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Candidates for the 2015-2016 SAJA Board

2014-12-01 9:49 PM | Jigar Mehta

SAJA members are now invited to vote online to fill seven open positions on the board. Candidate statements are below.

Voting will be open until 3pm on Friday December 12th.

Note: You must be lifetime or full member of SAJA member to vote. By voting online, you are submitting a proxy ballot. In person voting will occur at the annual members meeting December 12th in NYC. 

Candidates for SAJA Board 2015-2016:



My name is Sopan Deb and it would be my honor to be considered to serve on the SAJA board. I believe my versatility and experience in multiple newsrooms across many different platforms would be an asset to SAJA. I have many ideas for events, including camera workshops and panel discussions. With my experience at the Boston Globe, NBC, Al Jazeera America, Major League Baseball and, now, CBS News, I have been able to report on stories all over the country. This has given me a real perspective on the challenges facing newsrooms today and I would love to be able to help other journalists tell the stories that need to be told. I am also passionate about shedding more light on the great work of South Asian journalists across the country. I would like to organize more SAJA-sponsored networking events in New York City, as well as panel discussions that challenge the audience as well as the speakers. On top of that, I would like to organize workshops with the best journalists in a given field. These could include working with cameras, social media, long form writing workshops and blogging effectively. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to continuing to be an active member of SAJA and helping the organization grow even larger.



I joined SAJA in 2003 as a graduating high school senior embarking on a career in journalism. Since then, I’ve worked at a variety of media outlets from The Village Voice to my current position atPublic Radio International's The World. I've covered a variety of beats and stories from health care to Portland's fashion week. And my participation in SAJA is an integral part of myjournalisticpath. Today, I have two years under my belt as a board member of SAJA, and the organization's secretary. During my time on SAJA's board, I increased its social media presence, judged fellowship and scholarship applications, coordinated the 2013 and 2014 convention and awards ceremonies. I hosted happy hours and newsroom tours in Washington DC, along with the daily but vital tasks that come with being the organizations' secretary. Being a board member of SAJA was alotof hard work that required patience and focus. And if re-elected, I work towards improving SAJA and its journalism endeavors. I plan to focus on two crucial areas of our organization: First, I’ll revamp a great platform to which SAJA has wide reach for all its members. Secondly, I’ll increase SAJA membership and activities - outside of New York. While New York is SAJA's home, our membership’s geographic diversity is an asset we need to recognize. SAJA is a small but powerful and thriving organization. I look forward to taking part in its continued growth and development.



I’m an Associate Producer at NBC's Special reports with Brian Williams. I am grateful for this opportunity to ask for your support in seeking another term as a SAJA Board member. I started with SAJA as a volunteer, joined the board in 2010 and was the 2014 SAJA President. Over the last 4 years I have helped raise over $45,000 in scholarship funds for SAJA, including bringing new donors. This past year alone the SAJA distributed $60,000 in scholarships, organized meet-and-greets in various newsrooms, held the organization’s first ifthar (with all the proceeds going to the scholarship fund), and celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a sold-out convention and awards program. I'm proud to say that all of these events were covered financially by supporters which enabled more funds to directly benefit scholarship recipients. But I am not asking you to support me for what I have done, but for what I want to continue to bring to SAJA. As new generations of South Asian journalists enter the industry, with different goals, and aspirations, SAJA is poised to grow and mature as an organization, to fill these needs as a new generation of journalists enter the fold. With my next term on the board, I hope to establish more paid fellowships at established journalism networks, program and opportunities for mid-career journalists and stream-lining the next phase of SAJA's veteran financial members with a board of directors and trust fund. It’s my commitment to help SAJA empower others as SAJA has empowered me.



Learning about the art of journalistic thought and writing did not come for me in the form of a lecture hall and a well spoken professor, it came from direct experiences outside of what I originally went to school for. I began my career in journalism shortly after college when I started writing for Brown Girl Magazine. I had the opportunity to do something I was inwardly and outwardly passionate about, writing, but I had to learn the formal processes of writing by getting out of my comfort zone and entering the field. My experiences have taken me from writing stories to editing stories and from photo editing to graphic design, which are skills I use frequently for U.S. and Brown Girl Magazine. Getting involved with the South Asian diaspora, interviewing indie musicians, filmmakers, business men/women and community changers has greatly changed my perspective on the world around me and creates the innate inner urge to not only be apart of the community, but to help evolve, change and modernize the communities that we find ourselves apart of. SAJA has a large hand in being able to help fellow journalists change the world around us, and I gladly and eagerly put in my application to become apart of the change by applying for a position on the SAJA board, where I hope to help support the organization and create more opportunities for South Asian students and professionals to indulge in their passions.



I'm an arts and culture writer who contributes to outlets including Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, and NBC's Asian America vertical, among others. On any given day, I could be interviewing a rising Indian-American movie star or researching the digitization of arranged marriage. Come January, I'll support Professors Ari Goldman and Yogi Trivedi in teaching a course on covering Indian religions at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. As my work reflects, I'm passionate about the intersection of South Asia and journalism. During my two years on the SAJA Board, I've immersed myself in everything from securing scholarship sponsors and partnering with an enterprising journalism startup for a memorable portfolio review to serving on the leadership team for 2013's Yale Club Gala. This year, alongside co-chairs Mythili Rao and Shefali Kulkarni, I worked to bring you a sold-out 2014 National Convention that addressed subjects like newsroom diversity and unlikely paths to journalism. SAJA now feels like an extension of myself and its members a thriving community of friends and mentors. If re-elected, I look forward to continue to be an advocate for fellow freelancers. I'm also making a commitment to engage with members to see how we can make SAJA work for you: what are we missing and how can we contribute to your journalism journeys more effectively? As our organization looks towards the next twenty years, these are crucial questions to answer and I would be honored to approach them with you.



Coming from a non-traditional journalism background, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first started writing for a local newspaper. Sure, I knew the basics about reporting and writing catchy ledes, but I was clueless about journalism in the real world. I joined a staff of five - four reporters and one editor – thinking I would quit in time to start law school. Soon enough, I was asked to cover community board meetings, attend protests, watch kids perform at their school plays and listen to politicians defend the government over and over again, but no matter how hard or easy the story was, I was required to submit my piece in time for deadline. Story after story, I realized my words meant a lot to the people of Western Queens. They waited for their weekly paper because we told them local stories they deeply cared about. And just like that, journalism became more than a pass-time job, it became a passion. In addition to news reporting, I manage a staff of 30 freelance writers at and 25 freelance writers at I understand the ins-and-outs about running an efficient team that delivers and impacts change. My attention to detail, management skills, respect for journalism and new-age media, and SAJA’s mission, make me a strong candidate for an open board position for the year term of 2014-15.



I am honored to run once again for the SAJA Board. One of my proudest titles is co-founder of SAJA and I am excited to spend another two years working on behalf of our members. After 21 years at Columbia Journalism School, I've spent the past 1.5 years working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and seeing a whole different side of our industry. I run my 70-person digital media team like a newsroom and emphasize the importance of storytelling in everything we do. But I also appreciate the role journalists play in helping society understand complex and important stories like art, culture and more. I would like to spend my next two SAJA years working on the following: training opportunities for journalists via workshops, webinars, etc; an expanded series of webcasts that builds on the success of our 200+ shows that got more than 2m listens already; helping journalists understand the changing media landscape so they can continue to thrive in it. Thank you for the opportunity to serve for the 21st year in a row.



Having begun my journey in broadcast in 2004, my journalism career has since come a long way and in the process assumed the roles of reporter, anchor, film critic, business strategist and more recently, that of a digital transformation consultant. Being a recent graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, I cherished my experience as a student coordinator for SAJA@CU. I organized newsroom visits, guest lectures and panel discussions. Also, as my role as Treasurer of the Society of Professional Journalists at Columbia University, I was responsible for managing budgets and leading the largest fundraising campaign: J-School branded clothing and SPJ designs. My experience as a member of the advisory board of Newspoint TV (one of India's leading global, 24-hour news network) and my role as Sponsorship Director for the Chicago South Asian Arts Council (a Chicago based non-profit that promotes cinema, arts and culture) have honed by media management skills, allowing me to be creative yet pragmatic and financially shrewd. As a member of the SAJA Executive Board, I wish to contribute by linking and leveraging my prior experiences and my global journalism network. Strategy and fund-raising have been my strongest capabilities; I envision applying these skills would facilitate effective networking and career coaching for SAJA members as well as providing effective branding and outreach for the SAJA brand. I would also like to contribute towards mentoring journalists on incorporating technology for reporting compelling stories.

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