2017 David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award Winners

SEJ thrives on volunteerism. It’s the lifeblood of the organization and one of the sources of the sense of family among our members.

Member-volunteers organize tours and panels for the annual conference, implement the awards program, contribute to the SEJournal, serve as mentors, and sit on any number of committees. Without our volunteers, SEJ wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is today.

The David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award recognizes a member for their exceptional volunteer work. Nominees may not be a board member or anyone who is paid by SEJ.

This year, SEJ is recognizing two members who have gone above and beyond with their volunteerism. In 2016, SEJ began a long search process for a new executive director. We formed a search committee composed of SEJ members and board members who spent countless hours sifting through stacks of resumes, interviewing candidates and deliberating candidate qualifications.

Of the three non-board SEJ members on the search committee, one, Lana Straub, is a previous Stolberg award recipient. But today, I’d like to recognize the other two committee members for their years of dedication to SEJ and their tirelessness in helping SEJ transition to a new era.

Sara Shipley Hiles is an assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism who teaches writing and online journalism. Prior to entering academia, Sara was a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Salem, Oregon, Statesman-Journal and the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Thank you, Sara.


Our next recipient is Peter Dykstra, publisher of Environmental Health News and the Daily Climate. Prior to his work at ENH, Peter worked for 17 years at CNN as an executive producer for science, environment, weather and technology.

Sadly, Peter wasn’t able to make it to Pittsburgh to receive his award in person at our 27th annual conference. We missed you, Peter!





This annual award honors exceptional volunteer work by an SEJ member. It was created by the SEJ board in 1998 and named in honor of SEJ founder David Stolberg.

Much of SEJ's best work is accomplished by member-volunteers: tour and panel organizers for the conference, awards program leaders, contributors to SEJournal, SEJ-talk and www.sej.org, freedom-of-information watchdogs, mentors, and leaders in diversity outreach. Volunteers define the heart and soul of SEJ, and they expand the group's reach and significance in ways that are not easily measured.

David Stolberg had a 38-year career with Scripps Howard that included duties for the Scripps Howard Foundation's annual Meeman Awards for excellence in environmental reporting. Stolberg always believed in "the value of networking, of the subliminal training that comes from an association with one's peers." In the 1980s, when Stolberg was assistant general editorial manager of Scripps Howard, he came up with the SEJ idea and kept suggesting it to Meeman winners until he found one who was willing to put in the volunteer time to organize with other journalists and make something happen. That person was SEJ's founding president, Jim Detjen.

Stolberg died May 24, 2011 at age 83.