NAJA to vote on name change and elect board members July 31-Aug. 10

The Native American Journalists Association held a Virtual Town Hall and Q&A July 24 for members to meet the board candidates and learn more about the upcoming vote on the organization name change.

Native American Journalists Association members to vote online July 31-Aug. 9 and in-person Aug. 10; Town Hall held July 24 to discuss “Indigenous Journalists Association” name change, meet board candidates

The Native American Journalists Association will hold an election July 31-Aug. 10 to determine incoming board members. There are three board vacancies for 3-year terms, which will begin in August 2023. Members will also vote on changing the organization’s name to the “Indigenous Journalists Association.” 

President Graham Lee Brewer (Cherokee) and Vice President Christine Trudeau (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) co-hosted a Virtual Town Hall and Q&A with NAJA members July 24.

Online Voting
All eligible NAJA members will receive an email with a unique link to vote by online ballot. Members may only cast one vote per person.

In-Person Voting
In-person voting will take place in the Grand Ballroom of the Delta Hotel Thursday, Aug. 10 during the 2023 National Native Media Conference Opening Night Reception from 5:30-8 p.m. CT. Conference registration is open through Aug. 9.

Election Guidelines
The terms of the election are determined by the Native American Journalists Association bylaws, and can be found under Article VII, and the Board Guidelines Manual found on

2023 Board Candidates

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye
Jourdan Bennett-Begaye is the editor of ICT. She is the first woman to be the chief news executive and top editor of the 40-year-old newspaper and website. She’s also a Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) board member.

She is a Diné citizen of the Navajo Nation. She identifies as the Towering House Clan, the Coyote Pass Clan of Jemez, the Mexican Clan, and the Hopi with Red Running Into the Water Clan. 

Since her hire with ICT in 2018, Jourdan has reported stories on health, education, public health, 2020 Census, policy, politics, and more. She has focused on the COVID-19 pandemic coverage, especially COVID-19 data, in Indian Country. 

Jourdan received her master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism through the Newhouse Minorities Fellowship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York. Her health background is rooted in her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Fort Lewis College and the University of Michigan Future Public Health Leaders Program via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Her experience working with Native youth led to teaching at Upward Bound in Colorado and high school journalism, video production, and theater in her home state. While in New Mexico, Jourdan co-founded the Survival of the First Voices, an art and media organization for Native youth.

She’s written for Native Peoples Magazine, Fan First, MediaShift, The Daily Times, NAJA’s Native Voices News, NPR’s NextGen Radio Project, and Post-Standard. 

Personal Statement
This would be my second consecutive term running for the board of directors for the Native American Journalists Association. 

There’s still so much I want to achieve. 

Of course, my first focus would be to fundraise for all the variety of programs the organization runs. From the Indigenous Voice Fund to the Red Press Initiative, to the educational programs, there’s so much opportunity for investment. This is particularly important as NAJA grows to serves Indigenous journalists globally while working to stay connected to its roots.  

Since I’ve served one term and work with career journalists, I do see the need to invest programming and funds into training for journalists. Retaining media professionals is just as important as recruiting them. One of my goals that falls in this category since becoming a newsroom leader is creating a program specifically for Indigenous women in leadership. It would be a program for matriarchs media leadership roles. I hope to make this a reality this second term. Because NAJA significantly impacted my career path, my heart is devoted to creating more educational opportunities for young Indigenous journalists and also enriching the current programs for students. 

In the last three years, I was chair for the education committee for one and co-chair for the same committee the second. As the director and co-director of the Native American Fellowship Program, we restructure the fellowship from alumni feedback and our personal experiences in the program. For one, we built a six-week virtual curriculum that allowed the student journalists to connect with other Indigenous journalists. We allowed students to attend the conference to continue building relationships and encouraged them to work with a mentor to pitch freelance stories to news outlets. The goal is to build community, or rather a support system, early on. I want to continue to build NAJF as the fellowship to be a part of. Not only being internships to students but to connect them with NAJF alumni. 

I also hope to expand more opportunities for our high school students through the University of Kansas storytelling program and other programs, as well as our college chapters. 

I also would like to work on recruitment of young people into this career. That’s the big thing I noticed in the last few years across the media and journalism landscape. We are in an important time of Indigenous journalism and Indigenous storytelling. I hope to show young people how cool journalism is and the impact it has made to our communities and my colleagues. 

I hope these aspirations and the aspirations of my fellow board members interest funders to make an investment in the organization.

Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi is Tł’ízíłání, born for To’aheedlíínii, her maternal grandparents are Áshįįhí, and her paternal grandparents are Bit’ahnii. She is Diné from Goat Springs, Arizona within the better known community of Teec Nos Pos. She is a multi-award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, The Guardian, USA Today, The New York Times, the Navajo Times, Arizona Highways magazine, and others. Sunnie first became a member of NAJA in 2006 as a student and later served as lead mentor for NAJA’s high school/college student projects. She also served as sports writer for the Navajo Times for 12 years. More recently, Sunnie earned a Ph.D. in English – Rhetoric and Writing from the University of New Mexico and was awarded the $20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship from the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University in 2021.

Personal Statement
I quit journalism in the Fall of 2019. I wanted to give my new academic endeavor my undivided attention only to be tugged back into the journalism field months into the year 2020. I saw that Indigenous journalists were needed more than ever to tell stories from within our communities, for our communities, and I returned to continue the legacy of journalists who came before me, especially those who belonged to the Native American Journalists Association family.

Working as a journalist and an educator teaching at UNM provided me with a unique and renewed perspective on what Indigenous journalists need to do the important work they do, what the journalism field as a whole can learn from Indigenous journalists/journalism, and how education can be used to help perpetuate what NAJA stands for as an organization.

As a prospective NAJA board member, my interests include creating more opportunities for non-traditional college students and professionals who enter/re-enter the field as a way to increase membership and perhaps expand NAJA’s inclusivity; to expand NAJA’s partnerships with educational institutions as a way to secure funding for the organization and create opportunities for up-and-coming Indigenous journalists; and to get the journalism field as a whole to learn from Indigenous journalists in hopes that we become a regular part of important conversations about the future of journalism.

Joseph Lee
Joseph Lee is a citizen of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is based in New York City. He is a former Senior Indigenous Affairs Fellow at Grist and has reported on Indigenous issues in the U.S. and around the world. He teaches creative writing at Mercy College and has also taught writing at Montclair State University and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 

His work has been published by ‘The Guardian,’ ‘High Country News,’ ‘BuzzFeed News,’ ‘Outside Magazine,’ and more. In 2022, he won the NAJA award for Best Health Coverage. He has also been a fellow at the Asian American Writers Workshop and NPR’s Next Generation Radio. Joseph is currently working on a book about Indigenous identity, Martha’s Vineyard, and Wampanoag history to be published in 2025 by Astra House Books. 

Personal Statement
As a NAJA board member, I would hope to build on NAJA’s partnerships and educational programming to help its members develop and grow their skills at all stages of their careers. Coming into journalism without a journalism degree or any relevant internships, no one taught me how to file a FOIA, let alone interview and fact check. Given how expensive journalism school can be and how inaccessible many internships are, I think many other students and early career journalists are also missing out on foundational learning opportunities. NAJA’s education program – through things like NAJF and roundtable discussions – helps to fill these gaps. As a board member, I’d want to work with the rest of the board and NAJA staff to increase and enhance these programs. 

NAJA members, like many journalists, could benefit from specific training, whether that is in a beat, like energy or politics, or skill-based, like data analysis or video editing. I’m interested in expanding this type of programming, at conference and throughout the year. 

To do this, partnerships are a key part of NAJA’s current and future success. Existing programs like NAJA’s partnerships with NPR’s Next Generation Radio and NBCUniversal are great examples of programs that benefit NAJA, early career NAJA members, and the broader journalism world. As a board member, I hope to work to expand these programs and develop new partnerships. 

This also means finding more grants and scholarships, like the existing ones with NYU and the Cronkite School. I see university partners as resources for both training and financial support. As a board member, I would want to form relationships with more universities and journalism schools to support the next generation of Indigenous journalists. I’d also hope to focus on grants and programs that could benefit Indigenous journalists at all stages of their careers, like Pulitzer Center grants or the Ida B. Wells fellowship. 

Doing all of this will also allow NAJA to build more relationships with newsrooms, organizations, tribes, and universities, which will benefit our fundraising efforts by expanding NAJA’s network of potential funders. 

Finally, as a Wampanoag who has covered international Indigenous stories, I think there’s an opportunity to expand NAJA’s reach and membership in both east coast and international communities. NAJA and these communities have a lot to offer each other and I’d like to help facilitate and develop those connections.

Kaitlin Mooney
Kaitlin Mooney is a former indigenous journalist and a current film producer for the show ‘Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People.’ She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and believes in the power of using storytelling to accurately portray Indian country and its issues. Kaitlin has knowledge in multiple media platforms including social media, TV broadcast news and filmmaking.     

Kaitlin has grown multiple native social media accounts almost 20% using consistent content and data analysis. She has also won multiple awards at the National Native Media Awards including Best Newscast, Student award Best News Story. 

When she’s not working Kaitlin enjoys singing, playing music, or spending time with her husband and two dogs.

Personal Statement
Siyo, as a former NAJA fellow I have witnessed first hand the impact this organization has made on my career. I believe in technology and the power of what social media can do and the amount of people we can reach when used correctly.

As a potential board member I would push for well thought out content to put on our social media platforms that could potentially raise money for the organization. I would also reach out to other news organizations to get the word out about what we are doing especially if we go International. I believe that we as an organization can grow our membership and reach the next generation through our social platforms and consistent content. 

I would be honored to be considered for an opportunity to serve on the board and give back some of my time and skills to an organization who has given so much to me.

Karyn Pugliese
Karyn, aka Pabàmàdiz, is currently the editor-in-chief of Canadaland and occasionally a guest panelist on CBC’s Rosie Barton show. Formerly Karyn worked as the Managing Editor of CBC’s Investigative Unit, overseeing the team at The Fifth Estate and Marketplace. Karyn is best known for her work as a Parliament Hill reporter and as the Executive Director of News and Current Affairs at APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) where she ran the news department for seven years. She joined Toronto Metropolitan University’s faculty in the Spring of 2020 while completing a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. Karyn has worked in daily news and long-form investigations at various other outlets, including ichannel, VisionTV, and CTV.

From 2018-2020, Karyn was president of the Canadian Association of Journalists and still sits on the national board of directors. Karyn is a board member of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. She worked as an expert trainer for Journalists for Human Rights in South Sudan in 2018.

Karyn is a citizen of the Pikwàkanagàn First Nation in Ontario and is of mixed Algonquin and Italian descent. She has a good sense of humor and a distinctive laugh. When she is not engaged in acts of journalism, you’ll find her paddling a canoe, shooting photos and eating frybread.

Personal Statement
My very first journalism award came from NAJA. That was about 15 years ago. Back then, there were few Indigenous journalists and it didn’t seem like our stories were valued outside the community. But in a way that was okay, because nothing meant more to me  than seeing my work valued by my own people. That award from NAJA was all the encouragement I needed to keep on going. 

That NAJA spirit is at the heart of why I want to contribute now as a board member. We still lack Indigenous journalists, according to a recent survey 8 out of 10 newsrooms in Canada do not employ even a single Indigenous journalist. I know it is not much better south of the medicine line. Mentoring, teaching and supporting up-and-coming Indigenous journalists is critical to securing and protecting our human rights and treaty rights. As a board member I would like to help support NAJA’s youth programming and its annual conferences.

I am deeply grateful that NAJA’s supported me and my staff at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network on press freedom issues. NAJA helped defend my reporters when they have faced obstruction and even physical assault. I believe my experience (I have intervened in almost a dozen press freedom cases) can support NAJA’s ongoing work in this area. 

In my last role as Editor-in-Chief at Canada’s National Observer, I worked closely with marketing and the publisher on crowdfunding and engaging foundations for grants. While my experience in this area is modest I believe I can contribute to NAJA’s fundraising goals.

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