Cleveland Chapter — Society of Professional Journalists

  • Edgewater Park, Cleveland, Ohio

  • Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio, 1916

  • Cleveland Museum of Art

  • Wade Oval Wednesday party, Cleveland, Ohio

  • Downtown Cleveland, Ohio

The SPJ Mission

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. We are dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. We promote the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry, work to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and aim to protect the First Amendment.

Cleveland chapter

The Cleveland Chapter, founded in 1950 by a group of 21 members, has grown to become one of the largest SPJ chapters in the nation. Through an array of programs and events, we help journalists build their skills, offer a place to discuss journalism issues of the day and provide social and networking opportunities. Stop by our next program to get to know us.

Writer's Week

Our electronic Writer's Week is a link to what is going on in journalism in Greater Cleveland and the rest of northern Ohio. It provides updates on our programs, job postings and other items of interest to journalists. This is where you will find the latest information on our next program. See latest issue and our Writer's Week archives.

Join SPJ Cleveland

Join our Cleveland Chapter of SPJ at this link by signing up for a national membership and adding on the Cleveland Chapter membership. The local dues, which cover admission to many events, are $20 a year. You may fill out the application online or print out a pdf and mail or fax it in.

Porter Scholarship

We are proud to offer our Porter Scholarship annually to a high school student demonstrating the skills and desire to enter our profession. Each year's scholarship winner receives a $1,000 per year college scholarship — $4,000 over four years. Learn more

Contests & honors

We honor the best in a variety of ways. Our annual journalism contests recognize the best works from the previous year. And, separately, the chapter board selects veteran journalists for Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement awards. Learn more.

Upcoming events

The Cleveland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has an array of events during the course of each year, designed to educate, collaborate, network and honor. Consider joining us at our next event. We are now in the process of putting together our schedule for the fall.

October— 2015

Consider joining us for the Ohio SPJ Awards Program in Cincinnati on Saturday, Oct. 24. The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. aboard the Belle of Cincinnati. Board the Belle of Cincinnati at its home port in Newport, Ky., 101 Riverboat Row., from 11 a.m. until noon. We will head out on the river at noon for lunch and awards. The cost is $50 per person. You may register online at this link. Contact Tom McKee at Send Mail


June — 2015

We had a meet-up June 1 at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Churchin Rocky River to watch "Shadows of Liberty," a film that examines censorship, cover-ups and corporate control of the news media.

May — 2015

We had our annual luncheon at the City Club to honor a top journalist and a journalist in training. Debora Lee, recently retired from Newschannel 5, received our Distinguished Service Award. And Samantha Harris, a graduating center from Brunswick High School, received the Porter Scholarship to help with her college tuition. She will be attending Ohio State University.

April — 2015

Police Force and the Media, hosted by the SPJ Cleveland and John Carroll University chapters, was held April 22 at John Carroll University. Panelists — Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, Northeast Ohio Media Group reporter Ryllie Danylko, law student Chris Esparza-Rivero and columnist Mansfield Frazier — explored media coverage issues of police force in the wake of the Tamir Rice case. Videos at these four links feature Cimperman and Danylko, Esparaza and Frazier, a Q&A period and additional Q&A.

March — 2015

We always look to celebrate when the media does the right thing, but what about when we get off track? To remember a time we should not forget, the Chapter had a meetup March 4 at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage to view the exhibit "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda."

Regional Conference, March — 2015

The SPJ's campus chapter at Ohio University on March 20-21 hosted the Region 4 Conference in Athens. Programming began Friday with an opening reception that offered a networking opportunity and silent auction to benefit the Legal Defense Fund. Professional development sessions continued all day Saturday, highlighted by the Mark of Excellence Awards luncheon.

January — 2015

Jim Sheeler, professor of English and media writing at Case Western Reserve University, headlined our January event at the new Hofbräuhaus in downtown Cleveland. The Jan. 22 event began with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. followed by our speaker at 6:30 p.m. Sheeler won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for a 12,000-word story in the Rocky Mountain News. He followed a U.S. Marine Casualty Assistance Calls Officer and the families he worked with during the Iraq war. He later wrote the book, Final Salute, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in nonfiction.

December — 2014

The Northeast Ohio Communications Advocates' annual holiday party was at Massimo da Milano in Ohio State, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 2. SPJ participates in this holiday party, along with many other organizations representing communicators in Northeast Ohio, from public relations to advertising.

November — 2014

We got together at the Speakeasy Room at the Bier Market in Ohio City to talk ethics with Kevin Z. Smith, a member of SPJ's national Ethics Committee and a past national president of SPJ. Smith went over the new ethics code and explained the discussions that went into the changes. A social hour started at 5:30 p.m., followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Join SPJ

Become part of our journalism mission and take part in networking and education opportunities by joining the Cleveland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which represents all of northern Ohio.

You may fill out the application online at this link or print out a pdf and mail or fax it in.

When you reach the bottom of the form under Local Chapter Dues there will be a drop down menu where you can then select the Cleveland Pro Chapter. The local dues are $20 per year, and cover the cost of attendance for many of our regional events.

Be sure to fill out all areas in bold on the Membership Application, including the question about which medium you are associated with.

If you have questions, or would like to sign up by phone, call the SPJ national headquarters at 317-927-8000. Be sure to specify the Cleveland Pro Chapter as your local affiliation.

The Cleveland SPJ Board

The Cleveland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists board represents a variety of backgrounds in local media and education.

Rodney Bengston, Immediate past president

Rodneuy Bengston

Rodney Bengston, a board member since 2010, oversaw editorial staff at multiple Sun newspapers during a career that started as a reporter and then editor. He currently does freelance writing and public relations work. Rodney also has a unique talent outside journalism: stand-up comedy. Rodney is a co-director of the annual Cleveland Comedy Festival, which is held in November. Rodney is a graduate of Cleveland State University, with a communications degree.

Faith Boone, 2nd vice president

Faith Boone

Faith Boone became a member of the SPJ board in 2014. She is social media specialist at WEWS NewsChannel 5 in Cleveland, managing all social media for the station and helping anchors and reporters with reader engagement to boost their social network following. Faith previously worked as social media strategist for Stevens Strategic Communications and as a reporter/blogger for the Sun newspapers. She received her journalism degree from Cleveland State University.

Carrie Buchanan

Carrie Buchanan

Carrie Buchanan, a board member since 2008, worked as a news reporter in Montreal and Ottawa for 15 years before moving to the Cleveland area. During a 12-year career at the Ottawa Citizen, Carrie covered a wide range of stories, from politics and environment to social issues. She started teaching in 1999 at Carleton University’s School of Journalism & Communication in Ottawa. In 2009 she joined the journalism faculty at John Carroll University, where she is an assistant professor in the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts. Carrie has a doctorate of mass communication and a master's of journalism from Carleton University, and a bachelor's degree in biology and psychology from Bryn Mawr College.

Stan Bullard

Stan Bullard

Stan Bullard, a board member since about 1990, joined Crain's Cleveland Business as a reporter in 1986. Since 2000, his reporting has concentrated on real estate and related industries. With the exception of one year in public relations, Stan has worked as a journalist covering Northeast Ohio since 1976. He received a Distinguished Service Award from the Cleveland SPJ chapter in 2014. Stan received his journalism degree from Kent State University.

Cheryl D'Mello

Cheryl D'Mello

Cheryl D'Mello, a board member since 2010, is an adjunct college instructor after a career in newspapers in India and the United States. Cheryl has a master's degree in communications theory and methodology from Cleveland State University and a master's in English literature from Mumbai University, India. Her articles have appeared in several publications in India, the Middle East and the United States.

Rich Exner

Rich Exner

Rich Exner, a board member since 2010, has covered a variety of beats as a reporter and editor over the years. He currently works for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, provider of content for, The Plain Dealer and the Sun newspapers. As NEOMG's data analysis editor, Rich focuses on data journalism, providing unique analysis on news, business and sports topics, and creating interactive online presentations for this research. Before joining The Plain Dealer, Rich ran UPI's Cleveland bureau. He is a journalism graduate of Ohio State University and an adjunct instructor of journalism at Cuyahoga Community College.

Holly Hammersmith

Holly Hammersmith

Holly Hammersmith, a board member since 2014, worked at the Sandusky Register and The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette before moving to the Cleveland area. She now works independently, providing content writing and editing services to business owners, organizations and individuals. She also writes freelance journalism articles for web and print-based publications. Holly earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University, and has a certificate in marketing strategy for business leaders from Cornell University.

Tony Kozlowski

Tony Kozlowski

Tony Kozlowski a board member since 1995, got his start in journalism at the Sun newspapers before moving into public relations. He is president of Kozlowski & Associates and a communication contractor for the Eaton Corp. Tony previously worked for Cuyahoga Community College, BP America and the Standard Oil Co. He is a graduate of Ohio University.

Tom Moore, secretary-treasurer

Tom Moore

Tom Moore, a board member since 1995, has been a familiar voice on Cleveland-area radio since 1987. Currently heard locally on NewsRadio WTAM 1100, his work with iHeartMedia has also involved anchoring newscasts from suburban Independence for stations in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Akron, Madison and Mansfield/Ashland. He previously did news for WERE in Cleveland, WBKC in Painesville and stations in Maryland, Delaware and Michigan. He is a graduate of the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts at Central Michigan University.

Chris Mosby, 1st vice president

Chris Mosby

Chris Mosby, a board member since 2013, is an associate editor of GIE Media, working on Greenhouse Management and Produce Grower magazines. Chris previously worked at Sun newspapers. He received his communications degree from John Carroll University.

Kaye Spector, President

Kaye Spector

Kaye Spector, a SPJ board member since 2013, has a long career as a reporter and editor at Greater Cleveland news outlets, including The Plain Dealer, Patch, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Medina Gazette. Kaye currently researches, writes and edits stories for Health Hub, a blog from the Cleveland Clinic. Kaye has an undergraduate journalism degree from Ohio State University and a master's in journalism from Kent State University.

Porter Scholarship

We are proud to offer our Porter Scholarship annually to a high school senior demonstrating the skills and desire to enter our profession. Each year's winner receives a $1,000 per year college scholarship — $4,000 over four years.

Graduating high school seniors from schools in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties are eligible. They must be planning to enter the field of journalism or communications. The scholarship is named for Philip W. Porter, a long-time Plain Dealer editor who was one of the co-founders of the Cleveland SPJ Chapter.

Applications are mailed each year to high school guidance counselors and journalism advisors. An application with complete rules can also be downloaded at this link.

Incomplete application forms or applications without complete documentation will not be considered for the scholarship. We will also not accept online submissions or e-mail attachment-file submissions.

Applications should be sent to: SPJ Scholarship Committee; c/o Prof. Anup Kumar; Cleveland State University; 2121 Euclid Ave., MU-251; Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

IMPORTANT: The 2015 deadline is April 1.

Past winners

2015: Samantha Harris

2014: Jacob Gedetsis

2013: Thomas Hamzik

2012: Carolyn Crowcroft

2011: Savannah S. Kannberg

2010: Hanna Moosa

2009: Simonetta Quartell

2008: Melissa Kory

2007: Sarah A. Miller

2006: Amber Lewandowski

2005: Justin Armburger

2004: Benjamin Sykes

2003: Rebecca Trela

2002: Rami Daud

2001: Matthew Hutton

2000: Leana Donofrio

1999: Andrew Netzel

1998: Gayle Horwitz

1997: Rachel Dissell

1996: Corrine Henahan

1995: Matthew A. Walcoff

1994: Pia W. Smith

1993: Jessica Blythe Leary

1992: Lori Ann Lessner

1991: Heather Bruce.

1990: Stephanie (Bodo) Storm

1989: Jenean Atwood

1988: Naomi Annandale

1988: Melissa Kossler

1987: June Weiler

1986: Michael Gallagher

1986: Elizabeth Mercer

1985: Dennis Manoloff

1984: Recipient left school

1983: Kathryn Kudravi

1982: Laurie Abraham

1981: Robert Bundy

1980: Diedre Depke

1979: Helen Karakoudas

1978: Eve Sarris

1977: Michael Pesarchick

1976: Marcia (Meermans)

1975: Barbranda Lumpkins

1974: Joseph J. Kay

1973: Mark O'Donnell

1972: Kay Ann (Morrow) Rolland

1971: Steven Osterhout

1970: Paul Bednarski

1969: Raphael Schlesinger

1968: David Louie 

1967: Michael MarinoI

1966: David Elsner

1965: Lloyd Siegel

1964: Jeffrey Chokel


The Cleveland Chapter honors journalists with the Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest honor the Chapter can bestow for service. Journalists are nominated by the Board. In exceptional cases, the Board may choose a journalist to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor SPJ Cleveland can bestow upon a professional to recognize a career of accomplishments.

Past winners

Note: x-denotes Lifetime Achievement Award

2015: Debora Lee

2014: Connie Schultz, Stan Bullard

2013: Tom Beres, Tom Moore

2012: Brian Tucker, Tony Kozlowski

2011: Brent Larkin, Jae-won Lee

2010: Jim Collins

2009: Dick Hendrickson

2008: Wendy Hoke, David Marburger

2007: Doug Clifton (x), Jerry Masek (x)

2006: No DSAs Made

2005: No DSAs Made

2004: No DSAs Made

2003: Elizabeth Sullivan, Paul Tepley, John Cole (x)

2002: Roldo Bartimole, Dan Coughlin

2001: John Bowen, Peter Miller

2000: Ted Henry, Jerry Masek

1999: Dick Zunt, Neil Zurcher

1998: Mary Strassmeyer (x)

1997: Joe Mosbrook, Paul Young, Sal Marino (x)

1996: Bob Tayek, Russ Schneider

1995: Doris O'Donnell, Darrell Holland, Don Robertson (x)

1994: Marc Gleisser, Nev Chandler

1993: Del Donahoo, Lou Mio

1992: Hugh Danaceau, Ron Kuntz

1991: Leon Bibb, William F. Miller, Mike Roberts, Thomas Vail (x)

1990: Betty Cope, Dick Feagler, Chuck Heaton

1989: Norman Mlachak, Dick Murway, William O. Walker

1987-88: Virgil Dominic, Dick Goddard, Jane Scott

1986: Peter Bellamy, Bill Barrett, Marge Alge

1985: Russell Faist, Harry Volk, Dave Talbott

1984: Theodore Andrica, Dick Peters, Fred Griffith

1983: Ray Osrin, Don Peters, Neal Van Ellis

1982: Doug Adair, Tom Boardman, Charlie Day

1981: Bob August, Hal Lebovitz

1980: George Condon, Dick McLaughlin

1979: John Huth, Dorothy Fuldheim

1978: Lewis Edwards, Julian Krawcheck

1977: David Rimmel, Marie Daerr Boehringer

1976: Milt Widder, Howard Preston

1975: Edward Kuekes, Bob Seltzer

1974: Fred Bottomer, Dudley Brumbach

1973: James Doyle, Philip Porter

1972: David Dietz, Richard Maher







Mailing address:

  • Cleveland Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists
  • 4337 Chanticleer Drive
  • Fairview Park, OH 44126-1906

Chapter administrator:

  • Karen Voinovich, 440-333-7382