NSPA Board of Directors

NSPA’s board of directors plays a crucial role in determining the mission of NSPA and Associated Collegiate Press, ensuring that the organizations continue to operate in the best interest of past, present and future members.

About NSPA

NSPA staff

NSPA Board of Directors

Elizabeth Smith, president, Pepperdine University

Becky Tate, president-elect, Shawnee Mission North High School

Chuck Clark, treasurer, Western Kentucky University

Amy DeVault, secretary, Wichita State University

Jeanne Acton, past president, consultant, Austin, Texas

Tamara Zellars Buck, Southeast Missouri State University

Kathryn Campbell, St. Paul Academy and Summit School

Elisia Cohen, University of Minnesota

Richard “Dick” Johns, Quill and Scroll (retired)

Sara Quinn, University of Minnesota

Margie Raper, Prosper-Rock Hill High School

Nicole Vargas, San Diego City College

Kristi Rathbun

NSPA staff

Laura Widmer, executive director

Gary Lundgren, associate director

Lori Keekley, associate director, Quill and Scroll

Karli Keith, convention &
membership manager

Ron Johnson, communications director

Elizabeth Smith


Elizabeth R. Smith is an assistant professor of communication at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, and director of Pepperdine Graphic Media.

She has 17 years of experience teaching a variety of journalism and media courses at Pepperdine, as well as advising the Graphic and directing Pepperdine Graphic Media.

She has nearly 20 years of professional experience in the journalism industry, including print, web and broadcast news.

She is an award-winning journalist, and in 2010 won an Emmy for her work on the breaking-news coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.

Smith was named a Kopenhaver Center Fellow for 2017. Smith has partnered with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on the topics of news literacy and understanding the spread of fake news. Her current research includes news literacy, Communities of Practice in student newsrooms, accuracy in the news, and technology and innovation in newsrooms and journalism programs.

Smith earned her bachelor’s in journalism from Harding University. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Pepperdine University.

Becky Tate


Becky Lucas Tate has advised both the award-winning newspaper and yearbook at Shawnee Mission North High School (Kansas) for the past 30 years.

Journalism Education Association named her the 2019 H.L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and she is a Special Recognition Adviser in newspaper by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund and in yearbook by JEA. She has received the Engel Award for the Outstanding Kansas Journalism Teacher of the Year from the Kansas Associated Collegiate Press.

In addition, she received a CSPA Gold Key and JEA Medal of Merit.
Tate’s staffs consistently earn All-American and Medalist ratings along with Crown and Pacemaker awards, and she a long-time instructor at the Gloria Shields/NSPA Media Workshop.
She serves as president of Kansas Scholastic Press Association.

Chuck Clark


Chuck Clark

Chuck Clark is the director of WKU Student Publications at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green.

He manages the operation that publishes the College Heights Herald and WKUHerald.com, WKU’s student-run news operation; Talisman life and culture magazine and WKUTalisman.com companion website; Cherry Creative, a specialty content agency, and Student Publications Advertising.

Clark leads a staff of six professionals advising students who have editorial independence and control over the publications.

The College Heights Herald and the Talisman are two of the nation’s most honored college media outlets. Together, the publications have 37 national Pacemaker Awards, the top honor for student-run publications — 20 for Talisman and 17 for the Herald. Both publications are in the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame.

Before joining WKU in July 2012, Clark was managing editor at The Birmingham News in Alabama from 2006-2012, where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of a newsroom with more than 140 journalists. During his tenure, The News won numerous national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting (2007) and the Associated Press Managing Editors Public Service Award (2007) for its probe into corruption and cronyism in Alabama’s community college system; and the Green Eyeshade Award (2012) for Reinventing Our Community, an innovative interactive project exploring metro Birmingham’s longstanding and unsolved challenges. The News also was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service in 2007.

Clark previously was news editor, national/foreign editor and metro editor at the Orlando Sentinel in Florida; associate managing editor at The Indianapolis Star; metro editor at The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky; government editor at The Charlotte Observer, North Carolina; and regional editor at The Tennessean, Nashville. He also has edited or reported for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida; The Evansville Courier in Indiana; and The Gleaner in Henderson, Kentucky.

Clark has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from WKU and is a native of Owensboro, Kentucky. He has served on the boards of the Kentucky Press Association; the Kentucky Intercollegiate Press Association; Landmark Association of Bowling Green; The Literacy Council of Central Alabama; Leadership Birmingham; and the WKU Alumni Association.

He also is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of News Design, College Media Association, Rotary and has served on advisory panels for Associated Collegiate Press and the Journalism Professional Advisory Committee for the WKU School of Media.

Amy DeVault


Amy DeVault is a faculty member in the Elliott School of Communication, at Wichita State University (Kansas), and is the faculty adviser to The Sunflower newspaper.

She teaches classes in journalism and visual communication, and she is co-founder and instructor of the popular Flint Hills Media Project — an immersive, multi-media storytelling project class.

DeVault began advising The Sunflower in 2016, but she has taught at state and national student media workshops for nearly 20 years. She has been recognized by both Kansas Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association as a Friend of Scholastic Journalism. DeVault serves as an officer for the Kansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and joined the NSPA/ACP board of directors in 2019.

Before joining the faculty at Wichita State in 2007, Amy worked at The Wichita Eagle as a news designer. She earned an Award of Excellence from the Society for News Design for her work on the paper’s coverage of the serial killer BTK.

DeVault began her career as a high school journalism teacher and publications adviser at El Dorado High School (Kansas). She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Fort Hays State University (Kansas) and a master’s degree in journalism from Kansas State University, and she worked for the college newspapers at both universities.

Jeanne Acton

Past president

Jeanne Acton started at the University Interscholastic League, one of the largest scholastic press programs in the nation, in 2004. In addition to UIL journalism director, she is director of the Interscholastic League Press Conference, which sponsors yearbook, broadcast, and print and online newspaper competitions for Texas middle and high schools.

Acton started her journalism career as a sophomore in high school when she heard the Journalism I class was a blow-off. It was not. She loved the work and stayed for the next three years, working her way up to editor-in-chief of the Duncanville High School newspaper, Panther Prints.

After high school, Acton earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin. During her undergraduate studies, Acton worked for the Daily Texan, the UT student newspaper. She started as a designer and reporter and finished her four-year stint as the managing editor.

After a short run at a community newspaper and a few internships, Jeanne started teaching journalism. During her decade of teaching, she advised newspaper, broadcast, and yearbook programs and coached softball at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas. As the newspaper adviser, her students won top awards at both the state and national level.
In 2017, she won the Pioneer Award from National Scholastic Press Association and the Medal of Merit from Journalism Education Association.

After a decade in the classroom, Acton was an assistant principal for three years.

These days, when Acton isn’t in the classroom as part of her UIL leadership role, she continues to teach writing and still practices the trade on a regular basis. She both freelances and keeps a semi-regular blog.

Tamara Zellars Buck

Tamara Zellars Buck is a professor of multimedia journalism and chair of the Department of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, where she has taught since 2001.

In addition to administrative duties, she teaches courses in media diversity, media law and advanced multimedia storytelling. In May 2022, she ends her work as faculty adviser to the award-winning Arrow student newspaper after 12 years.

A scholar and author, Buck is a sought-after presenter and trainer to improve diversity and inclusion inside newsrooms and within news content.

Buck was elected as the College Media Association’s first vice president of member support in 2019. In January 2021, she was appointed to fill an unexpired term as president-elect. She serves on the board of directors for the Southeast Missouri Press Association and is a member of the Missouri Press Association diversity task force. She is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, College Media Association, Missouri College Media Association, and National Association of Black Journalists.

A former journalist and public-relations practitioner, she has a juris doctorate emphasizing intellectual property law from the University of Memphis. Her master’s degree in administration-public administration and bachelor’s degree in mass communication-journalism are from Southeast Missouri State University.

Kathryn Campbell

Kathryn Campbell, CJE, is the director of publications at St. Paul Academy and Summit School in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She advises The Rubicon news (print/online/social), Iris: Art + Lit magazine, and Ibid yearbook. The Rubicon and Iris have been honored with NSPA Pacemaker and Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown awards.

A frequent convention and workshop presenter, Campbell loves talking with publication staffs about what they love about their work while helping them envision where they can grow and innovate.

“Judging publications is a great way to see what’s out there,” she said. Campbell regularly judges for state competitions, NSPA, CSPA, and has judged for the Pacemaker.

In addition to serving on the board of directors for NSPA, she is the state director for Journalism Education Association and president of Journalism Educators of Minnesota.

Elisia Cohen

Elisia Cohen is currently the director of the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at the University of Minnesota. She is an award-winning administrator and researcher.

Prior to joining the University of Minnesota as director and tenured professor in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she served as the Gifford Blyton Endowed Professor and chaired the University of Kentucky Department of Communication and led its Health Communication Research Collaborative.

At the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, she tackled financial issues, increased alumni engagement and made diversity and student success priorities of her leadership.

In 2016 Cohen won the Mayhew Derryberry award from the American Public Health Association. She also was the recipient of the 2014 Sarah Bennett Holmes Leadership Award at the University of Kentucky.

Cohen earned a Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, an M.A. from Wake Forest and her B.A. in political science from the University of Louisville.

Michelle Coro

Michelle Coro, a certified journalism educator, led the multimedia programs at Desert Vista High School for 17 years as an adviser for the Thunder Vision, View Newspaper, Storm Yearbook and the DVthundermedia.com website media programs. She now teaches at Grand Canyon University in the Communication Arts and Media School and leads Student Engagement Commuter Life.

She encourages students to explore areas of media production including writing, videography, graphic design, digital photography and technology in all her classes. In addition to her courses, Coro has served as one of the school’s web directors and the administrative council team, as well as the district’s Career and Technology Education media advisory council and the Arizona State Interscholastic Press Association board. In addition to her current duties at the high school, she is an adjunct professor teaching print publications at Grand Canyon University in the College of Fine Arts and Production.

Coro earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 1990 and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in technology from the University of Phoenix in 2000. Her work as a professional journalist in broadcast and print media before becoming an educator includes the police/fire beat as a news reporter for the Tribune Newspapers and work in front of and behind the camera for stations KYMA-TV, KSAZ-TV and WDAF-TV.

She left the newsroom to teach English and journalism at Ruskin High School, as well as Highland and Mesquite high schools before arriving at Desert Vista, where her focus has been the Thunder Media Information program, which emphasizes convergent, multimedia journalism. Coro incorporates a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts into her classroom and does so through an affinity to technology tools and toys. Coro’s scholastic journalism efforts were recognized by being named the Freeman Hover Arizona Adviser of the Year for 2014. Her news team won a Rocky Mountain Student Production Emmy in 2019.

She has several years of participation on the NSPA board, the Arizona Interscholastic Press Association board, the Journalism Education Association Journalist of the Year committee. She is a founding member of Scholastic Journalism Institute and is on the Jostens National Summer Workshop team at the University of San Diego and is a consultant for numerous workshops and seminars, including teaching broadcast at the Virginia High School League, and is an ASNE Reynolds HSJ Institute alum.

Because she advises new media, she believes in possibilities and that trying something different is never far from reach. “I’m busy and blessed!” is Coro’s mantra.

Mitch Eden

Mitch Eden, MJE, is in his 24th year teaching, the past 14 at Kirkwood (Missouri) High School. He advises The Kirkwood Call newsmagazine, Pioneer yearbook and TheKirkwoodCall.com website.

Eden is a former Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. He received the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pioneer Award, Journalism Education Association Medal of Merit and Society of Professional Journalists Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. He has also served as Journalism Education Association Secretary and Missouri Journalism Education Association president.

Dick Johns

Richard “Dick” Johns retired in 2012 after 50 years of teaching at the secondary school level for eight years and for 42 years at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

While at the University of Iowa, he served as director of the Iowa High School Press Association (1968-72), followed by serving as the executive director of Quill and Scroll Society, the international honorary society for high school journalists (1972-2008). He also taught courses in magazine journalism and in certification for secondary school journalism teachers and advisers.

Johns served on the board of directors for the Student Press Law Center, in Washington, D.C., from 1974-2004 and was instrumental in the publication of the first edition of “Law of the Student Press.” He was on the board of trustees for Quill and Scroll Society (1972-2022) and was elected its president from 2009-2022.

He was a selection committee member for the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year, from the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, and the National Yearbook Adviser of the Year, from Journalism Education Association. He was president of the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism. He was named Scholastic Journalism Educator of the Year in 2002 and the Journalism Education Association’s Teacher Inspiration Award in 2006.

National Scholastic Press Association honored Johns with its Pioneer Award, and Columbia Scholastic Press Association honored him with its Gold Key and the Joseph M. Murphy Award.

Johns coordinated the publication and national distribution of Quill and Scroll’s “Principal’s Guide to High School Journalism” with several national organizations.

Johns earned a B.S. degree in business education with a minor in journalism from Ball State Teachers College, Muncie, Indiana, in 1961. He was awarded a Wall Street Journal Fellowship in Journalism to the University of Missouri in 1963. He earned an M.A. degree in journalism education from Ball State in 1965.

Meghan Percival

Meghan Percival, MJE, teaches photojournalism and AP Psychology and advises the Caledonia yearbook staff at McLean H.S. in Fairfax County, Virginia. Caledonia has been recognized with the NSPA Pacemaker and CSPA Gold Crown and was inducted into the NSPA Hall of Fame.

In addition to serving on the board of directors for NSPA, she is the executive director of the Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisers and was the local chair of the 2019 NSPA/JEA Fall High School Journalism Convention.

A frequent presenter at NSPA/JEA conventions as well as local, state and regional workshops, Percival loves helping staffs work on coverage and improving storytelling in their publications. Percival also critiques publications for NSPA and CSPA and does on-site critiques at conventions.

Percival received a Gold Key from Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2013, was a 2014 JEA Distinguished Adviser a 2018 JEA Medal of Merit Recipient and a 2019 NSPA Pioneer Award winner.

Sara Quinn

A media design consultant and researcher, Sara Quinn is a senior fellow at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota.

Former president of the Society for News Design, Quinn taught visual journalism at The Poynter Institute for more than a decade. Her eye-tracking research helps journalists determine the best forms for storytelling across all platforms.

Sara teaches workshops around the globe. She has a BA from Wichita State University (Kansas) and a master’s in illustration from Syracuse University (New York).

Margie Raper

Margie Raper

Margie Raper, MJE, is an 18-year journalism teacher. She is the broadcast journalism and publication adviser at Prosper-Rock Hill High School, Frisco, Texas.

She is proud to share her passion for scholastic journalism with her students, see them grow as storytellers and celebrate their achievements.

She serves as the past-president of the Texas Association of Journalism Educators and on the Gloria Shields NSPA Media workshop committee. In 2019, Raper was named Max R. Haddick Texas Journalism Teacher of the Year in Texas’ Interscholastic League Press Conference. She has also been named a Journalism Education Association Distinguished Yearbook Adviser, Medal of Merit winner and ILPC Edith Fox King honoree.

Nicole Vargas

Nicole Vargas

Nicole Vargas is an associate professor of digital journalism at San Diego City College. She teaches journalism skills classes, oversees the online news production course sequence, and is one-half of the faculty team guiding the television news. She has also co-taught the radio/podcast production sequence.

Vargas is also the student media adviser for City Times Media, the award-winning digital news platform featuring award-winning student-produced work in online news, TV news, magazine and radio/podcast.

Outside the classroom, Vargas is active on the boards of the San Diego Press Club, the Journalism Association of Community Colleges and the California Scholastic Press Association. She is also working toward an Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation through Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.