Alison Bethel McKenzie is the Executive Director of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). She has more than 35 years of experience as an award-winning reporter, bureau chief, senior editor and media trainer. She has worked in senior-level positions at The Boston Globe, the Detroit News, Legal Times and the Nassau Guardian in The Bahamas as managing director.
Most recently, from July 2016-May 2017, Alison served as a visiting professor of print and investigative journalism for the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media in Bangalore, India. She also spent 2008-2009 in Accra, Ghana, for the Washington, D.C.-based International Center for Journalists as a Knight International Journalism Fellow, helping Ghanaian journalists improve their reporting skills in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. In 2010, she was named one of the 60 most influential black women in Europe by the non-profit Black Women in Europe (BWIE).
Alison has also worked at The Miami Herald, The Los Angeles Times, Poughkeepsie Journal and the now-defunct State Times in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
She is a co-founder and vice president of the board of directors for Caribbean Media Institute and acts as an advisor/consultant for the antillean.org news website in Barbados.
She is a former board member of Al-Jazeera America (N.Y) and is a member and former board member of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. She also serves as vice-president for the Lindsay Renea Dance Theatre in Youngstown, Ohio.
For the past two decades, Kathy Bonk has worked on a wide range of public policy issues, primarily focusing on women’s rights, global population, social services, health care, early education and telecommunications. In 1988, she co-founded the nonprofit Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC) that developed communications strategies for social policy change and will sunset in 2018.
She is the lead co-author of the Jossey-Bass Guide to Strategic Communications for Nonprofits, a part of their nonprofit management series and has provided strategic communications, social marketing and crisis management services to a variety of nonprofits and public agencies around the world. Starting in 2019, Kathy will continue as a private consultant to Casey Family Programs, the Compton Foundation and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health on their Forum and Voices in Leadership programs.
She is a 1973 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in communications. Currently, she is a guest faculty at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. In 2013, she was named one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews, this is along with numerous other awards and special recognitions.
She is an advisor to Ms. magazine, on the board of directors of the National Press Club Journalism Institute; Too Young To Wed founded by Pulitzer Prize photographer Stephanie Sinclair; the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a girls school in a remote Maasai village in rural Kenya; the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY; and, the Trojan Sexual Health Advisory Council.
Jill Geisler is an internationally recognized expert in leadership and management, and the author of “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know,”
She holds the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago.
Jill’s first career was in broadcast journalism as a reporter, producer and anchor. At the age of 27, she became one of the first women TV news directors in the United States.
In 1998, she joined the faculty of The Poynter Institute, where she guided its programs for leaders and managers for 16 years. In 2015, Jill was invited by Loyola’s School of Communications to serve as the inaugural Plante Chair, a position she calls “a dream job” that enables her to teach students as well as professionals and engage in extensive outreach on behalf of the University.
She is also the principal of Jill Geisler Leadership, LLC, through which she provides leadership and management coaching and consultation to leaders in fields ranging from medicine to technology to education.
As her guiding philosophy, Jill believes: “The most important thing leaders do is help others succeed.”
And her lifelong management mantra is: “Life’s too short to work with jerks.”
Diana B. Henriques, an award-winning financial journalist, is the author of The Wizard of Lies, the New York Times bestseller about the Bernie Madoff scandal, and three other books on business history. A writer for The New York Times since 1989, she has largely specialized in investigative reporting on white-collar crime, market regulation and corporate governance.
Diana was a member of The New York Times reporting teams that were Pulitzer finalists for their coverage of the 2008 financial crisis and the aftermath of the Enron scandals. She was also a member of a team that won a 1999 Gerald Loeb Award for covering the near-collapse of Long Term Capital Management, a hedge fund whose troubles rocked the financial markets in September 1998. And she was one of four reporters honored in 1996 by the Deadline Club, the New York City chapter of the Sigma Delta Chi professional journalism society, for a series on how wealthy Americans legally sidestep taxes.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Henriques widened her focus to work with her colleague at The Times, David Barstow, in covering the management of billions of dollars in charity and victim assistance as part of the paper’s award-winning section, “A Nation Challenged.” She also chronicled the fate of Cantor Fitzgerald, the Wall Street firm that suffered the largest death toll in the World Trade Center attacks.
But she is proudest of her 2004 series exposing the exploitation of American military personnel by financial service companies. Her work prompted legislative reform and cash reimbursements for tens of thousands of defrauded service members, drawing recognition and thanks from military lawyers and families across the country. For that series, she was a Pulitzer finalist in 2005 and received a George Polk Award, Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Worth Bingham Prize.
Sheila Solomon is an expert in newsroom diversity and has had a lengthy career as an editor for a variety of news outlets. As a senior consultant to the Democracy Fund, she has been examining Chicago’s journalism ecosystem in an effort to foster a more collaborative and sustainable media environment. She’s also the strategic alliance liaison at Rivet, a Chicago-based “smart audio” creation and distribution company. She previously was the Chicago Tribune’s senior editor for recruitment and cross media editor.
Her honors include being inducted into the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications Hall of Fame at Hampton University (Hampton, Va.) and the Ida B. Wells award, given by Medill and the National Association of Black Journalists.Sheila has been a lecturer and adjunct professor and serves on numerous journalism-related boards and advisory committees. She’s also a past JAWS board member and served as secretary.