Archive for November, 2019

Chapter leaders sign letter of protest about lack of transparency in ED selection process

Presidents and members of SPJ chapters have signed a letter protesting a lack of transparency in the way the national board selected a new executive director. SPJ announced on Nov. 8 that John Shertzer will be the organization’s next ED.

I have signed that letter as an individual. Chapters in Texas and Oklahoma are welcome to join in signing the letter if their boards decide to do so. If interested, contact Jonathan Make at

Following is the letter and the names of members who have signed so far.


SPJ board of directors: 

The SPJ members and leaders below wish to express their deep concern about the selection process for our next executive director, the third in less than three years.

Specifically, we’re troubled that the board rescinded (in an unannounced vote) its previous decision to consider three candidates for this vital position. Instead, the board reviewed only a single candidate. This also happened in 2018. The result was a disastrous tenure, and SPJ bought out the contract it negotiated only months earlier.

We also voice our support for directors Lauren Bartlett and Mike Reilley, the only two members who voted against this last-minute change of policy – which, it should be remembered, was the board’s reaction to our previous concern about the one-candidate process.

We’re equally disturbed that Bartlett and Reilley voiced their opposition and the rest of the board engaged in no debate. Instead, they simply voted 7-2 to negotiate a contract with the only candidate they met. This smacks of ramrodding.

Finally, we demand an explanation for the comments by search committee chair Hagit Limor, who insisted – despite much evidence to the contrary – that the board was flouting industry standards by seeking to interview multiple candidates. Limor also refused Bartlett and Reilley’s request to even know the name of the second-ranked candidate. This is a complete betrayal of the assurances this group was given that this would be a transparent process.

As SPJ members, we vote for the board, which represents our interests and is legally charged with a fiduciary responsibility to the organization. For those directors to be refused information by an unelected search committee chair is deeply troubling – and perhaps a sign of bigger problems than just a constrained executive director search.

We hope to hear from you soon, in the same timely and open-minded fashion with which you’ve responded in the past year. We all love SPJ, and if we can agree to move in the same direction, we can restore the organization to its past glory.


The Chicago Headline Club

The SPJ Florida Pro Chapter

Jonathan Make, SPJ D.C. Pro Chapter

Kathryn Jones, Region 8 Coordinator

Elle Toussi, International Community Chair

Kathleen M. Burns, DC Pro Chapter

Kathryn Foxhall, DC Pro Chapter

Celia Wexler, DC Pro Chapter

Kenneth Jost, DC Pro Chapter

Jennifer Karchmer, Western Washington Pro

Forrest Gossett, former Region 7 director, life member

Oregon Territory Chapter

Louisiana Pro Chapter:

Sergy Odiduro, Louisiana Pro Chapter president

Robert Buckman, Louisiana Pro Chapter vice president

Freda Yarbrough Dunne, Louisiana Pro Chapter board member

Tracy Standley, Louisiana Pro Chapter board member

San Antonio Pro Chapter

Kaitlin Gillespie, Western Washington Pro Chapter president


John Shertzer hired as SPJ executive director

Below is the announcement SPJ’s national headquarters released about the selection of a new executive director.

Society of Professional Journalists hires John Shertzer as executive director


Patricia Gallagher Newberry, SPJ National President, 513-702-4065,
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134,

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalistsannounces today that experienced nonprofit leader John Shertzer is its new executive director.

“SPJ is excited to welcome John and looks forward to introducing him to our members,” said SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry. “His stated goal is to establish SPJ as the ‘preeminent and most influential journalism organization in the U.S.’ – an aspiration shared by SPJ leadership. His deep experience with associations that serve members, and his strong record in working with younger people, make him the right executive director for what SPJ needs right now.”

Shertzer will serve as executive director of SPJ and its nonprofit educational arm, the SPJ Foundation. Shertzer most recently served as founding executive director of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council in Indianapolis, where he was tapped by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to envision, build, secure funding and launch the MYLC, a student advisory board to the mayor, funded by the Lilly Endowment.

“The mission of SPJ to perpetuate a free press has never been more important. I am excited to work with our staff and boards to strengthen and support our membership in service to that high purpose,” Shertzer said. “SPJ is a historic and influential organization. I hope to be the kind of leader who can honor its past, while preparing it for an exciting and consequential future.”

Before creating MYLC, Shertzer spent seven years as the chief programs officer at Kiwanis International, and executive director of Kiwanis Youth Programs, Inc., a subsidiary that housed Kiwanis’ membership programs for youth and young adults. In those roles he led Key Club International, one of the largest youth service organizations in the world.

Shertzer is an established thought leader on organizational development and leadership, providing training and education to dozens of nonprofit and collegiate organizations all over the world including charitable organizations, arts organizations, membership chapters and trade associations.

He also held a senior role with the North American Interfraternity Conference, serving the needs of undergraduate members, alumni members and professional association staff and board members. His experience also includes positions at Leadership Ventures in Indianapolis, University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, and Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Hagit Limor, chair of the seven-member search committee that recommended Shertzer, said, “The executive search committee laser-focused on finding an executive director who can take a strong leadership role to tackle the challenges the Society and industry face into the next decade. John shared new ideas and a mastery of the issues in play, along with a management style we are confident will work well with our staff, boards and members.”

Shertzer earned a master’s degree in higher education from Iowa State and a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He participates in many volunteer and professional activities and has published a book and several articles about leadership.

Shertzer succeeds Alison Bethel McKenzie, who resigned from the position in April. He is expected to join the staff at SPJ headquarters in Indianapolis on Dec. 2.

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 membergive to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.




Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ