NSPA board announces new officers

NSPA/ACP elects Acton as board president,
Smith as president-elect and Clark as treasurer

Dec. 15, 2020

Journalism educators from Texas and California have been chosen as president and president-elect of National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press.

Serving as president will be Jeanne Acton, journalism director of the University Interscholastic League, Austin, Texas. Serving as president-elect will be Elizabeth Smith, director of Pepperdine Graphic Media and assistant professor of communication at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.

Acton and Smith had been serving on the NSPA/ACP board of directors, which elected them to the leadership positions on Dec. 11.

The board also elected an incoming treasurer, Chuck Clark, director of WKU Student Publications, at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Acton, Smith and Clark will serve one-year terms in the positions.

NSPA and ACP are the nation’s largest associations for scholastic media and collegiate media. Their Pacemaker Awards are the preeminent awards for student journalism, and their awards for individual work are a showcase of journalistic achievement. The associations are hosts for conventions and workshops that serve thousands of student journalists, teachers, media advisers and supporters of student journalism. NSPA/ACP celebrates its centennial in 2021.

Executive director Laura Widmer said the new leadership was historic.

“I am elated with the possibilities this gives us,” Widmer said. “For the first time, the top executive positions will be led by members, with NSPA and ACP equally represented in the top positions.”

Since early in their history, the Minneapolis-based organizations have had strong ties to the University of Minnesota’s journalism program. Elisia Cohen, director of the university’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 2017, now moves into the past president’s role, and faculty member Scott Libin, who served as NSPA/ACP treasurer, concludes his service on the board. The Hubbard School will continue its working partnership with NSPA, and a school representative will remain on the board of directors.

“We are so grateful for the support and leadership provided by the journalism school at the University of Minnesota for the past 30-plus years,” Widmer said. She praised the strong organization of Cohen and her predecessor, Al Tims.

NSPA will also remain as headquarters for the Minnesota High School Press Association, which serves the state’s scholastic journalists and their advisers through conferences and awards programs. An MHSPA adviser member continues to serve on the NSPA/ACP board.

Acton, the new president, noted how both NSPA and ACP provide important education and recognition for young journalists and their advisers. 

“One of the reasons I love working with journalism advisers and their students is because of their flexibility,” Acton said. “Throw a journalist or a journalism teacher a curveball, and they will adjust and succeed. NSPA and ACP have that same flexibility and adaptability.”

Smith, the incoming president-elect, said both NSPA and ACP invest in training students, connecting students and professionals, critiquing work, and awarding the top honors in scholastic journalism. 

“When students win a Pacemaker, there are so simply no words to define the excitement,” Smith said.

“Simply put, there is no organization that honors both the legacy and future of scholastic journalism in quite the same way as NSPA and ACP. I am honored to be part of the work of this organization,” she said.  

Jeanne Acton
Elizabeth Smith
Chuck Clark

NSPA board members & biographies