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The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) selected PEI Editor in Chief Kristen Wright among 13 professional journalists and journalism educators for its 2021 Future Leaders Academy (FLA).

The program is an outgrowth of the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, whose graduates helped shape today’s SPJ. The live educational opportunity for up-and-coming SPJ leaders helps them learn about the history, programs and operations of the Society. The Future Leaders Academy offers core training through interactive, meaningful and practical leadership development experiences with a goal of building confidence, connections and capacity.

“SPJ’s future success requires leaders who are equipped to manage a variety of issues while working collaboratively with people whose personalities and approaches to problem solving may be very different from their own,” SPJ Director of Ethics and Diversity Rod Hicks said. “Participants in the Future Leaders Academy will get a good understanding of what’s required to have a meaningful impact should they decide to step into an SPJ leadership role.”

The journalists will take part in the weekend academy Nov. 5-7 in Carmel, Indiana. 

“SPJ is growing and requires a strong line of leaders to help us fulfill our strategic plan and achieve our mission,” SPJ Executive Director John Shertzer said. “I can’t wait to meet these emerging leaders and see how they can advance the nation's longest-serving journalism organization.”

Participants were selected by a group of SPJ staff members including Shertzer, Hicks and Manager of Membership and Chapters Caroline Escobar. The professional members attending the FLA are:

  • Terrance Armstard, multimedia journalism instructor and SPJ chapter adviser, Arkansas State University
  • Stephanie Casanova, reporter, Chicago Tribune
  • Denise James, journalist, Love Now Media and educator, Temple University
  • Aisha Jefferson, digital content producer, Audacy Inc. (WBBM Newsradio)
  • Frederick Melo, reporter, St. Paul Pioneer Press
  • Jason Parsley, South Florida Gay News
  • Jessica Retis, professor and director, master’s program in bilingual journalism, University of Arizona
  • Sam Robinson, journalism ethics assistant, Society of Professional Journalists
  • Amanda Sanchez, website editor, Slice of Culture
  • Adam Sennott, breaking news correspondent, Boston Globe and SPJ New England chapter president
  • Carmen Valencia, national producer, Yahoo News/ Verizon Media
  • Kristen Wright, editor in chief, PEI Journal
  • John Zsiray, student media program coordinator, Utah State University

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. 

The FLA is supported by a grant from the SPJ Foundation.