Home > SPJ News > Society leaders: 2002-2003 candidate profiles

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS

Society leaders: 2002-2003 candidate profiles


Each year, delegates to the SPJ National Convention elect officers and board members to serve the Society.
The SPJ officers and board of directors play a key role in determining how best to manage SPJ's finances, increase membership and execute its missions of professional development, journalism education, First Amendment protection and journalism ethics.
Following are profiles of SPJ members who have announced their intentions to seek offices and board seats at SPJ's 2002 National Convention. Elections will take place Sept. 14.
The deadline for pre-convention nominations was June 3. During the opening business session at the convention in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 11-14, SPJ bylaws allow for candidates to be nominated from the floor. If you know of someone who has interest in serving on the board, get them to the convention and get them nominated.
For more information on the convention, visit SPJ's Web site at www.spj.org

Robert Leger
Current SPJ office: President-elect.
Employment: Editorial page editor, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, 1994-present.
Previous SPJ offices: Region 7 director, 1996-2000; Finance Committee, 2001-present, 1997; Southwest Missouri Pro Chapter president, 1992-94; Legal Defense Fund Committee, 1991.
Experience: Metro editor, special projects editor, Sunday editor, business reporter and copy editor since joining News-Leader in 1981. Worked at Coffeyville (Kan.) Journal for two years.
Education: Bachelor's in journalism degree, University of Missouri.
Honors, awards and activities: Missouri Press Association winner for editorials, columns and editorial page in large paper category; Best of Gannett winner for editorials; frequent host of public affairs program on public television; Drury College adjunct faculty, 1988-2000.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: I pledge to build on the work of Al Cross, Ray Marcano and other recent presidents in raising the profile of SPJ as a leading spokesman and advocate for freedom of information, the First Amendment and ethics. As the nation's largest and most broad-based journalism group, it is vital for our industry and for democracy that we continue this work. This is SPJ's mission. It is why we exist. But we cannot carry out this mission and cannot be the First Amendment's advocate unless we have a strong organization. That requires members, and it requires strong chapters. I will work to see that we continue to improve service to our members and especially to our chapters, the foundation upon which all our advocacy and professional development is built.

Mac McKerral
Current SPJ office: Secretary-Treasurer.
Employment: Editor, The Business Journal Serving Greater Tampa Bay.
Previous SPJ offices: SPJ National Board, campus adviser at large, two years; vice president of Campus Chapter Affairs, five years; SPJ Executive Committee, six years; and SPJ Finance Committee, eight years; chair, SPJ Campus Courts Task Force, two years.
Experience: Along with the offices listed above, I have served as chair of several national mission committees and have been a speaker at the SPJ Scripps Leadership retreats. I have led sessions at numerous SPJ Writers Workshops and regional conferences. I have been a working journalist and journalism educator since 1980 and have worked as a college newspaper and yearbook adviser, an SPJ student chapter adviser, and a reporter, city editor, managing editor and editor, including editor/general manager of a suburban startup weekly of which I was part owner.
Education: Bachelor's degree in secondary education/history, Arizona State University; master's degree in journalism, University of Illinois; Poynter Institute Fellow.
Honors, awards and activities: 2002 recipient of the Florida Press Association's Jon A. Roosenrad Award for writing in defense of the First Amendment and freedom of information; SPJ First Amendment Award recipient as a member of SPJ's Campus Courts Task Force; awards in reporting and column writing; recipient of the Ingall's Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching, Troy State University, Troy, Ala.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: SPJ finds itself at another critical point with regard to fiscal solvency and viability as a journalism organization. I think this year we have made much progress on seriously dealing with ongoing issues of declining membership, chapter maintenance and First Amendment and FOI protection. We are systematically reviewing and making recommendations for changes in bylaws, strategic planning recommendations, national convention and writers workshops. I will focus on the important and not be sidetracked by the immediate, and a large part of that will require working with the immediate past president, the president and the new secretary-treasurer in order to develop a five-year plan of action so that consistency and continuity of mission are achieved.
I remain an advocate for substantive changes in our governing process, including giving each SPJ member a vote. And I support significant changes in the SPJ National Convention that will reduce its cost and increase its impact.

Irwin Gratz
Current SPJ Office: Region 1 director, immediate past president, Maine Pro Chapter.
Employment: Morning Edition Producer, Maine Public Radio.
Previous SPJ offices: President, Maine Pro Chapter; treasurer, Maine Pro Chapter.
Experience: 11 years commercial radio news anchor/reporter and news director.
Education: Master's degree in journalism, New York University (1991); bachelor's degree in speech and theater, Lehman College, C.U.N.Y (1978).
Honors, awards and activities: Guest lecturer, Southworth Planetarium, University of Southern Maine; avid swimmer.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: For a decade after I joined SPJ in 1982, I welcomed all the Society gave me: professional development my small commercial radio station could not afford and networking opportunities. Its Code of Ethics provided important guidance, and SPJ taught me most of what I know about Freedom of Information laws and their application.
Since the early 1990s, I've been trying to give back: as a chapter president, since 1998 as the Region 1 director, and, with your support, as secretary-treasurer next year and a future, national president.
I want to apply my skills as a board member who helps identify areas of common interest and synthesize actions. I want to continue to be a voice for both small chapters and broadcasters in forming SPJ policy. It is even more important now to continue the work of making SPJ more visible as a national force for journalistic integrity and open government. As regional director, I found it most rewarding to visit local chapters and help connect them to the work of our national organization. I want to do much more of that and visit each of our dozen regions during my term as your president. Finally, I believe the news media has not done all it could to keep the public informed about how it does its job and why. I believe SPJ's officers can help by speaking in public frequently on the values we hold and the issues journalists believe are important. I want to seek out those opportunities as well.

Director At Large
Brian Joseph
Current SPJ office: Student representative, SPJ Board of Directors; president, Missouri School of Journalism Chapter.
Employment: Senior at the Missouri School of Journalism; planning to work at a metro newspaper following graduation in December 2002.
Previous SPJ offices: Vice president and membership coordinator, Missouri School of Journalism Chapter.
Experience: Seven newspaper reporting internships, including the Seattle Times (metro and investigative desks), the Modesto Bee (metro and business desks), the Lima News (metro and business desks) and the Omaha World-Herald (sports and metro desks)
Education: Graduating senior at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Honors, awards and activities: First-place AP award for an in-depth series written for the Lima News; various Mark of Excellence awards; staff research for Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: When I became a student representative two years ago, I had planned that I would serve two terms, graduate from college and disappear from the ranks of SPJ leadership for a few years, maybe to return in my late 20s or early 30s. But, as my term rapidly came to an end, I realized I'd miss doing SPJ's work. I feel like I've done some good things for SPJ and journalism as a student representative -- fighting for student journalists' rights, helping chapters develop better and more effective programming -- and that success in the boardroom and in the trenches will translate to the director at large position. I'm committed to this organization and what it stands for. I can't imagine my life without it.

Adviser At Large
Mead Loop
Current SPJ office: Ithaca College chapter adviser.
Employment: Assistant professor, Ithaca College; part-time editor, Ithaca Journal.
Previous SPJ offices: Founded Ithaca College SPJ chapter.
Experience: National editor, Nashville Banner; copy editor, Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer Journal; copy editor, Kansas City Star and Times.
Education: Master's degree, University of Missouri School of Journalism; bachelor's degree, Ithaca College.
Honors, awards and activities: 2001 SPJ Region 1 chapter award; 1997 best documentary nationwide, National Association of College Broadcasters; 15 published textbook reviews in academic journals.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: Last year, I advocated for a return to the local focus of SPJ's high school essay contest, in which entries and judging were submitted to campus chapters and then forwarded to national. That has since occurred, and I applaud that. This year, I would like to help build SPJ's national mentoring program by borrowing from our campus chapter programming. On our Web site (www.ithaca.edu/spj) and in a summer newsletter to incoming college freshmen, we promote our mentoring program matching upperclassmen and freshmen with similar interests. Freshmen immediately become involved in the chapter and make friends. I also conduct a two-day networking program for our seniors in New York City each year with journalism alumni. I believe I could take the lead in building SPJ's mentoring program. Finally, I am ready to take a leadership role in SPJ. I founded and advise our campus chapter, and I want to step up to the national level. My one campaign pledge: I will be receptive to your ideas and will respond constructively and cheerfully. I am very proud of my association with SPJ, believe in its mission and will do my best.

Adviser At Large
Neil Ralston
Current SPJ office: Member, Journalism Education Committee, 2000-present.
Employment: Assistant professor of journalism, Northwestern State University- Louisiana, 1999-present.
Previous SPJ offices: Organizer of the 1998 Region 7 Conference; coordinator of the Region 7 Mark of Excellence contest, 1994-1996; member, Legal Defense Fund Committee, 1998.
Experience: Assistant professor of communication, Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo., 1989-1999; reporter and rewrite person for the San Antonio (Texas) Light, 1985-1989; reporter, photographer, editor for daily and weekly newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana and Texas from 1978 to 1984.
Education: Doctorate in journalism, University of Missouri; master of arts, journalism, The Ohio State University; bachelor of arts in communication, and bachelor of science in industrial technology (electronics), Northeast Missouri State University.
Honors, awards and activities: David L. Eshelman Outstanding Campus Advisor, 1999; fellowship in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Reporting, The Ohio State University, 1984-1985; adviser of The Current Sauce, the student newspaper at Northwestern State University, 2000-present.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: I want to see SPJ continue its strong support for the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and a free press, and I want us to continue to foster ethical behavior, diversity and excellence within the profession. To do all of this, we must keep our student members involved in all aspects of the organization. I want to be an important part of the student involvement, and I would like to help SPJ do more to keep all of our members informed of the challenges that college and high school journalists face.

Student Representative (two positions available)
Jeff Douglas
Current SPJ office: Board member at large, Missouri School of Journalism Chapter, candidate for chapter president in 2003.
Employment: Student at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Free-lance writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune and weekend Web editor at columbiatribune.com.
Previous SPJ offices: Membership director, Missouri School of Journalism Chapter (2000-2002).
Experience: Internships at The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Mo., weekly teen section, TeenStar (1998/99); The Joplin Globe in Joplin, Mo. (2000); The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Co. (2001); The Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, Mo. (2000-present); free-lanced for The Star's suburban zone editions and MU's student newspaper, The Maneater.
Education: Senior at University of Missouri-Columbia, majoring in English with minors in journalism and music.
Honors, awards and activities: Kansas City Press Club: Moorhead Journalist of the Year Scholarship (1999).
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: I've been a member of the Society since 1999, and I believe in SPJ. If elected, I plan to implement a strategy to increase interaction between student chapters and neighboring pro chapters. I would like to encourage and guide student chapters without Web sites in creating a chapter site. These sites can improve communication and are excellent resource centers
for members and perspective members. I'm also interested in developing a student chapter campaign to recruit college newspapers/broadcast media as institutional members of SPJ.

Student Representative (two positions available)
Autumn Sanders
Current SPJ office: none.
Employment: Dow Jones Newspaper Fund online editing intern at Wall
Street Journal Interactive.
Previous SPJ offices: none.
Experience: Prepared and will present paper on Metaphors and the 9-11 attacks that analyzes the Wall Street Journal's special edition; regional campus reporter for The Post Online (school newspaper); member of site editing team for Athensi.com; front page designer for The Post.
Education: Entering senior year at Ohio University.
Honors, awards and activities: Dean's List for three years; John Newton Templeton Tuition Scholarship; Advantage Award; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Poet of the Year 2001, Black Student Communication Caucus (NABJ student chapter); tour guide, Ohio University Office of Admissions; founding president of Impact, (Christian organization for minority students).
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: I want to work with other SPJ members in extending their reach among students and transferring to them a respect for the First Amendment, diversity and journalistic integrity. I also want to help the SPJ board of directors to be mindful of the needs and concerns of journalism students and the ways in which SPJ can help meet those.

Region 1 Director
Guy Baehr
Current SPJ office: National chair, SPJ Awards & Honors Committee.
Employment: Reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger for 25 years until this year; now joining Rutgers University Journalism Resources Institute as assistant director.
Previous SPJ offices: President, vice president, secretary, awards chair and newsletter editor of the New Jersey Pro Chapter. (Active member of chapter board since 1986.).
Experience: Chaired 1992 Regional Conference for Region 1; organized several chapter professional development meetings, including meetings on repetitive stress injury and public broadcasting in New Jersey, Saturday workshops on narrative writing, use of the Internet and computer assisted reporting. Attended 1999 Scripps Howard leadership training program. Currently involved in the chapter's four-year Sunshine initiative, which has led to the creation of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government and passage this year of a significantly improved open public records law in New Jersey.
Education: Bachelor's degree with honors in government, history and economics (combined program) from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn, (1968); master's in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (1978).
Honors, awards and activities: State SPJ award for spot news reporting; 1989 Class of Leadership New Jersey; 1990 Transportation Advancement Award from the Metropolitan Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers; feature writing award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in 1999; founding board member, New Jersey Foundation for Open Government Inc. and organizer of its first two statewide conferences. Part-time journalism teacher at Rutgers University, five semesters.
Why I'm seeking this SJP office: I have been an active member of the New Jersey Chapter since 1986 and have attended almost all of the national and Region 1 conferences since then, which has given me a familiarity with SPJ on both a regional and national levels. My service as chair of the Awards and Honors Committee has given me some familiarity with the activities of the national board. On the regional level, I see an opportunity to continue strengthening the strong tradition of collaboration that has developed in our region. On the national level, I hope to contribute to SPJ's strategic effort to remain a vital force for strong journalistic values at a time when, more than ever, the profession (and the nation) needs a consistent champion for those values.

Region 4 Director
Bruce Cadwallader
Current SPJ office: Region 4 director.
Employment: Staff reporter, The Columbus Dispatch, since August 1985. Current assignment: investigative reporter of criminal justice stories.
Previous SPJ offices: Local chairman of the 2000 National Convention (Columbus, Ohio), national membership chairman (three years); chairman of the Legal Defense Fund (two years); former president (1994-95), vice president and secretary of Central Ohio Pro Chapter and local board member, 1992-2001.
Experience: 17 years of professional experience at three Ohio newspapers; former staff writer for The Post, the student-run daily at Ohio University.
Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism, Ohio University, 1983. SPJ member since 1982.
Honors, awards and activities: Numerous writing awards from The Associated Press, Cleveland and Cincinnati SPJ chapters and Central Ohio writing contests. SPJ's Howard Dubin Outstanding Pro Chapter Member award.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: I am running for re-election as the Region 4 director because I believe national leadership with a historical background of the society is critical now more than ever in making some tough budgetary decisions, and those decisions should be made by dedicated, long-term members of the Society with input from all of our constituents. I am a working journalist committed to the success of SPJ. My professional experience and my entire SPJ career since 1982 has occurred in this region, which I have come to know rather well. I have been an active chapter member and willingly accepted nominations to national posts with an eye toward improving my profession and my Society. As a regional director, I feel I can have even more influence in the Society's direction. Most importantly, I have developed relationships with regional people, and I know I can represent their interests on the national level.

Region 5 Director
Vicky Katz Whitaker
Current SPJ office: Region 5 director
Employment: Free-lance writer.
Previous SPJ Offices: Two terms as Region 1 director; past president, Press Club of Long Island Pro Chapter; four terms, vice president, Deadline Club (New York City pro chapter); member, Chicago Headline Club, Central Illinois Pro Chapter; South Florida SPJ, Press Club of Long Island.
Experience: Daily business reporter for 11 years, nine years as a free-lance writer, 14 years as managing editor of the North Shore News Group, L.I., and 12 years as director, University News Services, SUNY-Stony Brook. Journalism instructor, Hofstra University, Long Island University's C.W. Post's campus.
Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism, Hofstra University.
Honors, awards and activities: PCLI Media Award for political reporting and for feature writing. Led the North Shore News Group to New York State Press Association honors for news, political and education coverage. Named to Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the Media. Officer, Springfield, Ill., chapter, Association of Women Journalists; member, IRE. Judge for various journalism contests.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: With more than decade of experience at the national level, including six years on the national board, I bring to our region a depth of knowledge about SPJ's operations and issues. I have a long-term commitment to the work and ideals of SPJ and to the growth and support of chapters in my region.

Region 7 Director
No declared candidate.

Region 8 Director
Todd J. Gillman
Current SPJ office: Region 8 director; member of the SPJ Finance Committee; member of the SDX Foundation Board of Directors, member of the Dallas Pro Chapter board of directors.
Employment: National correspondent, Dallas Morning News.
Previous SPJ offices: President and president-elect, Dallas Pro Chapter.
Experience: Political reporter and columnist, city hall, metro and regional general assignments reporter at The Dallas Morning News since 1989.
Education: Master's degree in public policy, Harvard University, 1989; bachelor's degree, Johns Hopkins University, 1987.
Honors, awards and activities: First place for spot news and Sweepstakes winner from Texas APME as one of the lead reporters on Dallas Morning News' Sept. 11 coverage. Two-time finalist for Dallas Press Club Katie Awards in column-writing and spot news. Led Dallas Pro Chapter to SPJ honors for regional small chapter of the year and national Circle of Excellence award for professional development.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: More than ever, journalists and the public need a champion like SPJ to fight the battles for open government and public accountability. We need to maintain and bolster the credibility of the Fourth Estate, and to promote the ability of writers, academics and students to exercise their rights. In places such as Texas and Oklahoma, SPJ serves as a vital link among journalists in all walks of media. I just want to do my bit to ensure that the Society thrives to pursue its missions.

Region 9 Director
Paul Husselbee
Current SPJ office: Adviser, Southern Utah University campus chapter; member, SPJ Ethics Committee since 1997.
Employment: Assistant Professor of Communication, Southern Utah University; interim city editor, The Daily Spectrum, St. George, Utah.
Previous SPJ offices: Ethics Committee deputy chair, 1998.
Experience: Since 1978, I have worked at newspapers in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas, including five years' full-time experience as a Major League Baseball beat writer and five years covering Division I-A college football. Served as copy editor, city editor and managing editor.
Education: Doctorate degree, Ohio University, 1999; master of arts degree, Brigham Young University, 1994; bachelor of arts degree, Southern Utah University, 1985.
Honors, awards and activities: Nominee, Adviser of the Year and Professor of the Year at Southern Utah University, 2001-2002. Also, nominated for University Scholar, Lamar University, 2000. Won various research awards and grants from organizations such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Lamar University Foundation and the Wright Foundation, among others.
Why I'm seeking this SPJ office: SPJ chapters in Region 9 have the potential to improve the quality and professionalism of journalism and journalism education in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. We also need to seek to establish pro and student chapters in Wyoming. I seek ways to strengthen our existing chapters and help them to increase their resources. By so doing, I hope to mobilize our membership, building on the contribution of our immediate past director, Jay Evensen, to champion the cause of excellent journalism in our region.

Region 12
No declared candidate.
(One-year term.)

Join SPJ
Join SPJWhy join?