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Board elections: 2019

Current board of directors

Timeline

May 13: Announce candidacy period

May 31: Deadline to declare candidacy (by noon CT)

May 27: Candidates' statements begin posting on HealthJournalism.org

June 5-14: Elections conducted (voting ends at noon CT, June 14)

June 17: Winners will be named

July 1: Term of office will begin

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 election will be conducted June 5-14 via the Internet. Members will be sent an email with the special ballot link. 

Below are the AHCJ professional members who have declared their board candidacy, listed in alphabetical order.

Jeanne Erdmann
Independent Journalist
St. Louis, Mo.

Jeanne Erdmann

With great pleasure and much humility, I am seeking reelection to AHCJ’s board of directors. For the past two terms, I’ve led the Freelance Committee. As a team, we set the freelance conference slate for the annual meeting, produce webcasts, and support AHCJ’s effort to build the Freelance Center, which has become an invaluable resource for our independent members. We are still pursuing the effort to get medical and scientific societies to accept AHCJ membership as press credentials, in lieu of an assignment letter, for their annual conferences. The slow, or lack of response has called for a new approach, which we are currently pursuing. We also have a new effort underway. In 2018, I teamed up with some members who went unpaid after a magazine suddenly stopped publication. This magazine did not go bankrupt – its sole funder pulled the plug – leaving writers, photographers, and illustrators owed thousands of dollars. AHCJ wrote a letter to the financial backer, the publisher, and the magazine’s scientific advisory board, to no avail. We then pursued help from the National Writers Union. Unfortunately, at least for now, this particular effort did not result in the writers getting paid. This experience made me realize that we need a Grievance sub-Committee. Our members need a place to go should anything like this happen again. Finally, I will continue to organize the Freelance Pitchfest – we had a record number of editors this year.

I ask you to reelect me to the board so I can continue use my experience as an independent journalist, and add my voice as a board member, most especially to help craft critical resources for freelancers. I write for both trade and consumer publications including, Family Circle, Nature Medicine, Women’s Health, The Washington Post, and Discover. I went straight from the research lab to freelancing, and I give absolute credit to AHCJ for providing critical resources that have shaped my success as an award-winning health reporter. Also, as co-founder and editor-at-large at The Open Notebook, a craft-focused site for science, health, and environmental writers, I understand the need for continued training, so we can all push our careers forward.


Felice J. Freyer
Health Care Reporter, The Boston Globe
Boston

I’m running for reelection to the AHCJ board because I still have more work to do. Your vote will enable me to keep fighting for access to information and ensuring the strength of this invaluable organization.

As AHCJ’s vice president for the past two years, I’ve worked to bolster our mission to uphold the highest standards in health journalism and provide training and resources for our members. And as chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, I’ve led our efforts to pry open the doors that so often close against those seeking truth and facts.

If reelected, my next term will be devoted to:

  • Continuing to pressure media officials at federal health agencies to improve responsiveness to reporters’ inquiries

  • Assisting members who encounter roadblocks to information at all levels of government

  • Seeking input from members on Right to Know issues

  • Encouraging members’ engagement with AHCJ activities

  • Ensuring our next annual conference is as successful -- or even more successful -- than the 2019 conference in Baltimore, which attracted a record 800 people.

Additionally, I’m excited about a new effort, currently underway, to update guidelines on reporting about public health emergencies. Instigated by AHCJ in 2010, these guidelines are unique in representing points of agreement among journalists and state health officials about best practices in emergency situations. They have helped promote transparency in thorny situations. Now, along with two other members of the Right to Know Committee, I’m working with a coalition of public health officials to revise the guidelines for the current era.

As a board member, I appreciate the gravity of this organization’s role in a turbulent media environment. AHCJ stands for journalistic excellence and ethical practice, and we’re always ready to support our members in working, learning, and advancing their careers. I’ve been proud to help AHCJ grow financially strong and increasingly influential, and I will do everything I can to make sure we are here for the long haul.

Most of my career has been devoted to reporting on health care, originally at the Providence (R.I.) Journal and now at the Boston Globe, where I’m currently focusing on addiction and mental health. I haven’t gotten tired of this fascinating work -- and similarly my enthusiasm for AHCJ hasn’t waned since I joined two decades ago.

I will be honored and grateful if you re-elect me to serve on the AHCJ Board of Directors.


Gideon Gil
Managing Editor for Enterprise and Partnerships, Stat
Boston

Gideon Gil

This is a good time for AHCJ. We have a terrific executive director in Len Bruzzese and a strong staff to support him. The organization is on sound financial footing, has maintained steady membership numbers amid all the turmoil in our industry, and set an attendance record at our recent conference in Baltimore. But running AHCJ looks easier than it is, and it will take continued hard work, by Len’s team and our many volunteers, to ensure AHCJ’s success for many years into the future, regardless of what the economy and journalistic disruption throw at us. I am running for re-election to the board to do just that. In my eight years on the board, I have led the local planning committee for the Boston conference in 2013 and chaired the membership committee, and now I am treasurer and chair of the Finance and Development Committee. In the past year, we revised our procedures for reviewing applications from exhibitors for the annual conference, to give priority to new exhibitors and ensure that attendees are exposed to a broad array of ideas about issues they cover. I continue to work with membership chair Marlene Harris-Taylor to vet new member applications, and we are working to expand the diversity of AHCJ’s membership.

A bit about me: I am managing editor of STAT, and was health and science editor of The Boston Globe for a decade before that. I previously worked as a medical reporter and an editor at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., and I was a 2014-15 Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT.

I ask for your vote, but more importantly, I ask for you to get involved in AHCJ by volunteering for board committees, helping to judge the annual Awards for Excellence in Health Journalism, helping to organize panels, attending conferences and workshops, and encouraging your health journalism colleagues who aren’t yet members to join AHCJ.


Marlene Harris-Taylor
Reporter/Producer, WVIZ/PBS Ideastream
Cleveland

Marlene Harris-Taylor

I’m Marlene Harris-Taylor, membership committee chair, and I am seeking a new term on the Association of Health Care Journalists board.

After joining the board in 2017, I immediately went to work as the chapter liaison. Where large concentrations of AHCJ members exist, local chapters have been formed. The goal of these city and regional chapters is to gather for smaller informational sessions, to develop stories from local speakers, to learn about regional resources and for informal networking.

I reached out to chapter leaders to find out how the board can help them as they plan events for members. I also organized the first ever AHCJ chapter leader’s web chat meeting, which connected chapter leaders across the country, in Canada and Italy. I facilitated the meeting, which featured our DC chapter leaders sharing best practices.

Recently, board President Ivan Oransky asked me to take on a greater leadership role as chair of our membership committee. Our committee is tasked with guarding the integrity of our organization by ensuring that we recruit and encourage members who are dedicated to better reporting on health and health care. 

I would be honored if you decide to vote for me to continue in this role.

Here is a little information on my background. My career has been wide and varied and I have produced health stories for radio, television, newspapers and for digital distribution.

I am currently a health reporter and producer for WCPN/WVIZ ideastream, the NPR/PBS affiliate station in Cleveland. I have covered the opioid crisis extensively and I recently received a 2018 Ohio Society of Professional Journalists award for best health reporting for contributions to the WCPN radio special on opioids.  The Lower Great Lakes Chapter Academy of Television Arts and Sciences also nominated me for an Emmy for series of television stories I produced on Race and Stress.

Several of my radio stories have aired nationally on NPR and I am a member of the Kaiser Health News/NPR health reporter’s cohort.

Before coming to ideastream three years ago, I was the Medical Editor for the Toledo Blade Newspaper. While at the newspaper, I received the first-place award from the Press Club of Cleveland for Medical/Health Writing. The story focused on how Obamacare transformed the medical industry.

I also spent several years as a producer for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition program in Washington, D.C. and I have worked for other PBS and NPR affiliates including, WOSU radio in Columbus and WBGU-TV in Bowling Green, Ohio.

My husband Darrell and I have two wonderful children, Ashley, a law school student at Columbia in NYC and D.J. a sophomore at Hawken Upper School.

I am a graduate of the Ohio State University and Miami University of Ohio.


Ellen James Martin
Columnist/Reporter
Washington, D.C.

Hello AHCJ Members,

My name is Ellen James Martin, managing editor of the Washington News Service in DC and an enthusiastic member of the AHCJ!

Our conferences are always terrific. They’re packed with content that’s useful to us who cover health care on a regular basis. What’s more, our organization has solid, steady leadership and staff. I’m running for a position on the board because I strongly support the mission and goals of our important group. Also, I believe that given my journalistic experience I can help build on the AHCJ’s many strengths to better serve our membership.

My background is mainly mainstream print journalism—including staff jobs at the Baltimore Sun and Minneapolis StarTribune. I’ve contributed stories and columns to such newspapers as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times. In addition, I’ve done regular radio commentaries for Marketplace on American Public Media and appeared on Good Morning America, CNBC and other television networks.

My academic background includes an MSJ from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and an MIA from Columbia’s School of International Affairs. I’ve won a number of journalism awards and received a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship from Columbia’s J-School.

The Washington News Service specializes in consumer-oriented coverage for newspapers throughout the U.S. My weekly “HealthSmart” column translates world class biomedical research for real world consumers.

One of my personal strengths is that I’m a very strong idea generator. Indeed, in newsrooms where I’ve worked as a reporter, editor and editorial writer, I have often been tagged with the nickname “idea factory.” I have already joined the membership committee and hope to build on my strengths as an idea generator to support all this committee’s initiatives.

In addition, I’d love to dive into conference planning and support our training goals as well as offerings from our growing roster of freelance journalists—who are playing an increasingly important role in the AHCJ.

I’d like to suggest several strategies to encourage increased cross-pollination of health care coverage ideas among our membership—including staff reporters and editors as well as freelancers. Our organization already affords many great networking opportunities. Yet I’m convinced we can even more systematically share coverage strategies and story ideas to enhance the success of our news organizations.

It would be an honor and privilege to serve on the AHCJ board and I respectfully ask for your vote.


Maryn McKenna
Independent Journalist
Atlanta

Maryn McKenna

I have been a member of the AHCJ board since 2009, serving as chair and now vice-chair of the organization's Freelance Committee. I ask the membership for one more board term in order to secure seamless succession planning for the Committee, to protect the success of our offerings for freelance members.

The products the Committee creates on behalf of our freelance members are unique among US journalists' organizations. The Committee curates the freelance track of sessions at the annual conference, organizes the extremely popular Pitchfest between writers and editors, holds webinars on freelance skills and legal and ethical issues, and selects writers and content for the Freelance Center on AHCJ's website. In the coming year, if re-elected, I will bend my energy to enlarging the Freelance Center vertical, recruiting additional volunteers to brainstorm new offerings for that vertical, and supporting Freelance Chair Jeanne Erdmann as she seeks to have AHCJ membership recognized as a credential that will allow our members to be admitted to scientific conferences even without a full-time affiliation.

The Committee's success relies on its leadership's having deep personal networks among hiring editors around the country. I have been a freelancer since 2006 and write for WIRED, National Geographic, the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The New Republic, and many other magazines and sites; I am also an author, with books at National Geographic and Simon and Schuster. I intend to leverage that network for the benefit of the organization's members, and ask for your vote.


Karl Stark
Business News Editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia

I’m running for re-election and I am asking for your support. My goal is for AHCJ to keep increasing training opportunities and become more useful to health journalists, across all media, whether you’re freelancing or working fulltime for a news organization.

AHCJ is all about helping each other get better. As a former board president and treasurer, I find that sharing knowledge and being collegial are some of the traits that have always attracted me to AHCJ.

I was eager to be part of the team, led by AHCJ Director of Education Jeff Porter, that built the hospitalfinances.org site, where we capture the most helpful parts of the IRS Form 990 for health journalists covering nonprofit hospitals.

I cite this in the sessions I lead every year at the annual conference about covering hospital finances and at the boot camps for AHCJ fellows.

I’m currently the business news editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com. I was previously the Health and Science editor and have covered pharmaceuticals and the business of health care, among other things.

One of the things I’m most proud of at AHCJ is our policy not to take contributions from the industries we cover. 

It’s important that we continue that tradition and look for ways to build our community and improve our work. With your help and suggestions, we can take AHCJ to another level.