Sometimes we toil away at a task with our head bent down, so intent on the job in front of our eyes that we forget to look up at the greater impact our work may have. Such is the case for me as I prepare to leave my two years as president of the Cleveland Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on June 30.
Over the weekend, I sent out a letter to our membership as a way to wrap up my tenure, introduce the new board and thank everyone for their support. In return I have been truly touched by the heartfelt sentiments I’ve received from members.
R.J. “Buz” Buzogany was a member of the board when I first joined in 1993. He wrote: “ Wendy, You brought that fresh enthusiasm that was missing. Congratulations on your new role with the national. I hope you shake them up with the same vigor and enthusiasm you brought to the local group. While I was not as active as I would have liked over the past several years, I have been an interested observer. Thanks for all you have done.”
I had the good fortune to get to know many in SPJ’s national leadership at the Ted Scripps Leadership Conference last June. One of those who expressed early support for my involvement at the national level was Robert Leger, then president and now immediate past president of the national organization. He was kind enough to send this: “Wendy: A great letter and testimonial! Robert.” Thank you, Robert. I look forward to picking up our conversation again in June.
Cecil Hickman, formerly of WCPN and now a freelancer, wrote: “I was so taken with your stewardship of SPJ that I felt compelled to write telling you of my appreciation.”
It’s not every day that we find strong mentors to lead us through the sometimes-stormy waters of a career in writing. I’ve been blessed to have some pretty terrific people in my corner. Judy Ernest reminds me to “Keep having fun!” And Susanne Alexander, who has given so much of her time and support not just to me, but to many freelance writers in Northeast Ohio, simply replied: “Ah…your enthusiasm is one of the things I most appreciate about you!” Thank you, both.
And finally, from Susan Alcorn: “Many thanks for your wonderful leadership. You’ve provided excellent leadership to SPJ. So much so that I became a dues-paying member last winter just to feel right about being the recipient of all the good things that were happening in the organization.” Now that, my friends, is music to my ears. Such sweet music, in fact, that membership is where I hope to spend my energy in the coming year.
I didn’t choose to lead the organization for a pat on the back. Quite frankly, when I rejoined the board in 2001, I was dismayed at how lackluster it had become. It’s not in my nature to accept the status quo. Fortunately, the board—and SPJ—was ready for my energy. Together, we reinvigorated Cleveland SPJ. And we’ve increased the visibility of its mission—to improve and protect journalism. And so it continues. Won’t you join us?