2022 David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award Winner

Image of JoAnn Valenti

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

Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization. Member-volunteers organize tours and panels for the conference, implement the awards program, contribute to the SEJournal, serve as mentors and sit on any number of committees. This conference could not happen and SEJ could not be successful without our members lending their time and sweat in selfless service as volunteers. Here are ways to volunteer with SEJ.

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 one of SEJ's founders, David Stolberg.

The 2022 Stolberg award goes to JoAnn Valenti.

JoAnn joined SEJ in October of 1990. Her volunteer work for SEJ has been primarily behind the scenes work that quietly spread SEJ's name over several continents.

She served as a book judge for SEJ's Rachel Carson Environment Book category from 2008 until 2021. That means she's read around 30 to 35 books every contest season for 13 years. She continues to publish reviews of the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award winners in the U.S. and internationally.

She edited The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Journalism with fellow SEJ member David Sachsman — a resource book covering examples of environmental journalism across the world. The U.S. examples — the bulk of this tome — are all SEJ members she brought into the process.

JoAnn served on the editorial board for many years when SEJournal was still a printed publication. She also wrote for the SEJournal, attending the Sundance Film Festival each year and reviewing the environmental films for SEJournal and several other publications in the U.S. and in Europe, getting the word about SEJ out far and wide. She used every opportunity to spread the word about SEJ everywhere she could reach — and she's had a very long reach.

 


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. Nominees may not be a board member or anyone who is paid by SEJ.

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.

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