Past president Jason Parsley recognized nationally as outstanding pro member
Jason Parsley, a past chapter president and current vice president of membership, has won a national SPJ award for his amazing work in the Sunshine State.
Every year, the Society of Professional Journalists recognize two individual members — one from large chapters and one from small — in the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award. This year, Parsley is the winner from a large chapter. Robyn Davis Sekula from Louisville Pro was the winner from a small chapter.
“I have known Jason more than a decade. He was the first to recruit me to work for the student newspaper at Florida Atlantic University. He was also my first editor,” says SPJ Florida chapter President Dori Zinn. “Without Jason, I do not know if I would even be in journalism today.”
“Throughout his career, Jason has gone above and beyond the call of duty to educate, enlighten, and encourage journalists in all forms. I am not only proud of his work with SPJ and his career as a journalist, but I am so fortunate to call him a colleague, an editor, and a friend.”
Parsley is the associate publisher for South Florida Gay News, the largest LGBT weekly newspaper in the southeast. Christiana Lilly, executive vice president for SPJ Florida, currently works with Parsley at SFGN.
“Diversity and giving a voice to the voiceless is of utmost importance to Jason. We have a wonderful working relationship with so many journalism organizations because of his outreach,” Lilly says. “This includes the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, South Florida Black Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of LGBT Journalists, and Native American Journalists Association.”
Parsley spearheads annual diversity mixers among local journalism chapters of these national organizations.
When he was president in 2013, Parsley oversaw the expansion of SPJ South Florida to include the entire state. This huge change gave otherwise unrepresented SPJ members a chapter to call home. He also worked to get Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands added to Region 3. It was Parsley who coined “no journalist left behind” and his never-ending fight for journalism rights is unmatched.
“I have known Jason for more than five years, and have witnessed his passion and drive for journalism,” says chapter Secretary Abbi Perry. “His commitment to journalism is real and admirable and he continues to impress those around him with his dedication and promotion of his craft.”
Last year, SPJ National President Paul Fletcher announced member retention as his main initiative and Parsley, as local membership chair, took on the daunting task of reaching out to hundreds of unaffiliated members from across the state to join a chapter. Because of his determination, the chapter more than doubled its membership, giving otherwise orphan members a place to call home.
“It’s been an honor to work with Jason and see his energy and ideas for SPJ take shape. ‘Tireless advocate’ sounds like a total cliché until you see Jason in action,” says Past President Brandon Ballenger.
Parsley’s persistence and passion is finally getting the praise they deserve. His exceptional work is worthy of this national honor, but we hope that other journalists look to his efforts as examples to follow. Congratulations, Jason!