|JAWS President Jenn Kho|
It’s spring, a time of renewal and fresh starts, and a fitting season to welcome Molly Schar, our new executive director, who started April 11.
With nearly 30 years of experience – and more than 10 years in association executive director roles (plus a journalism degree!) – Molly’s experience, attitude and communication style impressed the board, which unanimously voted her in as the top choice among an accomplished pool of candidates for executive director.
In her interviews, she came across as mission-driven, as well as both strategic and detail-oriented, diplomatic and direct. I also love that she is the founder of the Worthiest Project, which helps people prevent and recover from burnout. I have full confidence that she is the right person to lead JAWS into its next chapter, in partnership with myself and Angela Greiling Keane, our new president-elect, who will become board president after CAMP in October. I’m so excited to get to work with her. Please join me in welcoming Molly to JAWS!
April also brought us some devastating news: the death of our beloved and brilliant Lisa Shepard, who advocated for ethical journalism and inspired so many of us with her fearlessness, joy, wit and work. Michele Weldon wrote a moving tribute for JAWS, and other JAWdesses attended her memorial and left their own tributes on our Facebook member page. Memorial contributions in Lisa’s honor may be made to The Alicia “Lisa” Cobb Shepard Legacy Fund. I’d like to echo Susy Schultz’s gratitude: “Thank you, Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) for connecting us.”
In that spirit, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying JAWS’ new “Inspired By” series about inspiring women. Cirien Saadeh kicked off the series with a post about Gwen Ifill, and Sharon Walsh wrote one about Amanda Crawford. We don’t talk about this enough, I think. Let’s continue to share stories about the women who inspire us! I encourage you to read these pieces, if you haven’t, and consider contributing and uplifting the sisterhood.
We also hosted two inspiring and useful webinars in March as part of the Beverly Wettenstein Women’s History Month Speaker Series (videos in the links below):
In the meantime, I’ve personally been keeping busy at the Chicago Sun-Times, where we’ve appointed three newsroom leaders and synthesized lessons from our ongoing series of community listening sessions, reader interviews and a reader survey and focused on putting those lessons into action. I’ve introduced a new journalistic purpose – to empower Chicago area residents with the information they need to participate in, and make the most of our community – and we’re now hiring, reorganizing and training the newsroom to better serve our readers and community members with more of the information they are asking for.
While working on all of that, I’ve also had the great pleasure of connecting both with my predecessor, Mira Lowe, and my successor, Angela Greiling Keane, in Chicago recently. I’m so grateful to both of them – and I feel so lucky and honored to be part of the mission and legacy of JAWS!
Wishing you a wonderful rest of spring,