Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Purvis seeks to expand reach and impact

Veronica Purvis became executive director of JEA in 2022.

The Spring 2022 JEA/NSPA convention in Los Angeles will always be remembered as a first. It was the first live, face-to-face convention since 2019 when the COVID-19 Pandemic shut down large public gatherings. It was the first convention high school senior staff members had ever attended, and it was Veronica Purvis’ first introduction to JEA.

“I just remember being in awe of the energy of the kids,” Purvis said. “All of the association conventions I’ve attended (and I’ve attended at least 100) have been with adult attendees. And to see all of these students who were attending a professional convention to learn more about journalism and sharpen their skills across all types of multimedia and storytelling training was just so admirable. That felt good and I was impressed.”

The convention was a good experience for her daughter, too.

“Stone came as an eighth grader to St. Louis and was excited about the program because she found sessions about yearbook and broadcast which she was involved in at her school,” Purvis said. “Now as a freshman, she applies some of what she learned to her own social media podcasts and blogs.”

Stone’s experience reinforced the value of scholastic journalism and conventions for Purvis.

“She recognizes the value of journalism even though she’s not currently in journalism. She told me the other day about how compelling writing and basic skills she learned at the San Francisco convention can be used anywhere and how enlightening the convention experience was,” Purvis said. “She said she learned about the Tenderloin District in a safe environment. The convention expanded her cultural, historical and technical knowledge and made her more confident.”

Purvis, a certified association executive (CAE), comes to the executive director position with an undergraduate degree in communication and a master’s degree in program management and marketing (MSM). She has 24 years of professional association experience.

“I have worked with a number of associations and you have to know a lot about an association and its members to be sure the brand matches who they are,” Purvis said. “Publications and events are major demonstrations of that image.”

The position with JEA was attractive because it combines her experience, skill set and interest in supporting mission-driven organizations.

“I’m analytical and creative which helps me do my job,” she said. “Talking to a lot of people including leaders, members and partners helps me understand the association. You wear a lot of different hats in this role which I love. In one day I am meeting with a city’s CVB and reviewing event contracts with their various hotels and convention center (then switching gears to do the same thing for a different city/location), then meeting with staff and problem solving, to discussing technology planning and solutions with others, on a board or executive committee call, to meeting with the local convention teams. Switching gears that many ways in a day keeps things exciting. I get to go back to my roots many days when I review marketing and communication content where we can use those tools to reach our audiences and help us grow. I see journalism as a cousin to marketing and communications because some of the methods and tools are similar.”

Some perspectives are new, too.

“In looking at the organization I was surprised at how much our volunteers do to support and celebrate scholastic journalism. I see it as multi-level because we’re helping teachers help students tell stories.”

JEA/NSPA conventions leave huge impressions of the association.

“Every time we go to a convention it’s re-energizing. One of my favorite moments was at an awards ceremony. As I presented an award the student said ‘I’ve never won anything before.’ Her expression was so heartwarming it made me tear up,” she said. Another memorable moment was witnessing Fern Valentine’s Carl Towley Award acceptance speech. She and her speech were unforgettable.”

Supporting advisers is at the top of Purvis’ “to do” list for JEA.

“What teachers do makes a difference,” Purvis said. “I hope students and the school community appreciate them. If no one else does, they should feel valued by JEA. This association can be integral in providing training and support for teachers. Teachers leave their expertise and their mark on all of us.”

Purvis said she wants to see JEA increase the support the organization offers its members.

“One common theme I hear from advisers is about the support system that is needed for them to keep doing what they’re doing in the classroom,” Purvis said. “We know there are untapped segments of potential members we want to reach and ensure they are plugged into this vital professional learning community to help them keep going. I understand being an adviser is a tough job, but our members are uplifting each other, sharing their lessons learned, and sharpening their skillset. I would like us to reach more and keep more advisers in the classroom.”

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