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A New Year’s Message from Doris Truong, AAJA President

Dear AAJA Family:

Best wishes for a new year full of exciting scoops, newsworthy moments and prize-winning storytelling!

Do you remember the first time you connected with other Asian American journalists? For me, it was in 1996 at the national convention in St. Paul–and it felt like a homecoming to meet people who not only shared my cultural values, but also my passion for the craft of journalism.

Now, 15 years later, I consider myself personally and professionally to be a product of AAJA. I’ve connected with mentors throughout the industry because of the expansive network of our members. And I’ve formed deep bonds with those mentors by spending long hours collaborating with them on AAJA projects–on the “Voices” convention news project, preparing group presentations for the Executive Leadership Program or hammering out policies with the National Board.

So many of you have shared with me stories that bear the same outline: You felt adrift until you discovered the kinship and the resources of the AAJA family–resources that include programs designed to foster personal growth and professional success for a lifetime, and that offer the newest Asian American journalists the same kind of mentorship that I received.

When I look at those who are stepping up to lead AAJA today, I’m excited to see a fresh generation of go-getters working side by side with familiar veteran faces. Together, they reflect the spirit of AAJA: We are an organization that is steeped in tradition, but one that always keeps an eye on the horizon so nothing that the future brings comes as a surprise.

As incoming president, I’m committed to fostering this spirit for generations to come. But I’ll need your help to ensure that AAJA–in the heartfelt words of my predecessor–continues to reach out and lean in.

This year brings an important milestone for us: We will mark 30 years since our founding in Los Angeles by six visionary pioneers. We commemorated our debt to Dwight Chuman, David Kishiyama, Frank Kwan, Bill Sing, Tritia Toyota and Nancy Yoshihara when AAJA returned to its birthplace for the 2010 convention.

Now, it’s time to pay that debt forward.

To highlight how far AAJA has come since 1981, we’re planning a variety of ways for members and other supporters to help strengthen AAJA, by taking the Power of One and multiplying it by 30. And we’ll be asking you to help us by contributing, whether that means 30 seconds to introduce AAJA to a new funder, 30 days volunteering with your local chapter or 30 testimonials that you collect to inspire a student to pursue journalism as a profession. And, yes, we’ll be asking you to reach into your wallets–whether that means $30 or $30,000, we want you to donate an amount meaningful to you. If you’re ready to pledge yourself to our 30th anniversary, I’m only an e-mail away:aajadoris@yahoo.com.

In the next two years, I’ll be on a 21-chapter Listening Tour, which began with my recent visits to our members in Asia and Hawai’i. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to get the attention of an organization’s leadership, especially one as far-flung as ours. So I’m committed to bringing AAJA’s leadership to you.

I want to hear your ideas for how we can better serve you. And I will do my part to help extend our chapters’ outreach into your communities – to raise AAJA’s profile, and to broaden our pool of supporters both within and beyond journalism.

To that end, I’m thrilled to be at the helm as we bring AAJA to brand-new territory: Michigan. We’re motoring to Motor City for our 22nd annual convention, and I hope you’re saving the dates of August 10 to 13 to be in Detroit, where our theme will be a relevant one: “Time to Engage.”

Because there has never been a more exciting time to be engaged with AAJA. Under the leadership of my predecessor, Sharon Chan, and our outstanding executive director, Kathy Chow, our organization has regained firm financial footing. With that secure foundation in place, there’s no limit to how far we can travel in the next two years – and beyond–if our collective hands are rowing the ship in the same direction.

Before I close, I’d like to thank The Washington Post, which has enthusiastically offered its support to me and to AAJA as I take up this awe-inspiring responsibility. In a challenging time for our industry, I’m proud to work for a company that still puts diversity and its advocates at the forefront of its priorities.

I’m eager to hear from you about where AAJA needs to go next. Not just this year or in 2012, but 30 years from now: Where do you imagine AAJA should be? Please share with me your vision, your hopes and your goals, because the job of getting there is something that will take all of us, working together. And as we do, I am certain that we can leave a legacy from AAJA’s first 30 years that will carry us well beyond the next 30.

Yours in AAJA,
Doris Truong
National President
aajadoris@yahoo.com

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