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SPJ to host 21 journalists and journalism educators for 2023 Future Leaders Academy


Karyn Nishimura Sneath, SPJ Director of Education, 317-920-4791, ksneath@spj.org
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Coordinator, ktsuyuki@hq.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 the goal of building confidence, connections and capacity.

“SPJ is as strong as its leadership. The Future Leaders Academy helps identify potential leaders, informs them of the rich history of the organization and provides invaluable training to set them up for success,” said Rod Hicks, SPJ director of ethics and diversity.

Twenty-one professional SPJ members have been selected to take part in this weekend learning experience held July 21-23 at Drury Plaza Hotel in Indianapolis. The interactive and in-depth academy will allow the journalists to learn leadership concepts and skills. Some topics covered throughout the weekend will be the power of vision and strategy, communication and ways to further engage in SPJ.

“FLA weekend always provides attendees with lively discussions and interactive exercises helping to improve communication, working well as a team, collaboration vs. competition and how all of these lessons will help them become better SPJ leaders,” said Jennifer Royer, SPJ interim executive director. “Volunteer leaders are vital to SPJ’s success, and it is exciting to bring journalists from across the country to Indianapolis to learn and grow together.”

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 now fully supported by a grant from the SPJ Foundation.

This extraordinary group of journalists are from across the country. They work for different professional outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The News Courier, PBS NewsHour, Southern California News Group and FOX Sports. The individuals participating in the FLA are:

— Carolyn Burt, from Sherman Oaks, California, is an audience engagement producer at Southern California News Group.

— Megan Campbell, from Seattle, is an award-winning business reporter. She is also the board president of the SPJ Western Washington Pro Chapter.

— Denise Clay-Murray, from Wilmington, Delaware, is the co-host of Philadelphia Hall Monitor. She is also a board member for the SPJ Keystone State Pro Chapter.

— Karina E. Cuevas, from Washington, D.C., is a national affairs producer for PBS NewsHour.

— Cecilia Dowd, from East Rockaway, New York, is a reporter for NewsdayTV. She is also the vice president of the SPJ Press Club of Long Island.

— Sharyn L. Flanagan, from Philadelphia, is the chief communications officer for SELF Inc., a nonprofit that assists homeless people. She is also a board member for the SPJ Keystone State Pro Chapter.

— Mischa Geracoulis, from Alexandria, Virginia, is a contributing editor at The Markaz Review and Project Censored and is on the editorial board of the Censored Press.

— Nadia Gordon, from Orlando, Florida, is a recent Florida Atlantic University journalism graduate. She currently works for the ReNews Project.

— Bobby Horecka, from Hallettsville, Texas, is a contributor for five South Texas weeklies and several neighboring publications, magazines and their related online sites.

— Maria Lawson, from Frisco, Texas, is the deputy editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, two community papers that are D Magazine partners. She is also the vice chair of the SPJ Membership Committee.

— Stella Lorence, from Brighton, Massachusetts, is a general assignment reporter at Woonsocket Call in northern Rhode Island.

— Loretta McGraw, from Altoona, Iowa, is a freelance journalist and SPJ’s Region 7 Coordinator.

— Astrid Mendez, from San Diego, is an Emmy award-winning bilingual TV anchor and reporter.

— Ankita Mukhopadhyay, from San Francisco, is a journalist and product manager.

— Kelsey Nicole Nelson, from Washington, D.C., is a freelance award-winning on-air host and reporter. She works with FOX Sports, MASN and "Brother from Another" on Peacock.

— Ernest Owens, from Philadelphia, is an award-winning journalist and the CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. He is the editor at large for Philadelphia Magazine.

— Nicolle Sartain Praino, from Athens, Alabama, is an award-winning journalist at The News Courier. She is also the president of the SPJ Georgia Pro Chapter and is the SPJ Awards and Honors Committee chair.

— Leslie Rangel-Garfias, from Austin, Texas, is an Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist and anchor, life coach, yoga educator and thought leader. She’s a 2022 graduate of the SPJ Dori Maynard Diversity Leadership Program.

— Isaac Taylor, from Jersey City, New Jersey, is a platform editor for The Wall Street Journal Pro.

— Wesley Wright, from Deerfield Beach, Florida, is a journalism advisor at Florida Atlantic University. He is also the executive director of the ReNews Project, which seeks to rejuvenate student media programs at historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions nationwide.

— Olivia Young, from Provo, Utah, is a social media manager and currently manages the SPJ New England LinkedIn page.

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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