Candidate Statements for the MNSPJ 2015-16 Board of Directors

The following statements are from Minnesota SPJ members running for the 2014-15 Board of Directors. Electronic ballots will be mailed to all MNSPJ members currently in good standing with both the national organization and local chapter.

Didn’t receive a ballot in your email but think you should have? Contact

Ballots must be submitted no later than noon on Wednesday, June 24. Results of the election will be announced at the Minnesota SPJ Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall Lanes (5019 S. 34th Ave., Minneapolis). All MNSPJ members and local journalists are welcome to attend.

Please email with questions or concerns.

Statements from MNSPJ Board Candidates


Ben Garvin, KARE 11

Ben Garvin is an Emmy Award-winning multimedia photojournalist for KARE 11 News. He was named Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2011 and photographer of the year by the Minnesota News Photographers Association in 2007. His work on assignment for the New York Times was included in the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story on food poisoning in 2010. Previously Garvin worked for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, the Christian Science Monitor in Boston and the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. Garvin grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he studied creative writing at the University of Arkansas and he went on to earn a BFA in Visual Journalism at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife Jessica, his two boys, Arthur and Lewis, and his twin girls, Netta and Bailey.


Jenna Ross, Star Tribune

Bio: Jenna Ross writes about the five-state region for the Star Tribune, a beat that brings her to Main Streets across Minnesota. Before joining the regional team, Ross covered colleges and universities — including campus life, academics and administration. During those four years, she chronicled the rising cost of higher education and earned a few first-place SPJ Page One awards. Ross graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota, where she worked at the Minnesota Daily and was president of the SPJ student chapter.

Candidate statement: I discovered the Society of Professional Journalists at the University of Minnesota and immediately found the chapter’s focus on ethics and training to be a perfect complement to what I was learning in class. I believe in the organization’s work nationally and want to strengthen its activities in Minnesota. As secretary, I hope to help the chapter continue to improve the connections between professional members and their college counterparts and offer more training and social events.


Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune

Bio: Chris has covered health care stories at four different daily newspapers since 1994. His work at the Star Tribune focuses on health insurers, hospitals and the state’s MNsure health insurance exchange. Previously, he worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., and the Indianapolis News.

Candidate statement: If elected, I hope to follow the example of previous treasurers in responsibly managing the chapter’s finances (that can be easily done by knowing about dax 40 index upto date). It’s an important role in which I promise to work hard, and act with integrity.

Board Members (7 candidates for 6 seats… Top 4 receive 2-year terms, next two receive 1-year terms)

Gregg Aamot, Normandale Community College

I would like to put my broad experience in both journalism and education to good work on the SPJ board and hope you will give me that opportunity.

More than 20 years ago, I got my start in journalism at a daily paper in rural Minnesota. Since then, I have worked as the editor-in-chief of The Minnesota Daily, as a newsman for The AP in Minneapolis (for 10 years) and, most recently, as a regular contributor for MinnPost.

Since 2008, meanwhile, I have been teaching college journalism and English courses, an experience that has given me the chance to work with young people and observe how they interact with the mass media.

This background would make me an excellent fit for the board. Sincere thanks for your consideration.

Adrienne Broaddus, KARE 11

Call letters that spell real words are meant for Adrienne Broaddus. She joined KARE 11 in 2014 from WISH-TV, the former CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, IN. As an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, she reported at the Meridian Township Government Television station, HOM-TV.

You can blame her dad for her career in journalism.
Pops, as Adrienne affectionately calls her dad, made her write. She wrote about capturing tadpoles from a creek near her grandmother’s house. She wrote about dementia stealing her grandmother’s memory. And she wrote letters demanding an extended curfew.

And now, she writes stories benefitting Minnesotans with clarity and conviction. This year, Adrienne was honored with an Eric Sevareid award from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association for featuring reporting. She was also recognized by Life Source for her commitment to organ donation.

While working in Indianapolis, her work as a reporter won an Indiana AP Broadcasters Association award for Best Feature story. That same year, the same story was nominated for an Emmy. In 2013, her work was honored by The Indiana Broadcasters’ Association for best General News Story.

Adrienne believes strong investigative reporting provides a great service to the community.

She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Jay Furst, Rochester Post Bulletin

Jay Furst, managing editor of the Post-Bulletin in Rochester, has been a reporter and editor for 35 years. He worked for his hometown daily newspaper in Wahpeton, N.D., during high school, drawing daily political cartoons for his last two years of high school and working as a reporter/photographer during summers. He graduated from Princeton University with an English lit degree in 1979 and his first reporting job after college was for the Jamestown, N.D., Sun. He was a reporter in Duluth and managing editor in Aberdeen, S.D., and in 1994 became city editor at the Post-Bulletin. Jay moved up to m.e. in 2000.

In addition to leading a newsroom of 30 journalists, he writes extensively, from project-length reports to daily and weekly columns. He’s a past president of the Minnesota Associated Press Association and has been involved in Minnesota journalism organizations for most of his career. He’s looking forward to getting more involved with SPJ’s important work.

Burl Gilyard, Twin Cities Business

Burl Gilyard has more than 20 years of professional experience as a journalist in the Twin Cities. He is currently senior writer at Twin Cities Business magazine. Previously, he was a staff writer at the Twin Cities Reader, Corporate Report magazine, City Pages and Finance & Commerce. During a stint as a freelance writer, he was active in the local chapter of the National Writers Union and served as co-chair of the Journalism Division. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he worked at the Minnesota Daily, thereby ruining his chances to ever hold a “normal job.”

Nathan Hansen, La Crosse Tribune Education Reporter

I am the education reporter for the La Crosse Tribune, a small metro newspaper in Western Wisconsin along the Mississippi River. Our newspaper is part of the River Valley Newspaper group, with papers and coverage in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

I have covered education issues throughout my four years as a professional reporter, with a focus on enterprise coverage and watchdog work.

If elected, this would be my second year on the board and I would like to continue working on open government events and issues as well as represent rural and Greater Minnesota voices.

Nick Halter, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Nick Halter is a reporter with seven years experience covering government, politics and business. He writes about retail and sports for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, a job he’s had since August 2013. Prior to working for the Business Journal, he wrote about Minneapolis City Hall for the Southwest Journal and Downtown Journal, two bi-weekly newspapers. Halter also covered city hall for the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin and interned at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His reporting has won awards from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists, Minnesota Newspaper Association and Wisconsin Newspaper Association. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alum is also a part-time riverboat captain, piloting boats out of Harriet Island in St. Paul.

Anna Pratt, Freelancer

As both a staff reporter and a freelancer, my byline has appeared in The Line, the Star Tribune, the Southwest Journal, the Minnesota Independent and several suburban and community papers, web publications and broadcast media in the Twin Cities. I’ve also written for national media outlets, while the many beats I’ve covered include development, education, neighborhood news, arts, government and business.

I’ve served as a director and officer, including president, for the Minnesota Pro Chapter of SPJ for a number of years. Currently, I’m also the chair of national SPJ’s Freelance Community, a pilot project last year. As such, I have a good handle on the hard work and high journalistic standards it takes to participate and lead the organization. I hope to oversee the continuation of our state chapter’s nationally-recognized educational and outreach efforts and make sure we take a strong stand on the ethical, legal and professional issues important to journalists. I would appreciate your vote of confidence.