Outgoing President’s Report: Two-Year Roundup

Dear ASJA Members:

It’s been a dynamic two years in this organization during the time that I’ve served as president. Recently, I looked back over all that has been achieved and it’s stunning to see this progress in motion. ASJA has evolved from an organization that had one conference a year to an organization that offers various conferences and digital connections to every one of our members across the country and Canada.

The recent ASJA conference in New York was a whirlwind, too. In addition to the conference and writing awards ceremony, we planned several special events that weekend:

  • The Anniversary Gala on May 17.
  • The Charity Buzz Auction that ended last Thursday, May 24.
  • A Conscience in Media Award presented posthumously to Daphne Caruana Galizia by Sally Olds, First Amendment committee chair.
  • An Extraordinary Service Award presented to ASJA Past President Salley Shannon.

Looking back over the last two years, here are some of ASJA’s other notable achievements:

  • In 2016, ASJA transitioned to new Executive Director Holly Koenig, who put together a new staff that better suits the organization’s needs.
  • An audit was completed for both ASJA, Inc. and ASJA Charitable Trust.
  • Bylaws were reviewed and completed for both ASJA, Inc. and the ASJA Charitable Trust.
  • WEAF was re-established this year with Vice President Milt Toby at the helm. Janine Latus will take over on July 1.
  • We had a regional conference in Atlanta in November 2016, thanks to chairs Echo Garrett and Mickey Goodman.
  • The ASJA Board of Directors began a conversation about ASJA’s technology that led to the formation of the 70th Anniversary Campaign. More than $20,000 has been contributed in leadership gifts thus far.
  • Jennifer Goforth Gregory kicked up Virtual Client Connections with huge success.
  • Kate Silver and her team of moderators created robust programming with Special Interest Groups on the forums.
  • Wendy Helfenbaum and Jennifer Gregory continued to build an amazing database filled with clients used throughout the year for various conferences and programs.
  • Wendy also started Virtual Pitch Slams.
  • Jennifer, Wendy and others started “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” on the Forums.
  • With Holly and Laura Laing’s leadership, ASJA’s communications were reshaped into one weekly e-newsletter. Sandra Gurvis became editor of ASJA Confidential, the blog that appears on ASJA’s home page and runs in the Tuesday e-newsletter. Aleigh Ascerni continued as ASJA Magazine editor, publishing six issues each year.
  • We held the first annual State of the Association telephone conference call open to all members last July. (It is still posted online.)
  • We’ve been a part of Banned Books week and joined with many other organizations to write letters in support of the First Amendment. ASJA’s new Advocacy Chair Tam Harbert just attended a copyright meeting on Capitol Hill in early May.
  • We won a $35,000 grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation for the Gender Identity & Mental Health national reporting project.
  • We launched the Associate Membership program, quadrupling our projections in just eight months.
  • The New York conference chaired by Estelle Erasmus in 2017 was one of the most successful conferences financially that ASJA has had in many years.
  • The Chicago conference chaired by Joanne Cleaver in November was a raging success, the highest earning regional conference ever sponsored by ASJA.
  • The Austin conference was launched in February with chairs Susan Johnston Taylor and Debbie Blumberg. It did very well considering it was ASJA’s debut in Texas.
  • ASJA Direct Podcast was launched by Estelle Erasmus.
  • More than 2,500 freelance writers, including hundreds of ASJA members, began receiving settlement checks from a class action suit filed by ASJA, The Writers Guild, the National Writers Union and others. The total settlement was $9 million.
  • We’ve become a more productive and efficient organization by streamlining several processes and programs.
  • ASJA has a long list of candidates for board positions.
  • ASJA has members across the country interested in hosting regional events.

And we have completed all of this while working in our own businesses!

I am very proud of what we, as a team, have accomplished. Thank you!