March 2018: An exciting time for JAWS

March has been an exciting month for JAWS, starting with our spring board retreat in Oakland, California. We tackled some big issues, including whether to seek funding for an executive director, streamline the site selection process and increase the size of our year-round membership.

I’m happy to report we came up with some great ideas, thanks in large part to Bay Area facilitator Lisa Hoffman. In less than six hours, Lisa helped us to decide to go after funding for an executive director, speed up the site selection process and increase our membership from about 670 to 1,000 members.

Raising money for an executive director is no easy task, but I’m happy to report that the board unanimously supported this effort and gave me some great ideas on how to pursue this important effort. This month, I will be working with board members and chatting with some potential grantors to figure out how to get this project rolling. If you have expertise in seeking grants to hire an executive director, please or email me at .

In terms of streamlining the site selection process, Operations Director Roxann Elliott will now work more closely with the board and our contact at Experiant to choose the destinations that keep CAMP intimate and relaxed in under 6 months instead of 9-12 months.

As many of you may know, we are holding our 2018 CAMP in beautiful Welches, Oregon and our 2019 CAMP in lovely Williamsburg, Virginia. Details about our speakers for CAMP 2018 will be coming soon.

On Sunday morning, over some hot coffee and toasty bagels, board members also took time to thank our donors. We did this the old-fashioned way: Phone calls. For me, it felt great to speak directly to some of the people who made 2017 such a successful fundraising year: We raised over $54,000 in donations!

I did not, however, get a chance to call the folks at the Gridiron Club and Foundation, the oldest journalistic organization in Washington, D.C. Thanks to their $5,000 check, we were able to start offering funding for regional events and webinars that help women improve their skills as journalists.

We are putting their generous donation to work by hosting a FOIA webinar on March 28, and we’d love to hear your suggestions for regional events that you can organize in coming months. You can brainstorm ideas and promote the events through our listserv and new Facebook group.

Also at the meeting, committee chairs reported that they are working hard to bolster our mentorship program, bring the next group of fellows to CAMP and reach out to more women of color and younger women. Again, if you have suggestions, please post your ideas on our listserv and Facebook group.

March, as I said, has been an amazing month. As I write this column, I’m about to get on a plane in the wee hours of the morning to attend the Democracy Fund’s Engaged Journalism Stakeholder Meeting at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Those invited include many grantees and hopeful grantees like JAWS!

Later this month (yes, this month), I will be heading down to Los Angeles to speak at the Women’s Leadership Symposium: A Day of Empowerment for Women Journalists.

The one-day event in Los Angeles comes just a few weeks after Poynter Institute held its wildly successful event of the same name in New York. JAWS Board member Lottie Joiner said the East Coast event was inspiring and timely, given the focus on the #MeToo movement, equity in the workplace and the success of the new movie The Post, which highlights the struggles of women leading America’s newsrooms.

Didn’t I say that March has been an exciting month?


PS … If you have ideas, suggestions or comments, drop us a or line and/or check out our new Facebook group. It’s a great way to get the conversation started!