Thank you and CAMP recap

Whaleyd0e0abDear JAWS members:

Thank you all, once again, for the opportunity to serve as your president.

At CAMP, I officially passed the crown to the very capable Linda Kramer Jenning. But I did want to say goodbye one more time and also give a brief recap of our incredible 2014 Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP).

This year, 180 people enjoyed the program (and pools) at the La Quinta Resort and Club near Palm Springs, California. We listened intently as Jill Abramson told us that she still doesn’t really know why she was fired, that she had a hard time retaining a diverse staff, and that she is launching a new venture that will pay writers $100,000 for long-form pieces. We heard from Peg Simpson during the Legacy Luncheon as she detailed stories from decades when gender discrimination was endemic in newsrooms. We couldn’t get enough of Linda Deutsch’s tales about documenting every famous court case in history (except Socrates’). And we listened as Anna Holmes talked about what diversity looks like, as well as her personal path from working at women’s magazines to critiquing them on Jezebel, the wildly famous women’s website she started, to becoming an editor of Digital Voices at Fusion and working as a columnist for The New York Times Book Review. We also watched documentaries, learned about podcasting and apps, listened to panels and watched glorious sunsets in the picturesque desert. We danced on Halloween, traded Twitter handles and, always, made new friends across the generations.

Thank you all for such a wonderful culmination to a difficult, but ultimately rewarding year.

I wanted to share with you some highlights from my time on the board as a way to say: Wow! We have done so much and I am so excited to see where this next board and all our members take JAWS.

I look back on my years serving JAWS with pride: Serving first as membership chair in 2011-2012 during a growth spurt and then as communications chair when I overhauled the website in an effort to enhance our digital presence. As president-elect in 2012-13 and president in 2013-14, together with an incredible board, we focused on building internal systems that would support our growth and expand our programming to better serve our 700 (and growing!) members. I hope my legacy is one of improving efficiency and function, while maintaining the inclusive and warm spirit of JAWS.

In fact, immediate past communications chair Karen Cheung-Larivee brought to my attention that in the 2010 membership survey, you all asked for a new website, a searchable archive on the listserv, email newsletters, more regional trainings and regional listservs for trainings and events. We have accomplished these!

With the tireless efforts of a dedicated working board and part-time staff members, we have accomplished so much:

  • Expanded fellowships to include 10 emerging fellowships, one diversity fellowship, one mid-career fellowship and one entrepreneurial fellowship. These incredible fellows stood up in front of those assembled at CAMP to tell the group how JAWS had touched them, had given them a voice, a community and an excitement to go out and kick ass. Also, they had everyone — myself included — in tears with their heartfelt stories about being welcomed into JAWS.
  • Implemented a new online membership database that allows members to connect, as well as track membership dues and donations. We have signed on for another year withYourMembership and have the ability to add more features.
  • Implemented best practices for financial reporting, including QuickBooks online. With the help of former treasurer Jessica Rettig, current treasurer Amy Resnick and interim operations director Adrienne Lawrence, our books are getting better organized. Also, as Amy reported at CAMP: We’re in the black!
  • Gained financial support from sponsors to sustain the organization and keep membership and conference costs low. Our numerous sponsors of CAMP show how people outside of our beloved organization value women journalists and all the great and necessary work we do.
  • Formed a new diversity committee. I launched this at CAMP 2013 and am excited to see where this next board takes it. We must keep having difficult conversations to make sure we are as welcoming and inclusive as possible. We also want to live up to our mission of working toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.
  • Formed a new legal and business affairs committee to help organize us as a nonprofit.
  • Formed a new future staffing committee to research and make recommendations for the future of JAWS.
  • Improved and streamlined more frequent communications, including a more user-friendly listserv, mobile-friendly monthly e-newsletter, expanded social media and redesigned website.
  • Started a year-round mentoring program to expand the wonderful relationships started at CAMP.
  • Expanded regional events to re-create the intimacy, mentoring and networking we experience at CAMP.

Thank you to everyone who makes this organization run. Thank you to those who wrapped me in the JAWS quilt of love. Right back at you. All of you.

So long!