Please join us in welcoming David Spratt as IJNR's new chief executive officer. After a long and thorough search for the next leader of the organization, our selection committee was pleased to offer Dave the position last week, and we are thrilled that he has accepted. He will come on board in January 2013.
Frank Allen, who has led IJNR since its founding 18 years ago and who will be stepping down at the end of this year, says: "I feel enthusiastic and confident about Dave Spratt and the new leadership he will bring to IJNR," adding "Dave has strong credentials for this job. Above all else, he is an outstanding advocate for better journalism."
Dave is no stranger to IJNR: not only is he an alumnus of several Institutes, he has helped scout and conduct Institutes in the Great Lakes region as well. IJNR director of programs, Adam Hinterthuer, says "Dave knows how to develop outstanding learning opportunities for journalists. He is well-versed in natural resource issues, adept at bringing multiple stakeholders to the table to talk to our groups, and full of ideas for expanding the reach and scope of IJNR programming."
However, Dave brings far more to the position than just a familiarity with IJNR's Institutes. The CEO selection committee determined that the right candidate would have a strong and diverse journalistic background, and Dave comes bearing plenty of experience. He spent twenty years in the newspaper business, beginning as a writer at the Fort Collins Coloradoan, and then becoming an editor at the Lansing State Journal in Michigan. He then moved to The Detroit News, where he worked as an associate editor and bureau chief. During these years he served as a mentor to the younger journalists in the newsroom, helping them hone their storytelling and reporting skills, and offering guidance as they built their careers.
Of course Dave wasn't immune to the uncertainty surrounding careers in print journalism. In 2008, he took a buy out from The News and switched to freelance writing, at the same time founding Great Northern Outdoors, an online magazine that deals with conservation, hunting, and fishing in the Midwest. Not your everyday outdoors magazine, Great Northern tackles complex natural resource and environment issues, and offers in-depth, investigative stories about the relationships between people, the landscape and its resources. Dave remains editor-in-chief of the magazine, and the experience of launching an online publication has given him first-hand experience navigating journalism's newest medium.
Dave is the first to admit that the way news is delivered is different now than it was when he started out in the field in 1990, just after finishing college. Nevertheless, he believes the tenets of good journalism still hold true. He says, "A lot has changed about journalism in the past decade, but the principles that drive IJNR - integrity, fairness and the passion to inform – are just as important as ever."
It was this dedication to high-quality journalism and his focus on the future that made Dave stand out as a candidate. As IJNR - and indeed, the world of journalism - moves through a period of transition, it was imperative to find a leader with both a passion for the organization's goals and a desire to help journalists grow and learn in a changing world. Chris Siegler, chair of IJNR's board of trustees, says, "The selection committee was impressed with Dave's creative ideas for meeting the challenges ahead for IJNR and his passion for our mission. We believe his background in print and online journalism will ensure that IJNR continues to meet the needs of journalists trying to help the public understand complex environmental and natural resource issues."
Frank's presence within IJNR will be missed by all, there is no doubt. But he offers nothing but confidence for the organization and its new leader: "I know Dave will demonstrate that he cares deeply about the professional development of present and future IJNR Fellows."
And as look we forward, it is clear that exciting times await. With Dave at the helm, IJNR will continue to bring high-quality training to environment journalists around the country. As he steps into his new role, he acknowledges the legacy that he will continue: "In founding IJNR, Frank has handed hundreds of journalists, including myself, critical tools with which they have educated millions of readers, viewers and listeners about the environment and natural resources. Our job is to keep passing out tools."
With Dave's passion and leadership, we have no doubt that IJNR will continue offering the hands-on learning experience that journalists need and encouraging high-quality, insightful storytelling about critical issues, well into the future.
The IJNR Board and Staff