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Board of Directors

Katie Gillespie

President

Kaitlin Gillespie is the education reporter for The Columbian, where she reports on K-12 schools as well as area colleges.

In her role, she’s uncovered elevated radon levels and structurally unsound roofs at school campuses, dived into complex state data to report on the challenges low-income children face from their first day of kindergarten, and offered an intimate portrait of families recovering from the suicides of their children.

Prior to that, she was the education reporter with the Redding Record-Searchlight in Redding, Calif., where her work on kindergarten readiness was recognized with a statewide first place Better Newspapers Contest award.

She also helped launch Washington News Nerds, a data training workshop for women and gender non-binary journalists.

In her spare time, Kaitlin enjoys exploring Vancouver and Portland’s restaurants, hiking in the Columbia River Gorge and taking photos of her cat.

Tony Lystra

Vice president

Tony Lystra has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, much of it in the Northwest. After graduating in 1998 from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree, he became cub reporter for the Los Angeles Times’ Ventura County bureau, covering two naval bases as well as government, politics and crime. He also worked on a team of reporters covering the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261. In New York, he wrote about the mutual fund business for Thomson Financial and sent post-9/11 dispatches back to several Northwest publications.

Tony returned to the Northwest in 2003 and covered government and politics at The Daily News in Longview, Wash.. He dispatched stories from court rooms, murder scenes and drug raids, chronicling the timber town’s struggles in the earliest days of what would become known as “the opioid epidemic.” He’s currently a Seattle freelancer, writing technology and business stories for GeekWire and the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Chetanya Robinson

Treasurer

Chetanya Robinson is a freelance journalist and managing editor at the International Examiner newspaper in Seattle’s Chinatown International District. He is passionate about the importance and potential of hyper-local, community journalism.

Born and raised in Seattle, he has written for several local publications and spent a summer interning for a newspaper in Sierra Leone. He served as secretary for University of Washington SPJ chapter for a year. Most recently he reported a series funded by the Solutions Journalism Network’s first Renewing Democracy grant about the challenges facing Northwest Chinatowns. In his spare time he enjoys photography, travel and cooking.

Ashley Hiruko

Secretary

Ashley Hiruko, a Western Washington University graduate, is a regional crime and courts reporter for Sound Publishing, covering the Eastside of King County. She’s the winner of multiple WNPA awards and enjoys exploring the intricacies of the systems in power and inequalities that exist within them.

Her involvement with SPJ started with my college chapter, where she planned events and helped bring speakers before other student journalists to cultivate a growing community of aspiring writers and photographers. As a professional, the growth hasn’t stopped. She’s dedicated reporting on the diverse communities on the western side of our state, and in journalists examining the stories they choosing to report on and those we pass on. As a multi-racial woman, Ashley is an advocate for supporting people of color in the field.

Sarah Toce

Past President

Global Influencer and Publisher.

Award-winning journalist Sarah Toce was honored with the 2017 Community Builder Award by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. In June, she was recognized as one of the most powerful journalists of 2017 by Curve magazine. She was also the recipient of the distinguished 2016 LGBT Leadership Award from the Washington Diversity Council.

In 2014, she was named one of GO Magazine’s Red Hot Entrepreneurs. In 2012, the McCormick Foundation named Sarah one of their New Media Women Entrepreneurs for her work developing and publishing Seattle’s daily LGBT online newspaper The Seattle Lesbian. In its first year alone, The Seattle Lesbian reached a threshold of one million readers on a global scale.

Toce currently serves on the boards of the Society of Professional Journalists – Washington Chapter, GALECA -The LGBTQ Entertainment Critics Association, and is a founding member of Seattle Women’s Pride and Burien Pride.

Follow her on Twitter or be left behind @sarahtoce.

Sarah Toce, SPJ Western Washington board of directors, 2018
Susannah Frame, SPJ Western Washington board of directors, 2018

Susannah Frame

Board Member

Susannah Frame is the Chief Investigative Reporter at KING 5. Her stories have exposed many wrongs, including government waste, real estate fraud, homeland security breaches, civil rights violations of the disabled, and the mismanagement of nuclear waste. Frame’s investigations have led to changes in public policy, congressional and Dept. of Justice investigations, federal indictments and created new state laws.

Frame is on the Board of Directors for the Society of Professional Journalists, Western Washington Chapter, and is a frequent lecturer for groups such as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Washington State Bar Association, Rotary, and the University of Washington Department of Communication.

Frame has also won many journalism and civic awards for reporting in the public interest.

Matt Mills McKnight

Board Member

Matt Mill McKnight is staff visual journalist at Crosscut.com and KCTS 9, where he finds himself covering the news of our city as it is happening. He previously worked as a freelance photographer in the region for various news organizations. During that time, he was also a photo editor & content producer at MSN News & Bing’s editorial apps.

In 2015, McKnight was awarded the inaugural SPJ WW Passion Projects grant for his work covering Big Oil in the American West, after traveling on numerous occasions to follow life along the proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Matt Mills McKnight, SPJ Western Washington board of directors, 2018
Erika Schultz, SPJ Western Washington board of directors, 2018

Erika Schultz

Board member

Erika Schultz works as a staff photographer for The Seattle Times and as part-time faculty at The University of Washington.

In 2017, Pictures of the Year International awarded Schultz an award of excellence for Newspaper Photographer of the Year. Her video work with Corinne Chin won second place for Individual Multimedia Portfolio in NPPA’s 2017 Best of Photojournalism Awards, as well as an honorable mention for Cliff Edom’s New America Award.

Schultz’s work has been recognized by the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, National Edward R. Murrow Awards, The Alexia Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, and was a finalist for the 2010 and 2013 ASNE Community Service Photojournalism award. She also was part of The Seattle Times 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning team for Breaking News Reporting. She also is a co-founder of NW Photojournalism.

Taylor Mirfendereski

Board Member

Taylor Mirfendereski is a special projects reporter at KING 5 in Seattle, focusing on digital storytelling. She uses video, photos, text, graphics, and emerging digital tools to produce multimedia stories that take a deep dive into complex issues – from the nationwide heroin crisis to the sex trafficking of American women and children.

Prior to moving to the West Coast, Mirfendereski was a digital reporter at WCPO in Cincinnati, where she covered public safety and justice. In 2014, she embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan to produce a special report about the military medical teams who treat the country’s most severely wounded soldiers.

Mirfendereski is a longtime SPJ member, who served two terms on the group’s National Board of Directors. She also led the SPJ Digital community and was the president of Ohio University’s SPJ chapter.

Josh Farley

Board Member

Josh Farley is the military affairs reporter at the Kitsap Sun in Bremerton. He created and anchors the Beat Blast, the Sun’s weekly news video, and the Story Walk, a monthly experience that takes readers to the people and places making the news. He also started the Bridging Bremerton festival, a daylong event that highlights history and culture in the city.

Farley previously covered city hall and criminal justice at the Sun, where he started in 2005. He’s a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California, where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the Collegian.

Julia Sanders

Board Member

I write about the environment, agriculture and local news for the Daily Herald, a publication covering Snohomish and Island counties. I geek out over fish, and I’m happiest on a farm. Writing about the ways our climate is changing and how that impacts everything from how we grow food to what infrastructure looks like is a privilege, and I love that my job often takes me outside.

Before the Herald, I worked at a small daily paper in Mount Vernon, Wash., and also reported in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the Cambodia Daily as a fellow with the University of Washington. Outside work, you’ll most likely find me searching for the best river swimming spot, working on a house renovation project or trying to convince people that Everett is a cool place to live.