President’s Letter June 2023

As spring ends and summer begins, CAMP planning has reached full bloom. I couldn’t be more excited about CAMP in Chicago in October! It’s my last CAMP as president before I pass the baton to the brilliant Angela Greiling Keane and it’s happening in my new hometown.

We’re piloting a new model for CAMP 2023 – this will be the first planned urban CAMP and the first hosted at a journalism school, Columbia College, in an attempt to better serve emerging and early career journalists and bring multiple generations of women journalists together. We call it “JAWS at the Intersections” and I very much hope you’ll join me there! Registration has opened – sign up now to get the early bird special!

We’ve also launched a fundraising campaign in honor of two journalism icons with summer birthdays, Katharine Graham and Ida B. Wells. Their contributions to our industry – and to other women – inspire our work at JAWS. Help us advance and uplift the next generation of women leaders in journalism by donating what you can today and by sharing our campaign with others.

Please read more about what’s going on at JAWS below.

Spring board retreat

The board and committees are also in a season of planning. Earlier this month, in the first (partly) in-person board retreat since the pandemic began, board members and new executive director Molly Schar spent a precious weekend together in Chicago and on Zoom to think through the next year’s strategy for JAWS.

I personally came away inspired by the beautiful aspirations of my fellow board members, by our courageous conversations and their brilliant thinking, empathy and sass. In our collective vision, journalism will be respected – and JAWS will play an important role in improving the industry, including building healthy journalism workplaces and growing gender equity. JAWS’ membership will be representative of a diverse industry and growing, and we’ll be known for supporting members’ career growth at every stage of their careers – at CAMP but also year-round through other events and thriving regional groups. And JAWS will be well-known in the industry, with a strong reputation and an equally strong budget.

Meetings across three days yielded fruitful conversations and brainstorms about advocacy, membership, DEI, fundraising, CAMP, our bylaws and our strategic goals.

Among other things, we decided to:

  • Test out a new member community platform that’s easier for members to use and that will work more seamlessly with our website and other backend systems for events, our member directory and member conversations and content. We’ve found options that could function more like the listserv so many long-time members miss while offering moderation and also non-email options for people who don’t want more email. Fostering communication to and among our members of all generations is a top priority.
  • Start a site selection process for next year’s CAMP to get a head start on next year even as we finish planning for this year’s CAMP. The board will identify a set of criteria and a process for our members and partners to suggest options for 2024.
  • Create an advocacy agenda that takes a proactive stance on gender issues in journalism – and may also include occasionally wading into broader journalism issues and equity issues – but that avoids conflicts of interest, lobbying or endorsements; avoids weighing in on personnel, labor or management disputes; and is cautious about weighing in on politics, especially active legislation.
  • Launch a membership campaign to let lapsed members know when it’s time to renew, now that we have this data. We’ve also built renewal into CAMP registration to make it easier for members to renew while signing up for CAMP. Our current members are our best recruiters, so please spread the word about JAWS!

We spent time with Julia Kagan, chair of the governance committee, to work through the committee’s recommended updates to our bylaws, some of which are required to complete our incorporation in Delaware, a change that has been in the works for months. We’re hoping to finish going through the bylaws at our next board meeting Monday so we’ll have a version to bring to the membership for a vote. And those of us who attended in person also enjoyed brunch with a few of the leaders of the Chicago regional group, which is also the host committee for this year’s CAMP.

Job openings

I also wanted to update everyone about our two part-time job openings for a membership coordinator and a communications and community manager. We received more than 800 applications for these two part-time jobs, which will be key to setting JAWS up for the evolution described above, and we’re starting first-round interviews this week with the goal of completing second-round interviews by the end of the month.

Thank you, Kyle!

Please take a moment to join me in deeply thanking J. Kyle Foster for all of her hard work and dedication to JAWS and in congratulating her on an exciting new role.

She has been offered a job with the USA Today network – Gannett’s Naples Daily News/Fort Myers News Press as the senior growth and development reporter. She will start on July 10. Her last day as interim communications and community manager will be June 30.

Kyle has been a passionate JAWS supporter since joining in 1999. She was a board member who volunteered to step into the interim communications role after the person we hired ended up being unable to take it on after all due to personal circumstances. She has served JAWS tirelessly with two presidents (and a president-elect) and now two executive directors, through multiple tech and data migrations and social and communications platforms, through CAMP in colonial Williamsburg, two virtual CAMPs – and then last year’s CAMP near Austin, Texas, the first in-person CAMP since the pandemic lockdown, in which she fell ill and ended up working primarily from her hotel room (with a bonus trip to the hospital).

She’s taught us yoga and Facebook, and has worked closely with the communications committee to grow member engagement, especially on social media. Many of you have been touched by her work, her big heart and her commitment to JAWS. Please leave a message for Kyle here to let her know how much we appreciate her.

She has promised me she will continue to be an active member of JAWS, and I remain very grateful for all her contributions and love she has put into our organization. We wish you the very best, Kyle, and we’re so glad you will continue to be a JAWdess!