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Strategic Planning Task Force



SPJ’s new, smaller board is embarking on the next step in its evolution — the creation of a strategic plan to guide the Society over the next two to three years.

The plan is needed to determine SPJ’s focus in the short term and help define its priorities for the longer term, said Patti Newberry, the board’s president-elect.

“The goal is to create an action plan for SPJ and its staff; to assess who we are, where we are headed and how we will get there,” she said. “It should be a plan that is reviewed and updated every year to help set board agendas.”

Work toward a new strategic plan dates to June of 2016, when then-president Paul Fletcher created a Governance Task Force to look at the size and composition of the board. In 2017, at the Excellence in Journalism conference, SPJ delegates voted 86-14 for a plan to reduce the size of the board from 23 that year, to 18 the following year, to nine at EIJ19, set for Sept. 4-7 in San Antonio, Texas.

Early this year, SPJ President J. Alex Tarquinio appointed a Strategic Planning Task to provide needed data to draft a plan. Under the leadership of chair Victor Hernandez, the Task Force led a 90-minute brainstorming session at its annual spring meeting — with board members laying out broad questions about SPJ’s identity in the world of press rights groups. The group began meeting biweekly this summer to continue the conversation and gather critical information.

Meet the task force

Matt Hall
Task Force Chair and
SPJ president-elect

April Bethea
SPJ Foundation board member

Kimberly Chin

Patricia Gallagher Newberry
SPJ president

Victor Hernandez
SPJ at-large board member

Mike Reilley
SPJ at-large board member

Jennifer Royer
SPJ director of communications and marketing

Alex Tarquinio
SPJ immediate past president

Yvette Walker
SPJ at-large board member

Now, the Task Force is eager to hear from members as it continues its work. To join the conversation, you can:

Thanks, in advance, for adding your voice to the many helping SPJ define its future.

— Strategic Planning Task Force

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the goal of this group?

The Task Force has three large tasks:

What is the group’s timeline?

The Task Force will present a progress report at EIJ19 in San Antonio and ask for member feedback during a Membership Meeting set for 8-9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, in the xxx room at the Grand Hyatt. The Task Force will continue its work after San Antonio, presenting the draft of a Strategic Plan to the full board in April 2020.

Why does SPJ need a strategic plan?

SPJ is guided by a mission statement that calls on the Society to:

In practice, however, the priorities of SPJ, its staff and its board shift frequently, often in deference to the incoming president’s list of goals. Going forward, presidents and their boards will look to the strategic plan for a “to do” list — adjusting that, as needed, to fulfill SPJ’s stated mission.

What will be addressed in the strategic plan?

The plan will, at minimum, consider:

Hasn’t SPJ had strategic plans?

SPJ last created a strategic plan in 2007. It ran seven pages, with multiple goals for each priority — and was rarely, if ever, consulted after its completion. Former Executive Director Joe Skeel long supported creating a plan. Former SPJ President Dave Cuillier shared his ideas for a plan more recently. The Strategic Planning Task Force envisions creating a living, breathing document to guide the board. It will run no more than three pages. At EIJ2020, delegates will be asked to adjust bylaws to require boards to review and revise the plan every April.

How can SPJ create a plan for its future without an executive director?

A separate task force is now at work to identify and hire an executive director. That could happen by EIJ19 — but more likely shortly after, in early fall. Once hired, he or she will immediately be invited to join the Strategic Planning Task Force. The executive director will be a critical member of the group, as any strategic plan must have the full support of SPJ’s headquarters staff to go forward.

What will the Task Force do with information gathered from the membership survey, focus groups and EIJ19 Membership Meeting?

That data will be key to the plan. The Task Force is eager to learn what members think SPJ is doing well and not doing well as it crafts recommendations. The Task Force will also reach out to lapsed members to learn why they did not remain active.

What will happen after EIJ19?

The Task Force will continue to reach out to all SPJ constituencies for feedback. 2019-20 President Patti Newberry will ask the Task Force to present its proposal for a Strategic Plan at the April 2020 annual spring board meeting.

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