Members of the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists can vote between now and 6 p.m. on Aug. 12 to elect board leadership for 2022-23.
Electronic ballots were distributed via e-mail. If you didn’t receive a ballot and are eligible to vote, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Results will be announced at the chapter’s annual meeting, which will be announced soon. Any member can attend, but please RSVP.
Here are the candidates:
Bio: Senior Reporter, Minnesota Public Radio. I’ve been a reporter since 2005, starting my career covering public policy and politics in Washington, D.C. There, I worked for Inside Washington Publishers, Congressional Quarterly, and PolitiFact. In 2011, I joined the politics team at Minnesota Public Radio where I launched PoliGraph, a weekly political fact-checking column and radio feature, while also reporting in-depth web stories that highlighted the influence of money on Minnesota elections and policies.
In 2016, I became MPR’s Southeast Minnesota reporter based in Rochester. This beat has given me immense freedom to bring our audience a variety of stories from a city and region changing quickly under Destination Medical Center, the largest economic development project in Minnesota’s history. For the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been MPR’s lead reporter on COVID-19, covering everything from daily press briefings to enterprise pieces that explain how the pandemic is changing Minnesotans’ lives.
Candidate Statement: It would be my great honor to serve as president-elect. In this role — and as future board president — I will bring my perspective as a reporter working outside the metro to strengthen the organization’s presence in Greater Minnesota. I will work to develop programming and events that serve the needs of journalist communities in parts of the state that have weaker social and professional development networks than those in the Twin Cities.
At the same time, I will work to advance one of MNSPJ’s long-time goals, which is to bring media literacy to classrooms. Now more than ever, journalists must be transparent about how they work, and to make the case to future audiences that this work matters. This should be happening in schools small and large, rural and metropolitan, and I’d like to develop ways MNSPJ’s immensely talented network could make meaningful contributions to expanding media literacy in the classroom.
Bio: I am a reporter covering St. Paul City Hall for the Star Tribune. I previously worked in the paper’s Duluth bureau, which I joined in 2019, shortly after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. I’m a Twin Cities native and was first elected to the MNSPJ Board in 2021.
Candidate Statement: During my first year on the MNSPJ Board, it’s been energizing to engage with other journalists after so many months of remote work. I’ve helped connect college students with internships, advocate for the rights of the free press and celebrate the excellent journalism produced in our state.
Now that I’ve learned the ropes, I hope to become more involved with the board and its many duties, from the Page One Awards to our scholarship awards. As secretary, I would strive to keep the board organized, communicative and in alignment with the bylaws and mission of MNSPJ.
Bio: My name is Max Nesterak and I’m running to serve on the board of the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. I am the deputy editor of the Minnesota Reformer, where I cover labor and housing. Previously, I worked as a producer and reporter at MPR News and at NPR on the podcast Hidden Brain. I also was an editorial assistant to Angela Duckworth for her New York Times Bestseller “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” and was a Fulbright scholar to Berlin, Germany.
Candidate Statement: I joined the MN SPJ board about six months ago as an appointed member, during which time I’ve helped organize the Page One Awards and make decisions regarding the group’s finances and public statements. I’m running to serve as treasurer to continue assisting the board in carrying out its duties and managing its finances. I’m passionate about freedom of the press, government transparency and diversity in journalism and would aim to advance those issues as a board member and treasurer.
Bio: Jessica Lee joined Snopes, the internet’s premier fact-checking website, as a reporter in spring 2020. Her newsroom experience spans the U.S., including The Seattle Times where she helped lead breaking news operations as a reporter and eventually served as an engagement editor. Before Snopes, Lee was MinnPost’s local government reporter, focusing on issues plaguing the Twin Cities region, such housing and income disparities and police violence. In addition to her fieldwork, she teaches news reporting and writing at the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism as an adjunct professor.
Candidate Statement: With my fact-checking colleagues, I’m on the frontlines of our country’s so-called “infodemic” of online misinformation, investigating rumors around police shootings, COVID-19 vaccinations, presidential acts — and more. Arguably, no other job sees our broad failures, as well as our collective successes, as professional journalists when it comes to equipping the wider public with the skills they need to safely and smartly consume news online.
Meanwhile, as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, I have the privilege to learn from our industry’s next generation of newsroom leaders. They tell me what they would like to see change about the status quo; what they view as the future of journalism. Every semester, I hope to learn just as much from them as they do from me.
With a position on the MNSPJ Board, I’d combine these passions: expanding access to tools around verification and sourcing, advocating for aspiring journalists and exploring ways to improve the field, especially via improved hiring methods. Ultimately, as a member of a remote newsroom with staff members across the U.S. (I’m the only one in Minnesota), I’d be honored by the opportunity to connect with, and learn from, local journalists who share my goal of improving Minnesota’s media climate.
Bio: A Boston boy who lost his way and landed far from home, Frederick Melo has been a reporter with the St. Paul Pioneer Press since January 2005. He resides in a 1916 St. Paul home with his St. Paul-reared wife and their two St. Paul children.
Candidate Statement: It’s been an honor to serve on the board of MNSPJ these past five years, including spending three years as a board officer (Secretary 2018-2020). I’ve worked hard on efforts to connect younger folks to MNSPJ, to jobs, to scholarships, to our national conference and to the good work that journalists do. Throughout my five years on this board I have co-chaired our scholarship committee, which is awarding $4,000 in funds to college students this year. For five years, I’ve also overseen Intern Night, a networking event that draws a wide range of media employers for a panel discussion with college students each October. For the past few years, I’ve helped organize autumn Media Mixers at St. Paul taprooms. If you get a newsletter in your inbox that sounds a bit off, I probably wrote that. My goals for 2022-2023 are to better connect members of MNSPJ to ThreeSixty Journalism, a high school journalism program at the University of St. Thomas that introduces many first-generation girls (and other children, especially but not exclusively children of color) to media. I now sit on the board of ThreeSixty and I’ve already begun organizing event days where we can cross-pollinate and get these young minds and motors revving! Given the events of the past two years, it’s never been more important, so help me!
Bio: I began my career in journalism at the age of 19, working 4 years as a contributing editorial cartoonist and illustrator with the Star Tribune. I went on to 20 years at the Pioneer Press where i began ‘graphic reporting’ – creating multi-media packages where i wrote a story and created accompanying interactive graphic elements to convey additional information – and 16 years as a graphic designer at Hubbard Broadcasting (HBI). My work has also appeared on TPT, in Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, MInnesota Lawyer, Finance & Commerce, Asian American Press, the University of Minnesota, and I’m an independent community media producer with SPNN (St. Paul Neighborhood Network).
Candidate Statement: I’ve always participated in MNSPJ activities and have been a panelist for Intern Night. I’m a strong believer in community journalism and the role social media can play. With kids of my own attending the University of Minnesota now, I have a keen interest in assisting students and helping provide them with the tools to be effective journalists. I’d like to contribute my experience and ideas as a MNSPJ Board Member.
Bio: Kirsten Swanson is an award-winning investigative reporter at KSTP-TV. Hired in 2017
as a general assignment reporter, she’s covered a variety of topics for the TV station, including
criminal justice and social services. Early in the pandemic, she spent time in rural Minnesota
reporting on the impacts to education and healthcare. Before moving to Minnesota, she worked
as an anchor and reporter in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Rapid City, South Dakota.
Candidate Statement: It would be an honor to serve on the MNSPJ board of directors. Since moving to the Twin Cities five years ago, I’ve found myself drawn to mentorship opportunities, volunteering with both ThreeSixty Journalism and the HSJMC Alumni Board’s mentor program. I will
advocate for MNSPJ to organize mentor and networking opportunities, specifically geared
toward college students and early-career journalists in the state. As we begin to gather again in
person, I believe a priority for the board should be partnering with local organizations to host
panel discussions and media training sessions on First Amendment and data practices act
issues. One of the first MNSPJ events I ever attended was a 2017 panel discussion featuring
reporters from the “In The Dark” podcast. Those kinds of events bring together journalists and
the public for productive conversations and positive interactions that better help us connect to