I want to first say how excited I am for what the future of JAWS holds as our incoming president Jennifer Kho prepares to lead our organization.
As an industry leader, she has championed innovation, creativity and diversity — shepherding transformative change in newsrooms and supporting the rise of women journalists. As a fellow board member and president-elect, she has been compassionate, spirited and driven in carrying out JAWS’ mission and modeling its values.
JAWS is in very good hands with Jenn.
In one of my last acts as your JAWS president, I want to tell you in no uncertain terms, JAWS is stronger than ever. We have fortified our position as a force in the industry for all women in journalism, regardless of race, age, gender identity or disability.
But we cannot celebrate what we’ve achieved without reflecting on what it took to get to this moment. We’ve come a long way since CAMP 2018. We were finding our way as an organization with our finances, our programming and even our own racial reckoning.
Despite all that we faced, we loved this organization enough to fight with and for each other, to cry together, and to hold ourselves accountable for JAWS’ survival. Even in our moment of distress, we tested whether we could become the ambitious, tolerant and inclusive organization we sought to be. To do that, we did what so many women in history fighting for a cause have always done: we trusted the brilliance and ingenuity of women.
And look at some of what we’ve accomplished:
- We’ve celebrated women. We launched a stipend in honor of Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first Black White House correspondent, to support local women journalists in small markets. We partnered with Women Do News to increase women journalists featured in Wikipedia and spotlighted them during Women History Month. We honored our own with the creation of the Hall of Presidents, acknowledging the 25 women who have led JAWS since its founding.
- We’ve engaged more women in our industry. Our membership and leadership are more diverse with members of all races, ages, sexualities and identities represented.
- We’ve prioritized the safety and dignity of women. We partnered with the International Women’s Media Foundation on hostile environment training for women journalists and addressing online harassment. We joined forces with the Coalition Against Online Violence in solidarity with women journalists around the world.
- We’ve positioned JAWS as a leader in digital media. We created new branding and marketing materials and modernized the JAWS website to be a remodeled online home for women in journalism. We launched a members-only digital platform where members connect, talk and share.
- We’ve made it clear underrepresented journalists can count on us. We’ve partnered and advocated alongside NAJA, NAHJ, NABJ, NLGJA and AAJA.
- We’ve leveled up our programming at CAMP and beyond. We’ve had sustained diversity, equity and inclusion programming on how to keep journalists of color in newsrooms; confronting racism in newsrooms; covering hate online and in the field; and how to be an ally. We’ve also focused more on support and protections for independent journalists.
- We’ve taken control of our financial future. In the last year alone we raised nearly $100,000 to secure our operation. We built a solid infrastructure of fiscal management and accountability.
- We’ve figured out where we want to go as an organization. Our strategic priorities have become our compass as we face the unknowns of our industry’s future.
JAWdesses, this is not a Renaissance. This is a JAWSaissance. We’ve reimagined what it means to be a woman in journalism today and re-emerged as a refuge for leaders, visionaries, thinkers and doers.
And as the world has changed, JAWS has changed with it. We’ve seen the outcomes of industry job loss, the #MeToo campaign, a pandemic and a global racial reckoning. We’ve seen women’s work in newsrooms and in their own homes be undervalued and underappreciated. As JAWS women, we’ve held steadfast to our purpose: To support women. To uplift women. To mentor women. To champion women.
I’m proud of what we’ve built and achieved together. But now it’s time for our next JAWS president and board members to continue this momentum. It has been a privilege to serve as your president and to be part of this important chapter in JAWS history.
Thank you for believing in me and allowing me to lead. I will never take your confidence in me for granted.
Onward JAWdesses, onward.