Congratulations to Colin Donohue and Anthony Hatcher, SPJ’s Members of the Month for April and May

Colin Donohue and Anthony Hatcher at Elon University in North Carolina

Colin Donohue and Anthony Hatcher at Elon University in North Carolina

Colin Donohue, director of student media and instructor of Communications at Elon University in North Carolina, and Anthony Hatcher, associate professor of Communications and adviser to Elon’s campus SPJ chapter, are SPJ’s Members of the Month for April and May. Congratulations to Anthony and Colin!

They just wound up a successful Region 2 Conference at Elon, their second time around hosting the regional conference.

“I have been a staunch advocate of SPJ since I was a student at Elon,” Donohue said. “As a student, I served in a leadership role in our campus chapter. Since returning to work at Elon 10 years ago, I’ve supported our chapter whenever asked.”


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SPJ Member of the Month: Claire Regan

Claire Regan

Claire Regan

SPJ’s Member of the Month for March is New York Deadline Club mainstay Claire Regan, who in addition to numerous other things arranges awards dinners and now the Region 1 spring conference. Congratulations Claire!

Here’s what Claire has to say about herself:

They say journalism is all about connections.

One of my best connections has been Betsy Ashton, who inspired me to join SPJ’s New York City Deadline Club some 25 years ago.

Actually, it was her voice that drew me in. As I accompanied colleagues from the Staten Island Advance to my first Deadline Club awards dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Betsy stood out on the dais. I noticed how prepared and professional she was as she called up the winners.

She was well-rehearsed, pronouncing every name perfectly. No wonder, since Betsy’s successful career was in radio and television news.

I approached her at the dais and asked how I could get involved in the club. She was cordial and encouraging, and invited me to the next Deadline Club meeting.

A great connection had begun.

During Betsy’s terms as Deadline Club president, I served as newsletter editor and designer. She was the perfect mentor, tapping the talents of new members like me. I quickly earned an elected position and haven’t left the board since.

For the past three years, I’ve served as vice president of the awards dinner – the event that first attracted me to SPJ.

I design items for club events, including invitations, flyers, save-the-date cards, program books and Hall of Fame medals. I’m a longtime newspaper designer – I have two Deadline Club “Rube” awards for best page design to show for it — so these projects are pleasures rather than challenges.

I also chair the scholarship committee, which gives up to four $2,500 prizes to metro area college students each year. My experience as an assistant professor at Wagner College on Staten Island helps me here. Thanks to SPJ, these young journalists get an extra boost.

By far the biggest project I’ve handled for the club is chairing the Region 1 Conference, scheduled for April 7 and 8 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. We’ve got a great line-up of speakers under the theme, “Practicing Journalism in Dangerous Times.”

I’ve been tapping all my connections to make the conference a success. As with every SPJ event, it will give journalists an opportunity to dialogue about critical issues.

My 35-year career at my hometown newspaper was recently impacted by a reorganization. As I transition out of the newsroom, I appreciate the camaraderie – and connections — of the Deadline Club more than ever.

I salute SPJ for keeping us all connected.

Region 1 Director Jane Primerano nominated Claire.

Says Jane: “A conference in Manhattan is complicated. Claire has successfully brought in presented and panels representing the wide variety of New York media, creating a schedule that works around the lives of busy professionals. She is also using her exemplary graphics skills to create the program book. Anyone who has ever worked on a conference knows the million little details that must be attended to and the incessant fires that must be doused. Claire is doing all this while teaching at Wagner College on Staten Island and writing for the Staten Island Advance.”

Do you know an outstanding SPJ volunteer? Nominate that person for Volunteer of the Month by contacting Susan S. Stevens, Membership Committee member, at Please tell us briefly why you are nominating the person and why your nominee is worthy of recognition. Nominations are due the 5th of each month and announced by the 15th.

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SPJ Member of the Month: Kathryn Foxhall

Kathryn Foxhall

Kathryn Foxhall

A longtime battler for government transparency, Kathryn Foxhall, is SPJ’s Member of the Month. Congratulations Kathryn!

Kathryn has covered health in Washington for 40 years, including 14 years (1978-1992) as editor of the American Public Health Association’s newspaper. After years of getting a dynamic education by speaking frankly with sources on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies, she became alarmed when, 20 to 25 years ago, federal workers gradually came under rules prohibiting them from communicating with journalists without the oversight of public relations offices—in reality, censorship coming down from the people in power.

“As SPJ surveys would later show, these restrictions have become entrenched through much of the U.S. culture with government staff, teachers, scientists, police officers and many other employees under coercion either to never speak to the press, or to never speak without notifying the authorities,” she said.

Kathryn approached SPJ about it and the society responded although many in the press just said nothing can be done about it. Among other things, that led to a 2015 letter to President Obama from over 50 journalism and other groups. It then led to a meeting of an SPJ-led delegation at the White House with Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest.

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SPJ Member of the Month: Emil Dansker

Older members are the backbone of SPJ, but they don’t often get the recognition year in and year out. We’re going to remedy that – for one person – this month by declaring Emil Dansker our SPJ Member of the Month. Congratulations, Emil!

A fixture at national and regional conferences, you might know Emil for his sharp commentaries on the state of our profession. Or, you might have purchased one of his ceramic paperboys at a silent auction. Or, if you live in Ohio, Kentucky or Illinois, you might know him for unceasing work in your chapter.

We’re grateful for the nomination of Emil from the Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter. Read on:

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SPJ Member of the Month: Gideon Grudo

Gideon Grudo

Gideon Grudo

A hard-working SPJ member in Florida who relocated to Washington, D.C., and now serves as SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee chairman, Gideon Grudo, is SPJ’s Member of the Month for December. Congratulations Gideon!

He is the digital platforms editor at Air Force Magazine, an independent monthly, in Washington. He was previously the editor of South Florida Gay News. When he moved from the SPJ Florida chapter in 2013, he joined the D.C. chapter board, then took up as the national FOI Committee’s chair in September. He previously served on SPJ National Board and as VP for SPJ Florida.

Here’s what Gideon has to say about our organization: “SPJ has always given me the strangest opportunities to get involved with journalism in the strangest ways, from interviewing zombies to pretending I’m dead. It’s also given me opportunities to fight obsolete bureaucracy in an aging organization that only sometimes wants to modernize, and I’ve even won some of those fights. Can’t help myself anymore with the society. Couldn’t drop it even if I wanted to. I feel compelled to help other budding journos know they have a home and can have a real effect on this metaphysical thing we call journalism.”

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John Ensslin: SPJ helped me get my new job

This month, as SPJ gathered in New Orleans for our annual Excellence in Journalism conference, I had a chance to have lunch with John Ensslin. He is a former president of SPJ and a long-time journalist. His current job is at The Record, a New Jersey publication where he has worked for just under five years. 

John shared with me and past president Dana Neuts that his publication eliminated jobs through a round of layoffs. He’s getting a new job at the same publication, and this is largely due to the training and learning opportunities he’s had through SPJ. 

I asked John to write a short piece explaining how SPJ had helped him gain skills, stay employed and enjoy his journalism career more, and he was happy to do so. Thanks, John! Read his thoughts below. 

By John Ensslin

John Ensslin

John Ensslin

For years, I’ve been touting the merits of SPJ membership.

I’ve told people how we are a leader within the profession when it comes to ethics. How we fight day in and day out for access to public records.  How we advocate for diversity in newsrooms.  How we help defend journalists who’ve gotten in trouble with law just because they did their job.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the value of the job training that SPJ routinely offers its members. And in many ways, I’ve become the poster guy over the last decade for the ways in which SPJ can transform your career.
I’m starting a new assignment this fall at The Record, the paper where I’ve worked for just over five years. I’ll be working on the paper’s digital team, using all the multimedia tools available to augment my reporting and story telling skills. I previously served as a statehouse reporter, covering the New Jersey Legislature.
It’s no exaggeration to say that I owe my ability to take on this new work to the training I received from SPJ colleagues over the last decade.
I think of how Jeff South first opened my ears to the potential for using audio as an offshoot of my print stories. I recall those jammed-packed session that Ron Sylvester and Jeff Cutler offered on their 60 apps in 60 seconds programs.
I remember how Carl Corry taught me the right way to shooting video on a breaking news story with my iPhone. I remember how Holly Fisher first got me involved with Podcasting through Studio SPJ. I think about all that Sree Sreenivisan told me about using social media as a reporting tool. I credit Cindy Rodriguez for teaching me how to create short videos with Videolicious. I can list all the programs that Kevin Smith showed me during his Kiplinger/JournCamp presentation.
And at our most recent convention, I learned how to do audio story telling through an day-long NPR workshop.
In other words, pretty much everything I’ve learned through SPJ over the last decade has prepared me to be the journalist I am today.
None of the newspapers where I worked during that time could have afforded to provide that kind of training.
So when it comes to the benefits of becoming an SPJ member, I’m living proof of one of them: You can learn what you need to know to become a better journalist by taking advantage of all the training that SPJ has to offer.
Ready to join? You can do that right here. Got questions? Ask me, Robyn Davis Sekula, at
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How to get involved in SPJ: Transitioning from student to pro

Editor’s note: We’ve asked members of SPJ to write blog posts for us about how exactly to get involved in SPJ. Sometimes, people don’t know where to start. Some join as students, some as pros, and others somewhere in the middle. Kathleen Devaney of the Florida Pro chapter writes about why she first joined SPJ and how she transitioned from student chapter to pro chapter. Read her full story below.

Extra editor’s note: If you’re a student or recent graduate (or anyone, really!) and you want to get involved in a pro chapter, you can find listings of chapters by state here. If you’d like some other kind of SPJ volunteer role, contact me, Robyn Davis Sekula, at I’ll be glad to talk to you.


By Kathleen Devaney


Kathleen Devaney

Kathleen Devaney

I went to college at Florida International University, a unique institution in sunny Miami with a soft spot for cafe con leche and the concept of living at home until you’re 25.

But I attended the docile Biscayne Bay Campus, a subset of the main school, which probably matched my then-meek persona.

When I decided that I wanted to switch over from studying English to Journalism at the beginning of my junior year, I gained some help from an unexpected place.

Embarrassingly enough, I’ll admit that I applied for an internship at The Miami Herald without having much experience under my belt. So I received a call from a woman named Chris Delboni, an instructor at FIU who was the director of The South Florida News Service, a classroom-run wire service which produced stories for local mainstream media outlets.

The truth stings at first, but she told me I wasn’t ready to intern at The Herald just yet, but if I started writing for the SFNS, she might be able to recommend me someday in the future. But most importantly, she also told me to join SPJ, an organization that I had never heard about, which she advised.

So I took her word for it and showed up at SPJ FIU’s first meeting. And in no time, I was overstepping my bounds as usual. I found myself sitting in on the executive board meetings, when I was just a regular member, chiming in with my opinions and ideas for events they were planning.

That’s why the next semester, I got voted in to be the events coordinator, a position which I held with so much pride.

Quickly, I found myself planning roundtable discussions and building the framework for our first ever Listen, Learn, Connect conference, which has since become an annual event. I even helped plan zany events like how to write an obituary from within a funeral home. (In fact, I credit our kooky ideas in helping us win best collegiate chapter in Region 3 for the past four years.)

And once again I was promoted, this time to chapter president. Things were sailing full force for me as I was beginning my senior year and now interning at The Miami Herald. None of this would have been made possible without the guidance of Chris Delboni, who helped give me a pep in my step and shaped me into being a poised female journalist.

During my last year, most of my efforts in SPJ FIU were focused on creating two mentorship programs with a local middle school and high school.

But when it was time for me to graduate, I felt so sad to leave behind SPJ. That chapter gave me wonderful friendships on a campus that can sometimes feel community-less and it provided me with a foundation for leadership, a trait I hope I never give up.

After seven long months of searching for a job and searching for myself, I finally got a job as a Social Media Producer for The Palm Beach Post, two counties up from my FIU campus. In addition, I also nerved up to join SPJ Florida. (By the way, it should be noted that I was able to move out of the house before 25.)

The idea of joining a professional chapter was something I had played around with for a while, and lucky for me, I joined the perfect one with prestige and a whole lot of gusto. SPJ Florida was voted as best large chapter of the year in 2010, 2014 and again in 2016.

I was quickly voted in as the VP of Programming, as I had already formed connections with some of the chapter’s members throughout the past couple years.

Currently, I’m working on planning Muslimedia alongside Region 3 Director, Michael Koretzky. This semi-controversial event will bring together Florida journalists with Muslim leaders from Boca Raton to debate the media’s best and worst practices when reporting about the Muslim community in America.

I also recently attended this year’s Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans. Most of the panels I attended expanded my mind on how to be culturally sensitive when covering different communities. But they have something for everybody, whether it be tech, ethics, journalism education, and more. I’ve found the most rewarding part of attending EIJ over the past few years is getting to network with fellow journos. SPJ and the array of alphabet soup journalism organizations that participate in the conference are all there for the same reason – our love for journalism. And just when you’ve thought the newsroom as we’ve known it is headed down a dark path, the passion and drive for learning new skills at EIJ makes the future seem brighter.

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Jennifer Brannock Cox is SPJ member of the month

Jennifer Brannock Cox

Jennifer Brannock Cox

A professional chapter president who also is a student chapter adviser, Jennifer Brannock Cox, is SPJ’s Member of the Month for September. Congratulations Jennifer!

The new president of the Maryland Pro Chapter and assistant professor in Salisbury University’s Communications Arts Department will travel to EIJ16 with a group of her students. They will fly this year, rather than pull two all-nighters in a van as they did to attend last year’s national conference.

“SPJ has had an important role in my life since I was an undergraduate at Appalachian State University,” Jennifer said. “As a member and later as a working journalist, SPJ provided valuable opportunities for me to network with professionals and learn about important journalism issues. When I became a journalism professor at Salisbury University in 2011, I knew I wanted to launch a chapter there to provide my students with the same formational experiences I had.

“We began with a group of six dedicated student journalists, who worked diligently to form our chapter during the 2012-13 school year. Since then, we have received awards for best new student organization, adviser of the year and chapter president of the year from the university. We have hosted diversity in media forums, conducted successful fundraisers and hosted workshops aimed at giving students hands-on media experiences. We took 10 students to the national conference in Orlando last year, and our group will head to New Orleans this year.

“As the new president of the Maryland Professional Chapter, I hope to convey my commitment to SPJ by connecting journalists and educating them in unique, exciting ways. As it always has been, SPJ will continue to be a driving force in my life for years to come.”

Jennifer was nominated by Region 2 Director Andy Schotz. He has this to say:

“She is a strong force in keeping the campus chapter vibrant each year. The chapter’s latest annual report shows a mix of programs, fundraising activities and service projects.

Members of her chapter show en masse and enthused to regional and national conferences, even when they have long distances to travel.

“Jennifer also is active in the Maryland Pro chapter. Her detailed recordkeeping as chapter treasurer is a model for transparency. This year, she is chapter president. I greatly appreciate her commitment to SPJ.”

Do you know an outstanding SPJ volunteer? Nominate that person for Volunteer of the Month by contacting Susan Stevens, Membership Committee member, at Please tell us briefly why you are nominating the person and why your nominee is worthy of recognition. Nominations are due the 5th of each month and announced by the 15th.

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SPJ Member of the Month: Pat Trosky

Keystone Pro Chapter President Pat Trosky is SPJ’s Member of the Month for August, brought to our attention because of her work on behalf of SPJ at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Congratulations, Pat!

She has been a member since 1982 and teaches at Luzerne County Community College.

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Ginny Frizzi: SPJ’s July Member of the Month

Ginny Frizzi

Ginny Frizzi

SPJ has countless members who work hard, month after month and year after year, to help the organization at the local and national levels. This month, we honor just one of them – Ginny Frizzi – who has served long and well since 1973. Congratulations, Ginny!

Ginny has been an active member of SPJ since college. She was a charter member of the Point Park College (now University) chapter in 1973.

In addition to being treasurer of the Pittsburgh Professional Chapter, she served as Region 4 representative to the national SPJ board for six years. She was a member of and chaired the SPJ Awards and Honors Committee and also served on SPJ’s strategic planning and Freedom of Information committees.

She has been a judge for SPJ’s New America Award and for various press club and SPJ chapter contests. She regularly serves as a judge and judging coordinator for SPJ’s professional Distinguished Service Awards and its college Mark of Excellence Awards.

She was among the founders and is a current board member of the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, serving as its first secretary. She is a member the Press Club’s scholarship committee that selects the recipient of the annual Bob Fryer Memorial Scholarship and Press Club Scholarship.

Ginny has served as president of the former Pittsburgh chapter of Women In Communications, Inc. and as president of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh. She is also a judge for the Women’s Press Club’s annual Gertrude Gordon Writing Contest for college students.

At the 2015 Golden Quill Awards, she received the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania‘s Service to Journalism Award.

She has worked on four regional conferences hosted by the Pittsburgh Pro chapter, twice heading up fundraising. She was the first recipient of SPJ’s Regional Director of the Year Award, and was given the award twice.

She arranged contest judging swaps between her SPJ chapter and press club and other SPJ chapters and press clubs.

She has only missed two SPJ national conferences since 1974 (1980 and 2015) due to unexpected medical issues, and is a regular at SPJ Region 4 conferences.

She has been a freelance writer since college, in addition to her public relations career.

Ginny holds bachelor and master of arts degrees in journalism and communications from Point Park University. Her first journalism job was with the Coraopolis Record before moving into public relations career at Point Park and then the University of Pittsburgh.

Advice for members? “I guess the most important would be to be willing to go beyond your comfort zone. Try something for SPJ you have never done before–volunteer to help judge a contest, work the registration table at a program, greet new members, work with a college chapter … there are countless possibilities. This can lead to new skills, friends and ways to get much more out of your SPJ membership.

“Don’t use the excuse of being too busy. Everyone is busy. Even if you can only do a one-time assignment, it’s a good place to start. You could be laying the groundwork for a future leadership role … and SPJ always needs leaders.”

Ginny was nominated by two other long-time volunteers who work hard for SPJ: Nerissa Young and Rebecca Talent.

Here’s what Nerissa has to say:

Ginny joined the Point Park University chapter in 1974. She’s been a faithful member and often officer for the Pittsburgh Pro chapter since she left college. Ginny has served on the SPJ finance committee, Honors and Awards Committee (chairwoman, also) and set the bar for Region 4 directors during her terms as RD. She is a contest wonk who helps coordinate a lot of judging for MOE, SDX and Pittsburgh Press Club contests. She has planned many regional conferences on behalf of Pittsburgh Pro and has rarely missed a regional or national conference. Ginny is devoted to service of SPJ and offers her expertise, insight and help to any and all who ask. Ginny stays busy as a freelance writer and SPJ volunteer. Because of her, I joined the SPJ Ethics Committee in 1995, which put me on a path of SPJ committee service for two decades. I would not have been an SPJ leader without her mentorship and friendship.

Nerissa Young

adviser to Ohio University SPJ chapter

current David L. Eshelman Adviser of the Year

From Becky:

I have known Ginny since 1982 and she has been a firebrand for SPJ. Some of the things she has done include:

  • Running the annual Green eyeshade competition
  • Judging a variety of contests
  • Was Regional Director
  • Has served on numerous local and national committees
  • Consistently volunteers for any project SPJ offers.

One interesting thing: last conference was the first one she missed since 1981, and it was only the fact she was hospitalized with open heart surgery that kept her at home.
Rebecca J. Tallent, Ed.D.
Associate Professor
School of Journalism and Mass Media
University of Idaho

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