Meet the AAJA Seattle Chapter Board Candidates

It’s time to vote for the AAJA Seattle Chapter Board officers! This year, we are voting on President, Vice President of Programs, Secretary and National Advisory Board Representative.

Ballots will be sent to the email address filed with AAJA. It will arrive in your Inboxes on Oct. 18. Ballots are due by noon Oct. 28.

Meet the candidates

Chapter President

According to the AAJA Bylaws, Article X, Section 3, the chapter president will oversee all activities of the chapter and will act as its chief executive officer. The president must be a full member of the chapter.

This is a two-year term that starts January 2012 and ends December 2013.

Candidate statement:

SONA PATEL

Producer for Social Media

The Seattle Times

I started my professional journalism career about 5 years ago as a print news reporter, churning out stories for a small daily newspaper in San Luis Obispo, Calif. I didn’t really get the web or why I needed to learn how to tweet, use Facebook or engage readers as part of my beat. But throughout the last three years, the importance of integrating web skills with traditional reporting methods really hit home. As president of the Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association, I’d bring to the organization what I’ve developed over the last couple years as social media producer for The Seattle Times: how to tactically integrate online journalism into our profession.

One of my goals as president would be to hold regular workshops for members to learn about the latest in innovative online journalism and how to apply that to their professional or freelance work. The industry is facing one of its biggest challenges, and it’s up to us to help it survive. We need to work together – helping each other develop the necessary skills to stay relevant in our industry. I’d make professional development and community outreach the bedrock of the organization. One of the things that helped me become a successful journalist was the mentoring and journalism programs available to me while I was in college. One of the ways I want to give back is to set up a mentoring program for young aspiring journalists in the Northwest. Help me make AAJA Seattle an invaluable resource for journalists in the Northwest.

Vice President for Programs

According to the AAJA Bylaws, Article X, Section 3, a chapter may have any number of vice presidents.

The Vice President for Programs is in charge of student and member outreach, including the Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship program and training programs that the chapter holds throughout the year.

This is a two-year term that starts January 2012 and ends December 2013.

Candidate Statement:

LAUREN RABAINO

Associate producer at The Seattle Times

Although I’m new to Seattle and AAJA, I’ve been involved in forward-thinking digital journalism circles for years and can bring an innovative perspective to the board. I would like to expand the role of the VP of programs beyond scholarship efforts to supplement scholarships with educational training for members and non-members. My vision is to make AAJA a digital hub for local journalists to learn about technology, color and how they intersect by hosting workshops and brainstorming sessions. Ideally, I’d like to partner with organizations like ONA and Hacks/Hackers to bring AAJA up to speed in the digital arena.

Chapter Secretary

According to the AAJA Bylaws, Article X, Section 3, the chapter secretary will be responsible for making and maintaining meeting minutes and documentation of other chapter activities.

This is a two-year term that starts January 2012 and ends December 2013.

Candidate statement:

SAMANTHA PAK

Reporter

Redmond Reporter

I am running for the position of AAJA Seattle Board Secretary because after being a member for more than three years, I would like to be more involved in the chapter. I think being secretary would give me the opportunity to do this and learn more about how AAJA Seattle is run.

I would take my duties seriously and complete them to the best of my abilities. Additionally, with the rise of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, I believe my experience with these sites would allow me to publicize meetings and distribute information to members more effectively.

I have worked in traditional print as well as online publications and have held both full-time and freelancing positions – the latter of which is the direction the industry seems to be headed as staff layoffs and downsizing becomes commonplace.

I am currently a reporter for the Redmond Reporter – the weekly newspaper for the City of Redmond – and a freelance writer for Seattle’s Northwest Asian Weekly. I have also been an education reporter for the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho and freelance writer for the Pacific Publishing Company in Seattle.

Since I joined AAJA Seattle, I have really felt welcomed and part of a real community. Fellow members would take a genuine interest in me, which I was especially grateful for when I was job searching. Being chapter secretary would give me an opportunity to give back to an organization that has supported me as I have begun my career.

National Advisory Board Representative

According to AAJA Bylaws, Article III, Section 1, the National Board of Directors is composed of a Governing Board and an Advisory Board. The Governing Board sets the direction of AAJA business. The role of the Advisory Board shall be advisory in nature. Advisory Board members represent the interests of AAJA chapters in the organization, the organization’s interests in the chapters, and the interests of both in the community. The Advisory board shall have no budgetary or principal office oversight. Advisory board members must be full members.

This is a two-year term that starts January 2012 and ends December 2013.

Candidate statement:

SANJAY BHATT

Reporter

The Seattle Times

After four years of leading your Seattle chapter as president, I am running to represent the chapter on AAJA’s National Advisory Board. For many years, our Seattle chapter board has been successful at setting ambitious goals and achieving them. This doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve cultivated a collaborative culture grounded in open communication and high expectations, a team in which every board member has the opportunity to develop leadership skills and feel supported doing so. We’ve established a strategic plan focused on outreach, training and mentoring. And we have produced results, including membership growth during a period of huge turmoil in our market. I believe my board experience, connections with our members and familiarity with industry trends have prepared me well to represent your interests on AAJA’s national board. As your board representative, I would like to bring Seattle’s approach and strategic focus to bear on how the National board functions. In addition, I will communicate to the chapter any actions by the National board that would impact us. I’m always open to your ideas, questions and concerns. Thank you for your support!

Don’t forget to vote!

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