"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 2023

Sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation

2023 Program Overview


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

This live educational 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.


May 19 Deadline for applications
June 2 Participants selected
June 9   Participants accept
June 16   Travel arrangements completed by participants
July 21-23  Future Leaders Academy


Drury Plaza Hotel, Indianapolis

9625 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46290

What is Covered?

  • Coach airfare
  • Lodging on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Over 15 hours of educational content and networking time
  • Leadership development profile, participant workbook and supplemental materials
  • Meals (day 1 dinner; day 2 breakfast, lunch and dinner; day 3 breakfast)

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. 

Apply by Friday, May 19.

For specific questions about the FLA, contact Karyn Nishimura Sneath at ksneath@spj.org

Schedule at a Glance

Friday, July 21

3-4:15 p.m. Community Building – Drury Plaza Hotel Meeting Room (first floor)

Through a variety of interactive and purposeful exercises, we will build the learning community and set the tone for the weekend of FLA!  Be prepared to interact, connect and prepare for a rich experience with your SPJ FLA cohort.

4:30-5:45 p.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.

6:00-p.m. Dinner & “Kick Back” Cocktail Hour – Drury Plaza Hotel

Buffet dinner with ticketed cocktail service.

Saturday, July 22

7:00-8:30 (seating on your own) Buffet Breakfast – Drury Plaza Hotel

8:30-10:00 a.m. Understanding and Maximizing Strengths with the DiSC® Profile

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 and obstacles have you 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.

10:15-10:45 a.m. SPJ Today:  Mission and Values  

We’ve looked to the past to remember and reflect on the influencers of SPJ.  This session will provide you with a good overview of SPJ’s mission, strategic future, leaders’ roles and member benefits.

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. SPJ – Round Robin

Meet the professional staff who design, coordinate and deliver the services and benefits to our individual members and our 150 chapters across the country. In structured, time rounds, you’ll meet several staff members and then talk informally with the remaining team members and volunteers during the lunch hour.

12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch/Informal Networking – Drury Plaza Hotel

Informal follow-up conversations selected staff and volunteers of your choosing.

1:00-2:30 p.m. Snafu

Dig into a leadership simulation experience!  It will follow with a debriefing session and practical application of the lessons learned during this activity. Be prepared to engage at a high level!  There won’t be any afternoon yawns after lunch.

2:45-4:15 p.m.  SPJ Forward:  Future Opportunities 

At this point you’ve met some interesting people and new friends.  You’ve gained some skills and leadership insights.  You’ve applied the information in practical SPJ contexts.  Now what?

Associations are great vehicles to hone your leadership skills and build your network of great colleagues.  You’ll get an overview of typical ways association volunteers contribute their time, talent and treasure. Getting engaged in SPJ isn’t just serving on a committee or the board.  There are numerous ways to be more informed, involved and ultimately invested in SPJ.  This session will give you a wider perspective on membership organizations and help you think about your future engagement in SPJ.

4:30-5:00 p.m. Specific SPJ Involvement and Engagement Opportunities

We’ll provide you with a spectrum of opportunities, from the very simple ways to stay connected to very involved, longer term volunteer jobs. This will help you plan for tomorrow’s FLA content and your personal plan. 

5:30 p.m. – Depart for The Barrel Room
1435 E 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN

Sunday, July 23

8:00-9:00 a.m.  Breakfast – Drury Plaza Hotel

9:00-10:30 a.m. Closure:  What’s Next for Me?

This session will pull closure to the FLA experience with a model of building one’s leadership credibility, prioritizing one’s values, skills and considering future volunteer aspirations.  This final session will help you summarize the FLA experience and then focus on setting individual goals for the future.

10:30 a.m. Departures/Farewells

Join SPJ
Join SPJWhy join?

SPJ News
SPJ and Authory partnership helps journalists back up their work
SPJ Legal Defense Fund to assist freelance journalist after FBI raid
SPJ offers resources for journalists affected by layoffs

Events and Deadlines
2/26/24: Nomination Deadline: SPJ Black Hole Award
2/26/24: Application Deadline: SPJ Student Trustee Council
2/26/24: SPJ Sports Zoom Event: Parker Ruttan, Founder of 'Behind the Broadcast'
2/28/24: Freedom of Information Committee Meeting
2/28/24: Moving Meditation: Exercises for journalists to reduce stress

Application form