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Alejandro, Vera-Phillips named first Reginald Stuart Diversity Management Fellows


Aug. 31, 2015

Dana Neuts, SPJ National President, 360-920-1737 (PDT), dneuts@spj.org
April Bethea, SPJ Diversity Committee Chair, 704-264-6884, adbethea@gmail.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS—The Society of Professional Journalists has selected Alexandria Alejandro and Kris Vera-Phillips as the first recipients of the Reginald Stuart Diversity Management Fellowship.

Alejandro is sports editor of the Victoria Advocate in Victoria, Texas, and holds degrees from State University of New York at New Paltz and Ulster County Community College. Vera-Phillips serves as senior news producer for KPBS News in San Diego and is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the University of California, Berkeley.

“We are pleased that the very first Reginald Stuart Fellowships are going to two very deserving journalism professionals,” said April Bethea, SPJ Diversity Committee chair. “We hope the fellowship will help Alex and Kris become even stronger leaders in their newsrooms."

Vera-Phillips has been a senior producer at KPBS since February, which she described as her first management role after working as a line producer at stations in California and Kansas. She was also a guest lecturer in broadcast journalism at St. Petersburg State University in Russia.

Alejandro is the first female sports editor in the 169-year history of the Victoria Advocate. She joined the paper in 2014 after more than a decade as a sports reporter and assistant in New York. She was promoted to assistant sports editor within her first nine months in Victoria, and was named sports editor a short time later.

“It is vital that newsrooms reflect the diversity of the communities they cover,” said Dana Neuts, SPJ national president. “Diversity has been an important focus during my year as SPJ president, and will continue to be for SPJ in the years ahead. The Stuart Fellowship will help ensure that people of all backgrounds are not only represented on newsroom staffs, but in management as well. We hope this help give everyone a voice in the stories covered by the media.”

As recipients of the fellowship, Alejandro and Vera-Phillips will participate in the Poynter Leadership Academy, October 4-9, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla., thanks to funding provided by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational foundation for the Society of Professional Journalists. The purpose of the Stuart Fellowship is to identify and provide management training to minority journalists who are managers or have management potential and to help address a major need to increase the number of minority managers in the newsroom.

The selection committee included Stuart, Robert Leger, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation president and Bethea and Walter Middlebrook of the SPJ Diversity Committee.

Reginald (Reggie) Stuart is a past national SPJ president and Wells Memorial Key winner — the highest honor bestowed upon a member for service to the Society. In 2006, he was named a Fellow of the Society, which recognizes journalists who have made extraordinary contributions to the profession.

A lifelong champion for diversifying newsrooms and news coverage, Stuart has worked the past two decades as a corporate recruiter for Knight Ridder Newspapers and The McClatchy Co. It was this work that earned him the Associated Press Media Editors’ Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership in 2013.

Stuart is a veteran journalist who spent his early career as a reporter for The Tennessean and WSIX in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1974, he left his hometown for The New York Times, where he began as a business and finance reporter. Within the next decade, he worked as a correspondent and bureau chief in Detroit, Atlanta and Miami. Afterward, he became a national affairs correspondent for the Philadelphia Daily News and worked his way up to assistant news editor in Knight Ridder’s Washington, D.C., bureau, where he stayed until 1996.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.


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