SEJ President’s Report: SEJ Welcomes New Board Members, Announces 2024 Journalists’ Guide Event in D.C.
Dear SEJ members —
2023 has proven to be a jam-packed year so far for SEJ. Between a successful conference in Boise, a planned change in leadership and an ongoing transition to a new organizational structure, SEJ’s board, staff and volunteers have been actively planning for the future. I feel great about the direction SEJ is headed and want to tell you more about it.
I wanted to take some time to write to you with details on this year’s board elections, a returning flagship in-person event and give an update on our executive director search.
Welcome to new board members
Each fall SEJ members cast their votes to elect the board of directors. These candidates bring their passion for environmental journalism and their innovative ideas to help steer SEJ in exciting new directions. This year we had a highly competitive election – with a record number of candidates – to fill five open active member board seats.
At the board’s next meeting, on November 17 & 18 in Washington, D.C., we’ll be welcoming three new and two returning board directors in active member seats. Members elected new directors Karla Mendes, Halle Parker and Angela Rowlings, along with returning board member Rocky Kistner, and Bobby Magill, who served as SEJ’s president from 2016-2019. You can read their biographies here, and read their candidate statements here. Please join me in welcoming these board members and giving them the support needed to help lead this organization.
I’m so grateful to all of the board candidates who stepped up this year to run. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to throw your name in the ring and seek the support of your peers. SEJ is at its strongest when individual members step forward to volunteer their time, expertise and passion for our mission of supporting and strengthening environmental journalism. As our organization continues its leadership and organizational transitions, having committed and engaged board members is more important than ever. I want to give my continued thanks to everyone who commits their time and energy to SEJ.
Journalists’ Guide to Environment + Energy back in Washington D.C.
One of SEJ’s flagship events, the Journalists’ Guide to Environment + Energy, is back in Washington, D.C. this year. The event brings together environmental journalists from around the country and around the world to discuss the year ahead and the top stories they’ll be covering.
This year, we’re bringing in a special guest — David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, and founder of Reasons to be Cheerful, an online news magazine. He will be joined on stage by the magazine’s executive editor, Will Doig, to discuss solutions journalism and environmental optimism.
At the event we will also be launching the 2024 Journalists’ Guide to Environment + Energy report. We’ll hear from Shondiin Mayo, a multimedia storyteller and Planet Forward Ilíiaitchik: Indigenous Student Correspondent. And we will be announcing live the winner of this year’s $10,000 Pulliam Award for Environmental Reporting. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to network with your fellow journalists at the all-important reception to follow.
We’re partnering with George Washington University to host this must-attend event on November 16, at their Lisner Auditorium. You can get your free tickets and learn more at this link. I want to give another thank you to the GWU staff and SEJ staff whose work has made this year’s program really stand out.
It is going to be a lively, thought-provoking program in D.C. I hope you can make it.
Progress on executive director and organizational transitions
Earlier this year I wrote to you to give some detail on upcoming transitions for SEJ. Since then, board members and staff have been working diligently to make these transitions go as smoothly as possible.
First, SEJ executive director Meaghan Parker remains at the helm while the board continues its search to find the organization’s next director. This summer the search committee, which is chaired by Tony Barboza and includes board member Jennifer Bogo and myself, began working with search firm Koya Partners to aid in assembling the best pool of candidates possible. I’m very grateful to Meaghan for her support as the board continues its work to search for a new executive director, and for her help in making all these critical transitions run smoothly.
This fall the committee began to interview candidates. While that work continues, we’re still accepting applications. The job posting will stay up until we have a new executive director in place, so please share with people in your networks who have the skills and passion needed to lead SEJ. We would love to talk to them. Please reach out to search committee chair Tony Barboza with your questions and candidate referrals.
Second, this summer we formally welcomed staff at Bostrom, an association management company, into the SEJ fold to provide additional support to our existing team of staff and contractors. We benefit greatly from the expertise that Josie Hernandez, our new Chief Operations Officer, brings to all aspects of our organization. Already Bostrom staff, including Debbie Jennings and Martin Jimenez, have begun helping with next year’s conference in Philadelphia, with this year’s board election and orientation, and with financial management.
Please give our new colleagues a very warm SEJ welcome and your patience as they learn about our organization and the important work all of you are doing.
Luke Runyon is president of SEJ's board of directors. He's the Co-Director of The Water Desk at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism. Current SEJ term: 2021-2024.