SEJ President’s Report: Your Vote Matters During SEJ’s Upcoming Election
This month you’ll vote for five members (four Active, one Academic) to serve on SEJ’s board of directors. Ten candidates have stepped up to be considered. I’m inspired by their enthusiasm to tackle the many responsibilities and rewards of volunteer board service. And I want to thank each of our candidates for their dedication to SEJ and for having the conviction to put themselves out there for your vote.
Now it’s your turn to do your part by casting your vote by September 24. You can read each candidate’s statement here. (Academic members: even though there is only one candidate on your ballot, it is very important that you vote!) Past SEJ elections show that only a fraction of you actually cast a ballot.
The board of directors are entrusted with ensuring SEJ remains in good legal, operational and financial standing for years to come, and they develop strategy and implement policies that will further SEJ’s mission. The decisions the board makes help SEJ evolve to keep up with the accelerating transformations of our field.
The current board is fully engaged in this mission, and it’s been an honor to lead this group for nearly two years, during the most difficult times we’ve ever faced. I, and the rest of the board, look forward to welcoming new board members this fall to engage in the great work this group has fostered over the past year, including steps to better integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into SEJ’s programs and policies.
A change for the good
You will also have an opportunity to vote on a proposed bylaws amendment, which changes part of the process for addressing vacancies on the board. SEJ’s board unanimously voted to approve this amendment at our July 30, 2022 board meeting. The rationale for the amendment is discussed in detail here, and it is available on each ballot.
Please take time to read the full rationale. In short, SEJ’s board believes the amendment is necessary to avoid the confusing language that led the Election Committee to incorrectly assign short terms arising from midterm vacancies.
More importantly, this change will be better for the candidates, because all candidates will know how long their term will be before the election. Without this change, any candidate may be assigned a term of one, two or three years, depending on the election results. After this change, all candidates will know they’re running for three-year terms.
Most importantly, the amendment gives all candidates the opportunity to better serve the organization by making sure all the board members that you elect will have the same chance to fully develop their board expertise and to serve the members over a full three-year term, rather than one, two or three years.
On balance, the board believes these benefits outweigh the one disadvantage, which is the possibility that there will be different numbers of seats up for election at any one time. In fact, we have already seen many elections with uneven numbers of seats even without this amendment.
The board also has the power to add or remove seats (maximum 21) at any time to address imbalances. In fact the board added two seats at the July 30 board meeting, bringing the current number of board members to 15. This will help spread the responsibilities of board work while adding new perspectives.
The board recommends a YES vote on this proposed amendment.
Your vote matters
With a robust slate of candidates and a bylaws change to consider, your vote makes a difference. I’d love to report back to you after this election to say that a majority of you participated in the election. The act of voting is one of the easiest ways to give back to SEJ.
And speaking of giving back, I’m grateful to all our volunteers who serve on committees such as the DEI committee and the FOIA Task Force. We can’t do this alone. If you’re interested in volunteering check out the opportunities here and don’t hesitate to reach out to me or other board members. And please consider running in next year’s election!
I look forward to seeing you at our virtual membership meeting on September 24 and extend my thanks to you for casting your vote in this upcoming election.
Sadie Babits, President, SEJ Board of Directors
Sadie Babits is an award-winning public radio journalist, editor and educator who splits her time between Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon. She’s a professor of practice at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication where she oversees and edits environmental coverage in the school’s professional program Cronkite News/ Arizona PBS. Sadie received a prestigious Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Reporting in 2017-2018 to focus on public lands reporting, and is currently writing her first book focused on journalism’s role in covering climate change. First elected to the SEJ board in 2020, she was elected by the board to be their President in 2021 and 2022. Current SEJ term: 2020-2023.