"The training was well presented and invaluable. The community building was a more valuable component than I anticipated."
"The dedication to member engagement and personal service blew me away. I loved every minute of the weekend."
"Very well organized and uplifting! I came away with a more positive impression of SPJ, its past, present and future."

Future Leaders Academy 2022

Sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation

When: May 20-22, 2022
Where: Hilton Garden Inn, Carmel, IN. (map)
Apply: Apply here

Identifying, cultivating and preparing future leaders for SPJ — that’s why the SPJ Future Leaders Academy was created.

An outgrowth of the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, whose graduates helped shape today’s SPJ, the live Academy experience offers an opportunity for up-and-coming leaders to learn about the history, programs, and operations of the Society. It offers core training through interactive, meaningful, and practical leadership development experiences with a goal of building confidence, connections, and capacity.

An organization is only as strong as the members and the volunteers that choose to serve as leaders. You can help us make SPJ stronger while boosting your own skills and knowledge.


March 1: Deadline for applications
March 21: Participants selected and confirmed (selected by staff)
March 21-April 1: Cohort prep / Travel arrangements made by participants
May 20-22: Future Leaders Academy


With a generous grant from the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, the cost to you is minimal. What’s covered?

– Coach airfare
– Lodging — two nights
– Over 13 hours of educational content
– Leadership development profile and supplemental materials
– Meals (Friday dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sunday breakfast)
– Post-academy coaching and/or educational sessions

Who is Eligible?

Any professional member with an interest in furthering their involvement in and connection to SPJ are encouraged to apply. We are looking for a cohort of people who have a willingness to learn and grow as leaders. No minimum time of membership is required, and acceptance as a program participant is contingent on current membership in SPJ.

Applications are due at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 1. Follow this link to apply.

Schedule at a Glance

Friday, May 20

3-4 p.m.: Community Building
Through a variety of interactive and purposeful exercises, we will build the learning community and set the tone for the weekend of the Future Leaders Academy! Be prepared to interact and connect with others in the cohort and prepare for a rich learning experience.

4:15-5:30 p.m.: Understanding and Maximizing Strengths with the DiSC Profile: Part 1
Self-awareness and tapping the talents of others are important skills in leadership development. What are your strongest leadership behaviors? What are some of the leadership challenges you’ve faced? How do you maximize the talents of others around you? Through the use of the DiSC Profile, you will gain a sense of four dimensions of leadership and your own unique qualities and behaviors.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Working Dinner — on-site at hotel: DiSC Profile: Part 2
The second part of the DiSC Classic Profile focuses on the question “now what?” Now that you have a better idea of your own limitations and strengths, how will you this knowledge to the context of SPJ? This session will give you more time to think about your volunteer and engagement path in the organization.

6:45-8 p.m.: Group Decision-Making
The work of SPJ is collaborative. It’s engaging. We lean on each other as resources. The Society consists of wise sages, new members with fresh perspectives and hundreds of people with unique needs and desires. Understanding how to make good decisions for the benefit of the whole is imperative for the health of the organization. This session will delve into decision-making approaches, team health and facilitative behaviors.

8 p.m.: Happy Hour/Informal Networking

Saturday, May 21

8-9 a.m.: Breakfast

9-10 a.m.: SPJ History and Influences: Timeline Activity
SPJ has its books, magazines and other items in archives to document our history since 1909. In this session we will experience a living history exercise to further our conversations about SPJ’s storied past. We’ll examine pivotal organizational moments, cultural and societal events and influential people.

10-10:15 a.m.: Break

10:15-11:15 a.m.: SPJ Today
We’ve looked to the past to remember and reflect on the influencers of SPJ. Now we’ll learn more about today’s leaders, strategy, programming, volunteer opportunities and other elements of the Society. SPJ is a membership organization full of talent and dedication. This session will introduce you to best practices in association/nonprofit management so we can continue to be mission-driven in our efforts. Good leadership is needed for both SPJ and the SPJ Foundation so we will share more about the purpose, programs and practices of the SPJ Foundation.

11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: SPJ Tomorrow: The Power of Vision and Strategy
The power of visionary leadership and foresight is critical to today’s healthy associations. While the world moves at breakneck speed, so too must SPJ. During this session we’ll discuss the elements of visionary leadership. Finally, we’ll discuss the importance of foresight and strategic planning.

12-1 p.m.: Lunch/Informal Networking

1-2:15 p.m.: Three Types of Thinking: Creative, Critical and Constructive
SPJ needs different types of thinking to move us to our preferred future. This session will give you several creative thinking and problem-solving techniques so you can refresh a tried-and-true SPJ program or develop new ideas that can be implemented immediately. This is a very interactive session so get ready for some innovative thinking!

2:15-2:45 p.m.: Break

2:45-3:45 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.: SPJ’s Future: the Marriage of Strategy and Operations
This two-part session will connect you to the ways we’re strategizing for the future through SPJ’s dynamic and future-focused strategic plan.

There’s an art and science to great association management. It involves remembering and respecting the past. It connects that past to today’s good work. And, it enables us to dream and plan for a transformative future.

Now is the time to think specifically about your future engagement in SPJ. During this session we’ll share information on how organizations recruit and retain volunteers and begin to help you determine your SPJ volunteer path.

5-6 p.m.: Break
– Drop off materials in your room.
– Grab your book for the Leadership Library.
– Get ready to depart for dinner off-site.

6:30 p.m.: Depart for Dinner

Sunday, May 22

8-9 a.m.: Breakfast

9-10:15: Self-Care: Stress Management
The last two years has been especially hard for journalists. SPJ members and other journalists are reporting on daily dangers and traumas. The work requires journalists to quickly bounce back and move on to the next story. People forget that journalists are sometimes put in almost impossible situations and are not superhumans. SPJ wants to focus on self-care so we can retain our rich membership and journalism’s best story tellers. We will gain practical ideas to prioritize ourselves and recharge in simple and ongoing ways.

10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: Closure: What’s Next for Me?
The concept of personal branding has grown and developed into an entire industry within marketing. This session will focus on the “behind the scenes” elements of personal branding: personal values, skills, strengths and aspirations. This final session will help you summarize the FLA experience and then focus on setting individual goals for the future.

12 p.m.: Departures/Farewells

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