Dinah Eng Leadership Fellows Take Their Careers to the Next Level

 Jack Chang (AAJA-Sacramento)

“Spending four days sharing experiences with peers, learning management skills and thinking about my own goals has helped me clarify what I want out of my career and life. The Executive Leadership Program that I took part in this year has also helped me better organize my time and energies to remove distractions so that I can work toward my goals. With that clarity, everything falls into place. I have a better idea of what I’d like to achieve in my company and the strengths I bring to the organization. I can think about the kinds of work I enjoy and am good at. And I can see the personal improvements that need to happen so that I can become a more confident and effective leader.

Top on the immediate priority list is improving my communication skills and working better with the needs of my colleagues as I push projects I’m leading. I’m also seeing the importance of understanding my company’s environment and adjusting my approaches so that I speak the language of the place. It’s all practical information and intuitive, in a way. But it was helpful to hear it laid down in concrete terms and discussed during the program.

One big take-away was that I shouldn’t be afraid of more communication. Things need to be talked about, especially in busy workplaces where assumptions are often made in the name of getting through packed schedules. Those assumptions often are incorrect and lead to time wasted. Problems and tensions also need to be talked about. Ignoring them often leads to dysfunctional behavior, a misplacement of focus and more time wasted. The next step is how to communicate in sensitive, productive ways. This will be a process of trial and error over the coming months and years, but the program showed me the importance of starting that process. It also gave me new colleagues to bounce my experiences off of and skills that hopefully will improve my chances of success.”

 Maria Sandoval (AAJA-New York)

“ELP was an amazing experience for me personally and professionally. Four years ago I left the world of financial stability as a producer for commercials and graphics in my pursuit of becoming a journalist. Fast-forward to today, I am now a successful video journalist. I live my dream job every day. I am a one-woman band who shoots video, edits, writes scripts and reports on camera. My clients include the New York Post, local Brooklyn TV, Turkish-American station EBRUTV News and recently I signed with Filipino American station ABS-CBN.

As a freelancer, I technically own my own business and so I struggled with managing my time. I had no time for anything. I had to deal with numerous clients, pump out stories, lead the AAJA New York Chapter as president and just live my life as a woman in her 30s. Time was the most precious thing I did not have. I don’t have kids and yet I felt like a horrible working mom who was drowning. My passion for things I love was slowly withering down to bitterness and ELP help me cut through all of that. All I needed was to take time out for myself.

Once I was able to replenish my energy, my soul, me, I was able to accomplish more. My perspective changed. My passions reignited. Now I juggle my clients, AAJA-NY and my life — and I am happy. I now have time to pursue an even larger dream with action plans already set. My goal by the end of this year is to be a travel mobile video journalist, who covers women’s issues on a global scale. ELP gave me tools to manage my time and team better, the chance to meet amazing professionals and network, but more importantly it saved me from drowning in a world of to-dos.”


Chang and Sandoval are the inaugural recipients of the Dinah Eng Leadership Fellowship, established in 2012 to develop the leadership and management skills of up-and-coming AAJA members. Learn more about the Dinah Eng Leadership Fellowship