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Specifically, we’re troubled that the board rescinded (in an unannounced vote) its previous decision to consider three candidates for this vital position.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


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