SEJ members are saddened to learn of the passing of longtime member and volunteer JoAnn Valenti on July 23, 2023.
JoAnn joined SEJ in October of 1990. Her volunteer work for SEJ had been primarily behind-the-scenes work that quietly spread SEJ's name over several continents.
She was the Representative for Academic Membership on the SEJ Board of Directors from 1995-98. When JoAnn was a board member, the Academic and Associate board members didn't have a vote. She lobbied hard to change that.
JoAnn served as a book judge for SEJ's Rachel Carson Environment Book category from 2008 until 2021. That means she read around 30 to 35 books every contest season for 13 years. She repeatedly published 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 had a very long reach.
In 2022, JoAnn was awarded the David Stolberg Meritorious Service Award, which recognizes an SEJ member for their exceptional volunteer work.
In May 2023, the SEJ Board of Directors approved honorary lifetime SEJ membership for JoAnn.