.e., pay for two years of post-grad membership and get the third year free)

– during my first time around as chair of the Awards & Honors Committee I began what has become a nearly annual review of our categories (SDX and MOE) to try to keep the contests relevant and in touch with the changes in the industry

– this year as chair of the Awards & Honors Committee we not only added some important new categories to the SDX and MOE contests (including data visualization, immersion journalism (VR/360), collaborative journalism and fact finding) but we also undertook a complete overhaul of the list of SPJ’s historic sites on spj.org. We wanted to make that site interactive and interesting and, hopefully, a truly useable resource for students at all levels. I believe we have accomplished that.

– under the auspices of the Awards & Honors Committee we teamed up with the Associated Collegiate Press, the Society for News Design, College Broadcasters, Inc. and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to create the “”CCC Awards”—College Coronavirus Coverage contest soon after the COVID-19 shutdown began around the country. This was a free, weekly contest for college journalists to recognize them for their outstanding efforts to cover the pandemic and keep their audiences/readers/viewers informed. We received nearly a thousand entries during the contest from students at colleges large and small—and even entries from students studying out of the country. It was a terrific way to support student journalists and get SPJ’s name out.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Among my priorities:

– Promoting one of SPJ’s least promoted but one of its most valuable resources: our Legal Defense Fund. I have served on the LDF Committee and know of its many good works on behalf of SPJ and journalism with providing both financial and amicus support to journalists often in public records and open meetings battles.

– Promoting SPJ’s Ethics Hotline: again, this is a terrific resource for both SPJ members and non-members who are seeking guidance on ethics during the course of their work. But, again, it has a low profile among members.

– Growing our student and post-grad members and getting them more invested, engaged and involved.

– Working on ways to broaden our membership tent and continue to encourage and grow a diverse membership.


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Secretary-Treasurer
Choose one

Jump to candidate:
Ivette Davila-Richards
Bernadette Garden
Andrew Schotz
Elle Toussi


Ivette Davila-Richards
@IDRichardsLinkedInFacebook

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: As a longtime member of multiple journalism groups — including the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Online News Association (ONA) — I understand how important it is to belong to an organization that supports journalists. Now more than ever, when our profession is under attack on multiple fronts, we need these groups to stand for journalists. I am running for Secretary-Treasurer because I want to elevate the organization at a time when the credibility of our profession is under attack, and when non-profits such as ours are facing serious financial challenges.

Having served in leadership roles in several journalism organizations, I am experienced in both sides of the Secretary-Treasurer role. As the national secretary, I will always support transparency and open communications with members. As the national treasurer, I will bring years of non-profit board member experience understanding budgets and contributing to successful fundraising efforts. I believe we need to incorporate fundraising within our chapters and at the national level by collaborating with other non-profit organizations, foundations and companies to bolster our financial footing. By working together, we can achieve many of our financial goals to strengthen our organization.

Moreover, as a professional with nearly two decades of experience as either a full-time newsroom employee or a freelancer, I understand the challenges many of our members face in making ends meet. Obtaining that second gig can be critical, as can be negotiating salaries or freelance contracts. If elected, I would support a reduction in membership dues. We did this successfully at NAHJ, and we doubled our membership. I also support the call to create SPJ credentials for freelancers so they can gain access to events of public importance.

I also believe SPJ has a key role to play in journalism advocacy. I want to help spread the word about our Legal Defense Fund, Code of Ethics and Ethics Hotline. These strengths can help grow our membership by letting journalists know that we share their concerns.

My passion and enthusiasm for news has never wavered, and indeed has only grown in nearly two decades of working as a journalist. SPJ has helped foster that curiosity with training and professional development at conferences and workshops on the local, regional and national levels. As a longtime multimedia journalist and producer, I support enhancing our online educational resources. Given the financial hard times we are facing because of COVID-19, I am running for Secretary-Treasurer to ensure that members continue to have access to these resources.

Current SPJ Office:
– SPJ National Diversity Committee Vice Chair
– SPJ Deadline Club (New York City Chapter) Executive Council Board Member

Previous SPJ Experience:
– SPJ National At-Large Director (2018-2019)
– SPJ Diversity Fellow (2018)
– Deadline Club Executive Council Board Member (Joined in 2016)
– Served as a Deadline Club delegate to the 2019 national convention

Professional Experience:
– Current: Freelance Regional Assignment Editor, National Desk, Fox News Channel (8/2017- Present)
– Associate Producer, CBS News (8/2007-2017)
  — Broadcast Marketing Division (9/2015-8/2017)
  — Newspath (9/2010-9/2015)
  — Network News Service (8/2007-9/2010)
– Studio and Control Room Technician, NET TV (Formerly Catholic Television Network) (8/2006-1/2008)
– Multimedia Journalist, NY1 Spectrum (1/2004-7/2006)

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Bernard M. Baruch College

Honors, Awards and Activities: I have been awarded the following honors and fellowships:

– Awarded the 2019 SPJ President’s Award for my collaborative work on repositioning and strengthening the Diversity Fellowship to one that is sought after nationally.

– Awarded and participated in the 2018 SPJ Diversity Fellowship, leading to ideas that helped revamp the fellowship for #EIJ2019.

– Received a Certificate in February 2020 for participation in the Poynter Institute workshop “How Any Journalist Can Earn Trust.”

– Awarded and participated in the ASNE Emerging Leaders Institute Training in 2017.

– Honored with the Journalism-Media Fellowship to Israel in 2017 by Fuente Latina.

– Honored in 2014 with the NAHJ President’s Award for Collaborative Team Building.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have a proven track record as an officer of multiple journalism organizations, including serving as the Vice President of Broadcast of NAHJ’s national board, as an At-Large Director of SPJ’s national board, and currently as a member of the Executive Council of the Deadline Club, SPJ’s New York City chapter. I am known for getting things done, especially in terms of fundraising and educational training and events. At these gatherings, I like to have conversations with members about what matters most to them, whether that be job advice, making connections with executives via one-on-one meet-ups, or producing professional development workshops.

I helped establish the first New York City chapter for NAHJ and was instrumental in organizing fundraising for it. That chapter grew to become one of the largest chapters in the organization through the many events we produced, and the collaborative partnerships formed with news organizations, executives, and outside companies.

While serving as NAHJ’s Regional Director in the Northeast, I produced some of the largest local conferences. First at Lehman College, and later at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, where we were given use of its facilities for the training of our students and professional journalists at a low cost, while also keeping the attendance fee moderate for all.

While serving as NAHJ’s Vice President of Broadcast, I coordinated a producer’s index, which provided news organizations with a list of our members interested in broadcast news producing jobs.

I say all of this, in part, to let you know that I am experienced in handling finances and complex events, as well as keeping our membership well informed in a timely manner. Furthermore, I want to strengthen SPJ’s collaborations with affinity groups—including NAHJ, NABJ, ONA, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and others—so that we can coordinate events that can generate revenue and serve our members. After all, aren’t we in this together?

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

First, speaking up and providing ideas on how the SPJ Diversity Fellowship could better serve its fellows after being awarded, and participating in, the 2018 fellowship. Following #EIJ18, I was honored to be selected as the vice chair of the national Diversity Committee, and to collaborate with the chair and with the talented team she formed to create a robust diversity fellowship. We improved the selection process and programming that kept the fellows engaged during #EIJ2019.

In my role as a Deadline Club board member, I helped reconceive how we recognize the contributions of New York journalists of color in our annual awards contest. As a result, the club created two new categories: The Mosaic Award and the Les Payne Award for Coverage on Communities of Color, which is named in honor of a legendary Black New York journalist. I served on the three-member judging committee for this year’s Les Payne Award, a task I never take lightly as I recognize how hard those who submitted entries have worked to tell these stories. I feel proud to have had an impact on widening the scope of journalism recognized by the Deadline Club.

As a member of the Deadline Club Executive Council, I was proud to participate in a recent board delegation that joined a virtual public hearing with the New York Police Department to discuss proposed updates on cops revoking journalists' press credentials on those journalists covering protests.

Our chapter president, Claire Regan, read a statement drafted by the board that has been widely quoted. Here is a link to the story.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Let me share with you what some of my goals would be, should you honor me with becoming your next Secretary-Treasurer:

– In this dual role, I will work for transparency of SPJ finances, with no conflict of interest by anyone, and to provide the membership with timely notes of our meetings and events via email, the website and our social media platforms. Involving the chapters and membership in what’s going on will help avoid mishaps and confusion. Furthermore, I will support:

– Promoting fundraising at all levels to provide more resources to our members and the organization. Because of COVID-19, we had to cancel the regional conferences, which help fund our chapters, and the national convention. Consequently, focusing on fundraising at both the chapter and national level will be more important than ever. By thinking outside the box and engaging in meaningful conversations and collaborations with other non-profits, foundations and companies, we can better serve the interests of all of our members.

– Lowering our Membership Dues. Our members are going through a very tough time right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has displaced many media workers through layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours. This is the time to let our fellow journalists, educators, and communicators know that we have their back. We can grow our membership and make it stronger by standing in solidarity with them.

– Creating SPJ Freelance credentials. As someone who has worked on and off as a freelancer throughout my long career, I fully support the SPJ Freelance Community’s idea to create freelance press badges, which could help our members as they cover events of public importance, such as the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

– Promoting SPJ advocacy, which is already quite strong and involves members at the local, regional and national leadership levels, for example, in the SPJ Legal Defense Fund, Code of Ethics and Ethics Hotline.

– Supporting the move of our journalism training and education online. As a seasoned multimedia journalist, I couldn’t agree more that this is the future for our organization.

Thank you for your consideration, and I would be honored if you selected me as your next Secretary-Treasurer.


Bernadette Garden

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I’m seeking office to give a hand to the society of professional journalists in any way I can.

Current SPJ Office: None

Previous SPJ Experience: None

Professional Experience: Bridgewater Independent/Brockton Enterprise/Arlington International Film Festival

Education: BA in Communications/minor in English/ Dean College Bridgwater State University

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

As Secretary of Treasury I will question the most successful fundraisers and find out how they raise money and will do the same for SPJ. I will work diligently to make sure there is good communications among members and bring my good sense of humor which is very much needed in times like these.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I haven’t held any office.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

I will do my best to make sure SPJ continues to stay relevant in the role of supporting journalists everywhere and to be a sounding board for the honored tradition and also forge ahead with any new ideas we can come up with to improve the process.


Andrew Schotz
@spjregion2

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: After 18 years in SPJ — as a member, chapter leader, national committee member and chair, and regional director — I’d like to continue helping shape SPJ’s future and support journalists and journalism, at the national level.

I’m well versed with both parts of the title of this position: secretary (I am a stickler on meeting minutes) and treasurer (as a former board member, I am experienced in reviewing SPJ’s budget).

Current SPJ Office: vice chair of the Awards & Honors Committee; member of the Ethics Committee; parliamentarian for national board.

Previous SPJ Experience:
– Region 2 director from 2013 to 2019
– Ethics Committee member from 2004 to 2011, including three years as chairman. I rejoined the committee in 2019.
– Awards & Honors Committee since 2013 (past chairman)
– Three terms as president of the Washington, D.C., Pro chapter, one of SPJ’s largest, 2008-11
– National SPJ task forces on: sponsorships; updating SPJ policies; representation for members not in chapters; financial policies for regional and chapter treasurers
– Worked on several SPJ regional conferences and national conventions

I am on the SPJ Foundation board.

Professional Experience:
– Managing editor, Bethesda Beat (online news site near Washington, D.C.), July 2019-present
– News editor, The Herald-Mail (daily paper), Hagerstown, Md., January 2018-July 2019
– Interim managing editor, Bethesda Beat, July 2017-January 2018
– City editor, The Frederick News-Post (daily paper), Frederick, Md., September 2015-April 2017
– Managing editor, The Gazette (weekly chain), Gaithersburg, Md., January 2013-June 2015
– Reporter, The Herald-Mail, January 2000-January 2013
– Reporter/editor, The Altamont Enterprise (weekly paper), Altamont, N.Y., April 1992-January 2000
– Some freelance work

Education:
– Bachelor of science, Business Administration, University at Albany (N.Y.), 1992
– Ealing College, London, England, spring 1990

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

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

After years of volunteering with SPJ at different levels and in different capacities, I understand how things work, how people work together, and, importantly, what doesn’t work.

I ...
– speak up
– get angry about government secrecy and violations of press rights
– have thick skin
– am responsive and responsible
– see tasks through
– am patient and even-keeled
– can work with anyone
– don’t panic
– listen well
– admit when I am wrong
– will answer your question or find an answer
– have institutional knowledge, and know where to go for more information or sound advice
– like bullet points

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

– Until 2011, SPJ members were not allowed to vote directly for national leaders. Voting was through a delegate system. Chapters sent delegates to the national convention to vote on candidates and issues.

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

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

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

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

– I have worked on many other small and large changes, such as new awards categories to reflect evolutions in journalism (360 video, fact-checking); more recognition for student chapters; a compilation of successful program and fundraising ideas for all chapters to consider; improving the annual report process; and more transparency in SPJ board meetings and actions.

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

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

Ultimately, there were too many cats to herd and too many disparate needs and preferences. But there were small successes: Some chapters (including mine) worked together in small groups to leverage a helpful discount. Maybe I’ll try again someday.

– Finally, I am proud of my work to promote the First Amendment — and help journalists in need — by printing and selling cool T-shirts.

Proceeds from sales allowed SPJ to donate $15,000 to help victims and families at the Capital Gazette, where five people were killed on June 28, 2018. SPJ also donated $5,000 from other sources, for a total contribution of $20,000.

T-shirt sales proceeds also resulted in a separate $5,000 donation to SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund.

SPJ has sold (or given as fundraising prizes) more than 1,500 shirts across the U.S. in three years. I mail most from home, always adding a copy of the SPJ Code of Ethics. (Shirts are still on sale.)

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

SPJ must:

– Advocate forcefully for journalists and newsrooms, including on open government, pro and student press rights, ethical standards, and diversity within the profession

– Offer training as jobs evolve and as newsrooms transform and shrink (as a member of the SDX Foundation board, I voted in favor of funding the newly created position of director of education)

– Support its pro and campus chapters (many need help)

– Stabilize its finances

– Celebrate and promote the best of journalism, particularly through our awards

To reverse our membership slide, SPJ has to be important, relevant and necessary, by adapting to what is going on around us.

Most people get their first taste of SPJ at the local level. They want to know what SPJ can do for them. The board has to understand journalists’ wants and needs.

I approach SPJ governance with the standards I expected of government bodies as a reporter — openness, transparency, easy access to information.

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

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

While on the national board, I wrote previews of meetings beforehand and a recap afterward, on the Region 2 blog, with links on Facebook and Twitter. SPJers told me it was the most reliable source of information about board actions and discussions.


Elle Toussi
@ElleToussi

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: As is the slogan of one of our papers of record, Democracy Dies In Darkness. It is my goal to ensure that guiding light never goes out as unchecked tyranny and autocratic regimes the world over rise in pitch and fervor against the truth and its importance to society.

As a leader in the International Community, I’d like to extend that same leadership to the journalism organization I’ve invested so much of my time, attention, and undying belief to. The power of the purse extends not only to the general public, but to the journalism community as a whole.

Our resources are what allow us to function as heralds of truth and justice, and these resources are only as effective as the people that direct them. The SPJ is an organization near and dear to me and it is my goal to help shepherd it along a thriving path where journalism is not only respected but protected in these increasingly harrowing times.

Current SPJ Office: Co-chair of the International Community

Previous SPJ Experience: Member since 2014

Professional Experience: As a founder of my own 501 C (3) non-profit organization, IN ONE MINUTE, I’ve fought professionally and personally for women and women’s stories across the globe. In my unending quest for the truth and the power behind it, I’ve been a freelance journalist for the BBC, BBC Panorama, CBS Los Angeles, CNN, Screen International, PRI and much more.

The intersectionality of my experiences covering different subjects ranging from the film industry to the plight of refugees in war torn countries in the Middle East has given me unparalleled experience I believe to be vital to the SPJ and our profession as a whole.

Education: University of California, Irvine; University of California, Los Angeles.

Honors, Awards and Activities: – ASNE: Leadership Training
– HEFAT Certified
– ACER: Selected for Woman In Tech for Good
– Acknowledged for Top 100 Women in blockchain 2020

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Aside from my unwavering dedication to truth in media, I’ve owned and operated my own 501 C (3) non-profit organization for several years. While IN ONE MINUTE is known for finding and championing women’s stories, my experience extends to the full and myriad range of journalism itself.

I am not one to back down from a challenge and these are challenging times. Taking what I have learned guiding my own organization, the office of Treasury/Secretary is the next logical step for me and one in which I welcome collaboration and insight from my peers as we traverse the shaky ground we globally find ourselves on these days.

Also, I bring to the table my experience serving on the board of the Freelancers Union, where I have learned the importance of active and board members in the success of the organization.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Hosting a series of #ICTalks for the SPJ with the assistance of my amazing co-chair, I’ve made it my mission to shine a spotlight on journalists running the gamut of fields and walks of life. Highlighting diverse points of view, I’ve worked to foster inclusive stories and reporters and their importance to audiences the world over. As we progress throughout time and space, our differences are what make us better and our viewpoints coming together crystallize the reality each and every one of us share.

As a woman with personal ties to stories in the Middle East, it is intrinsic to our cause to hear from everyone we can and hosting my series of talks is but a glimpse of the larger goal I hope to bring to, and broaden for, the SPJ.

I have always championed mentorship and creating opportunities for up-and-coming journalists. I was able to do so in previous years as a judge of MOE for the SPJ.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

To put it simply, I want to hammer home the importance of thinking globally and acting locally. As countries around the world find themselves under the sway of, and in thrall to, increasingly isolated authoritarian regimes we cannot fight the future — a global community is inevitable and the SPJ can be a key organization informing the general population that a united international community is to be celebrated, not feared.

My perspective and experience lend me a unique ability to champion this cause, and now more so than ever women are finding themselves a seat at the table (fought for, not given to us) in ways that prove the importance of gender equality in storytelling. This is the thruline of my career to this point, and the SPJ is an essential body needed to continue and maintain progress — hard fought and won — by reporters of all genders, backgrounds, and experiences.


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At-Large Director
(Two-year term)

Choose two

Jump to candidate:
Rafael Olmeda
Claire Regan
Andrew M. Seaman
Alex Veeneman
Haisten Willis


Rafael Olmeda
@rolmedaWebsiteFacebook

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: My primary journalism advocacy has been with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, but I have been a member of SPJ for two decades and have relied on the association heavily when it comes to questions of ethics and First Amendment issues. SPJ has been an ally on issues of diversity, but I believe this association has a bigger role to play in that fight. For our profession to have integrity, a workforce that reflects the community is crucial. And for diversity to be meaningful, all journalists must share the principles that SPJ espouses — accuracy, access and accountability to the communities we cover and the subjects of our reporting.

Current SPJ Office: I have never held office with SPJ. From 2000 through 2009 I went from board member to president of NAHJ and of UNITY: Journalists of Color. In that time, I worked repeatedly on local programming with (what was then called) the South Florida Pro Chapter of SPJ for mutual organization and support of professional and social programming that would benefit our members. My contact with the South Florida SPJ leadership was Bill Hirschman.

Previous SPJ Experience: Member, Florida Chapter (formerly South Florida Pro Chapter)

Professional Experience: Senior writer, South Florida Sun Sentinel since 1999 (including three years as assistant city editor); General assignment reporter, NY Daily News, 1993-1999.

Education: B.A. Journalism (minor in political science) from Baruch College, City University of New York, 1994.

Honors, Awards and Activities:
— Pulitzer Prize (team), 2019 Gold Medal for Public Service for “exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after the deadly shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School."

– Florida Society of News Editors Award, 2020, first place in multimedia (team)

– President, UNITY: Journalists of Color (2009)

– President, National Association of Hispanic Journalists (2006-2008)

– NAHJ National Board, 2000-2008.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

My passion for journalistic integrity has been documented for decades. SPJ is uniquely positioned to speak to and for the journalism profession and should be on the front lines of educating the public on the quality of the work our members produce on a daily basis. I am uniquely positioned, as a former president of two national groups, to help SPJ capitalize on the potential of its pulpit.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

As an advocate for diversity, accuracy and ethics, I believe my volunteer work has benefitted members of all the professional journalism associations. I helped craft NAHJ’s message sounding the alarm on the dangers of media consolidation long before it became a popular position, and I personally lobbied Congress to limit consolidation and support net neutrality, again, long before that was a popular position for journalism associations to take. While these issues affected NAHJ’s mission, they were journalism issues, and I would like to use SPJ’s pulpit to promote and protect our professional values.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Our profession has been under sustained assault from dishonest critics with a partisan agenda for more than two generations, culminating in what we see today: a media that is less trusted than ever. SPJ needs to take the lead in educating the public about what goes into reliable journalism, contrasting it with the propaganda machines that employ journalists but betray our professional standards to sow confusion instead of information.

I also believe that SPJ can play a role in brokering a new UNITY-type of coalition, and I would be honored to play a role in making that happen.

Most of all, I want to fight for our rights as Americans, as journalists, and as professionals to honor the best traditions of the SPJ leaders who preceded us.


Claire Regan
WebsiteLinkedInFacebook

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Because journalists need SPJ now more than ever for support, solidarity and sustainability. These are tough times, and we need strong leaders with experience, compassion and drive.

A position on the national board will offer opportunities to raise awareness about SPJ’s platforms. I’m passionate about outreach to young journalists — they need our help navigating the pandemic, the turbulence in our industry, the attacks on our profession.

Through teamwork and collaboration, we can make SPJ’s voice even stronger. I’m eager to offer my experience as a journalist, journalism educator and chapter president to make it happen.

Current SPJ Office: I’m finishing my third consecutive term as president of the Deadline Club, SPJ’s New York City chapter.

I’m also on the board of the New Jersey SPJ chapter. John Ensslin, respected and beloved chapter president, who died last year, extended the invitation, and the two chapters have been collaborating across state lines ever since. We are carrying on John’s legacy that way.

Previous SPJ Experience: I’ve been an SPJ member for more than 20 years, most of them on the Deadline Club executive council and as vice president of the awards dinner.

I chaired the 2017 Region 1 Conference in New York City and served on the planning committee for the 2018 Region 1 Conference in Philadelphia.

And I’ve completed SPJ leadership training at headquarters in Indianapolis and with the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute.

Professional Experience: I’ve spent much of my career at my hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, a daily Newhouse newspaper in New York City’s greenest borough, where I worked my way up from part-time wedding writer to managing editor. Along the way, I was lifestyle editor, city editor, entertainment editor, design editor and internship supervisor. I loved every job in the newsroom, and held most of them.

I’ve directed coverage of many tragedies and victories — including the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which unfolded just 12 miles from my newsroom; Hurricane Sandy; a fatal Staten Island Ferry crash and the closure of the world’s largest landfill on Staten Island. I’ve been team leader and lead designer of special sections, anniversary issues and a hardcover book. I led a redesign of the newspaper and later, the transition to a digitally focused newsroom.

Today for the Advance, I’m a contributing writer to print and web, with a focus on education and the arts. I also enjoy the challenge of crafting engaging obituaries.

I’m an assistant professor of journalism at my alma mater, Wagner College, where I teach all courses in the minor program and advise the student newspaper. This semester, I’m teaching a special topics course on Covering the Election.

I’ve taught communication arts at a local high school, and served as a redesign consultant for several newspapers.

Education: B.S. in education, magna cum laude, from Wagner College on Staten Island. Plus lots of professional development with the Poynter Institute, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Society of News Design and the American Press Institute.

I’m a Poynter Ethics Fellow, having completed a year of study with 16 other media professionals from across the country with a strong commitment to ethical journalism. The experience strengthened my character and my journalism.

Honors, Awards and Activities: I’m a board member and past president of the New York State Associated Press Board of Directors, and a judging facilitator for the Society for News Design annual competition.

My editing and design work has been honored by the Associated Press, the New York Press Club, the Society for News Design and the Deadline Club.

As a regular presenter at Columbia Scholastic Press Association conventions, I received the Charles O’Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016. I’m also a regular presenter at Garden State Scholastic Press Association conferences.

I’ve presented at College Media Association and New York Press Association events as well.

From Wagner College, I earned the faculty award for diversity and internationalization for my work with the Mandela Washington Fellowship program for young African leaders.

I serve on the boards of several nonprofits in my community.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

When I accept a new challenge, I’m all in. Colleagues see me as a leader with creative ideas and bold solutions. I’ll bring the same to SPJ.

I offer deep experience as a working journalist and journalism educator, with a proven record of leading one of SPJ’s largest chapters through three terms.

I enjoy collaborating with others to help an organization and its members thrive.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I like to bring good people together and make them feel valued and empowered. I’ve strengthened the Deadline Club board with top talent and moved our meetings to the Associated Press headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

Our awards contest has grown to nearly 700 entries, and our awards dinner is a prestigious sellout at the Harvard Club of New York City. Under my leadership, guest speakers have included Lesley Stahl, Judy Woodruff, Maggie Haberman and Brian Stelter, whose newsworthy remarks have gone viral. This month we’ll virtually welcome Yamiche Alcindor and Philip Rucker.

In November, I chaired the biennial New York Hall of Fame luncheon at Sardi’s, where five journalism luminaries were inducted in front of a sellout crowd — Jane Pauley, Tom Brokaw, Ted Koppel, Peggy Noonan and Richard Drew.

I’m always ready to speak out about critical issues on behalf of the Deadline Club. In August, I testified at an NYPD public hearing against new rules restricting press credentials, and was interviewed about our position in the New York Post and on WBAI Radio NYC.

As a member of the Silurian Press Club and the New York State Associated Press Board of Directors, I’ve broadened our club’s connections.

The Deadline Club board has hosted affinity mixers in collaboration with the New York City chapters of NABJ and NAHJ and the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

Our scholarship program now offers $2,500 awards each year to five graduates and undergraduates.

I’ve spoken at New York City public schools with SPJ’s #Press4Education program.

I’ve moderated programs that raise awareness about difficult issues, including suicide coverage and prevention.

Thanks to the hard work of a strong board, the Deadline Club has become a powerful and supportive voice in times of discord and debate.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

SPJ is a resource and a lifeline. I’d like to lead a publicity campaign to raise awareness and build the brand — and bring in new members. If elected, I’ll be eager to learn from fellow board members and serve SPJ to the best of my ability.
Great ideas begin with sky’s-the-limit brainstorming. Here are a few possibilities:

– Build an SPJ Speakers Bureau, tapping into the expertise and talents of our membership
– Host college media roundtables for skill-building, networking, inspiration
– Add to the SPJ Job Center a database of internship opportunities
– Plan press conferences from headquarters addressing real-time issues and events
– Strengthen diversity by co-hosting programs with affinity groups
– Develop curriculums for high school and college around the SPJ Code of Ethics, the gold standard
– Continue exploring press credentialing issues on behalf of members


Andrew M. Seaman
@andrewmseaman

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Journalism is vital to society. We face many immediate threats around the world, including autocratic governments who don’t want their deeds exposed, unstable business models and a skeptical public. The challenges are made more difficult by the ongoing global health crisis that has crippled and shuttered far too many newsrooms. SPJ has long existed as the “umbrella organization” for journalists, serving the profession in any capacity that time and finances allowed. This time calls for a much more pointed mission, however. I believe SPJ should use its time and resources to advocate for a strong and independent press that uphold our professional best practices. As a 501 C (6) non-profit organization, we are best positioned in the landscape of other professional journalism organizations to take up this cause. I want to help focus the SPJ’s mission toward this focus. I believe my professional experiences, my time spent on SPJ’s board and my years leading its ethics committee have prepared me to take on this challenge and the work of the organization.

Current SPJ Office: None.

Previous SPJ Experience: I served as the founding president of Wilkes University’s student SPJ chapter during my undergraduate career. During that time, I became a student representative on SPJ’s board of directors and was involved in the chapter at my graduate school. Afterward, I became a leader of the young member committee and several other committees. I was then picked to help revise SPJ’s Code of Ethics, which was adopted in 2014. I then chaired the ethics committee until the end of 2018, when I was awarded the Wells Memorial Key — SPJ’s highest honor. During my time as ethics committee chair, I represented SPJ at numerous conferences and in scores of interviews, including The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Professional Experience: I began my professional journalism career in college as a contract writer for USA TODAY — continuing through my graduate school education. After graduation, I began work in Reuters bureau in Washington, D.C. I covered the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. I then moved to Reuters headquarters in New York to cover the science of medicine, eventually becoming the news agency’s senior medical journalist. I also became digital editor for Reuters website and social media. In 2018, I moved to LinkedIn’s editorial team, where I now focus on delivering news and views to its members — especially job seekers.

Education: I have a B.A. in communication studies from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I also have an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, where I was a Stabile Scholar in investigative journalism.

Honors, Awards and Activities:
– SPJ: Wells Memorial Key and several President Awards
– SCJ: Louis Ingelhart SCJ Freedom of Expression Award

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I have a proven track record for taking on tough tasks for SPJ and delivering great results. As an at-large director, I’ll be able to deploy those talents and work with my peers on the national board and throughout the organization to overcome the challenges we face. I hope my track record as SPJ’s ethics chair speaks for itself — whether raising the profile of the organization through free 30-story high electronic billboards in Times Square or helping journalists in crisis around the world when they were facing immediate threats and challenges. I promise to continue that work to meet the needs of SPJ, its members and the profession.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

In addition to championing the revised Code of Ethics after its adoption in 2014, I created campaigns to educate journalists and the public about its contents and purpose. I coordinated the translation of the Code into several languages and oversaw its promotion to newsrooms and classrooms around the world. Additionally, I raised the profile of SPJ’s Ethics Week to include events across the U.S. and giant billboards in Times Square. I created an arsenal of educational and engaging presentations that have been used by SPJ members around the world. I am most proud about being among the group of SPJ leaders to revise and adopt its Code of Ethics, which is and should remain the standard for the profession.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

My biggest priority will be making sure SPJ is stronger and more focused by the end of my term than it was in the beginning. To accomplish that goal, I want to consistently remind the organization’s leadership to remain focused on our mission. Additionally, I want to help and support projects that also support our mission — whether they are led by people at SPJ headquarters in Indianapolis or by our chapters across the country. I also want to make sure that I support my peers on the national board — especially Matthew Hall, who I believe will be an excellent president.


Alex Veeneman
Website@alex_veenemanLinkedIn

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Fred Rogers once said: “Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.” That is a credo for journalism, and for the work that SPJ does day in and day out.

SPJ’s work is especially relevant as the industry takes on significant challenges — from the rhetoric of the President of the United States to the challenges of layoffs exacerbated by the economic uncertainty facing the industry resulting from COVID-19. Our members are looking to us to help make sense of it all. Our members want us to connect them with expertise, insight and education to help them do their jobs better — something that must be done collaboratively and with authenticity.

Collaboration and authenticity are at the core of what I do — and has been at the core in the six years that I have been an SPJ volunteer. I will bring those values to the role of At-Large Director, as I work to promote education, media literacy, our Code of Ethics and its resources.

Journalists get into journalism to help audiences be at their best, no matter the odds. Yet, that can only be done when journalists are at their best. This is YOUR SPJ, and SPJ exists to help YOU be at your best. Elect me and I’ll help to make sure you can be at your best, so you can help the people who matter the most in journalism — your audience.

Current SPJ Office: Member, SPJ National Ethics Committee (October 2016-present); Member, SPJ National Awards and Honors Committee (September 2018-present)

Previous SPJ Experience:
– At-Large Officer, SPJ Freelance Community (served appointed term from July-December 2018 and elected term from January-July 2020)
– Member, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee (October 2017-May 2018)
– SPJ Community Coordinator (December 2014-March 2017)
– SDX and MOE awards judge (2015-present on yearly basis)

Professional Experience:
– Freelance journalist, Twin Cities PBS — April 2017-September 2017, August-October 2018
– Editor/contributing writer, Kettle Magazine of London, UK (US based) — April 2012-May 2018

Education: Lewis University — B.A., Print Journalism and Multimedia Journalism, 2014

Honors, Awards and Activities:
– Terry Harper Scholarship Recipient, 2019
– Moderator for panel on social media and trust, Excellence in Journalism 2019

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I know firsthand the importance of SPJ’s educational involvement and its ability to help connect journalists be at their best — put to practice as a curator and an advocate through my SPJ volunteer work. I also know this as someone who is figuring out their next steps in the industry, as economic uncertainties and the continued belittling of our profession remain front and center.

SPJ is supposed to work for, as well as support, its members. There is more than it can do to help SPJ work for them — and I can do that.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I was at the core of developing and enhancing SPJ’s community network (Freelance, International, Digital, Generation J and Community Journalism) — encouraging peer involvement and collaboration to allow SPJers to help fellow SPJers that continues since this network started over 5 years ago.

I also moderated a panel at the Excellence in Journalism conference in 2019, bringing insight from some of Texas’ best journalists to attendees across the country. I was proud to be a curator for that session and to facilitate important ethical conversations.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Education and outreach will be at the core of my work. It starts with involving chapters and encouraging collaboration with chapters and national committees/communities, instead of a national and local divide.

I also want to position SPJ as a resource for media literacy, boost the promotion of our Code of Ethics and resources, and curate conversations between reporters to help everyone, national media or local media, be at their best.

There are lessons that can be shared that benefit everyone, and I want to help share them.


Haisten Willis
Website@HaistenWillis

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Because I believe in the mission of the Society of Professional Journalists and because I find it so much fun to be involved with SPJ. For these reasons, I would be honored to step up my involvement to the level of the national board and to help SPJ promote and protect journalism in the United States. This is my seventh full year of SPJ membership, and during that time I’ve aided the organization in numerous ways — as a chapter president, member of multiple national committees, Ted Scripps Leadership Institute graduate, Quill contributor, SDX Awards judge and associate judge, and even as a keynote speaker for the student union event at EIJ 2019 in San Antonio. Combining this background with a vision for stronger journalism advocacy, I feel prepared for a role on the board should the membership of SPJ see fit to elect me.

Current SPJ Office: None.

Previous SPJ Experience: SPJ Georgia president, 2018. SPJ Georgia board member, 2017-2019. Member, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee, 2018-present. Member, SPJ Freelance Community, 2016-present. SDX Awards judge and associate judge. Ted Scripps Leadership Institute graduate, 2017. Quill contributor, 2018-present. SPJ member, 2014-present.

Professional Experience: Freelance Journalist, 2016-present. Bylines in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Quill, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, Diversity in Action, Georgia Trend, SB Nation and others.

– Editor, France Media Inc., 2014-2016.
– Reporter, Marietta Daily Journal, 2014.
– Reporter & Editor, Newspapers of West Georgia, 2011-2014.

Education: B.A., Georgia Southern University, 2008. M.A., mass communication and journalism, California State University, Fresno, 2010.

Honors, Awards and Activities: Member, Atlanta Press Club. Member, National Association of Real Estate Editors. Terry Harper Memorial Scholarship recipient, 2018. Student union event keynote speaker, Excellence in Journalism conference, 2019. Panelist, SPJ "stories from the frontlines: journalists and protests” webinar with CNN’s Brian Stetler, 2020.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I’m passionate about journalism and passionate about promoting the profession, not only within our own ranks but in the wider public consciousness. I’m a working journalist still pretty early in my career, and I’ve been lucky enough to write for some of our nation’s biggest news outlets including The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report, and for the big players in my state like The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta Magazine.

But, like most if not all of you, I’m tired of reading about attacks on journalists, verbal or otherwise. Too often we are hit with name calling and anti-press catch phrases, and forced to defend ourselves by talking about what we are not. It’s time to talk about what we are: We are the fourth estate. We are the only industry prominently named in the U.S. Bill of Rights. We are Woodward and Bernstein. We are Julie K. Brown. We are Nikole Hannah-Jones. We are the Pentagon Papers. We are Spotlight. We are the Society of Professional Journalists. These are the terms that should be used to describe our profession, and as a board member I’d work to ensure this message reaches the American public.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

Along with SPJ Region 3 Coordinator Michael Koretzky and Ethics Committee Chair Lynn Walsh, I’m working to establish Press the Flesh, an event through which SPJ members will learn how to lobby directly from lobbyists themselves. Sponsored by the SPJ Freedom of Information Committee and originally scheduled to take place on Capitol Hill during EIJ 2020, in a revised form it will likely be held multiple times online. There is considerable journalism lobbying already being done in Washington, but much more is needed at the state level. Through Press the Flesh, we can help fill that gap.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Advocacy is my top priority. In an age when journalism is under constant attack, SPJ is uniquely positioned to be the clearest and loudest voice speaking out for our profession. This organization enjoys a long history of advocacy work, dating back at least to when SPJ members played a crucial role in getting the original Freedom of Information Act passed in 1966. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Our advocacy role continues strongly today, but I feel we can do even more in this space and make advocacy the calling card of SPJ.

Beyond that, the next board will need to work with our staff and executive director to help clear up SPJ’s financial future. I also envision better communication between our local and national levels, namely through quarterly conference calls between chapter presidents and national board and staff members. This will allow the exchange of ideas and building of relationships that will further strengthen SPJ into the next decade and beyond.


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Region 1 Coordinator
Choose one

Jump to candidate:
Ann-Marie Adams
Jane Primerano


Ann-Marie Adams
@guardianeditorLinkedIn

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I am seeking the office of Region 1 Coordinator because I can do a better job at coordinating media professionals in Region 1 to be strong advocates for themselves and others if I am given the platform.

The tenets of journalism are reasons to advocate for a free press. Today, many journalists face unprecedented media suppression with sophisticated surveillance technology like the “spider,” “spy demons,” and “mind crawlers.”

My experience with State Troopers and their efforts to ignore FOIA requests and suppress news stories in Connecticut has planted a passion in me to defend the First Amendment.

As a longtime SPJ member, a local chapter president of other media organizations, I am committed to creating a strong networking platform for all journalists, not just some of us.

Additionally, I want to be a strong voice for all of SPJ members, especially small and independent journalists, some of whom have founded nonprofit journalism organizations across the nation.

As the founder of the first nonprofit, nonpartisan, hyper-local publication in Connecticut, I know the media landscape and the rugged terrain journalists have to navigate to survive in this news business. I am also a journalism and history professor. My dual degrees help me collaborate with others in two-year colleges and four-year universities. I have also mentored many students and journalism graduates, who are always looking to The Hartford Guardian to provide internships and first job opportunities. I know the business of journalism well. I cut my teeth in New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. and have covered several news beats, including education, government, and politics. Most recently, I covered the State Capitol and the White House.

Moreover, I was the youngest president of the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, and the former president of the National Association of Caribbean-American Journalists. I’ve accomplished a lot collaborating with The Hartford Courant, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the World Bank, and the United Nations. I’ve also worked with several embassies in Washington, D.C. to coordinate important journalism conferences and forums to help train and enrich journalists to parachute in and cover various beats.

If given this opportunity, I can raise the level of dialogue that demands much needed change to help all SPJ members.

Current SPJ Office: None

Previous SPJ Experience: I have been a committed member since 2000.

Professional Experience: I am currently the editor and publisher of The Hartford Guardian, the first nonprofit, nonpartisan, hyper-local news publication in Connecticut that aims to build communities by raising the level of civic engagement and doing quality journalism. It is an independent monitor of power in the Greater Hartford region.

– (Current) Editor and Publisher, The Hartford Guardian (January 2004--)
– Freelancer, The Washington Post, (April 2012-)
– Freelancer, Ebony.com, (August 2013-)
– Freelancer, The Root, (December 2012-)
– Associate News Producer, FOX News, (June 2004-December 2004)
– Staff Writer, The Hartford Courant, (June 1999-June 2002)
– Government and Education Reporter, Times Herald Record, (June 1998-June 1999)
– Production Assistant, NBC 4, New York, (June 1997-December 1997)
– Editor-In-Chief, The Kingsman, Brooklyn College, (October 1995 - December 1998)
– Editor, The Excelsior, Brooklyn College, (January 1995–October 1995)

Education: Quinnipiac University: M.S. Journalism; B.A., Brooklyn College. Also, I have a paralegal certificate and a doctoral degree in American history.

Honors, Awards and Activities: I received first place in national education reporting from Unity, Lincoln University. I’ve also received other awards and scholarships from the Education Writers Association, SPJ, the International Center for Journalists, RTND, Hartford Business Journal, and was most recently a Pulitzer nominated reporter.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I am the best candidate for this position because of my varied experiences as an award-winning journalist serving as a local chapter president of other media organizations, which routinely collaborated with SPJ Connecticut since 2000.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I worked with the Connecticut chapter to coordinate journalism workshops and other networking events with media professions in Connecticut while a journalism instructor at Quinnipiac University.

I worked with the United Nations, SPJ, NPC, NABJ, NACAJ, and ONA members to collaborate on First Amendment issues, especially media suppression.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

My main priority is to make Region 1 Coordinator an organizer for a big tent of journalists collaborating and sharing resources with others in the region, increasing membership programming to serve all members. I would also help increase funding to help independent journalists and organizations fight media suppression in these unprecedented times. Journalists are being attacked on many levels, sometimes with covert activities and cyber terrorism.


Jane Primerano
@ReporterJane2

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I still have some goals to accomplish in Region 1. I am committed to creating either a Philadelphia Chapter or a satellite chapter of Keystone in Philadelphia. I also want to continue to link community colleges with four-year colleges that have student chapters to increase the involvement of community college students who are often very enthusiastic about SPJ. In addition, I am chair of the Regional Coordinators Caucus/Committee and want to continue to work with the other coordinators on chapter issues.

Current SPJ Office: Region 1 Coordinator

Previous SPJ Experience: I served one year as Interim Regional Director of Region 1 when Rebecca Baker became secretary-treasurer. Before that I was Rebecca’s assistant RD for two years. I joined the board of the NJPro Chapter in 2004 and was president for three years.

Professional Experience: I am currently freelancing, primarily for agriculture publications. I have been a reporter/photographer/editor for many years.

Education: Wagner College, BA in English/Secondary Education. Also course work in technical writing, graphic arts and photography.

Honors, Awards and Activities: I received the President’s Award from Rebecca Baker in 2018. I have received numerous awards for writing and photography from SPJ, New Jersey Press Association, New Jersey Press Women, Garden State Press Association and the National Association of Advertising Publishers.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

My experience serving Region 1.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I worked with the Maine and New England Chapters to provide a smooth transition from an independent Maine Chapter to a satellite chapter. Three new student chapters have been formed in Region 1 since I have been RD/RC.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Continuing to support my chapters in their programming and membership issues. Continuing to bring in student chapters. Increasing our presence in Philadelphia, upstate New York and northern New England.


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Region 4 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Ginny McCabe
@ginnymccabe

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: 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 also have built lasting relationships with other SPJ leaders and members throughout the region and on a national level.

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 goals and initiatives.

Current SPJ Office: Currently, I serve on SPJ’s Membership Committee and I’m on the board of the Freelance Committee. I also serve as the Cincinnati SPJ chapter president and plan to continue in that role. This is my second term as president of the Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter. Previously, I have also served as the chapter’s secretary for multiple terms.

Previous SPJ Experience: In addition to acting as a leader for the local chapter, I am actively involved with SPJ’s growing freelance community and I also fulfill a role representing Region 4 on SPJ’s national membership committee. I have been actively involved at the local, regional, and national levels of SPJ for more than 10 years. The Cincinnati chapter was founded in 1967 and the chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. SPJ leaders like our founding chapter member, Emil Dansker, 90, have not only paved the way for me, but they have continued to instill the outstanding values of journalism and SPJ, not only in my work with SPJ, but in my professional career as a journalist and a freelancer. I continue to strive for excellence personally and professionally.

Professional Experience: As a bestselling author, an award-winning journalist, media professional, speaker and teacher, my work can be seen in publications like Journal-News and Reuters. My books have been published by Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and Standard Publishing. I have spent decades covering topics like news, entertainment, business, and faith-inspired themes. Currently, I serve as president on the board of Greater Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists. I am also a member Christian Author's Network and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Secrets Young Women Keep is an ECPA Silver Medallion winner and has been featured on the CBA Young Adult Bestseller Lists. I was named "Best Freelance Writer" in 2018 and a Kiplinger Fellow in 2019.

Education: I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Cincinnati Christian University.

Ted Scripps Leadership Institute — SPJ, Scripps, 2017 graduate, certificate, journalism, leadership

Hostile Environment Training — Thomson Reuters, 2017 graduate, certificate, two-day course, journalism

Honors, Awards and Activities: My awards include an ECPA Silver Medallion Award for Secrets Young Women Keep and Bestselling Author status from Christian Bookseller's Association/CBA Bestseller lists. I have also received multiple SPJ awards on local and regional levels, including “Freelancer of the Year” in Ohio’s Best Journalism contest in 2018. Other standout awards include a Best News Story Award for "Harambe" (Reuters) and a Best News Writing Award for "Ray Tensing/Sam DuBose First Trial" (Reuters) as well as "Best Arts Profile" (Journal-News) "Best Arts Review" (Journal-News) and "Best Rock and Roll Feature Writing" (Journal-News, three years in a row.) In 2018, I earned honors for my work in Journal-News, Reuters, and Dayton Magazine. A few of the seven awards include "Best Investigative Reporting" (Reuters,) "Best News Writing" (Reuters,) and "Best Freelance Writer" (Reuters).

The Cincinnati chapter of SPJ has been named small "Chapter of the Year" three times in the past several years.

Kiplinger Fellow, Class of 2019.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

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. I am committed to SPJ and desire to work together with others on a local, regional, and national level to accomplish SPJ’s initiatives and goals.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I have worked diligently to help maintain and build the Cincinnati chapter’s communications tools, including the chapter website, social media channels and a quarterly newsletter. With encouragement from Hazel Becker from the DC Chapter, (and a member of SPJ’s Freelance Committee,) I helped to start a quarterly luncheon program for freelancers in Greater Cincinnati.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Region 4 has many strong leaders in chapters across the region. 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.


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Region 5 Coordinator
Choose one

Jump to candidate:
Nicole DeCriscio
Amy Merrick


Nicole DeCriscio
@nicole_dec

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: Personally, I owe much of the journalist I am today and the career that I have had to SPJ either directly or indirectly. I know that I am not the only journalist that has benefited from the work that SPJ does. That being said, the work done by SPJ is largely done without any self-promotion.

As membership declines, I believe that Regional Coordinator should serve as a resource to connect journalists to the offerings that SPJ provides on a local, regional and national basis. Regional Coordinators play an important role in growing and cultivating membership within their regions. I believe that it is time for Regional Coordinators to own that role and go beyond the day to day to share the work and accomplishments of SPJ with the larger journalism community in their respective areas.

As a member that has transitioned from student to Gen J to full-time professional to freelancer, I believe I am well equipped to represent the resources SPJ provides and promote the work that is done. I want to help tell SPJ’s story.

Current SPJ Office: I currently sit on the membership committee and on the sub-committee for Student Membership. I have served as a SPJ SMACK (Student Media Aid, Cash and Know-how) volunteer since 2016.

Previous SPJ Experience: 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.

Professional Experience: I spent three years working as a full-time professional journalist in Indiana as a reporter, photographer and paginator before being laid off last fall. I previously served as a Public Relations Manager for an international non-profit, and I now work as an assistant for local Human Rights Commission. I also freelance part-time. My work has also appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Education: BA in Philosophy from DePauw University.

Honors, Awards and Activities: I am a two-time Region 5 Mark of Excellence Award Finalist. I have also won awards through the Indiana Collegiate Press Association and the Indiana Pro Chapter of SPJ. In 2014, I also was awarded the Mary Smith Hamer Journalism Prize and the Gertrude and G.D. Crain Foundation Award through DePauw University.

I have twice represented SPJ at the College Media Association Spring Conference in New York City by presenting sessions informing students of SPJ opportunities.

I have also partnered with area schools in my home-state of Indiana to talk with elementary and middle school students about journalism as a whole, where news comes from and what it is like to be a daily reporter in their town.

Candidate Q&A

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 an example of a 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 will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

The first thing that I would like to accomplish if elected is to increase the communication for SPJ members within the region. I intend to utilize Facebook to create a page where members can connect, potential members can learn more and where advocates of journalism can support journalists within our region.

Another goal that I have is to specifically bring more training and programming to members of the region. While there is a vast geographical distance covered within the region, there is no reason that the same training sessions brought to members at the regional conference cannot be done virtually throughout the year. I want to work alongside chapters and members to develop programming and training they are interested in and that directly provides a benefit to them.

Lastly, it is my belief that the Regional Coordinator can play an important role in advocating for journalism and journalists within their region. It is my intention to use the role as a means to be a journalism advocate and educate the public and elected officials on the importance of local media.

I believe that Regional Coordinators can play an important role in membership growth and retention, providing assistance to members and chapters and advocating for professional and student journalists and a free press.


Amy Merrick
@amyjmerrick

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: SPJ should play a central role in promoting ethical and equitable journalism. Both journalists and audiences are focused on how newsrooms can be more inclusive and fairer in their recruitment, hiring and retention, as well as in their coverage. Right now, we have a great opportunity for chapters and members to learn from, support and inspire one another as they report on historic events. The more-experienced members in our region of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky have so much insight and guidance to offer, and our younger members can promote valuable new perspectives.

Current SPJ Office: Region 5 Coordinator

Previous SPJ Experience: I’ve served as Region 5 Coordinator since 2018 and have been the faculty adviser of DePaul University’s SPJ chapter since 2015.

Professional Experience: I was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal for more than a decade, covering everything from housing to banking to pharmacies to state budgets, all out of the Chicago bureau. Since then, I’ve edited a university research magazine and several books, and I freelance for local and national magazines.

At DePaul, in addition to advising the SPJ chapter, I teach news, business, feature, magazine and multimedia reporting, and advise 14 East magazine, an independent, student-run online publication.

Education: BSJ/MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism; MFA in writing from Pacific University

Honors, Awards and Activities: In 2020, I received DePaul’s university-wide Excellence in Leadership Award for faculty adviser of the year. DePaul’s SPJ chapter was the runner-up for National Campus Chapter of the Year in 2018. I have twice received DePaul’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

As of today, I’m running unopposed for the second time. This highlights a larger issue across SPJ: We need to do more to recruit, train and encourage new leaders. If I’m reelected, I commit to spending more time showing members in Region 5 what I do as regional coordinator and why the work is rewarding. To truly benefit members, this should be more of a team effort than an individual one.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I’ve taken the lead in planning successful regional conferences in Chicago and Louisville, with diverse speakers and timely discussions and training. (Our 2020 regional conference in Indianapolis had to be postponed because of COVID-19, but we are already making plans for our next gathering, whether virtual or in person.)

As regional coordinator, I reorganized our finances, moving our funds to a national bank to facilitate transitions in regional leadership. I also started a Twitter account to publicize regional and national SPJ developments, and I attended the national board meetings via conference call to keep our chapter leaders updated.

I led the drafting of a regional statement supporting student journalists, after several student chapters in our region experienced problems with their schools limiting access to information. We followed up by bringing together student media leaders from these chapters for a discussion at the Louisville regional conference.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Members in our region are full of ideas for responding to the challenges and opportunities facing journalists today. My goal is to facilitate conversations and regional collaborations on these subjects, even if we don’t have the opportunity to meet in person for some time. Here are some of the subjects our members say they want to prioritize:

— Diversity and equity in newsrooms
— Ethical issues of covering protests and Black Lives Matter
— Impacts of COVID-19
— Changes and innovations in the practice of journalism
— Student/professional partnerships
— Shared resources on journalism jobs and networking
— Outreach to smaller and rural newsrooms

Collaboration is the future of journalism. It helps us stretch our resources further, surfaces new ideas and best practices, and supports hardworking journalists in covering their communities more effectively.

As SPJ develops its next strategic plan, this is an excellent time to reconsider the role of the regions. Does their structure make sense? Are they serving members well? If not, what would be more effective ways to serve individual members and local chapters? I look forward to your thoughts.


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Region 7 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

No declared candidates yet.


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Region 8 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Kathryn Jones
@kajones1956

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: I want to continue the work I began two years ago as Region 8 coordinator. This is a critical time for journalism, perhaps the most critical in history. I want to help professional journalists and student journalists get the tools, information, and support they need to weather these unprecedented times.

Current SPJ Office: Region 8 Coordinator

Previous SPJ Experience: Region 8 coordinator, served on the national membership committee; campus co-adviser, Tarleton State University; member, Fort Worth Pro Chapter; speaker at SPJ functions; vice president, campus chapter, Trinity University.

Professional Experience: Co-director, Texas Center for Community Journalism (current); journalism instructor, Tarleton State University (current); contributing editor (current) and former writer-at-large, Texas Monthly magazine; writer under contract, New York Times; staff writer, Dallas Morning News; staff writer, Dallas Times Herald; Austin bureau reporter, Harte-Hanks Communications; staff writer, Corpus Christi Caller-Times; editor, Glen Rose Reporter.

Education: B.A., Journalism and English (double majors), Trinity University, San Antonio; Master of Liberal Arts, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Honors, Awards and Activities: Fellow, Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism; named “Print Journalist of the Year” by Fort Worth Weekly; “Journalist of the Year,” West Texas Press Association (three times); first place, news writing, feature writing, headline writing, column writing, news photography by the Texas Press Association, West Texas Press Association, and North and East Texas Press Association; gold and silver awards, International and Regional Magazine Association; inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I’ve spent my entire career in Texas working for large and small news outlets, so I know the area and many of the people who work in journalism, either professionally or on campuses. I’m dedicated in helping our profession and also educating the public about the role of journalism in democracy.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

I launched a Region 8 Facebook page and blog to better connect and inform members of our geographically large region. I worked with several chapters that were either restarting or launching. Our number of Region 8 chapters has grown in the past two years.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

My first priority is to help chapters through this difficult period when many of them cannot meet or hold events in person. It’s important to keep our existing chapters going. My second priority is to contact universities that have journalism programs but do not have SPJ chapters and help them start chapters, and to contact advisers at universities where students have participated in the MOE awards and try to get them involved in SPJ. We need to mentor and encourage the next generation of journalists. Another priority is to create more online tools for our chapters, such as tutorials and webinars. I believe there will be lasting changes from this pandemic crisis. More activities will have to move online.


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Region 9 Coordinator
Currently unopposed

Ed Otte

Why I’m seeking this SPJ office: To continue working with pro and campus chapters in the region and to serve as a liaison to the SPJ board and headquarters staff.

Current SPJ Office: Region 9 Coordinator

Previous SPJ Experience: Elected to SPJ Board of Directors in 2016. Elected regional coordinator in 2018. Served on Regional Fund Task Force. Attended Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in July 2016 in Denver. President of SPJ Colorado Pro chapter 2014-2016. SPJ member since 1989.

Professional 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 me 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." Adjunct journalism faculty at Colorado State University (1991-1995), served on journalism advisory boards at Metro State College-Denver (now University), University of Colorado-Boulder and Community College of Denver. Served as president of Colorado Associated Press Editors & Reporters in 1992 and on the CPA board of directors (1993-95).

Candidate Q&A

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

After serving for four years as an RD/RC, I can provide continuity in working with Region 9 pro and college chapters on membership and programming, and with state chapters on regional conferences. I worked on the past two regional conferences in Colorado and was involved with regionals in New Mexico and Utah. Regardless of how future conferences and other activities are staged, that experience is valuable.

What is an example of a change you have made or helped make within SPJ?

To assist Wyoming journalists in their efforts to reinstate their pro chapter I helped arrange SPJ sessions at Wyoming Press Association annual conventions in Casper and Cheyenne and two programs — one featuring the WPA media law attorney discussing recent changes to public meetings and records laws and the second a Facebook for Journalists training session — at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. The SPJ board reinstated the Wyoming chapter in 2019.

What will some of your priorities be if elected and why?

Emphasizing ethical newsgathering and best journalistic practices remain top priorities — in normal times and during this pandemic. They are vital for campus chapter activities, pro chapter programs and public projects. Providing outreach to and support for pro and campus chapters so SPJ can remain reliable and relevant to its members and the public.


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