Jul. 7, 2015  

Meet & Vote: 2015-2016 SPJ Florida Pro Nominating Slate

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Florida Professional Chapter’s annual election meeting is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, August 15, 2015 following the Forging the Future conference at the Koubek Center in Miami.

The election shall be by simple majority vote of eligible chapter members, cast by ballot either in person or through electronic means.

Meet the 2016-2016 Florida Pro Nominating Slate:

President: Dori Zinn

Zinn is the Associate Editor for Bundoo—a premier parenting and pediatrics website—as well as President for Blossomers, a web development and online media company. For five years, Zinn served on the board as Vice President of Membership for the SPJ Florida Pro chapter, helping win “Chapter of the Year” in 2010 and 2014. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Multimedia Journalism.

Executive Vice President: Christiana Lilly

Lilly has served as SPJ Florida secretary for the past two years. A full-time freelance writer based out of Fort Lauderdale, Lilly is a regular contributor to publications like WhereTravelerSouth Florida Gay News, Indulge, and Venice. Previously, she worked at the Huffington Post Miami and Forum Publishing Group, where she covered the Sunrise and Plantation city beat. A proud Gator, Lilly graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism and a minor in anthropology. Although she was born in Florida, Lilly moved around in Asia for 14 years before moving back stateside for college.

Vice President for Programming: Michele Boyet

A former SPJ Florida president, Boyet is the social media manager for The Breakers Palm Beach. She served on the SPJ National grant committee and is a former vice president of the Florida College Press Association and assistant director for College Media Associations’ national 2011 and 2012 journalism conventions in New York City. Boyet formerly worked as an associate homepage producer at the Sun Sentinel, was named College Journalist of the Year in 2010 by the SPJ’s Sunshine State Awards, and received the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment award from SPJ National in October 2010.

Vice President for Membership: Jason Parsley

Parsley is the immediate Past President of the SPJ Florida Pro Chapter. As president he oversaw the expansion of SPJ South Florida to include the entire state. He’s an award-winning reporter. He currently works as the Associate Publisher of the South Florida Gay News. He graduated from Florida Atlantic University. While in school, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, the University Press.

Secretary:  Abigail Perry

Perry is a Web Producer for Citrix Systems, Inc.  Formerly, she was the Assistant Editor for Society Scene as well as a Writer and Web Content Developer for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. While working for Forum Publishing Group, Perry served as Web Director, Calendar Editor and Columnist.  Her columns were published in Jewish Journal.  Perry’s additional writings and editorial work were published in South Florida Parenting, Teenlinkand Jewish Journal.  Perry holds a Master of Science degree in Communication and Media from Lynn University (2013) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Studies (concentration in Journalism) from Radford University (2008).  When not producing awesome web content or writing, Perry can be found spending time with her beloved dog, Westly and husband, Sean and traveling to the D.C. area to visit her favorite (and one-and-only) nephew, Evan.

TreasurerChristopher Persaud

Chris Persaud is a freelance journalist and programmer. He has done data journalism for the Palm Beach Post and Bankrate.com. He owns and runs DataJournalismJobs.com, an online jobs board for data journalism jobs. He also owns and runs RichBlocksPoorBlocks.com, a subscription website that maps rent and income data for every neighborhood in America.

Immediate Past President (appointed): Brandon Ballenger

Ballenger is the associate editor for Debt.com, a unique provider of personal finance news and financial services. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, where he received his bachelor of arts degree in communication and English. His money-related writing has been featured in The South Florida Business Journal, Money Talks News, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, on the homepages of MSN and Yahoo!, and more.

Directors at Large – Members will select six (6) Directors

  • Kristyn Caddell
    Caddell is a reporter WFTV, Channel 9 Eyewitness News in Orlando. She has made stops at television stations across the country including KOMO-TV and WPTV News Channel 5. Kristyn has made numerous appearances on national television networks for her coverage of various breaking news stories. Her work has earned her a Edward R Murrow award for breaking news. She is from Tampa,Fl  and graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University where she played soccer.
  • Pedro A. Gonzalez
    Three National journalism awards in Cuba, National Vanguard, Union of Culture and Art Workers (1985), distinction José Martí of the Union of Journalists of Cuba (1988). Journalism graduate Summa Cum Laude, University of Habana (1974). Master candidate Magna Cum Laude in Communications, Electronic Media, Saint Thomas University (FL). In the National Cuban Radio and TV system (ICR-TV): Editor, Noticiero Nacional de Televisión and Cubavisión, War Correspondent in Angola and Indochina (1987). In the US: founder of the Community Media Council (1998) and theInternational Press Club of Miami (2012), president elected of the Florida Association of Hispanic Journalists and member of the Society of Professional JournalistsNational Association of Hispanic Journalists andInter American Press Association. Has published nine books, the last one:Satan Pups: Models of official propaganda in the American Press (2014).
  • Megan Fitzgerald
    Fitzgerald is an associate professor and major chair of the communication studies program at Nova Southeastern University. In addition to teaching journalism and media courses, she is the faculty advisor for the university’s student-run newspaper, the SPJ student chapter, and the communication honor society, Lambda Pi Eta. She is actively involved in the Journalism Education Association, National Communication Association, and Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She earned her Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Florida State University, a MA in Journalism from Syracuse University, and a BA in Communication from Stonehill College.
  • Andrea Richard
    Richard is a multimedia communications professional in Fort Lauderdale. Currently, she is with the award-winning architecture firm, Glavovic Studio, where she handles the media relations and marketing initiatives. A former freelance journalist, Richard has reported on the arts and culture scene in South Florida for a variety of online and print publications. She’s a fan of public radio, contemporary art, quirky folks, and, most of all, powerful storytelling.
  • Michael Schottey
    Schottey (@Schottey) is a midwestern native who currently lives in Palm Coast, FL with his wife (Stacey), and their two sons (Joshua, 5 and Silas, 3). Currently the Senior Sportswriter for daily fantasy giant FanDuel, Michael has spent the last five years in various capacities with Bleacher Report and Turner Sports covering the NFL, editing and managing their for-credit college writing internship which he helped build from the ground up. In addition to writing and spending far too much time on Twitter, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, reading, cooking and is very active in his church at which he serves on the executive board for one of the largest private schools in Northern Florida. In addition to SPJ, Michael has been a member of the Pro Football Writers of America for four years and has won a number of Dick Connor Awards for column and breaking news writing.
  • John Sotomayor
    Sotomayor is a staff writer for Akers Media Group, which has five publications: Lake/Sumter Style, The Villages Style, Healthy Living Magazine, Lake Business Magazine and Lake County Welcome Guide. Previously, Sotomayor was the executive editor of Ocala Magazine and had a radio talk show with WOCA 1370 A.M./96.3 F.M.: “Ocala Magazine Radio with John Sotomayor.” Sotomayor is also the president of Sotomayor Media Creations, LLC. Clients include: Florida Trend, Florida Travel & Life, Ocala Star Banner, Voz Latina, and Conexion Latina. Sotomayor Media Creations LLC was awarded Minority Business of the Year by the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce and the Mary Sue Rich Diversity Award in the Business Category by the City of Ocala in 2010. The following year, Sotomayor was awarded Journalist of the Year by the Chamber. He led the Hispanic Business Council for two consecutive terms.
  • Dina Weinstein
    Weinstein is a Miami-based journalist whose work is published in local and national publications. She mentors young journalists as newsroom assistant at The Reporter, the Miami Dade College student newspaper. Weinstein’s reporting experience includes work at The Hyde Park Herald in Chicago, Illinois; The Trentonian in New Jersey; The Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts; and WDIY-FM in Pennsylvania. Weinstein has taught journalism and mass communications at a number of colleges including Miami Dade College. A graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Boston University School for the Arts, she is a Boston native.
  • Betty Wells
    A native of Wichita, Kansas, she began her journalism career at Wichita Eagle and Beacon while a student at Wichita State University. She held positions over 23 years with Knight-Ridder. For seven years, Wells was a department head, public relations manager, political strategist for an Indiana mayor. She ran two state legislative campaigns, two mayoral campaigns and a city judge campaign. After moving to Florida, she worked more than six years at the Fort Myers News-Press, holding positions that include metro editor, special projects editor and Bonita Springs editor. She is currently the editor of the Palm Beach County Florida Weekly.

Student Board Member – Will be appointed by the 2015-2016 Board

  • Carla St. Louis is a Miami-bred, Florida International University-educated writer currently living in West Palm Beach. She crafted her writing skills on Capitol Hill, covering congressional and senate hearings and interviewing U.S. representatives for CQ Roll Call. Since then she has written extensively about issues related to politics, race and education in South Florida for outlets such as The Miami New Times and NBCMiami. Her piece on Florida’s controversial race-based education goals for The Miami Times was republished in The New Pittsburgh Courier. In 2014, Carla was awarded the Beacon of Hope and Achievement Award in media for her coverage of Miami-Dade County’s Haitian community by the Consulate General of Haiti in Miami. Carla now serves as a columnist for Examiner.com where she covers fashion in South Florida.
  • Rachel Wang
    Wang is thrilled to be starting her freshman year at the University of Florida as a telecommunications major. With a passion for storytelling, she has been involved in multimedia journalism since the beginning of high school. For the past school year, she served as the state chairwoman and student representative for Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA), an organization that hosts an annual convention for around 1,200 student journalists statewide. Rachel was also an reporter, editor, and news producer for her high school’s newscast, WROR-TV. She is the winner of the Barbara Frye Journalism Scholarship, SPJ Florida Scholarship, and many other awards for her journalistic endeavors.
  • Nicole Wiesenthal
    Wiesenthal is a journalism student at the University of Florida going into her junior year. Originally from Plantation, she currently interns as a staff writer for 
    South Florida Gay News. Because of this internship and her involvement in the LGBT community, she has also taken up minors in women’s studies and nonprofit organizational leadership which she hopes to use with her journalism skills to tackle social justice issues. She has worked as a copy editor and staff writer for the Alligator and a correspondent for USA Today College, and she has won two journalism awards.




The chapter’s annual election meeting is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, August 15, 2015 following the Forging the Future conference at the Koubek Center in Miami. Election will take place immediately following the conference during our cocktail hour, around 4 p.m. After the election, we will host our Sunshine State Awards presentation.



voteElection shall be by simple majority vote of eligible chapter members. All chapter members in good standing are welcome to vote by in-person ballot or via email prior to the election.

Download the online ballot HERE. Ballots are due via email to SPJSoFlaVote@gmail.com
by 5 p.m. on Friday, August 14.


If your membership has lapsed, or will end before the annual election, renew online
or contact current VP of Membership Michele Boyet at mboyet@gmail.com.


1 Comment

  • Sean McShee (Little) says:

    I just renewed my SPJ membership and joined the local chapter. I spoke with someone at forging the future, during the bomb threat evacuation Am I eligible to vote? Did the election happen already?

    BTW the national site membership page is somewhat confusing. There are three Florida chapters, two of which have dues. The reason I didn’t join the local when I first joined SPJ, was I saw the drop down menu and assumed all three have dues.

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