SPJ leaders from throughout the country met in Indianapolis for a weekend in June to participate in the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute. Funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the weekend was a chance for incoming chapter leaders to meet and develop management skills.
“I learned a lot,” said Theresa Edwards, president of the student chapter at Kent State University. “There was just so much about SPJ as a whole that I didn’t understand and didn’t know about, and this weekend really helped me learn how to build a solid foundation for my chapter.”
About 50 professionals and students participated in the program. Topics such as fundraising, recruitment and leadership roles were covered in a series of small group sessions. A final seminar on creating a vision for the chapter was held on the last day.
“I met a lot of inspiring people,” said Jennifer Croshaw Balanky, vice president of the San Diego Pro Chapter. “I now feel more confident about leading my chapter.”
Croshaw Balanky said the program was important for students interested in leading their chapters and professionals who want to gain more experience before heading to national board positions. The weekend also gave her the chance to see what kind of resources SPJ has available on the national level.
“There’s a lot of people who can help and answer questions,” she said.
The core principles of SPJ were spotlighted in a ceremony conducted by Secretary-Treasurer Bruce Cadwallader, based on the initiation ceremony of the 1909 Sigma Delta Chi organization. Participants then had the chance to get to know each other with an outing to a duckpin bowling alley.
“It’s just good to have those contacts and be able to network between chapters,” Edwards said.
Participants said they were going to apply the lessons they learned in their own chapters.
“I came back overflowing with ideas and enthusiasm,” wrote Sallie Young, contest chairwoman for the Utah Headliners Chapter, in a thank-you e-mail.
“I was so exhausted when I left but had learned so much and had more fun than I thought I would,” wrote Kelly Gulbrandson, incoming membership coordinator of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Student Chapter, in a thank-you e-mail. “I am really looking forward to Chicago and am so glad that I was able to participate in the leadership institute!”
The Institute is named for Ted Scripps, who was the vice president of Hearst Newspapers when he was elected national president of SPJ in 1960. The program was established in 1996.