2012-2017 Strategic Plan

Note to Readers from Katherine Ann Rowlands: The Board of Directors of Journalism & Women Symposium reworked an earlier Strategic Plan to come up with this planning document in the spring of 2012. The board voted to approve this plan in June 2012. It lays out our mission, our goals and our ambitions for the organization for the next five years. Given the fast pace of change in our industry and the rapid growth of our organization we anticipate this document to be revised periodically. 


 Strategic Plan

 2012 – 2017

  Developed by the JAWS board of directors

Spring 2012



JAWS Board of Directors 2011- 2012



Katherine Ann Rowlands

East Bay Metro Editor

Bay Area News Group/

Contra Costa Times/Oakland Tribune



Gwyneth Doland

Executive Director

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government


Deputy vice-president

Sarah Pollock

Professor, English and journalism

Mills College



Teresa Puente

Faculty, journalism department

Columbia College Chicago



Andrea Stone

Senior national correspondent

The Huffington Post



Jessica Alpert




Mary C. Curtis

Independent multimedia journalist



Sandra Fish

Instructor, Journalism Department

University of Colorado


E.J. Graff

Daily columnist

The American Prospect Online


Charreah Jackson


Essence Magazine


Peggy Orchowski

Congressional correspondent

Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education


Jessica Rettig

Freelance journalist


Peg Simpson

Freelance journalist


Lauren M. Whaley

Multimedia reporter

Center for Health Reporting



Becky Day

Executive Director

Journalism & Women Symposium

15 Hillsdale Road

Lawrenceville, NJ  08648




A.         Mission & Vision


Our Mission

JAWS promotes the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and works toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.


American journalism – long regarded by citizens as democracy’s linchpin and by most of its practitioners as a sacred trust – finds itself in the first decade of the 21st century beset by distrust and doubt. Newsrooms that hummed with the energy of pursuit and discovery and the joy of craft now increasingly vibrate with stress and loss.

Yet amid the turmoil in traditional news media, efforts at reinvention, while struggling and often stumbling, hold hope. The Journalism & Women Symposium, more than two decades old, offers a platform from which women may lead this ongoing transformation.

 A previous JAWS scribe observed that our members “are Pulitzer Prize winners and toilers in the most obscure outposts of American journalism. We are just out of college and we are in our seventh decade and still working for truth and justice. We have been celebrated and dismissed, patronized and powerful, jobless and working at the most wonderful job in the world.”

 All these factors make us well qualified to help shape the opportunities that will surely emerge from the current chaos. To do that – as JAWS member Geneva Overholser writes in her “On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change” – we need to “recognize promise where peril is more apparent.”



Going forward, therefore, the women of JAWS must practice journalism that educates, engages, and empowers civil society. We must encourage diversity in all its aspects, in both our society and our profession. We must foster the skills we will need as well as the values and passions critical for the work ahead. That work should help provide the civic education now absent from our schools, to help citizens understand what is being done for them – and to them. Only when armed with information and truth can citizens make the informed decisions that will keep our democracy healthy.


Our Credo of Diversity

The Journalism & Women Symposium brings together women journalists and journalism educators and researchers to meet in an atmosphere of mutual support, professional growth and utter freedom of expression. We celebrate the diversity of our profession and of our membership. As the public hopes to be increasingly well served by media diversification – print and broadcast, websites and blogs – so JAWS is enriched by the participation of women of many ages, races, cultures and journalism disciplines. Through its programming, fellowships and membership outreach, JAWS seeks to further expand journalism’s faces and voices.  



B.   Programs & Services




Programs & Services represents all of JAWS’ programming in order to engage, educate and empower women in journalism to build skills, mentor one another and advance professionally. All work in these areas should reflect efforts to build more diverse programming and recruit a more diverse membership.


The three umbrella efforts that support JAWS programs and services are:

Annual Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in the fall

Monthly regional events with training in locations across the country

Daily online engagement and mentoring through our listserv, website and personal connections





To facilitate JAWS’ programming efforts, the following targeted efforts will be pursued:


CAMP (Conference and Mentoring Project)

Professional development and training across the country

Regional events to grow membership and networking

Mentoring, at CAMP and online or in person through the year

Fellowships to support promising young women in journalism and enable them to attend CAMP

Listserv discussions and support for women seeking advice, jobs, information

Website with recaps of listserv discussions, interviews with women journalists, highlights of members’ work

Newsletter sent each month with topics of interest to JAWS members

A Leadership Institute, being developed to bring training to women journalists across the country



  1. The Programs & Services Committee will develop an overall programming plan for JAWS with multiple goals, including leadership development, professional development, expanded program and membership diversity, skill building and networking. News developments of the day will also affect these efforts and shall be worked into programs and training offered at fall CAMP, regional meetings and other venues such as online forums and workshops.


  1. The Programs & Services and the Membership committees shall communicate and cooperate on targeted programs for annual and regional meetings, such as technology training or “boot camp.”


  1. Build diverse programming at CAMP. Ensure that workshops and activities at CAMP address the range of needs and interests of the diverse constituency. Ensure that informal networking opportunities continue to play an important role at CAMP.


  1. Use the regional network to create cost-effective programming for members who may not be able to attend fall CAMP.
  1. Continue to build and develop Fellowships as a program, using past experience to inform future plans. We have found, for example, that early-career fellowship winners maintain contact more effectively than do college-age winners.



  1. Build the Mentoring program, using CAMP, regional networks and other opportunities to meet and share. The program will pursue three kinds of mentoring: 1) face-to-face mentoring at JAWS CAMP, 2) online or E-mentoring and 3) targeted mentoring relationships set up between JAWS members and university students and young professionals.


  1. Define and standardize the Site Selection process, with an advance calendar that keeps the subcommittee on a pace to assure JAWS has guaranteed sites for its fall conferences at least two years out.


  1. Maintain a focus and programming level that can be handled by current and projected staff and volunteer capacity with the aim of providing more regional training.


Additional, specific efforts being launched:


• Showcase more of our members’ work online (E-newsletter with a member showcase that also links back to the website) *starting in June 2012

• Expand our online directory to better highlight our members’ expertise *starting in June 2012

• Partner with other news organizations to do regional trainings *ongoing

• Do more technology training at CAMP and regionally *ongoing

• Curating online resources for our members, such as webinars from Poynter and Lynda.com *starting in 2012

• Support collaborative learning opportunities for our members, including technology and leadership skills *ongoing

• Help women seek better jobs in the newsrooms, move into management, and become media entrepreneurs by creating a leadership initiative or institute with a curriculum that can travel *to be launched in 2012 or 2013

• Develop trainings at CAMP and regionally by applying for specialized reporting institutes supported by foundations *ongoing




Committee structure and resources:


The chair of the Programs & Services Committee will work with the Membership Committee in consultation with the president and others and shall appoint members to the committee as needed for programs. She shall convene meetings of the committee in person, by conference call and email conference. Programs should be determined in a timely manner so that a line item, adequate to support the development of the goals, can be included in the annual budget for JAWS.





C.   Membership




Membership development is a priority for JAWS. Specifically, JAWS wants to keep reaching out to a diverse constituency involved in journalism in its many forms. As a way both to recruit potential new members and to support current members, the organization is putting new emphasis on regional events with strong training programs and networking opportunities. The organization shall annually poll the membership, prior to the spring board meeting, to identify issues and services of importance to JAWS members, examine the appeal of JAWS membership and determine why members stay or leave. The Membership Committee is the primary force in membership development, but it will maintain significant coordination with the Programs & Services Committee regarding regional programming and with the Fundraising & Development Committee regarding activities with a donor focus.




1. 750 paid members by 2017. Membership dues will be increased to $75 beginning with 2013 renewals.


2. Develop a membership appeal containing the JAWS mission, case statement and benefits.


3.   Periodically review membership levels and dues rates for new and renewing members, as well as rates for multi-year and lifetime memberships, setting rates that are competitive with those of similar organizations and appropriate for JAWS.


4.   Increase recruitment of new members and significantly increase retention of members, with annual targets set by the Membership Committee and approved by the board. To achieve this goal, JAWS will:


a. Significantly reduce the rate of lapsed members each year. The Membership Committee will identify reasons for lapsed membership and use these to strengthen members’ experiences. Committee members will make personal calls to inactive members (as defined by the committee) and those who do not renew.


b. Develop ways to reach members who do not attend CAMP. A survey of JAWS membership records and interviews with members show that a substantial portion of the membership does not attend CAMP but wants to remain active in JAWS. Regional activities should be a key outreach strategy for these members.


5.   Develop membership events throughout the country. Develop a network of local captains and assist them with developing a calendar for hosting and coordinating events.


6.   To help captains build their regions, provide resources and opportunities to share experiences online and through occasional telephone conferences.


7.   Aggressively use the Web site for membership activities:


a. Solicit Web testimonials from members, in which they share what they find most vital about JAWS.


b. List areas of possible involvement in JAWS, with contact names of members overseeing specific efforts (i.e. fellowships, membership, mentoring, training, fundraising). Send out periodic emails to listserv and/or entire membership reminding them of these opportunities and whom to contact.


c. Continue to build listservs tailored for members’ needs, including regional listservs or other social media tools (including Facebook) to facilitate local networking.

d.Build the online directory of members, including descriptions of their areas of expertise and searchable contact information so that this becomes a useful resource.  (We also will periodically – as budget permits or every two years – publish a printed directory and distribute to those who attend CAMP and otherwise request it.)

8.   Conduct annual polls of members for program interests and priorities. (See overview statement.)


9.   Maintain membership benefits that are appropriate to the organization’s size and that reflect member interests and priorities. Develop a “Member Benefits” statement.



Committee structure and resources:


A board member will chair the Membership Committee and choose co-chairs and members, as needed, from the membership at large. The committee will work with Programs & Services to coordinate efforts to build both membership and supporting programs. The chair will appoint members to specific tasks, such as (but not limited to) the annual directory, regional activities, membership retention, dues alerts and benefits expansion. The budget will include a line item adequate to support the development of the above goals.




D.  External Relations



As news and trends arise, it is appropriate for JAWS to comment as an organization on journalism shifts, issues directly impacting our membership and the accomplishments of JAWS members. At the Spring 2012 Board Meeting, the JAWS Board of Directors voted and approved for the JAWS President, Executive Director or a board member they designate to be able to quickly comment and provide a release. The president, and the executive director with the advice of the president or the designated board member, would have authority to determine the exact content of the response. Below are guidelines to ensure a timely and consistent message for the organization.


Media Guidelines


Approved Topics for Commenting

  • Inappropriate treatment and portrayals of women journalists
  • Underrepresentation of women in the newsroom (e.g  JAWS members assist in Op-Ed project to increase women bylines on Op-Ed pages)
  • Trends in journalism (e.g The rise of hyperlocal news)
  • Saluting JAWS members for career accomplishments and awards (ex. Past president Megan Kamerick conducts TedTalk)


Questions to Answer Before Replying

  • Is the issue an approved topic?
  • Is this issue of concern and relevance to the JAWS membership?
  • Does our response advance the conversation and JAWS?


Response Format

  • Address the issue
  • State the JAWS response and a quote from the president or delegated member
  • Include footer copy providing information on JAWS

○        Footer copy: JAWS supports the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and works toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society. Since its founding in 1985, the organization has grown to be the country’s largest organization for women journalists with accomplished editors, Pulitzer Prize winning writers and 21st century leaders.


  • Distribute quickly and efficiently through email, the JAWS website, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.





E.     Communication





Effectively communicating JAWS’ mission and news to its members and to the journalism community at large is crucial to the organization’s growth and future success.  Providing vehicles for members to communicate with each other and to their leadership is important for networking, mentoring, getting feedback to the board and for creating a vibrant group conversation about journalism issues, especially those that affect women in journalism.




  1. Develop a Web strategy for JAWS’ future.  Expand the Web site’s capabilities and features through an ongoing “rolling redesign” to maximize use of a valuable tool and to help create a stronger public presence. Give particular focus to a plan for regularly updating the site and rapidly posting JAWS news that should not wait for the newsletter. It should be a showcase of our active members and program offerings so as to attract new members and funders. Create a timetable for the redesign starting with a strategy proposal for board consideration in July 2012.


  1. Establish a plan for JAWS to move away from a printed newsletter and create a schedule for a regular posting of JAWS news and announcements online that can be easily viewed and downloaded as well as posted quickly to the Web site. A monthly eBlast with updates on programs, membership, news will go out via email and also be posted on the website, starting in June 2012.


  1. Enable the JAWS’ listserv to flourish as a tool for networking and mentoring and as a forum for robust group conversations. Create regional JAWS social media groups, in addition to the main JAWS listserv, to promote membership and regional networking, as well as to publicize local JAWS events. Periodically evaluate the listserv to be sure we are using the most effective and efficient tools to facilitate this valuable resource, including a review in 2012. Also review the listserv policy and send out to members several times a year.



Committee structure and resources:


The chair of the Communications Committee will appoint members of the committee to specific roles, such as (but not limited to) newsletter editor; Web site editor; JAWS historian, who will maintain the JAWS historyincluding photographs and important documents; and liaison to the chosen Web designer. Designated committee members will coordinate with the JAWS External Relations committee, especially that committee’s Rapid Response subcommittee, for handling breaking news on the Web. The budget will include a line item adequate to support the development of the above goals.


F.   Fundraising & Development




JAWS’ budget is too small to fulfill either its current operational needs or its aspirations to offer more services to women in journalism and continue to grow. New sources of income will enable JAWS to cover basic expenses and increase staffing. More vitally for the future, increased funding will allow JAWS to fully accomplish its multiple goals: to offer more programs and services, to diversify and increase membership and to raise JAWS’ public profile, all to better serve current membership and additional women journalists across the country. The long-term development goal is to place JAWS on a strong financial footing for years to come, enriching the organization and enhancing its mission.




1.  Redistribute revenue balance by 2013 to reflect 80 percent earned income and 20 percent donations and gifts.   By 2017, increase that balance to 90 percent earned income and 10 percent donations and gifts.


2.  Begin plans for a JAWS 30th anniversary campaign, which may include creation of an endowment (a proposal to be considered by the board at CAMP 2012).


1.  Create a case statement with a powerful, evocative appeal about why JAWS is important and why donors should give to JAWS. We should continue to update our printed and web appeals, aimed at potential donors who may have different reasons for giving or preferred programs to support. We aim to have new materials done in July 2012 and they should be updated at least annually.


2.   Preserve the historyof JAWS and women in journalism by contributing to collections and archives including the JAWS Herstoryon the website, Women Journalists in the 21st century interview series, the Fran Lewine interview project and the Oral History project with University of Missouri. These highlights are important for attracting funders and honoring the JAWS legacy.


3.  Review the current JAWS donations policy and establish new guidelines for what money JAWS will accept, from whom and under what circumstances. No fundraising strategy should be adopted or rejected in isolation, but must be developed as a part of the whole so as not to conflict with JAWS’ mission and goals, values and ethics. The JAWS board would seek input from members before approving the new policy.

a. JAWS will accept donations from individuals, institutions, foundations and media companies as long as the donation does not conflict with JAWS’ mission and goals, values and ethics.

b.  Adopt a structure and process for a JAWS Legacy Fund to handle donations from estates and honor those who have passed.

c. JAWS will accept sponsorships from sources outside media companies that do not conflict with the mission and vision of JAWS. Final determinations on accepting any funds shall be approved by the board of directors.

4.  Write a detailed annual fundraising plan for JAWS, with outside help if needed, that reflects the vision of JAWS and covers a three- to five-year timeline. Always bear in mind that any effort to raise money must produce sufficient revenue to justify the expenditure of staff time and volunteer resources it requires.

a. Review the two main sources of income for JAWS: earned income (the bulk of JAWS’ income to date) and contributed income (the area with potential for the most income growth). Decide what percentage of the JAWS budget should come from earned income and what percentage from fundraising.


b. Increase JAWS’ earned income in these areas:

  • Membership dues: Work with the Membership Committee to review the dues structure to keep dues reasonable for women journalists at all stages of their careers but seek opportunities for greater income through such ideas as multi-year memberships, lifetime memberships and the timely collection of dues. Also review the level of dues each year, making comparisons with other journalism organizations and soliciting feedback from the membership and board.
  • CAMP revenues: Work with the CAMP subcommittee of Programs & Services to determine ways to increase CAMP income from the auction, sales of JAWS merchandise and other means, including keeping CAMP expenses in check. Explore whether the addition of new registration fee levels – lower for early birds and higher for procrastinators – might boost income and help determine the number of CAMP registrants earlier. As a general policy, our registration fees should reflect the true cost of CAMP and not be subsidized.
  • Interest earned on bank accounts: Review JAWS’ bank accounts and named funds with the Finance Committee to ensure JAWS is earning an advantageous level of interest income on these accounts.
  • Online earning: Review the possibilities for earned income (and the costs in dollars and staffing) from such Web site features Good Search, Good Shop, Amazon and others.
  • Specialized training: Research the feasibility and income potential of creating specialized workshops for women in journalism such as digital media and leadership development. The membership has indicated that $50 for a half-day training session is an appropriate target.
  • Contests: Consider establishing a JAWS Journalism Awards contest, which could bring in income through entry fees, plus recognition for the organization.


c. Increase JAWS’ contributed income in these areas:


  • Individual giving:

1)      Create an Annual Fund to allow JAWS members to contribute to JAWS each year as many already do to other favorite nonprofit organizations. This starts at CAMP, with reminders sent at a minimum in December and June along with a progress to members about how much we have raised so far.

2)      Ensure that 100 percent of the JAWS board contributes financially, either by giving a donation or getting donations between $500 and $1,000 each year.

3)      Continue to inform JAWS members and others to do “planned giving” in the form of bequests and gifts to the Legacy Fund.

4)      Conduct research to find major donors outside JAWS who share an interest in women’s and media issues as well as JAWS’ goals toward the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and of the accurate portrayal in the media of all society. Board members, other stakeholders and the executive director should approach those donors with personal appeals and backup material.

5)      Consider the possibility of setting up an honorary committee of high-profile journalists who could lend their name and their networking contacts to JAWS’ fundraising efforts.

  • Institutional giving:

1)      The Committee shall maintain an ongoing conversation with members and donors about how fundraising dollars are collected and spent.

2)      Seek media corporate sponsorships for advertising in the CAMP program and underwriting of specific events at CAMP, such as receptions, speakers, training or panels.

3)      Establish an anniversary fund (“JAWS Beyond 30”) to celebrate, in 2013, 30 years of JAWS of supporting and mentoring talented women in journalism. Determine a purpose for the fund. One proposal would set up the fund as a partial endowment, with some of the money going to current needs or a special project or goal, and some saved in the bank as endowed interest-bearing funds to allow JAWS to succeed and thrive in the future.

4)      Conduct research to find appropriate foundation and corporate partners to fund such targeted JAWS goals as building membership diversity, enhancing our mentorship program, supporting our fellowship program, creating regional training events and providing technology and leadership training for members.


Committee structure and resources:


The Fundraising & Development Committee – headed by a board member and comprised of members from key regions of the country with donor potential – will handle JAWS’ expanded work in these two related areas. Members will be recruited so the committee will have a depth in numbers and leadership as well as in experience and skills; they should have an interest and/or background in fundraising, foundations and grant-writing, as well as a facility with contacting donors. To leverage all JAWS resources and prevent duplication of efforts, the committee will partner with other JAWS committees and work especially closely with the Finance Committee. The budget will include a line item adequate to support development of the above goals.



G.        Finance




The board will create policies that promote careful budgeting and fiscal solvency and also build the organization’s financial diversity and capacity. The JAWS budget must grow to meet its operational needs and its growing ambitions to provide more programs and services to more women in journalism.




  1. The board will approve and implement a set of policies to ensure the financial health of the organization, including fiscal and budgetary oversight and management of JAWS’ funds and cash reserves of three to six months’ operating expenses.


  1. JAWS commits to increasing its budget each year to sustain programmatic and membership growth and build capacity for the future.


3.   The board will set annual goals for key areas of the budget such as earned income, corporate sponsorships and contributed income, all to be reflected in an increased income budget.


4.   The board will set guidelines for annual increases in the staff budget, consistent with new board policy that calls for incremental increases in operations funding until JAWS is staffed at a level adequate to support programs and membership.


  1. To maintain a flow of dues revenue and build the health of the organization, JAWS will increase its number of new members each year and significantly improve its membership retention rate for a net growth of members every year. JAWS will also ensure timely collection of dues, through oversight of the Membership Committee.


  1. The budget will reflect adequate support for the development and implementation of goals in the following areas: Programs & Services, Membership, Fundraising & Development, External Relations and Communications (Web development).



Committee structure:


The Treasurer will chair the Finance Committee, whose members will have interests and skills in financial planning and budgeting, whenever possible.


H.         Human Resources




JAWS has historically been supported by a very lean staff structure, consisting of largely volunteer efforts with a part-time business manager and conference coordinator whose workload regularly exceeds the budgeted time and funds. This position was elevated to an executive director role in 2010, reflecting the fulltime demands of this job. The following goals address staffing and infrastructure issues, focusing on managing careful growth that can sustain the organization.




  1. Identify current priority job functions for JAWS staff. Determine specific duties and devise a staff work plan as part of the operational plan supporting the Human Resources goals.


  1. Identify additional new functions that will need future staffing and funding.


  1. Set aside additional funding each year to pay for current and future staffing with an eye toward growing needs as JAWS expands membership and programming.


  1. Develop a process and a timetable to expand the staffing needed for current and future goals. Manage incremental additions to handle growth and priority work tasks.


  1. Maintain up-to-date job descriptions for staff. Conduct annual job performance reviews in the first quarter of the year for the preceding calendar year.


  1. Outline roles, responsibilities and boundaries for staff in working with the board and committees. Identify priorities for staff work and how staff will accomplish tasks.


  1. Explore occasional contracting for specialized services to help JAWS develop expertise in areas needed in order to implement the strategic plan, such as fundraising training and Web site development.


  1. Ensure that the president or a designee meets regularly with the staff to review projects, workload and JAWS business. In cases where disagreements arise between staff and committee chairs, the president shall facilitate discussion and, where appropriate, make decisions.



Committee structure:


The executive committee – consisting of the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and either the president-elect or the deputy vice president – shall serve as the Human Resources Committee, convened as needed by the president, and meeting at least once a year.



I.          Governance




The JAWS Board of Directors provides leadership, policy development and oversight for the

organization. Board members provide working leadership to committees that engage in the work of the organization, from programming and membership development to external relations and fundraising. JAWS is committed to recruiting a diverse board, reflective of the diversity in journalism.




  1. The board is responsible for oversight of all JAWS affairs.


  1. The board shall review the organization’s bylaws on a regular basis.


  1. The board shall ensure that incoming board members understand board roles and responsibilities, including committees, their functions, committee assignments and fiduciary responsibilities.


  1. The board will adopt and implement policies and standing rules that guide the work of the board and its committees. It will maintain this information in a “Board Manual” that is updated and distributed to each board member annually and will be made available to any member. The manual will serve as a key written record of the board’s work; policies will be open to adaptation over the years and at least one “archival” manual will be maintained with minutes of all board meetings and other business.


  1. The board will build a nominations process that strongly engages membership in creating a diverse pool of candidates for service and leadership.



Committee structure:


The board shall create such committees as it needs for implementing JAWS’ goals. Standing committees listed in the bylaws, as revised in 2007, include: Executive (four current officers of JAWS advising the president between board meetings), Programs & Services, Membership, Finance, Fundraising & Development, Communications and Nominations. (Previous standing committees called Site Selection, Fellowships and Mentoring are now subcommittees of Programs & Services.) The Nominations Committee will exist as a committee of the board, with the express goal of fulfilling Goal 5 above.