Our Staff Updates at NAJA and Countdown to Conference

Posted by Mary Hudetz on 05/01/2015

Dear Members, 

We are busy preparing for our 31st annual journalism conference in Arlington, Virginia, as we begin the countdown to the first NAJA-organized gathering in the Washington, D.C., area. On behalf of the board of directors and staff, I hope all of you are planning to join us for the National Native Media ConferenceJuly 9-12 at the Hyatt Regency-Crystal City.  

With your participation, I guarantee it will be an energizing, informative and inspiring event for the journalists of Indian Country and all those who care about our work. The theme of the conference this year is "Empower Your Story." 

I became a member of our organization in 2006, when I was preparing to begin journalism school at the University of Montana, and I joined the board of directors in 2012 while still an editor at The Associated Press. I truly believe the past six months represent one of the most vibrant chapters for our organization since I have been a part of it, and you'll find a few specific examples at the end of this letter that offer proof of NAJA's impact and momentum.  

It is no question our strides are the result of contributions from active, influential members and a hard-working, talented staff led for two years by Pamala Silas (Oneida/Menominee), who reshaped our operation and made it an effective vehicle for accomplishing goals set out by the NAJA board in a 2013 strategic plan, which is set for updating soon. 

Pam came to NAJA after serving as CEO of American Indian Science and Engineering Society. This week marks the end of a dynamic tenure as NAJA executive director for Pam. She is moving on to the National Indian Housing Council in Washington to continue her good work for Indian Country. I know she will remain a powerful advocate for NAJA's mission, however, and I am grateful for that. She'll also join us at our conference, where the board and I will have opportunity to fete and thank her for her service.    

I am also grateful that her leadership has paved the way to make Rebecca Landsberry, NAJA's communications and membership manager since 2013, our interim executive director. Becca, a graduate of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma and a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, will serve in her new role at least through our conference. 

As many of our members know, Becca has exceptional organizational and leadership skills that have motivated members and board leaders alike to help grow our organization from just more than 200 members two years ago to nearly 450 today. Please join me in congratulating her on her new appointment. 

I know she and NAJA's incoming board members and officers running for election this summer will be instrumental in taking NAJA to its next stage of growth, in which we hope the organization will build on our growing ranks to offer more year-round services to our mid-career and veteran journalists. If you are interested -- as a NAJA member or donor in being part of this effort -- please contact me ([email protected]) or Becca ([email protected]) about joining us in building capacity for our important work -- work that has helped us witness the following developments in recent months: 

1. Effective efforts to educate the industry on responsible coverage for the benefit our Native people and communities.

2. Our members sharing their knowledge and delivering presentations nearly weekly in pockets and conferences across the country. 


Via NAJA President Mary Hudetz: Last week, we had two NAJA presidents (Mark Trahant, past, and me, current) presenting...

Posted by Native American Journalists Association on Friday, May 1, 2015

3. Numerous students and youth currently participating in our programs landing major fellowships and internships. We could not be more proud to see them advance their careers, take chances and invest in themselves. Just two examples of recent NAJA student achievements include Jourdan Bennett-Begaye (Navajo), who will attend Syracuse University on a major fellowship that will also allow her to work at the Syracuse Post-Standard, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, and Carina Dominquez (Gila River Indian Community), who has accepted an internship at CBS News in New York this summer. 

A huge debt of gratitude is owed to those who have invested in our student programs, including sponsors like the Ak-Chin Indian Community in 2013, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians this year, and the dozens of individual donors who gave to our crowd-funding campaign. Our efforts to support students come thanks to your investment in the next generation.

We also give our thanks to our members and stakeholders (all of you!). Our hope is that you will support our ongoing work and we can find ways to continue to serve you as a measure of our gratitude. 

See you in Washington D.C.! 

Mary Hudetz (Crow) 

NAJA President 

Native Peoples Editor