Board Elections 2014: Candidate statements
Six of the 12 director positions come up for election each year for two-year terms. Incumbent board members are allowed to run for re-election.
AHCJ members in the professional category will receive an email with a link allowing them to vote online the week of July 15. Polls close on Friday, July 19, at noon central time.
Below are the AHCJ professional members who have declared their board candidacy, listed in alphabetical order.
Watch for more candidates in the days ahead.
Kaiser Health News
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve since 2007 as a member of the AHCJ board, where I am currently the board secretary as well as chair of the annual Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.
AHCJ had another great year with growing membership, solid finances and a record number of contest entries.
I’m running again to further all those efforts and especially the contest committee, which is made up of AHCJ member volunteers. The committee works throughout the year planning the future of the contest, refining contest materials, including the FAQs, and recruiting and organizing the more than 50 judges who help make it all happen.
The contest would not exist but for the dedicated efforts of the staff, the contest committee and the judges. Our mission is to provide a quality journalism contest, run by journalists, with no outside influence or payments.
As the news industry changes, it is more important than ever that AHCJ works to uphold our profession's standards, take stands against government or industry efforts to undermine our reporting and offer support and educational programs for members.
I bring experience gained during more than 20 years in the traditional print media, much of it covering health business and policy issues, as well as perspective gained from my current role at a nonprofit news service. For the past five years, I have been a senior correspondent at the nonprofit Kaiser Health News, where I cover health policy issues. Prior to that, I spent 10 years with USA Today, mainly in the business section writing about the industry and health policy. I have also worked at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, Calif. I would be honored to receive your vote to continue my work on the board for another term.
Writer and Editor
Our association has been an important part of my professional life since the group got off the ground in the late 1990s. I have served on the membership committee since 2009, and I was gratified to win a seat on the board in 2012.
I helped draft the current rules on membership to better define who belongs, and in what capacity, and who doesn’t. Along with board members Phil Galewitz and Gideon Gil, I advise the staff on tough membership calls.
I’ve helped to bring more real-time, online coverage of the association’s annual meeting to our website. Now, I think it’s time to modernize the rest of the site. That’s the work I’ve helped start and would like to focus on in my second term on the board.
My day job is running Shots, NPR's health blog. Before joining NPR, I was the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog. I also reported on the drug industry for the paper for years.
In a past career, I oversaw clinical trials for a maker of high-tech medical devices. I got quite a few products approved by the Food and Drug Administration and worked on compliance with lots of regulations. Journalism is more fun.
I earned a bachelor's degree in natural sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University.
Thanks for considering my candidacy. I hope I’ve earned your vote.
Des Moines Register
I used to describe myself as a self-taught health reporter, but it wasn’t true. I’ve had tons of help – especially from AHCJ.
The association has offered me invaluable training, including a yearlong regional fellowship and the chance to attend three national conferences. The AHCJ website’s databases, tips lists and practical “how-I-got-the story” blog items are phenomenal resources. They’re particularly helpful for reporters like me, who are out covering health-care issues in states where few others are tackling the subjects in much depth. I’d like to repay the association by serving on its board.
If I’m chosen, I would bring the perspective of a daily journalist trying to explain what complicated health-policy debates mean to everyday folks. I’ve been the Des Moines Register’s main health-care reporter since 2000. My beat includes the works: The business, politics, science and human drama of the subject. I also cover social-welfare issues, and I dabble in political coverage during Iowa’s presidential caucus campaigns. I’ve been awarded a few fellowships from foundations, including training at MIT and support for reporting trips to Uganda and Haiti. I’ve also won several state and national awards from journalism groups that my mom pretended to recognize.
Before becoming a reporter, I spent 10 years as a Register assignment editor. That means I’ve been to the séances from which editors’ weird story ideas arise – and I have inside intelligence on how to parry them. This advice would lose its power if published. But if you see me, just ask.
Georgia Health News
I have valued my longtime AHCJ membership as a way to get educated on health care issues, develop good story ideas, and meet lots of great journalists and friends.
For the past few years, I have had the honor of serving on our organization’s board.
During that time we have developed initiatives on improving services for freelancers, updating the AHCJ website, and helping open up access to vital government records.
I have served on the Freelance Committee and the Contest Committee, and have been president of the Atlanta chapter of AHCJ for the past five years.
I was also co-chair of the AHCJ conference in 2012, when it was held in Atlanta. And I have moderated many panels, both at our annual conferences and at regional meetings. One of my great experiences in journalism is meeting and interacting with other health journalists.
I have been covering health care since 1992, when I became the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s first health care business reporter. I focused on health care at the AJC up until I took a buyout from the newspaper in 2009.
I freelanced for various health publications for a year before launching Georgia Health News in 2010. We are an online, nonprofit news service covering health care in Georgia.
Journalism is a second career for me. I received my B.A. in history from Duke University, where I also got a master’s in teaching. For eight years, I was a social studies teacher and basketball coach at a junior high and high school in North Carolina before switching to journalism.
As a former educator, I cherish AHCJ’s ongoing mission of education.
I would be honored to continue my work on the AHCJ board.
Vice President and Global Editorial Director
It has been a great privilege to serve the AHCJ membership as vice president of the Board, as well as to moderate the listserv, one of our most popular offerings. We have begun revitalizing our website by improving its architecture and navigability so that its great content can be found and accessed more easily. More is in store, and I would like to continue serving on the board to help expand those efforts.
Despite journalism's current challenges, I think it is a very exciting time for health care reporters and editors. AHCJ continues to be a champion for the best in health care journalism, whether it is helping our members develop their skills and make contacts, or fighting for government transparency. I look forward to continuing to participate in these initiatives.
I am vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today, and also blog at Retraction Watch and Embargo Watch. I teach graduate journalism students medical reporting at New York University and at the City University of New York, and hold an appointment as clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU. Previously, I was executive editor of Reuters Health, managing editor, online, of Scientific American, and deputy editor of The Scientist. I’ve written for publications including The Boston Globe, the Lancet, The New Republic, and the Wall Street Journal Online.
I received my B.A. from Harvard University, where I was executive editor of The Harvard Crimson, my M.D. from New York University, and completed an internship at Yale before leaving medicine to be a full-time journalist. I live in New York City with my wife Cate Vojdik, whom I met at the 2002 AHCJ conference.
I started my career struggling to fit in as a scientist – I am trained formally as a Chemist and Epidemiologist (and Communicator). Although I was great in the lab, I would sometimes (read: often) kill the cells I was trying to grow and, as a practicing epidemiologist, I used to become so frustrated when the conversation would stop at the statistic. People and health issues aren’t black and white or defined by confidence intervals – everyone has a story, and every health issue has a dimensional context that shapes how it will affect us. Even in my days of research, I have been intrigued when people would ask about the impact, risk, and stories behind the data – showing their desire to understand. My appreciation for the AHCJ organization goes deeply – in addition to the obvious benefits of networking, information access, and collegial connections - the organization represents what we as members all have in common: the need to communicate health and scientific information clearly and accurately.
Fast forward to now: I have worked in health communications and journalism for nearly 10 years, including successful tenures at the local and federal levels of public health, training at Atlanta’s WAGA/FOX-5 television news station, and now as Health Editor for Tastemaker Magazine. Tastemaker Magazine is a digital lifestyle publication targeting Millennials. One of my greatest professional challenges has been to create relatable health stories for an audience that is often described as, “confident, connected and open to change” (Pew, 2010), as well as “lazy, entitled, self-obsessed narcissists” (Time, 2013). Although my path to health journalism has been colorful, I deeply appreciate the practice of translating health information for communities and stakeholders in ways that are accurate, clear, simple, and emotionally appealing. As a board member, I will bring scientific expertise, training in consumer insights, and tools to bridge traditional journalism with digital and social media communications. It would be an honor to serve as a board member for AHJC. I appreciate your support.
Extensive experience covering health care, I lack. Crime is my story most days. That’s common for television reporters, especially general assignment journalists, like me. But I know the importance of great health coverage and believe TV reporters need to look for opportunities to contribute compelling content.
I work at KHOU 11 News in Houston. It’s my first job not doing all my own shooting, writing and editing. Previously, I was a photojournalist/reporter in Florence, S.C., and Kansas City. I graduated magna cum laude from Ohio University in 2002.
However, one email from AHCJ, one boot camp, one year-long fellowship in 2010 and my eyes were opened to thrilling possibilities and resources.
It pushed me to pull facts from a Kansas prisoner escape about a state-run sexual predator treatment program that chewed millions in annual tax dollars and breathed controversy because of significant understaffing and underwhelming treatment results.
While still building my health reporting chops, I’m pushing to raise the level and quantity of health journalism produced on my outlet and others. As a board member and someone who understands pressures and limitations unique to television, I would expand that effort and work to raise the level of health journalism on television.
Our industry is changing. Mediums are blending. Still, quality health reporting remains essential. I’d be honored to work with the board pursuing our great organization’s goal: Better health. Better reporting.
Senior Editor/Health and Politics
Tampa Bay Times
It would be hard to overstate how much AHCJ has helped advance health journalism at the Tampa Bay Times. Just one example: Back in August 2012, we were trying to untangle the finances of a beloved nonprofit hospital in St. Petersburg rumored to be the takeover target of a for-profit chain. As an AHCJ Regional Health Journalism fellow, I happened to be at the University of Missouri for a “boot camp’’ program that week and got to hear Karl Stark’s session on hospital finance.
Before Karl had even finished his PowerPoint, I was sending sources and ideas back to my newsroom. Not only did they prove invaluable for that piece, they also gave us tools to start digging into more stories, including a major project on the business of trauma care. I could tell similar stories about lessons learned from many other AHCJ members.
Serving on AHCJ’s board would be a wonderful opportunity to help give back to a group that has given the Tampa Bay Times and our readers so much.
I’ve spent my entire 30-year career in newspapers. First as a reporter and later as an editor, I have covered a wide range of topics, from local and state politics to the arts. But health is my real passion, and it’s what sent me back to school for a Master’s in Public Health, which I just completed in May.
After five years as health editor here, my portfolio has expanded, and I now am Senior Editor/Health and Politics. Given what has been happening in Florida with Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana, and our governor’s background in the health care industry, this hybrid role actually makes a lot of sense. I also have a deep appreciation for the juggling act that journalists face, and am particularly interested in helping make AHCJ’s tools as relevant and accessible to time-pressed members as possible.
Whether we are answering questions about the Affordable Care Act, investigating hospital billing practices or helping readers sort through cancer screening options, there is one constant: The work that health journalists do matters enormously. It’s hard work, and the challenges only continue to grow, making AHCJ and its members more essential than ever.
Pound Ridge, N.Y.
I can’t think of a more exciting time to be a health care journalist given the historic changes underway in the U.S. health care system. AHCJ – through the efforts of its board, staff, and many volunteers – helps all of us stay on top of these developments with ever more reporting resources and focused advocacy for journalists’ access to government information and experts. I’ve been proud to contribute and am seeking reelection to continue this work.
As chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, I can tell you that advocacy is a hard slog in the current political climate. But our track record has helped AHCJ emerge as an influential voice for health care reportage in the public interest. We’ve notched gains in access to government data and experts, eliminating restrictions on reporters covering medical meetings, and most recently, were successful in brokering a fast track appeals process for journalists facing inadequate or unreasonably delayed response from HHS public information officers. And the work goes on…
I’m also a flag-waving AHCJ freelancer. Freelancers make up 25 percent of AHCJ’s membership. The range of work we do exemplifies the challenges – but also the opportunities – in journalism today. I’ve been at this for a while, and it’s wonderful to see the old staff/freelance divisions giving way to collaborative idea-sharing. We’re all in this together!
Before going out on my own, I was a staff medical writer for The Providence (R.I.) Journal and the Los Angeles Times. I now work out of a home office in Pound Ridge, N.Y. My independent work (www.irenewielawski.com) has appeared in newspapers and magazines, on-line, and in peer-reviewed journals and books.
Other AHCJ activities include two terms on the board during the start-up years (1998-2002) and many years as a conference volunteer. I rejoined the board in 2008 and, besides RTK, serve on the freelance and finance/development committees, and the board “welcome team” which helps acquaint new members with AHCJ resources.