As your Secretary-Treasurer, I volunteered to serve on the Excellence in Journalism programming committee. In the midst of this hectic news cycle, I and my colleagues from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association spent the last half year planning this convention. We read 200 program proposals and spoke at length in twice weekly phone meetings. We debated how best to advance the story of the 2016 surprise election and the Trump presidency so that pitches crafted in January would still be fresh in September. And we organized late-breaking sessions on covering Hurricane Harvey and hate groups. (I’ll be moderating the hate group panel at 9 a.m. on Friday.)

The EIJ programming role is typically filled by the President-Elect, so I may the first person in recent years — if not ever — to do this twice in a row. I believe that’s a huge advantage for SPJ. I’ve already started giving my advice to staff about how we might streamline the process and improve the guidance for potential organizers submitting ideas. As your next President-Elect, I plan to publish clearer guidelines ahead of the January program idea submission deadline. More importantly, I’ll reach out to communities, committees and others who’ve submitted in the past to ensure that SPJ members who contribute ideas have the best chance of leading sessions at the convention.