Meet your 2019-2020 JAWS Board candidates

J. Kyle Foster

Title and place of employment (including city/state). State you reside in if different from employer: Reside in Marco Island, Florida

Employment: 1. Trainer for Facebook for Journalists – a partnership between Facebook and the Society of Professional Journalists (operated out of NYC Facebook headquarters and Indianapolis SPJ headquarters);

2. Freelance journalists with weekly gigs as a travel blogger in Tennessee and the Orlando Sentinel’s GrowthSpotter

3. Various part-time jobs in real estate unrelated to journalism 

Years a JAWS member: Since 1999

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg): About 7-10.

Why you are running for the board: I  would love to help as JAWS evolves.

Committee(s) of interest: Communications, regional groups, CAMP

Prior offices you’ve held in JAWS: Secretary

Committees you’ve served on: Communications

How you hope to contribute in the future: I hope to help support the president as she guides us with new ideas and inclusiveness.

How much time each month can you devote to the board: Probably 5-10 hours a month, more as meetings and CAMP comes up.

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc.: I think most importantly is that we have to bring in and listen to people who represent all ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainabilityPersonally, I will pay my dues and make contributions as I can.

Tanya Gazdik

Title and place of employment (including city/state). State you reside in if different from employer: Automotive Editor, Senior Writer, MediaPost, New York, NY. I reside in Detroit, MI

Years a JAWS member: 6 years, I joined right before my first CAMP, which was Burlington, Vermont. 

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg): Williamsburg will be number six.  I have been to every CAMP since joining except for the one in California. 

Why you are running for the board: Given the current state of the world, our profession is more important than ever. I believe JAWS is an organization that fosters good journalism and supports women journalists.  I want to give my time to making JAWS a stronger, friendlier and more inclusive organization for ALL women. It’s a time of change at JAWS, and I find that very exciting and invigorating because we are at a crossroads and can truly reshape what we want to be going forward. Growing pains are painful but necessary, and I have complete faith we will come out better for it.

Officer position(s) of interest: I’m truly open to wherever there is the greatest need, although vice president sounds appealing. Otherwise a 2-year board member position.

Committee(s) of interest: I am already on the Diversity Committee and the Regional Groups Committee, since I recently started the JAWS Detroit chapter. I’m also on the CAMP committee because I’m orchestrating the auctions.  I would be open to staying on those and would also be interested in legacy and communications. 

Prior offices held in JAWS: Detroit group captain/founder

Committees served on: Diversity, Regional, CAMP

Significant past contributions to JAWS: I started a new chapter in Detroit this past year. We are still getting off the ground but the Facebook page has 41 followers and 40 “likes,” which is a good start. I’m working with our new diversity consultant for ideas for programming. 

How you hope to contribute in the future: I would like to help bridge the gap between current factions within our group. I think I can relate to all and I’m empathetic to all.  I’m not a woman of color, but I do live in a very urban neighborhood in Detroit. I mentored several fellows last year and have tried to keep in touch. Many of my Detroit potential members are women of color. I can relate to being a minority —  I am often the only woman in large groups of men (mostly white) since automotive journalism is still very male-dominated. 

How much time each month can you devote to the board: 10-15 hours

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc:  I think we are getting there and it is going to take some time. How CAMP goes this year will be important. Even if members aren’t there, they will hear about it. I think regional programs via the diversity consultant will be very helpful. I think we can also offer more Skype sessions to those who can’t afford to attend CAMP.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainability: I think we are going to make a good amount of money on the CAMP auctions, I’m excited. That said, fundraising needs to be a year-round effort. Old school written letters appealing for donations are worth trying. I know there is a cost involved with producing them, but I still get them from a number of organizations and they can be very compelling if they have a good story/example of how JAWS is making a difference. I think the thank you cards that board members sent out to donors were a nice touch and might have helped inspire some donations. I would like to see a drive to sign up more lifetime members. It’s SUCH a good deal and isn’t publicized enough. I am glad to see the number of grants we have obtained and would like to see that continue.

EJ Graff

Title and place of employment (including city/state). State you reside in if different from employer: Managing editor, The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post. Location is virtual!

Years a JAWS member: 15

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg): 8 or 10

Why you are running for the board: I love JAWS. Women in JAWS have had my back in so many ways over the past fifteen years. This past year has been tumultuous, and for several reasons, I believe I am in a unique position to be useful. First, I have been in JAWS for some time, and have deep ties to JAWS members of many generations. Second, while I am white, not everyone in my family is—so I take issues of racial justice extremely personally. And third, having been part of a wave of LGBTQ journalists who helped change the country over the past 40 years, I have seen firsthand that sometimes people dedicated to social justice can do harm while trying to do good. I am deeply dedicated to having difficult conversations—and to keeping them open, welcoming and constructive.

Further, I believe that many women are now turning to JAWS hoping for an advocacy group for women in journalism, as NABJ, NLGJA, NAHJ, and other affinity groups are for their constituencies (in addition to offering networking, professional development, etc.). We haven’t been that, at least in my experience. We’ve been a warm, wonderful friendship and support network, offering some skills and education. But we haven’t consistently trained women in how to stand up to sexism and harassment in the workplace. We haven’t been a force for change behind the scenes, working together on behalf of our members when women are treated poorly. In the era of #MeToo and a wave of newly elected female leaders, in a time when national politicians are actively encouraging racism, I think it’s time for JAWS to step up and become a leader for all women in journalism, collaborating with other groups in pressing our profession to move forward. I would be honored to be part of that effort. 

Let me add that I am committed to a Board of Directors that communicates often and openly with the membership, as a group and as individuals, explaining decisions and encouraging suggestions before decisions are made or implemented.

Officer position(s) of interest: I would be willing to serve as a vice president.  

Committee(s) of interest: I think I could contribute on communications. However, I would like to talk with other board members as well incoming president Mira Lowe to see where I might be most useful. 

Significant past contributions to JAWS: The Greater Boston JAWS chapter that I’ve helped build totally rocks! And I’ve been on a number of panels over the years, most recently as moderator of the LGBTQ panel at Mt Hood.

How much time each month can you devote to the board: That will vary by month, but I will find the time that’s required!

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc.: I’m looking forward to hearing our diversity consultant’s ideas. I will draw on my links to knowledgeable and experienced people who’ve worked on building all these diversities within their own organizations, and will bring their ideas back. At a minimum, JAWS must return to our previous commitment to never approving an all-white panel for CAMP. We should be asking all our members what we can do in the current climate to report on racial and gender equity issues, then holding CAMP and regional discussions on the topics they suggest. We should be allying with other journalism affinity groups to learn how we can all support one another’s efforts in expanding journalism’s horizons and breaking down barriers, celebrating particularly successful efforts, like the New York Times’ new series on the ongoing legacy of slavery. CAMP should have buddies for any new attendees, who welcome the new attendees (including but not only fellows) into informal gatherings; roaming ‘ambassadors’ who are assigned to step in if there’s a misunderstanding or clash on personal or inclusivity grounds, to ensure conversation happens at the moment, before resentments escalate; and every CAMP should include ‘affinity’ gatherings run by anyone looking to discuss particular groupings and issues. I would love to get members’ other ideas as well.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainability: I am happy to bring institutional memory on some of what we’ve done in the past — the silent auction, the board’s phone calls to members, bringing in new members. I am also happy to help write grants as needed.

Alex Hinojosa

Title and place of employment (including city/state). State you reside in if different from employer: Mass Communication Discipline/District Coordinator for El Paso Community College El Paso, Texas, Freelance Journalist

Years a JAWS member: 3

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg): 2

Why you are running for the board: The encouragement and mentorship of Kate Gannon and Lindsey Anderson has compelled me to become more involved with my community. And after last year’s CAMP, I think I’d like to contribute and learn more about this organization and be at the helm of its changes.

Officer position(s) of interest: Secretary

Committee(s) of interest: Regional Groups, Communications

Prior offices held in JAWS: Co-Captain and Captain of the Borderlands JAWS Group

Committees served on: Diversity Committee for JAWS; Communication Committee for JAWS; Faculty Credentials Review Committee for El Paso Community College; Distance Learning Committee for El Paso Community College. Currently, member of PFLAG El Paso and will be assisting in the making of promotional videos and assisting with communication.

Significant past contributions to JAWS: I assisted with sending out Holiday letters to members of JAWS during the winter holiday, as part of the work for the Communications Committee. Served as Co-Captain and later Captain for my Borderlands Regional Group.

How you hope to contribute in the future: I hope to expand our group in the El Paso Borderland Region and assist them with training sessions. This has been an ongoing goal.

With regards to the national group, given everything that is going on with the Presidential Administration today, perhaps we could include a JAWS session here on immigration and expand members’ knowledge. I also think perhaps I could contribute by reaching out to experts in trauma and they could speak to us during our CAMP sessions in the future.

How much time each month can you devote to the board: I can devote about 5 to 10 hours a month to the board.

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc: I think JAWS is already moving toward that. We have a diverse set of board members, but I think we need to reach out to our members on a one on one basis. The strategy I think of is canvassing or going door to door or making calls to our members in our areas. Social media helps but there is nothing like a good solid phone call or visit from our members. We could have local or regional town halls at a member’s household – a cookout could help too. This would bring the local groups closer together – and hopefully, that can expand our reach. In regards to genders and viewpoints – we could include PFLAG speakers to come and educate our members.

With regards to age groups – this is a tricky one. Personally, I am of the mindset that younger generations of journalists, like myself, should be understanding toward the misunderstandings or colloquialisms that older generations, in general, may use. But, I also think that journalists with more experience should be open to listening to what younger generations have to say. As an educator who teaches journalism among other subjects, I am constantly trying to find new ways to reach out to my students, and have even allowed the use of social media in the classroom. This engages the students and they remain interested and in turn, they have taught me quite a few things. I think the same can be considered for members with more experience, there needs to be an open-mindedness to learning new things. We don’t have to agree – we just need to understand each other’s viewpoints or at least respect them. Creating a space for safe and educational discussion among members of all ages, with a mediator, may bridge the gap and perhaps bring us to a closer understanding.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainability: Support the overall effort of JAWS and their goal to increase and maintain membership.

Jane Isay

Title and place of employment (including city/state). State you reside in if different from employer: I am a self-employed writer and book editor.

Years a JAWS member: 15

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg): about 12

Why you are running for the board: I hope to use my JAWS experience and my professional experience to work in supporting the survival and growth of this beloved institution.

Committee(s) of interest: Legacy and Regional Groups

Prior offices held in JAWS: I was deputy VP for one year.

Committees served on:  3 years on the board: 2 years on the Mentoring Committee, one on Legacy. I remain the board’s liaison to the Legacy Committee.

Significant past contributions to JAWS: 3 years on the board, Gail Ross and I have done annual CAMP sessions, “So you want to write a book.” I host many New York JAWS evenings.

How you hope to contribute in the future: I hope to help the leadership bring us together again, and to thrive.

How much time each month can you devote to the board: 4-6 hours

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc.: Open conversation, good communications, transparency, humility.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainability: I’m a generous contributor to JAWS.

Carla Murphy

Years a JAWS member: 4. Since 2015.

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg): 2

Why you are running for the board: I feel a responsibility to step up and contribute to the organization’s health and future.

Committee(s) of interest: Membership; Regional Groups; Mentoring; or Communications.

Committee(s) served on: Fellowship Committee

Significant past contributions to JAWS: 2015 CAMP, member of criminal justice panel; helping to select Fellows through the Fellowship Committee; active member of online listserv when needed to help mediate volatile diversity disagreements.

How you hope to contribute in the futureI hope to provide a container for difficult but ultimately productive conversations involving difference (race, inter-generational, etc). I hope to model possibility.

How much time each month can you devote to the board: Not sure. 

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc.:

  • Model that it’s possible to have stronger relationships and better personal and work lives following difficult conversations around difference. 
  • Take a breath and pause for: more listening, more self-motivated education on race and difference, more courage, more grace.
  • Build trust around common interest. Show each other that despite different lives, interests or disagreements, we can meet on common ground: a shared and well-articulated vision for the role that a strong professional women’s journalism association can play in our volatile industry. Common interest is the only way forward.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainability:  have a lot to learn and I’m eager to help fundraise, in particular to figure out new avenues of support and activate my network.

Kari Mar

Title and place of employment (including city/state). State you reside in if different from employer:  Editor, Avanade. Washington. I also freelance.

Years a JAWS member:  Three – last year and this year, and once 15 years ago.

Number of CAMPS attended (including Williamsburg):  Three

Why you are running for the board: I have dedicated my career to storytelling, mentoring women and inclusion. I see the JAWS mission statement and my own as very similar. I believe JAWS plays a unique and necessary role that makes all news organizations better now and in the future. This is a pivotal moment in its growth as a diverse, inclusive and sustainable organization; at the same time, its membership is facing rapid changes in the industry brought on by technology and market forces. I want to see JAWS succeed and flourish, and the best way I can help is in a board position where I can help guide the organization.

Committee(s) of interest:  Mentoring and Fundraising/Development

How you hope to contribute in the future:  I want to help JAWS evolve into a more inclusive and financially sound organization in a thoughtful, sustainable way that is true to its mission. I can contribute by helping JAWS foster an environment that makes mentorship meaningful and natural.

Nearly 20 years ago, I founded an organization called the Women’s Debate Institute, which is a summer camp to connect girls in academic debate with college students and professionals who debated on their high school teams. We focused on building skills and community. We found that by being intentional, we built relationships that lasted long past camp.

I have a feeling that this is how JAWS camps felt in the beginning. It certainly felt that way when I went to my first JAWS camp 15 years ago.

I also can contribute by advocating for women of color and fostering a culture of inclusivity in newsrooms and within the organization. I have been part of the Asian American Journalists Association for 23 years and have participated in everything from fundraising for scholarships to running workshops on inclusive language.

How much time each month can you devote to the board: Depending on the time of the year, I can spend between 20 and 40 hours.

How do we move closer to more inclusivity of ethnicities, ideologies, genders, viewpoints, etc.: From a very high level:

1. Define what an inclusive culture means to us.

2. Understand the relationship between diversity and inclusion – diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice.

3. Recognize that diversity and inclusion begin at the top. Leaders should model inclusive behavior.

4. Change up how we run meetings to disrupt the norms.

5. Honor that people bring their cultural and gender experiences into the room and may have different comfort levels and reactions than expected.

6. Foster a culture where everyone feels welcome, heard and respected. We should also be prepared to fail on occasion. It is difficult to create an inclusive culture, and success relies on the humility to admit we made mistakes and the resilience to reassess our approach and try again.

How you will help JAWS maintain financial sustainability: At a minimum, I will donate to the organization and encourage donations from my peers and colleagues. Not having seen the books, it’s hard to assess how I can help in specific terms. I can pledge to draw on my experience fundraising for other non-profit organizations through the years: The Northwest Journalists of Color, Women’s Debate Institute and Make-A-Wish Foundation. I’ve done everything from putting together vacation packages for auctions to soliciting corporate sponsorships.