We checked in with Leslie-Anne Frank, who has been NAHJ’s Director of Programs for three years, on her changing role with the organization.
NAHJ: Tell us about your new responsibilities as Director of Next Gen Initiatives.
LAF: I’m very excited about how my position at NAHJ is evolving! We’re building in more support for the next generation of journalists – our students, by adding more layers to our current programs so we’re more closely involved with the students who receive our scholarships or who participate in the NAHJ Student Project.
NAHJ: How will it be different from what you were doing?
LAF: As Director of Programs, managing all of the educational programs was part of my role, but next year, NAHJ will be growing and pursuing additional funding so we can add more components to the programs.
Our goal is to be a resource to a dedicated group of students and guide them along their path until they ultimately begin careers in journalism. That support will range from financial aid to professional work experience to matching them with mentors to help them through the process. What’s different is that we will guide a group of students through each step of the process, versus different students in each stage.
NAHJ: That does sound exciting! Why did NAHJ decide to go in this direction?
LAF: We’ve learned over the years that some of our students need more help than they’re currently getting. While helping them cover their educational expenses is important, they also need help transitioning to internships and professional jobs in journalism.
NAHJ: How can members learn more about the new programs?
LAF: We will be collaborating with academic advisors from all the student chapters and working with professional chapters to identify potential mentors. As you’ve seen, our website is also evolving, and we’ll share information about the program and how NAHJ members can get involved on the site and on our social media platforms.
NAHJ: Can you share more about the new programs?
LAF: One of the first visible developments will be to the scholarship program. When the application process opens this month, we will offer students the option of either being awarded scholarship dollars toward their 2017 – 2018 school year, or a sponsored trip to the national conference in September. That will include registration fees, travel, hotel and meals. Attending the conference is a valuable experience that often leads to more opportunities for our students so we wanted to make that available on a more formal basis.
It’s important that we prepare the next generation for their careers in journalism, which is in line with our mission – to promote more Latinos in news. The more we help our students become qualified, experienced candidates, the more likely they are to be hired in newsrooms around the country.
Working with students at this stage of their development is so rewarding! Being part of the process when they’re working in the Student Project, and soon, with mentors they’re assigned for their internships, I get to see students have that “Aha!” moment. They learn to do something a different way, or more efficiently and it all clicks. That’s an impact NAHJ will have that will follow them through their whole careers, and I’m happy to be part of that!