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SPJ to host 17 journalists and journalism educators for 2022 Future Leaders Academy


Karyn Nishimura Sneath, SPJ Director of Education, 317-920-4791, ksneath@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a live academy experience for upcoming leaders to learn about the history, programs and operations of the Society. The Future Leaders Academy offers training through interactive, worthwhile and practical leadership development experiences with a goal of building confidence, connections and capacity.

Seventeen professional SPJ members have been selected to take part in this weekend learning experience held May 20-22 at Hilton Garden Inn in Carmel, Indiana. Participants applied and were selected by SPJ staff. The FLA was created as an outgrowth of the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, whose graduates helped shape today’s SPJ. It is supported by a grant from the SPJ Foundation.

“The group that is coming this year has a variety of different backgrounds in journalism and life that are very helpful,” said Matt Morris, SPJ director of development and FLA selection committee member. “There’s such a wealth of experience and knowledge that’s found within the group.”

The interactive and in-depth academy will allow the journalists to learn leadership concepts and skills from expert mentors. Some topics covered throughout the weekend will be the power of vision and strategy, stress management and problem solving.

“Being on the selection committee made it fun to imagine how this year’s group will learn from each other. It’s a group that represents the desire for journalism,” said John Shertzer, SPJ executive director.

This extraordinary group of journalists are from across the country. They work for different professional outlets including The Boston Globe, Houston Business Journal and Variety Magazine as well as for local ABC, NBC and Fox stations. The individuals participating in the FLA are:

Jonathan Adams, from Houston, is the managing editor of the Houston Business Journal, where he oversees a team of seven reporters.
Annie Bennett, from Boston, is president of the SPJ chapter at Emerson College. She's currently working at The Boston Globe and will finish her journalism degree next year.
Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, from Agoura Hills, California, is a full-time journalism professor at Santa Monica College and an Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer and PR expert and author. She is the president of the Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter.
Nicole DeCriscio Bowe, from Bloomington, Indiana, is a freelance journalist. She currently serves as the SPJ Region 5 Assistant Coordinator and as a member of the SPJ Membership Committee.
Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez, from Louisville, Kentucky, works as a breaking news reporter at the Courier Journal. She is also the president and co-founder of SPJ Puerto Rico and is vice-chair of the SPJ Membership Committee.
Kristin Campbell, from Miami, serves as a managing editor at the American Welding Society. She contributes to the Welding Journal, Inspection Trends, Welding Digest and SPRAYTIME.
Melissa Cassutt, from Jackson, Wyoming, is the Mountain/Northwest Region Manager for the Solutions Journalism Network and president of the SPJ Wyoming Pro Chapter.
Patricia Cordell, from Jersey City, New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism from Indiana University's Ernie Pyle School of Journalism and has nearly completed her master’s degree in multimedia and conflict reporting from the University of Oregon.
Jenna Dennison, from Vashon, Washington, is a reporter at the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, a weekly community newspaper in Vashon Island, Washington.
Jacqueline Fuller, from Alexandria, Virginia, is the executive producer and host of Interfaith Connections, an online YouTube program dealing with multi-faith issues in the Washington, D.C., area. She is also a freelance writer for the Washington Informer newspaper covering religion in the African American community.
Jordan Gass-Pooré, from New York City, is executive producer and host of the investigative climate podcast “Hazard,” which she created with NJ Spotlight News and WNET.
Clayton Gutzmore, from Pembroke Pines, Florida, is a freelance journalist in South Florida, working for The Miami Times, 91.3 WLRN, The Atlanta Voice, BET and Variety Magazine
Maysoon Khan, from Quincy, Massachusetts, is a multimedia journalist at The Boston Globe. She is vice president of the SPJ New England Pro Chapter.
Michelle Lagos, from Los Angeles, joined SPJ as the communications coordinator in February 2022.
Stacie Overton-Johnson, from Watertown, New York, produces and writes for the Texas-based TV show Goodtaste. She is vice chair of the SPJ Freelance Community.
Peter Rasmussen, from Helotes, Texas, is digital editor at the San Antonio Express-News. He is the San Antonio Pro Chapter’s vice president for communications.
Solomon O. Smith, from North Hollywood, California, spends the majority of his days writing and doing photography.

The Society of Professional Journalists Foundation is a public foundation dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. The SPJ Foundation supports educational and professional needs of journalists and journalism students. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Give to the SPJ Foundation.

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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