To my dear AAJA family,
For the past two years, it has been my privilege to serve as your national president. As we prepare to flip our calendars to 2013, I am filled with hope for our future – not only as journalists but also as an organization. We are on solid financial footing, and we have a capable leadership team, helmed by incoming President Paul Cheung. He and his board will advance AAJA’s mission as Paul carries the torch on the next leg of our diversity relay.
At the start of my journey as your national president, I pledged to visit all 21 of our chapters. While completing my travels across AAJA Nation, I was struck by how our common bond is our passion for journalism and our shared cultural values. This connection is why I have called AAJA home since 1996, and I’m inspired to see a whole new generation of journalists doing the same.
Why is AAJA relevant? This year, we saw how speaking up on behalf of our communities is more important than ever. Without AAJA, newsrooms might not have the resources to properly cover stories such as the rise of NBA player Jeremy Lin or the facts about underreported communities such as Sikhs.
The updated “AAJA Handbook to Covering Asian America” offers guidance to journalists who seek to be fair, accurate and sensitive in reporting on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We must continue to raise our voices for those who cannot. And for every voice in AAJA that is raised, 1,700 more are amplifying that message.
AAJA continues to be an industry leader in helping our members advance in their careers. Our chapters are go-to providers of professional training and networking: From AAJA-L.A.’s V3Con to AAJA-Asia’s Hong Kong regional conference, our members are on the cutting edge of 21st-century newsgathering, and that gives us an advantage in this competitive industry.
AAJA not only supports our members at work, we are a family with a worldwide embrace. No matter where you go, you’re not far from someone in AAJA who can remind you of why we entered this profession and why we remain committed to it and to each other. It’s a powerful feeling to know that we have 1,700 brothers and sisters equally dedicated to the mission envisioned by our founders in 1981.
I’d like to offer thanks to those who made my presidency possible: My employer, The Washington Post, has been unflagging in its commitment to ensuring that I could focus on AAJA and diversity issues. Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, who has shared his time and expertise with our members, has been an outstanding champion of AAJA’s mission.
Dozens of volunteers throughout the organization have been pivotal to keeping AAJA moving forward. Besides our executive officers, our Advisory Board and the leaders in our 21 chapters, AAJA’s program co-directors deserve our gratitude. I salute JCamp Co-Directors Clea Benson, Neal Justin and Lorene Yue; Voices Editor Marian Lui; and Executive Leadership Program Co-Directors Bob Der and Justin Tejada. They all are strengthening the pipeline of journalists who understand that diversity isn’t a footnote but an essential component of the news report.
AAJA’s staffers often work behind the scenes, but they, too, deserve a turn in the spotlight: Thank you to Kathy Chow, Antonio Salas, Nao Vang, Marcia Santillan, and Glenn and Karen Sugihara for supporting all that our organization represents.
It has been my honor to serve as your president. I am signing off but not signing out. AAJA has given so much to me that I will continue giving back for decades to come. I invite you to join me in renewing for 2013.
And I will see you next summer for an “AAJA State of Mind,” Aug. 21-24, 2013, in New York.
Yours in journalism diversity, today, tomorrow, always,
and yours in AAJA,