Two of our own - board member Vianna Davila and member Francisco Vara-Orta - were chosen for SPJ's Diversity Fellowship Program. Congratulations to them both! As Vara-Orta noted, he's the only male of color and of the LGBT community selected this year.
The two San Antonians (also both reporters for the San Antonio Express-News) and four other diversity fellows from across the country will begin their fellowship at the annual SPJ Excellence In Journalism conference, which will take place Aug. 24-26 in Anaheim, Calif.
Since 2005, six fellows are chosen annually to participate in SPJ's Diversity Leadership Program, which is intended to help them become better leaders and to "feel more connected to the organization," the program description states, all with the intention of increasing membership retention and strengthen leaders.
"As a Mexican-American who is gay, raised by a single mother in a low-income household in a working class neighborhood and the only male on the education desk, I have often been the minority or one who doesn't quite fit in. But the one thing I truly believe in is that what unites us all is a love of journalism, its public service and enjoyable storytelling that educates the masses for a low price. That mantra and perspective is what I hope to bring to SPJ: that we all feel included and welcome. It's horrible to feel the other way, and you don't forget it when you experience that. So we need this unity for our field to survive given where the nation and industry is headed. Especially as corporate executives scramble to figure out how to market to their changing audience, we've ahead on that curve with many of our stories and supporting efforts like the diversity committee. It's a topic that I worry has been lost during the recession and shrinkage of the news media, but is more important than ever as our nation's face and voice is changing."
Congratulations, Vianna and Francisco!