I found out earlier this week I was elected to be the NAHJ Region 5 Rep. It’s the second time I have held this post. I ran uncontested and won easily with just one person voting for Mickey Mouse. I am excited about the opportunity to serve on the NAHJ Board and be the Region 5 Rep.
I believe the region rep position is one of the toughest jobs on the NAHJ Board because you have to plan events, fundraise money for a regional conference, conduct membership drives and establish chapters. It’s very challenging yet the engine that drives NAHJ. Without regional activities, NAHJ only becomes a four-day party once a year for members. Members want more than that and that’s why they pay for membership.
First on the agenda will be addressing the financial issues. As you know, our conference in Puerto Rico was a success as hundreds of people received multimedia training, but it wasn’t well attended due to the recession and the job layoffs. As an organization, we barely broke even on the conference, which is the biggest fundraiser for NAHJ for the year. We have canceled our Awards Banquet Dinner in the fall to concentrate on membership activities and training.
So now we are facing a $300,000 budget shortfall. We are not short money to pay monthly bills or anything, like that, but we will have to ask our membership for donations to keep the current programs going. The programs in danger of facing cuts are scholarships for students, training programs for Latino journalists, expanding the Parity Project to more cities and increasing the number of Latinos in the industry. So we’re asking our 1,400 members to donate $200 each and we can raise $280,000 in the Count Me In Campaign. Just think about giving back to the organization that has helped you in so many ways throughout the years. It’s a small donation and we have until December to do it. So please help us out and donate money to NAHJ.
We can accept donations online, http://www.nahj.org/supportnahj/CountMeIn.shtml in a single payment or installments, via phone (202.662.7482), or by sending a check to: NAHJ, 1000 National Press Building , 529 14th Street, NW , Washington , DC 20045 . All donations are tax deductible.
Second, we need to plan a regional conference for next spring. A regional conference is important to increase membership numbers and get our region members multimedia training. It’s already August and we need to start picking a location and identifying the sponsors. I have heard some locations, including San Marcos, where we had our last region conference, San Antonio, where we have a large group of our members or somewhere in South Texas. A local planning committee is key, so please let me know your thoughts and we’ll get moving on the conference.
Third, we need to establish more student and professional chapters in our region. Currently, our overall membership numbers is 40% students in NAHJ. Well, that is good because they will soon become professionals, but we need to work on getting more student and professional chapters. Austin is pretty close to be getting a professional chapter, the University of Houston wants a student chapter, and the Coastal Bend is working on both a student and professional chapter. If you have an interest and believe you can round up the ten NAHJ members, you can start a chapter. You can plan events, fundraisers and get involved with the process. Let me know and I will do what I can to help you and your chapter become a reality.
If you want to follow us on Twitter, we have an account at NAHJRegion5 and Facebook at NAHJ Region 5. You can contact me on either account or just e-mail me at email@example.com
Manuel De La Rosa
NAHJ Region 5 Rep.