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Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins sworn in as 107th president of Society of Professional Journalists


10/1/2023


CONTACT:
Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, SPJ National President, ashanti.blaize@gmail.com
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Coordinator, ktsuyuki@hq.spj.org

LAS VEGAS — Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins was sworn in as the 107th president of the Society of Professional Journalists during the President’s Awards Banquet at the SPJ23 Journalism Convention, SPJ’s annual convention held in Las Vegas. She became the first Black woman sworn in as SPJ national president in its 114-year history.

Blaize-Hopkins is a journalism professor at Santa Monica College, where she is also the faculty advisor of the institution’s award-winning student-run newspaper, The Corsair. In her role at Santa Monica College, she also serves as an equity coach, assisting faculty in equitizing curriculum and closing equity gaps amongst students of color.

She was a television news anchor and reporter for eleven years, working for stations in El Paso, Texas; Las Vegas; and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas. Before her career in higher education, which included stints at Richland College, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Blaize-Hopkins ran a successful public relations/marketing firm and video production company. She has been recognized numerous times for her work as a journalist, including with a regional Emmy award and several nominations.

Blaize-Hopkins joined SPJ in 2017 as a board member of the SPJ Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter. She quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the chapter’s vice president and then president. During her tenure on the board of SPJ LA, Blaize-Hopkins was instrumental in building a coalition of journalism organizations, First Amendment advocacy groups and media unions to address issues of press freedom in the state. The coalition successfully lobbied the California state legislature and the governor to pass a bill that would prevent law enforcement from detaining or arresting journalists while covering incidents of civil unrest. That law is now in place and the coalition’s work continues focused on advocating for journalists targeted by law enforcement.

At the national level, Blaize-Hopkins served as chair of the SPJ Nominations Committee and Executive Director Search Committee in 2022. She was also on the SPJ Delegate Taskforce that same year.

Blaize-Hopkins’ goals for the Society are to focus on the future and sustainability of local news, diversify newsrooms at all levels, upskill professional and student journalists by providing consistent programming and to shine a light on the mental health needs of all journalists, but especially journalists of color and journalists in the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, Blaize-Hopkins wants to ensure all SPJ members and potential members truly see the benefits of joining SPJ.

“The journalism industry is at a turning point, and I truly believe SPJ can position itself to build coalitions with like-minded journalism organizations in order to affect real sustainable change,” said Blaize-Hopkins. “We have to engage in policy discussions at the highest level. We have to produce research and reports that provide a more equitable way forward for the news business. Our very Democracy is at stake, and we don’t have the option to do nothing.”

Attracting a diverse group of new members to SPJ is also one of her goals.

“I hesitated to join SPJ for several years because I just didn’t see anyone who looked like me in leadership positions. It made me feel like I didn’t belong in the organization. But I decided to be the change that I wanted to see in SPJ,” she said. “Representation matters and I hope that I can show through my leadership and my diverse board of directors, that there is a place for everyone at SPJ.”

Blaize-Hopkins is the proud daughter of an immigrant father from Antigua. She grew up in Virginia Beach with her mother. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Columbia University and received her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Miami.

She takes the reins from Claire Regan, an assistant professor at Wagner College in New York City and a contributing writer to the Staten Island Advance.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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