Board Meetings: Upcoming and Past

The last regular business meeting of the Board of Directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists took place on February 4, 2017, at the Huffington Post in Washington, D.C.

The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Saturday, April 29, 2017, 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability 108 Johnson Hall, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. All members are welcome.



Members are welcome to attend all board meetings, although some portions of a meeting may be closed for discussion of employee performance or other sensitive issues. Contact the SEJ office, (215) 884-8174, to confirm times and locations of meetings.

Summaries and Official Minutes of Past SEJ Board Meetings

Note: Official minutes of board meetings prior to 2011 are kept on file at the SEJ office.

Jump to summary for:
Apr. 29, 2017 | Feb. 4, 2017
Dec. 14, 2016 | Nov. 19, 2016 | Sept. 23, 2016 | July 23, 2016 | Apr. 23, 2016 | Jan. 23, 2016
Oct. 10, 2015 | June 27, 2015 | Apr. 18, 2015 | Jan. 24, 2015
Dec. 11, 2014 | Sep. 6, 2014 | Jul. 26, 2014 | Apr. 12, 2014 | Jan. 25, 2014
Oct. 5, 2013 | Aug. 10, 2013 | Jan. 26, 2013
Oct. 20, 2012 | July 29, 2012 | May 12, 2012 | Jan. 28, 2012
Oct. 19 & 21, 2011 | July 23, 2011 | April 9, 2011 | Jan. 29, 2011
Oct. 14 & 15, 2010 | July 31, 2010 | April 24, 2010 | Jan. 23, 2010
Oct. 9, 2009 | April 18, 2009
Oct. 16 & 17, 2008 | Jan. 12, 2008
Sep. 6 & 7, 2007 | June 30, 2007 | April 28, 2007 | Jan. 13, 2007
Oct. 26 & 27, 2006 | July 29, 2006 | April 21 & 22, 2006 | Jan. 28, 2006
Sep. 28 & 30, 2005 | July 16, 2005 | April 30, 2005 | Jan. 29, 2005
1995-2004 meeting summaries|



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 23, 2016, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, Dallas, Texas:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 23, 2016, at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, October 10, 2015, at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center, Norman, Oklahoma:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, June 27, 2015, at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 18, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Sacramento, CA:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 24, 2015, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.:



Virtual meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, December 11, 2014:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, September 6, 2014, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, LA:



Virtual meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, July 26, 2014:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 12, 2014, at the Larkspur Landing Sacramento, CA:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 25, 2014, at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, October 5, 2013, at the Chattanooga Convention Center, Tennessee:



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 26, 2013, at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC:

Board members present: Don Hopey (President), Jeff Burnside (First Vice Pres. & Programs Chair), Ashley Ahearn (Second Vice Pres. & Membership Chair), Carolyn Whetzel (Treasurer & Finance Chair), Peter Thomson (Secretary), Imelda Abano, Peter Fairley, Christy George, Tom Henry, Robert McClure, Jennifer Weeks, Roger Witherspoon, Meaghan Parker (Rep. for Associate Membership)
Board members absent: Tom Yulsman (Rep. for Academic Membership), Douglas Fischer (Future Conference Sites Chair), Jim Detjen (Founding President, non-voting ex-officio))
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke, SEJ member Cheryl Hogue, SEJ member/SEJournal editor Adam Glenn


The SEJ Board:

  • Appointed SEJ members Christine Heinrichs and Chuck Quirmbach and Election supervisor Chris Bruggers to the Elections committee.
  • Appointed SEJ members Beth Daley and Douglas Fischer (Co-chairs), Saul Chernos, Jeff Burnside and Emilia Askari to the Awards Committee
  • Appointed SEJ members Jennifer Weeks (Chair), member Roger Witherspoon and Bruce Ritchie to the Audit Committee.
  • Appointed SEJ members Robert McClure (Board Liaison) and Tim Wheeler (Chair) to the Freedom of Information Task Force.
  • Discussed budget, management and programs challenges for 2013, which Executive Director Beth Parke described as a “very challenging” year; and approved a 2013 operating budget of $902,750 with conditions on closely monitoring income, cash-carryover targets and a rigorous evaluation of all SEJ programs, publications and staffing, with an eye toward enhanced organizational viability, relevance and financial sustainability.
  • Approved an endowment spending policy for 2013.
  • Heard a report from Parke on the evolving collaborative relationship between SEJ and the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources.
  • Approved a revision to SEJ’s financial policies allowing the organization to accept grants from “any independent government or government-chartered agency whose mission is primarily competitive grant-making, such as the National Science Foundation.”
  • Discussed but took no action on possible changes to the standard financial model for SEJ annual conferences, arising from the increasing difficulty of arranging conferences based on the organization’s longstanding model of working with one large institution, usually a university.



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, October 20, 2012, at the Overton Hotel and Conference Center, Lubbock, Texas:

Board members present: Ashley Ahearn, Jeff Burnside, Vice President for Membership, Jim Detjen (Founding President, non-voting), Douglas Fischer, Christy George, Tom Henry, Don Hopey, Treasurer, Robert McClure, Meaghan Parker, Peter Thomson, Jennifer Weeks, Carolyn Whetzel, President, Roger Witherspoon, Tom Yulsman. Sharon Oosthoek, filling in for board secretary.
Board members absent: Peter Fairley, Vice President for Programs, Imelda Abano
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke


The SEJ Board:

  • Welcomed new board members Meaghan Parker and Imelda Abano.
  • Approved July 28, 2012 board meeting minutes.
  • Listened to Whetzel’s Executive Committee Report, reminding board she volunteered to put together a strategic document re fundraising and to present it at the January board meeting.
  • Listened and discussed at length Hopey’s proposal for more funding from Heinz Foundation and others for exploring the creation of a number of environmental journalism jobs in markets that do not have, and have no plans for, a dedicated environmental journalist.
  • Approved motion to proceed with Phase 2 of study of Hopey’s proposal.
  • Listened and discussed Parke’s Budget Update.
  • Discussed SEJ member Glen Blouin’s request that SEJ offer recycling at its conferences as a matter of course.
  • Acclaimed executive board members as follows:
    Don Hopey, President
    Jeff Burnside, First Vice President, Programs
    Ashley Ahearn, Second Vice President, Membership
    Treasurer, Carolyn Whetzel
    Secretary, Peter Thomson



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, July 29, 2012, at the University of Colorado, Boulder:

Board members present: Ashley Ahearn, Jeff Burnside (Vice President for Membership), Peter Fairley (Vice President for Programs), Douglas Fischer, Christy George, Tom Henry, Don Hopey (Treasurer), Robert McClure, Sharon Oosthoek (Secretary), Peter Thomson (via Skype), Jennifer Weeks, Carolyn Whetzel (President), Roger Witherspoon, Tom Yulsman
Board members absent: Heather King, Jim Detjen (Founding President, non-voting)
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke


The SEJ Board:

  • Approved the May 12, 2012 board meeting minutes.
  • Listened and discussed Whetzel’s Executive Committee Report, advising the board that the executive committee approved the Restricted Earmarked Fund Account agreement with FJC on June 4, 2012, via conference call. Whetzel advised the board that the executive committee accepted the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga invitation to host 2013 conference, on June 18, via an electronic vote.
  • Approved motion that the board bestow an honorary membership on Mike Mansur.
  • Approved motion that the board bestow an honorary membership on Jim Detjen.
  • Listened and discussed Fischer’s update on Future Sites.
  • Listened and discussed Parke’s Executive Director’s Report/Finance, including information on awards program entry fees amounting to $12,500, which will nearly cover expenses.
  • Listened and discussed Hopey’s proposal for more funding from Heinz Foundation and others for exploring the creation of a number of environmental journalism jobs in markets that do not have, and have no plans for, a dedicated environmental journalist.
  • Listened and discussed Parke’s board update on positive discussions regarding explorations of a potential partnership with IJNR.
  • Listened as George advised board that succession planning for both emergency ED departure and defined departure is progressing but will soon need a subset of board members to get involved, after which a plan would go to the full board for more finessing.
  • Reviewed and discussed Effectiveness Planning Session.



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, May 12, 2012, via Virtual Phone/Web Conference:

Board members present: Ashley Ahearn, Jeff Burnside (Vice President for Membership), Peter Fairley (Vice President for Programs), Douglas Fischer, Christy George, Tom Henry, Don Hopey (Treasurer), Sharon Oosthoek (Secretary), Peter Thomson, Jennifer Weeks, Carolyn Whetzel (President), Roger Witherspoon, Tom Yulsman
Board members absent: Heather King, Robert McClure, Jim Detjen (Founding President, non-voting)
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke, SEJ member Jim Bruggers, Shelli Bischoff (president of Conservation Impact)


The SEJ Board:

  • Listened to a presentation from Conservation Impact president Shelli Bischoff regarding CI’s strategy for SEJ’s Effectiveness Project.
  • Approved appointments for committees, task forces, and FEJ judges.
  • Reviewed and discussed budget challenges for the last half of 2012 and heading into 2013.
  • Approved motion to set the 2012 endowment spending policy on permanently restricted funds at 5 percent, with funds transfer into operating accounts based on a 3-year rolling average of permanently restricted funds of Dec 31 of FY 2009, 2010 and 2011, as calculated and established by independently audited financial statements for each of those years.
  • Approved motion that executive director Beth Parke be authorized to review, negotiate and execute an agreement with FJC Group for a $100,000 Restricted Earmarked Fund Account, and, once the fund is established, SEJ’s executive director be authorized to draw on the grant fund within the terms of said fund agreement, as she sees fit, with quarterly reports to the Executive Committee and SEJ’s treasurer, who is charged with informing the Finance Committee and full board.
  • Approved motion to nominate Mike Mansur as an honorary member of SEJ. (A final vote is needed at the July 29, 2012 board meeting.)
  • Approved motion to name as co-chairs for the proposed University of Tennessee - Chattanooga conference (2013): Pam Sohn (Chattanooga Times Free Press); Anne Paine (formerly of the Nashville Tennessean); and David Sachsman (UT-Chattanooga).



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 28, 2012, at the University of California, Davis Conference Center:

Board members present: Ashley Ahearn, Jeff Burnside, Peter Fairley, Douglas Fischer, Christy George, Tom Henry, Don Hopey, Heather King, Robert McClure, Sharon Oosthoek, Peter Thomson, Jennifer Weeks, Carolyn Whetzel, Roger Witherspoon
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke, SEJ members Frank Allen, Jane Braxton-Little, David Helvarg, plus Frank's son Zachary Allen
Board President Carolyn Whetzel presided


The SEJ Board:

  • Reviewed and discussed budget challenges for 2012 and the impact of having lost some key funders over the past two years.
  • Approved a 2012 operating budget of $915,000, including: 

    -cash carryover of prepaid grants and earned income reserve ($342,000)
    - income projections, showing that we need to raise $220,000 in new gifts grants and conference sponsorships in order to end the year with $300,000 at the start of 2013
    - expense budget plan that maintains core personnel and programs and reflects costs of donor-restricted project grants we are obligated to fulfill
    - projected year end balance if projected income and expense match this budget plan

  • Approved motion to no longer have SEJ pay for the board’s Saturday night dinners on board meeting days, effective with the spring meeting.
  • Approved motion to put on hiatus the fall issue of the SEJournal and unfunded TipSheets.
  • Approved motion to increase fees by $20, from $50 to $70, but continued the practice of offering a multiyear discount: $120 a year for two years and $180 for three years. Effective date of dues hike to be determined later.
  • Approved motion to enter into a dialogue with IJNR and set up a taskforce to explore a formal alliance between IJNR and SEJ.
  • Generated questions for the effectiveness analysis project SEJ is launching with support from the Brainerd Foundation to gather data and help the board determine a vision for the future and how to best allocate SEJ resources.



 Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, Wednesday, October 19 & Friday, October 21, 2011:

The SEJ Board held two brief meetings at the Miami Intercontinental Hotel during the SEJ 2011 annual conference.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 meeting:

Board president Carolyn Whetzel reported that talks are under way with the University of California at Davis for an annual conference in 2013 or beyond.

Executive Director Beth Parke delivered a sobering report on SEJ’s medium to long-term financial outlook, due largely to declining support from foundations. This was followed by a broader discussion of fundraising challenges and strategies.

Friday, October 21, 2011 meeting:

President Whetzel reported that all three members standing for election this year were elected, including new member Roger Witherspoon.

The board then elected the following members as officers:

President: Carolyn Whetzel (incumbent)
Programs Vice President: Peter Fairley
Membership Vice President: Jeff Burnside
Treasurer: Don Hopey (incumbent)
Secretary: Sharon Oosthoek


Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, July 23, 2011, at offices of Harrison, Benis & Spence LLP, Attorneys at Law, in Seattle, Washington:

Board members present: Ahearn, Burnside, Fairley, George, Henry, Hopey, King, McClure, Thomson, Whetzel, Yulsman
Board members absent: Davis, Fisher, Oosthoek, Weeks
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke, SEJ members Merritt Clifton, Lizzy Grossman, Jackleen de la Harpe
Board President Carolyn Whetzel presided


The SEJ Board:

  • Reviewed progress on meeting the goals & challenges of SEJ's strategic plan.
  • Agreed to improve gathering of data gathering regarding membership needs & satisfaction.
  • Reviewed and discussed the Executive Director's report on SEJ's finances, which continue to be healthy in the short and medium term but of serious concern beyond FY 2012.
  • Approved minutes from the April 2011 board meeting.
  • Approved appointments of 11 members to SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force.
  • Agreed to ramp up efforts to encourage members to organize and hold local SEJ events and gatherings.



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 9, 2011, at Lippman House, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Board members present: Whetzel, Fairley, Davis, Thomson, Ahearn, Fisher, George, Henry, King, McClure, Oosthoek, Weeks
Board members absent: Burnside, Hopey, Yulsman
Also present: SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke
Board President Carolyn Whetzel presided


The SEJ Board:

  • Heard a report from the Executive Committee approving changes to the SEJ financial policies, as directed by the board, incorporating the board’s January decision to allow SEJ to accept up to $15,000 in unrestricted support per calendar year from any individual or entity (other than charitable foundations, educational institutions and media companies, for which there is no annual cap), so long as total support from these sources does not exceed 20% of SEJ’s approved annual budget in any given year.
  • Approved minutes from the April, 2010 meeting in Richland, Washington, and the January, 2011 meeting in Santa Barbara, California.
  • Adopted new organizational Conflict of Interest and Whistleblower policies.
  • Heard an update on the fiscal year 2011 budget from Executive Director Beth Parke, including:

-an assessment that “2011 budget numbers to date are roughly on target.”
-the news that SEJ has received a $25,000 grant from the Grantham Foundation for continued funding of the Fund for Environmental Journalism (FEJ).
-a positive report on fundraising and earned income for the 2011 annual conference in Miami.

  • Discussed, but made no changes to, annual conference funding policies and practices.
  • Discussed financial policies changes regarding compliance with new federal accounting and spending standards for non-profit endowments, and referred the question to the Executive Committee for action.
  • Voted to change the name of the First Amendment Task Force to the Freedom of Information Task Force, reflecting the effort to make the task force more inclusive of members throughout North America.
  • Appointed Robert McClure, Adam Glenn, JoAnn Valenti, and Tom Henry to the SEJournal editorial board.



Meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 29, 2011, at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara:

All board members were present, along with SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke. Board President Carolyn Whetzel presided.


The SEJ Board:

  • Welcomed newly-elected Active members Ashley Ahearn, Tom Henry and Jennifer Weeks and newly-elected Academic member Tom Yulsman.
  • Approved minutes of the Summer and Fall 2010 meetings;
  • Appointed members of the following SEJ committees and task forces:

-Audit committee
-Awards committee
-Elections committee
-Diversity task force
-Freelance task force
-International outreach task force
-Succession planning task force

  • Reviewed Executive Committee decisions taken since the last full board meeting to:

-delay the board-approved member dues increase from November 1, 2010 to Jan. 1, 2011, and restructure the increase for Canadian members;
-authorize the Executive Director to retain a CPA to prepare the FY 2010 audit and IRS form 990.

  • Reviewed the final FY 2010 budget, including:

-Roughly $53,000 more earned income than expected
-Roughly $119,000 less grant and gift income than expected
-Roughly $103,000 lower expenses than budgeted, resulting in total expenses of $894,759 as opposed to the $998,300 approved by the board in January 2010.

  • Heard a financial report from Parke outlining "tremendous challenges" for 2011 in securing new gifts, grants and pledges given the overall economy and SEJ's specific philanthropic landscape.
  • Heard an organizational report including reshuffling of responsibilities following former Director of Programs and Operations Chris Rigel's change of status from salaried employee based at the Philadelphia office to contract service provider based in Louisville.
  • Approved a 2011 budget of $918,500, including $275,000 in income yet to be determined.
  • Adopted a change in SEJ financial policies allowing the organization to accept general support gifts and grants of up to $15,000 per calendar year from any entity that supports SEJ’s mission, up to a total of 20% of the organization’s approved annual budget in any given year. The action eased a long-standing de-facto ban on accepting any funding from government, advocacy or non-media business entities.


 Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, Thursday, October 14 & Friday, October 15, 2010:

On Thursday, October 14, 2010, the SEJ board met at the University of Montana University Center.

All board members were present, along with SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke and SEJ Conference Director Jay Letto.

The SEJ Board:

  • Heard about executive committee action appointing Chuck Quirmbach to the Elections Committee and Angela Swafford as Miami 2011 conference co-chair.
  • Heard brief updates on the 2010 budget, financial prospects and funding priorities, membership, and planning for the 2011 Miami conference.
  • Voted unanimously to create a Succession Planning Task Force to create an orderly path for retirement and replacement of key SEJ staff, and to appoint to the task force current and former board members Christy George, Mark Schleifstein, Bill Kovarik, Jim Detjen, Emilia Askari and Tim Wheeler.
  • Bid farewell to outgoing board members Jim Bruggers, Cheryl Hogue, Bill Kovarik and Tim Wheeler.

On Friday, October 15, 2010, the SEJ board met at the Holiday Inn on the Park, Missoula, Montana.

Ten of the eleven returning board members were present, as well as newly elected board members Tom Henry, Ashley Ahearn, Jennifer Weeks and Tom Yulsman. Board member Heather King was absent.

The only order of business was the election of new officers.

The board elected: Carolyn Whetzel President, Peter Fairley Vice President for Programs, Rob Davis Vice President for Membership, Don Hopey Treasurer and Peter Thomson Secretary.


 Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, July 31, 2010, at the offices of the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky:

The SEJ Board:

  • Approved revisions to SEJ's membership policies to clarify eligibility requirements, in response to growing challenges in defining the line between journalism and other communications activities such as public relations and lobbying.
  • Approved revisions to SEJ’s financial policies:
    -allowing the Executive Director to accept grants from the National Science Foundation when applied for in partnership with another organization, and donations of up to $500 from any source, without prior board approval;
    -removing inconsistent and redundant language resulting from a series of previous policy changes, and strengthening the language describing the firewall between funding sources and SEJ programs.
  • Approved revisions to SEJ's elections policies to reflect 2008 bylaws changes regarding online elections, and to make the policies more readable.
  • Voted to support a bylaws change expanding the technologies by which the board may meet remotely from "telephone" to "conference call or other electronic technology." The proposal must be passed by the membership at the next annual meeting in order to be adopted.
  • Voted to increase membership dues by $5 across the board, effective November 1, with the exception of Canadian members. Voted to increase dues for Canadian members by $15, including the $5 across-the-board increase and an adjustment for the increased value of the Canadian dollar.
  • Accepted a proposal to hold the 2013 annual conference at Washington State University-Tri Cities, subject to negotiation of a satisfactory agreement between the two parties.
  • Approved a mission statement for SEJ's Freelance Task Force and appointed SEJ member Glen Blouin to the task force.
  • Voted to approve the formation of a Diversity Task Force and appoint the following charter members: Ada Alvarez, Adrianne Appel, Peter Fairley (ex-officio — Membership chair), Debbie Krol, Miguel Llanos, Carolyn Whetzel (Ex-officio — Programs Chair), Bill Kovarik.
  • Discussed options for cutting programs and/or increasing revenue in case of possible fiscal year 2011 budget shortfall.
  • In light of growing financial challenges, instructed board President Christy George to lead a membership discussion on sources of funding for SEJ, to be carried out on SEJ listserves and continued at the membership meeting of the next annual conference.
  • Discussed but took no action on a proposal for an SEJ Freelancer's grievance committee, but did express support for providing more resources, guidance & support to freelancers.


 Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 24, 2010, at the Three Rivers Conference Center, Kennewick, Washington:

The SEJ Board:

  • Approved minutes of the January 2010 board meeting
  • Made or approved the following appointments:

    * Emilia Askari and Chris Rigel to the Awards Committee
    * Nancy Gaarder to the Elections Committee
    * Celeste Monforton to the Freedom of Information Task Force

  • Approved guidelines for a new Fund for Environmental Journalism.
  • Reviewed the 2010 Budget & financial outlook, and heard warnings from Executive Director Beth Parke about a potential significant shortfall, tough times and possible difficult decisions ahead.
  • Agreed to survey select members of the SEJ community about possible expansion of SEJ’s acceptable funding sources.
  • Approved a restructuring of the Finance and Fundraising Committee into a Finance Committee and a Fundraising and Development Subcommittee.
  • Accepted a proposal to hold SEJ’s 2012 annual conference at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, contingent on signing an acceptable agreement with the university.

Board members Present included Jim Bruggers, Rob Davis, Jeff Burnside, Douglas Fischer, Christy George (President), Cheryl Hogue, Don Hopey (Treasurer), Robert McClure, Sharon Oosthoek, Peter Thomson (Secretary), Tim Wheeler, Carolyn Whetzel (Vice President for Programs).

Board members absent included Bill Kovarik (Academic member), Jim Detjen (Founding President—non-voting), Peter Fairley (Vice President for Membership), Heather King (Associate member).


 Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 23, 2010, at The Overton Hotel, Lubbock, Texas:

The SEJ Board:

  • Welcomed four new board members elected by membership in October (Rob Davis, Douglas Fischer, Heather King & Sharon Oosthoek). 
  • Heard an update on 2010 Annual Conference planning, to be held at the University of Montana in Missoula. The theme will be "The Changing West," and the meeting will also commemorate SEJ’s 20th anniversary.
  • Held a discussion of a proposal to hold the 2012 Annual Conference at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
  • Approved a 2010 budget of $1,003,300 ($26,735 less than 2009) that includes $280,000 in income yet to be identified; exhorted its members to help raise that money and assigned members to work with executive director Parke to draw up a contingency plan for significant cuts if it is not.
  • Approved a cut in the book category of the SEJ Awards from $10,000 to $1,000 (the same level as all other awards) following the non-renewal of the dedicated 2-year grant supporting the book award.
  • Instructed the awards committee to revisit the awards categories for 2011 to reflect changes in media.
  • Approved appointments to the following non-governance committees and task forces: Awards Committee, Freedom of Information/Freedom of Information Task Force, Freelance Task Force, SEJournal Editorial Board, Listserv minders, Diversity Task Force, Audit Committee, Succession Planning Task Force, Elections Committee.
  • Assigned 21 action items to board members to be completed by the next meeting.
  • Discussed draft guidelines for the SEJ’s new Fund for Environmental Journalism.


 Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, October 9, 2009, at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club, Madison, Wisconsin:

SEJ Director of Operations announced the results of the 2009 election for board members and proposed bylaws amendments.

Christy George, Robert McClure, Jim Bruggers, Sharon Oosthoek, Jeff Burnside, Don Hopey, Rob Davis, and Douglas Fischer won in the active category. Heather King won a three-year term as the board representative for associate members.

The board elected Christy George to serve as President; Carolyn Whetzel, First Vice President (Programs); Peter Fairley, Second Vice President (Membership); Don Hopey, Treasurer; and Peter Thomson, Secretary.

SEJ members also approved changes to the organization's bylaws.

Article VI (Committees), Section 2 (Executive Committee) now requires the SEJ Board Executive Committee to report any action it takes on behalf of the full board outside of ordinary board meetings at the next regulator meeting and allows the full board to review and, if necessary, rescind the action.

The membership also approved changes to Article VIII (Miscellaneous Provisions), Section 2 (Notice) outlining SEJ procedures for the delivery of notices required by the bylaws or other policies. Specifically, the revision states such notices shall be given in writing to a director, member, committee member or officer at his or her postal or electronic addresses as it appears in SEJ's records. The updated provision also states that the notices may be sent via email or deposited in the United States mail or other delivery service.

The board will meet again in January 2010. Details to be announced.


 Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 18, 2009, at Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana:

The board voted unanimously to accept drafts of revised vision and mission statements for SEJ and five critical issues, written and identified during the two-day strategic planning & leadership development retreat held prior to the meeting:

  • SEJ’s VISION (Draft): Credible and robust journalism that informs and engages society on environmental issues.
  • SEJ’s MISSION (Draft): To strengthen the quality, reach and viability of journalism across all media to advance public understanding of environmental issues.
  • Critical Issue 1 (Draft): How do we ensure our programs and services deliver the greatest value to our members and other journalists during the time of transition in the industry?
  • Critical Issue 2 (Draft): How do we uphold journalistic integrity and bolster public trust in our profession?
  • Critical Issue 3 (Draft): How do we grow and diversify our membership?
  • Critical Issue 4 (Draft): How do we maximize the potential of our volunteers, board and staff to invigorate the momentum of SEJ?
  • Critical Issue 5 (Draft): How can SEJ sustain itself financially in the face of economic crisis and longer-term trends in philanthropy?

The board voted unanimously to approve a pilot program under which SEJ will act as fiscal sponsor for a small number of independent environmental journalism projects, and to adopt fiscal guidelines for the program. If successful, the program would allow SEJ to help facilitate independent environmental journalism projects on an ongoing basis.

The board approved plans for a day-long summit on the future of environmental journalism and the role of funders and SEJ, to be held in conjunction with its summer meeting in Leavenworth, Washington.


Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, Thursday, Oct. 16 & Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, during SEJ's annual conference in Roanoke, Virginia:

The Thursday meeting included the following reports and actions:

Executive Director Beth Parke reported that the society's fiscal health is solid, having fully recovered from a post-Hurricane Katrina downturn. She reported recent receipt of three major operating grants, as well as a strategic planning grant. She expressed concern, however, about the impact of the current economic downturn on the society's finances in 2009.

Chris Rigel, recently appointed to the newly-created post of Director of Programs and Operations, reported that:

  • The SEJ office may soon relocate, due in part to lack of ADA compliance in current building.
  • An upgrade of the website is underway, with hoped-for launch early in 2009.
  • Earned income from this year's conference is 50% higher than budgeted.
  • The first SEJ/Rachel Carson book award will be awarded during the conference, along with the other SEJ awards for environmental reporting.
  • Planning is well underway for the 2010 annual conference in Madison, Wisconsin, and the 2011 conference in Miami.
  • Membership in the society stands at 1,499, including a recent surge of new members.
  • The redesigned SEJournal is looking great but having trouble keeping on its production schedule.

The board adopted a policy directing all undesignated donations to the society of under $1,000 to the 21st Century Fund Endowment, and requiring donors of all undesignated gifts of $1,000 or more to be contacted regarding their preference for the funds, either the endowment or operations.

The board created a Marketing Task Force of Jeff Burnside, Christy George, Bill Kovarik and Chris Bowman.

The board asked members Peter Thomson and Carolyn Whetzel to review the society's bylaws for archaic language, especially references to obsolete communications technologies, and propose possible amendments for the 2009 annual membership meeting.

The board created a task force to evaluate suggestions for reorganizing some elements of the annual conference, given rising costs and staff workload.

The board approved revisions to its travel reimbursement policy aimed at making travel to meetings more affordable for current and prospective board members.

The Friday meeting included the following actions:

The board appointed Ray Ring, of High Country News, as co-chair of the 2010 annual conference in Missoula, Montana.

Chris Rigel announced the results of the elections at the annual members' meeting earlier in the day: incumbent board members Peter Fairley, Mark Schleifstein and Carolyn Whetzel were reelected to three-year terms, and a bylaws amendment allowing online voting passed by a vote of 126-2.

The board elected new officers for 2008-2009:

President: Christy George
Programs Vice President: Carolyn Whetzel
Membership Vice President: Cheryl Hogue
Treasurer: Peter Thomson
Secretary: Mark Schleifstein

See the entire board lineup.

— Summary by Peter Thomson, SEJ Board Secretary

 Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 12, 2008, at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Miami, Florida:

All board members were present, as well as SEJ staff members Beth Parke, Chris Rigel and Jay Letto.

Executive Director Beth Parke reported that SEJ's financial outlook improved substantially in 2007 and expects similar progress in 2008, but asked the board to help raise up to $300,000 in new operations funding this year to allow for hiring of new staff. The board unanimously approved a motion requesting Parke draw up a proposal for staff reorganization, including possible new hires, for purposes of increased development capacity.

The board and staff members conducted a lengthy review and discussion of annual conference planning processes and structures, with the goal of reducing the burden on the staff, which has increased greatly in recent years.

The board unanimously approved a motion to appoint the following to the SEJ Awards committee: Osha Gray Davidson, Kristen Ally Swain, Nancy Bazilchuk, Mark Schleifstein, Nancy Gaarder and Jeff Burnside.

President Wheeler reported that as allowed by SEJ bylaws, the Executive committee met between board meetings to accept a $30,000 grant from Douglas Legum to fund SEJ's new Rachel Carson Environmental Book Award.

The board unanimously approved a motion to set one-year, renewable terms for members of the Freedom of Information task force, and to allow the committee to appoint from its members a chair to serve a three-year term.

Membership Vice President Cheryl Hogue reported membership as of Jan. 7 stood at 1,378, with the biggest jump in numbers (+10) in the TV category.

The board approved, by a vote of 12-3, a motion to adopt an annual appeal program offering donors the opportunity to give to either the endowment or operating budget.

The board unanimously approved a motion to appoint Chuck Quirmbach as co-chair of the 2009 annual conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

The board unanimously approved a motion to select the University of Montana as the site for the 2010 annual conference and the University of Miami for the 2011 conference, contingent upon signed letters of agreement with both institutions.

Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, Sep. 6 & 7, 2007, at the Sheraton Palo Alto Hotel, Palo Alto, CA:

On Thursday, September 6th:

  • SEJ's Executive Director, Beth Parke, declared SEJ's finances healthy, with $320,935 in the 21st Century (endowment) Fund, and a project end-of-2007 carryover of $272,000. Parke projected at least $175,000 in new grants for 2008.
  • SEJournal Editor Mike Mansur reported that the Stanford conference would be covered in SEJ's first 4-color issue.
  • Membership Committee Chair Cheryl Hogue reported that member numbers were on the up and that freelancers were now the largest category of members, just slightly above newspaper staff.
  • Board members debated whether to include appeals for both program support and the 21st C Fund in SEJ's annual end of the year fundraising letter, but decided to stick with an endowment focused letter for this year.
  • The Stanford conference was acclaimed a huge success. Motions were passed authorizing a taskforce to convene to review conference procedures and to authorize SEJ executive director Parke to negotiate external funding support for a book award.
  • The board adjourned with plans to meet again in January, and with hearty thanks to past president Perry Beeman upon his retirement from board service.

On Friday, September 7th:

  • The Board met to elect new officers, following the reelection of Cheryl Hogue, Peter Thompson and Tim Wheeler and the election of Chris Bowman (all to three-year terms as Active members). The officers elected were:  

    President: Tim Wheeler (returning)
    First Vice President: Christy George (returning)
    Second Vice President: Cheryl Hogue (returning)
    Treasurer: Carolyn Whetzel (returning)
    Secretary: Peter Thomson

    See the entire board lineup.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, June 30, 2007, at the University of Montana, Missoula, MT:

The board met in Anderson Hall, on the University of Montana campus.

Carolyn Whetzel, SEJ's treasurer and co-chair of the endowment committee, reported that $141,197.62 was raised under the Challenge Grant for Journalism campaign for SEJ's 21st Century Endowment — more than the $103,000 needed to secure the match of $51,500. Peter Thomson, endowment committee co-chair, said the campaign "blew away all of the benchmarks" by getting $21,083 and 100 percent participation by the board; $34,700 in "major gifts;" and $5,540 in new member dues (goal was $4,000).

President Tim Wheeler led a lengthy discussion on SEJ's mission and the way that mission could best be achieved, asking who the organization serves and what it should do in light of ongoing changes in the newspaper industry and journalism and declining membership and funding. Board members made numerous observations and suggestions (see the official meeting minutes at the SEJ office), and proposed a number of actions, including a business plan study, membership survey, budget evaluation, and review of the conference format. Reports are due by the summer 2008 meeting.

Motions were approved authorizing deposit of the $51,500 Challenge Grant match in the 21st Century Endowment Fund account as temporarily restricted funds and permitting the executive director to draw on earned income (interest and investment earnings) up to $20,000 in the current fiscal year from the fund for development purposes; approving the full-color cover option and a $200 per issue appropriation for SEJournal; creating of a book award category in the SEJ awards program; appointing Ken Ward Jr. as co-chair of the 2008 annual conference at Virginia Tech; inviting the University of Montana to submit a proposal to host the 2010 annual conference.

The board adjourned until the next planned meeting at the annual conference at Stanford University in September.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 28, 2007, at the CNN Professional Center, Atlanta, GA:

The board unanimously approved Bill Kovarik chair of the 2008 annual conference at Virginia Tech University.

SEJ Treasurer Carolyn Whetzel introduced changes to the organization's financial policy that would allow the audit committee to be comprised of two nonboard members. Current policy requires two board members to sit on the committee. The change was unanimously approved, and the board subsequently agreed to appoint Roger Witherspoon to the audit committee.

The board adjourned until the next planned meeting on June 30, 2007, at the University of Montana.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, Jan. 13, 2007, at the Knight New Media Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA:

The board conducted the following business:

  • The board unanimously approved the sale of ads on, without restrictions, as long as there was a clear distinction between advertisements and editorial content. President Tim Wheeler directed the programs committee to draft a proposal on the sale of advertisements in other SEJ publications, such as the SEJournal and TipSheet.
  • Second Vice President Cheryl Hogue reported that SEJ membership has declined. Hogue suggested an analysis of membership numbers be conducted in order to better pinpoint the reasons behind the decrease.
  • The board unanimously approved the transfer of $10,000 from the operating budget to the endowment, something that it typically does every year but failed to do in 2006.
  • The board unanimously decided to invite Judy Muller and Rick Rodriguez to join SEJ's Advisory Board and appointed SEJ President Tim Wheeler as the board's liaison.
  • Board and Audit Committee Member Don Hopey reported that two firms responded to SEJ's request for an audit. The auditor selected for 2006 is O'Connell & Company.
  • The board unanimously reappointed the entire election committee: Paul MacClellan, Chuck Quirmbach, and Chris Rigel.

Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, Oct. 26 & 27, 2006, at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel, Burlington, VT:

The board:

  • Heard a proposal to create a book award as an addition to SEJ's awards program. President Perry Beeman appointed board volunteers Robert McClure, Jim Bruggers and Christy George to a task force to review the criteria, costs and procedures for such an award.
  • Approved unanimously the appointment to the SEJournal board of Robert McClure as chairman, Denny Wilkins and JoAnn Valenti, all to three-year terms, and Bill Kovarik to a special one-year appointment to work on redesign of the publication.
  • Heard Executive Director Beth Parke report that attendance at the Burlington conference had topped out at 801, a total that included 335 journalists and 49 students.
  • Elected as new board officers: President Tim Wheeler; First Vice President Christy George; Second Vice President Cheryl Hogue; Secretary Dina Cappiello; Treasurer Carolyn Whetzel.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, July 29, 2006, at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, New York City, NY:

The board:

  • Heard that SEJ has been awarded a $103,000 Knight Challenge Grant that will require the organization to raise $51,500 to match a like amount from Knight.
  • Approved the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the site for SEJ's 2009 Annual Conference, Oct. 7-11, 2009.
  • Created an "honorary member" category to thank long-time members for valorous service.
  • Approved the appointment of Chris Rigel, Tim Wheeler and Christy George to the Stolberg Award Committee.
  • Authorized web ads on the SEJ web site and directed the programs chair to work with the SEJ staff on implementing the new ad program.
  • Established a board mentor program to help new board members acclimate to board duties and service.

Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 21 and 22, 2006, in Roanoke, VA:

The board:

  • Approved Virginia Tech and Roanoke as the 2008 conference site, contingent on the outcome of negotiations on a hotel contract.
  • Approved the creation of an Endowment Advisory Group, to be composed of non-SEJ members appointed by the board, to assist on SEJ Endowment fundraising.
  • Appointed Sara Thurin Rollin, Scott Miller, David Ropeik and Ray Anderson to the Endowment Advisory Group.
  • Approved restricting the SEJ Endowment Committee membership to voting members of SEJ, an action that clarified the Endowment Committee's rules.
  • Appointed Tom Meersman, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to the Endowment Committee.
  • Approved the appointment of member Carolyn Lee to SEJ's new Audit Committee, which was formed on the suggestion of the organization's auditor to provide members with a hands-on way to check the group's finances and spending. It will begin review of SEJ's 2005 audit.
  • Agreed that SEJ would apply for a one-year Knight Challenge Grant of $100,000, a matching grant that requires the organization to raise money for the SEJ Endowment Fund from individual contributors to receive a like amount of grant money. Informational letters will be sent to SEJ members explaining the grant and soliciting contributions.
  • Heard a Programs Committee report noting that the number of entries in this year's SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment had declined significantly (from 234 last year to 180). A review is underway that may lead to a change in entry rules.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 28, 2006, at Florida International University, North Miami, FL:

The board:

  • Approved the organization's 2006 operating budget of $881,500. By comparison, actual operating expenses were $837,889 (audited) in 2004, and $844,197 (audit pending) in 2005.
  • Approved language changes to clarify SEJ's fundraising policy in agreements with future conference partners, host sponsors and co-sponsors. The changes are intended to strengthen SEJ's control of funding sources and how those sources are recognized at events and in programs, signage and literature about the conference events.
  • Approved the following persons for appointments to the 2006 SEJ Awards Committee: Dan Fagin, NYU, co-chair; Ilsa Setziol, KPCC Radio, co-chair; Emilia Askari, Detroit Free Press; Sharon Friedman, Lehigh University; Miguel Llanos, MSNBC; Francesca Lyman, Independent Journalist; Ed Rodgers, New Jersey Public Television; Phyllis Sides, Racine Journal Times, Racine, WI; David Wiwchar, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Port Alberni, BC, Canada.
  • Requested full proposals to host SEJ's annual conference from Virginia Tech and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for 2008 in time for review at the spring board meeting in April in Roanoke.
  • Approved an SEJ bylaws amendment to allow for the creation of a three-member audit committee, as recommended by financial consultants. The committee will consist of two board members and one SEJ member, with one of the board members serving as chair.
  • Appointed board member Don Hopey to a three-year term and board member Tim Wheeler to a two-year term on the audit committee, and authorized the committee to solicit SEJ membership for volunteers to fill the third committee seat.
  • Approved making SEJ-Canada and SEJ-Freelance listservs official SEJ sites. They were formerly unofficial SEJ sites. Also the board is considering creating a Broadcast listserv.
  • Peter Thomson, the board's liaison for the 2006 conference in Burlington, VT, reported that all is going well and the theme this year is "sustainability." He said the conference will include an "Environmental Law Boot Camp" on Wednesday and that details will be available on the SEJ conference web site.
  • The board met with Eric Newton, Director, Journalism Program, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a $42 billion foundation that annually distributes about $25 million in journalism grants. Newton discussed the foundation's involvement with journalism training and chair endowments at various universities. He said SEJ's members are reporting "the story of the century" and promised to nominate SEJ for participation in Knight's Challenge Fund for Journalism program, which helps journalism organizations design campaigns for fundraising.

Summary of the meetings of the SEJ Board of Directors, September 28 and 30, 2005, at the Omni Downtown Hotel, Austin, TX:

On Wednesday, September 28th:

  • The Board approved an update to SEJ's Strategic Plan. The 2006-2008 plan restates the organization's mission as well as its basic principles, values and goals. It is based on review and analysis of surveys and evaluation data collected during 2002-2005; board meeting and board committee discussions; anecdotal feedback; member suggestions; staff reports; and other information and data compiled for various reports.
  • Second Vice President (Membership) Mark Schleifstein reported that as of September 17, 2005, SEJ had a total of 1,414 members (996 active, 238 academic, 204 associate, and 6 honorary).
  • Conference Manager Jay Letto and Austin conference co-chairs Randy Loftis and Dina Cappiello briefed board members on last-minute agenda changes and details for the conference.

On Friday, September 30th:

  • President Perry Beeman announced the results of the board election. Peter Fairley, Mark Schleifstein, and Carolyn Whetzel were elected to serve three-year terms. Dina Cappiello and Vince Patton were elected to serve the remaining one-year terms of the seats vacated by Dan Fagin and the late Kevin Carmody.
  • Rebecca Daugherty ran unopposed for the associate membership's board representative. However, the number of votes cast did not meet quorum rules. As a result the board appointed Daugherty to a one-year term. (See the entire board lineup.)

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, July 16, 2005, at University of Wisconsin-Extension, Madison, WI:

The board:

  • Reappointed Elizabeth Bluemink and A. Adam Glenn to the SEJournal editorial board;
  • Approved discounted dues for multi-year membership. Members save a total of $5 by signing up for two years and $15 for three years;
  • Named board members Tim Wheeler and Jim Detjen and SEJ Associate Director Chris Rigel to serve on the Stolberg Award Committee; and
  • Authorized the formation of a task force to evaluate the direction of SEJ publications and work with staff to conduct a member survey.

Also, the board received updates on the awards program, the annual conference in Austin, the 2006 and 2007 conferences, and the Freedom of Information Task Force.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, April 30, 2005, at Stanford University, CA:

The board:

  • Appointed Heather Duncan, The Macon Telegraph, and Ben Raines, Mobile Register, to SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force;
  • Accepted, with regrets, the resignation of Deborah Schoch, Los Angeles Times, from the Awards Committee. It named Francesca Lyman, MSNBC, to the committee;
  • Approved an across-the-board member dues increase of $5 to be effective Jan. 1, 2006;
  • Authorized the executive director to accept Stanford University's invitation to host the 2007 conference, contingent upon the successful execution of a letter of agreement with the university's president, John Hennessey; and
  • Formed an ad hoc audit committee, comprised of Cheryl Hogue, Don Hopey, and Tim Wheeler, to work with the executive director on this year's audit and create a permanent audit committee structure.

Summary of the meeting of the SEJ Board of Directors, January 29, 2005, at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA:

The board:

  • Approved a projected operating budget of approximately $879,788 for Fiscal Year 2005;
  • Reappointed Chris Rigel, SEJ associate director; Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio; and Paul MacClennan, columnist, The Buffalo News; as the 2005 Elections Committee. MacClennan was named chairman of the committee;
  • Named Len Ackland, Scripps/University of Colorado, Boulder; Brenda Box, National Public Radio; David Wiwchar, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Ha-Shilth-Sa; David Baron, WGBH Radio; Deborah Schoch, Los Angeles Times; Dale Willman, Field Notes Productions; Emilia Askari, Detroit Free Press; Vince Patton, KGW-TV (Portland, Ore.); and Dan Fagin, Newsday and SEJ board member, as the 2005 Awards Committee. Fagin and Patton were named co-chairs;
  • Named SEJ board members Peter Thomson, independent radio producer/writer, and Christy George, Oregon Public Broadcasting, as co-chairs of the Endowment Committee. Board Member Dan Fagin, Newsday, was also appointed to the committee.
  • Appointed Cindy Bailey, GreeneSpeak Publications; Kathie Florsheim, freelance photographer; Bill Dawson, independent journalist; Seth Borenstein, Knight Ridder; Patricia M. Kennedy, Associate Professor of Communications, Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Bill Allen, Assistant Professor of Ag Journalism, University of Missouri-Columbia; Shaun Lockhart, The Herald Sun, Durham, N.C.; Debra A. Schwartz, Connexions Communications; Darren Samuelsohn, Greenwire/Environment & Energy Daily; Lacy Phillabaum, In Good Tilth Magazine; and Rebecca Daugherty, FOI Service Center director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and SEJ board member; to SEJ's Freedom of Information Act Task Force; and
  • Discussed the Pittsburgh conference, reviewed preliminary plans for the 2005 conference in Austin, Texas, and discussed prospective sites for future conferences.

For board meeting summaries prior to 2005, go here.