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Tools for SPJ Leaders
Regional Coordinators Guide

Regional Coordinators are national leaders in SPJ. You serve as a resource for members in your region and are the link between those members and the national organization. Because of the importance of your role, you receive a $1,500 annual stipend for travel to the national convention and within your region. If you have any questions that aren’t addressed on this web page, please contact Jennifer Royer at SPJ headquarters.

Jump to:
Roles and Responsibilities
First Steps: Things to Do After You’re Elected
What am I supposed to do?
Regional Fund Oversight
Staying connected

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Current Regional Coordinators

Find contact information and additional details about our regional coordinators here. [Link opens in new tab]

Regional Coordinators Caucus Chair: Nicole DeCriscio Bowe (Region 5)

Roles and Responsibilities

Job description and selection

A regional coordinator (RC) is an elected leader who oversees one of SPJ’s 12 regions. RCs support chapters in their regions, help create new chapters in their area and serve all members, whether affiliated with a chapter or not. Communicating regularly, connecting members within the region and being available to help when needed are key responsibilities.

RCs are elected by members of their region to a two-year term. There are no term limits for the position, but RCs are encouraged to appoint deputy RCs and work with leaders within their regions to encourage interest in the position.

The RC also is responsible for appointing someone to serve as an administrator of the regional Mark of Excellence collegiate journalism contest, assist in coordinating the regional conference and review chapter annual reports within the region.

Time Commitment

The amount of time you spend will vary throughout the year.

The RC needs to be accessible at all times. It is important to keep a running dialogue with all your professional and college chapters, as well as communicating with all members in your region.

There are a few times each year that will require you to spend time to help with annual milestones and events. The busiest times are planning regional conferences, judging the Mark of Excellence awards and reviewing annual reports — all of which happen in the spring.

Once you have established a line of communication with the chapters and unaffiliated members in your region, you will want to schedule time for a regular call or check-in. You also want to follow all of their social media channels so you are up to date on their activities.

First Steps: Things to Do After You’re Elected

The RC Caucus chair will assign experienced RCs as mentors for the newly elected RCs. It is helpful for the new RCs to connect on a regular basis with their mentors at the beginning of their terms to get support as you settle into your new role.

After the election it is helpful to call your predecessor and get information about:

– Members in the region.
– Chapters in the region.
– Regional bank accounts.
– Regional conferences.
– Pending important and urgent issues to address immediately.
– Important standing dates.

It also is important to appoint your team:

– Assign someone to be your regional treasurer (see the regional funds oversight section for their responsibilities).

– Assign someone to chair your regional conference.

– Assign someone to be your Mark of Excellence coordinator.

– Identify and select one or two deputy regional coordinator(s). Individuals in this role can be assigned to any of the tasks needed to be handled at the RC’s discretion.

– Get a roster of members in your region to connect with members. You will receive training on how to get these lists from our new Impexium database, but until then ask our manager of membership and chapters for that information.

– Set goals. Work with the RC Caucus chair and your colleagues to manage annual responsibilities and address issues that come up in your region.

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What am I supposed to do?

Member Outreach and Engagement

You represent all the members in your region, so the heart of your work as an RC is focused on connecting with them, providing them with tools and training and sharing the core missions of SPJ. Give them a personal link to the Society and a reason to become and stay members.

– Make it a point to have frequent, regular communication with members in your region. Use whatever format works for you — from BuzzFeed list style to a traditional newsletter — to get out ideas and keep in constant contact.

– Talk to people in your region. Find out what they need and want. Seek out areas without a strong SPJ presence and help improve our visibility by creating a chapter or other member engagement there.
– Send an email (use things like MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc., to keep your database and mailing list straight). Be sure you have a current list of members in your region, which you can get from our membership coordinator at SPJ headquarters.

– Take over your region’s social media accounts if they have them. If they don’t, consider whether it would be beneficial in your region to create them or if there are other communications streams in place that have it covered.

– Ask members questions. Find out what they need, what struggles they’re facing, if there’s something your region needs to speak out about. You’re then able to set your goals and work toward making sure that all members of your region feel served well by SPJ.

Chapter Support

Chapter success also is important to you as an RC. You serve as a resource for programming, outreach and member recruitment.

– Keep in close contact with your chapter leaders. Remind chapters to notify SPJ headquarters when they elect new leaders so information stays up to date.

– RCs need to be aware of their regions meetings and events and make themselves available when needed. It is important to join meetings or events occasionally. Putting a face to the name is critical and helps chapter leaders understand they can lean on you for support.

– Help chapters make contacts with other national SPJers for programming purposes. Use your large national network to provide key resources to chapters.

– Remind your chapters of important information, such as filing their annual reports and deadlines for submitting applications for chapter grants.

– Work with chapters to help them meet the minimum requirements to remain in good standing.

– Provide support and advice to those who would like to start a chapter. Information about forming a chapter, along with the requirements, can be found here.

Evaluate Annual Reports

Each year, every SPJ chapter is required to submit an annual report using the form provided by SPJ headquarters. This report gives us important information about the chapter: their activity level, how their finances are doing, what programs they’re hosting, any struggles or challenges and successes that they’re proud of. These reports also are used to determine if chapters met the minimum requirements to be in good standing with the Society and, in turn, have authorized delegates at the national convention’s business sessions. RCs also use the reports as a basis for selecting the annual Circle of Excellence awards.

The Process

Annual reports are usually due in the spring and are sent to SPJ HQ electronically. Once they have been processed, reports are shared with RCs via Google Drive.

Once you have access to the files, you will review each report, determine if the chapter met minimum requirements and make nominations for chapter awards.

Overseeing the Planning for a Regional Conference

It is the RCs responsibility to ensure a conference date, conference chair and location are selected. Most regional conferences are planned by a host chapter and are in the spring. In addition to a conference chair there also is a conference committee, often made up of members from the host chapter. You serve as a resource for the conference chair and planning committee and assist as needed. Headquarters staff also can be a resource for selecting a location or negotiating a contract. The Regional Conference Planning Guide is a resource to help plan the conference.

An important reminder to share with conference chairs: make sure there is enough time to process Mark of Excellence entries, coordinate judging and create certificates before the date of the regional conference.

Oversee the Administration of the Mark of Excellence Awards

The Mark of Excellence Awards is the annual contest for collegiate journalists. Winners usually are recognized at the regional conferences. Each region has a contest coordinator — most RCs appoint someone for the role, but the RC can choose to do it himself or herself.

Here are some details:

– Entries and judging are completed online. (Judges usually come from outside the region.)

– Regional winners are announced in the spring and typically honored at regional conferences.

– First-place winners in each region go on to compete for national Mark of Excellence Awards.

– National winners are announced in May and honored during the Student Union at the national convention.

– All MOE entry fees are processed/retained by SPJ headquarters.

Lou Harry, Quill editor and manager of publications and awards at SPJ headquarters, is available to provide support, including checklists for the awards process.

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Regional Fund Oversight

Each region has varying traditions for raising and spending regional funds. Determining how regional funds can be used is left up to the regions with the understanding that regional funds may be used only for SPJ purposes and not for anyone’s personal benefit. The national board of directors adopted regional fund oversight rules in 2018.

1. The national Secretary-Treasurer will have oversight responsibilities of regional treasuries on behalf of the national Board of Directors. The national Secretary-Treasurer will work with Regional Coordinators and Regional Treasurers.

2. Within 45 days of his or her election, a Regional Coordinator shall appoint an SPJ member in good standing in his or her region to the position of Regional Treasurer.

A. If an RC doesn’t appoint a Regional Treasurer within 45 days of his or her election or within 45 days of a Regional Treasurer stepping down, he or she should be removed from that position consistent with the bylaws.

3. The RC shall notify the SPJ executive director, the national Secretary-Treasurer, all chapter presidents of the region and the incumbent Regional Treasurer of the name, chapter (if affiliated) and contact information of the new Regional Treasurer. The incumbent Regional Treasurer shall notify SPJ headquarters, the national Secretary-Treasurer, the RC and the new Regional Treasurer of the amount in the regional fund.

A. The incumbent Regional Treasurer also shall provide all bank records to the new Regional Treasurer.

4. Regional funds shall be held in a separate regional checking account and not co-mingled with any chapter account.

5. Regions are required to make their bank accounts transparent to the national Secretary-Treasurer, RC and chapter presidents within each region. This can be done by providing copies of bank statements or with electronic access to bank accounts — either through “read-only” accounts or through money management programs.

A. Electronic banking is encouraged in lieu of traditional banking, such as writing checks, to reduce the chance of external theft from the accounts.

B. The Regional Treasurer shall keep a file of receipts each noted with the date and form of electronic payment used.

6. SPJ headquarters shall schedule training for Regional Treasurers within 60 days of the RC elections.

A. Regional Treasurers must complete training or they will be removed from the position.

7. The RC shall make a quarterly report of regional income, expenses and fund balance, including monthly bank statements, to the national Secretary-Treasurer.

A. Reports are due 14 days after the end of each quarter (March 30, June 30, Sept. 30 and Dec. 31). The national Secretary-Treasurer will review all reports, including monthly bank statements, and respond to RCs within 21 days after receiving the reports with any questions.

B. If RCs don’t provide quarterly reports, including bank statements, they should be removed from that position consistent with the bylaws.

8. Each RC is strongly encouraged to make a monthly report of regional income, expenses and fund balance, including monthly bank statements, to all chapter presidents in the region. The RC may delegate this to the Regional Treasurer.

Using regional funds

9. The RC shall request disbursement of funds in writing to the Regional Treasurer with a clear explanation of the purpose of their use. Either letter or email requests showing date and time the request was sent shall be acceptable support. If the RC is requesting reimbursement for expenses already incurred, then an expense report supported by itemized receipts must be submitted to the Regional Treasurer. SPJ has a sample expense report that can be used.

A. The regional treasurer shall keep all records — either electronically or hard copy — for a period of at least three years.

10. Payouts of regional funds should be made electronically. There shall be no cash payments. Handwritten checks are discouraged.

11. If the Regional Treasurer is not satisfied that an expense request is legitimate, then he or she shall notify the national Secretary-Treasurer.

One clarification since the board adopted these rules: if an RC is unable to travel to the national conference, and stipend money is still available, a deputy RC or assistant RC may use the stipend for allowable expenses in place of the RC to attend the national conference — with approval from the executive director.

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Staying connected

As an elected national leader, it is important for you to feel as connected to the national board as you do to members of your region. Feel free to reach out to the national president, board liaison or any other board member. Headquarters staff also is there to be a resource and provide support.

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