Jun. 6, 2016  

Meet & Vote: 2016-2017 SPJ Florida Pro Candidates for Board

SPJFLA-logoThe Society of Professional Journalists’ Florida Professional Chapter’s annual election meeting is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, July 9, 2016 following the 2016 Sunshine State Awards at the Firefighters Memorial Building in Miami.

The election shall be by simple majority vote of eligible chapter members, cast by ballot either in person or through electronic means. Additional candidates can declare through June 25 by emailing a resume and the position sought to elections chair Brandon Ballenger

Meet the 2016-2017 Florida Pro Declared Candidates:

President: Dori Zinn

Zinn is the current SPJ Florida President and served as Vice President of Membership for the chapter for five years prior. She is a freelance journalist and President of Blossomers, a web development and online media company. Previously she was associate editor for Bundoo, a parenting and pediatrics website. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Multimedia Journalism.

Executive Vice President: Christiana Lilly

Lilly served as  SPJ Florida executive VP last year and as secretary for the previous 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: Kathleen Devaney
Devaney is a recent journalism graduate of Florida International University and is past president of its student SPJ chapter, where she created mentorship programs for high school and middle school students. She was a reporter for the South Florida News Service and has interned for The Miami Herald and Scripps Howard.

Vice President for Membership: Jason Parsley

Parsley is a past president of the SPJ Florida Pro Chapter who 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, Teenlink and 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.

Treasurer: Christopher Persaud

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scott Salomon
    Mr. Salomon is a 1989 graduate of the University of Miami where he attained a degree in News-Editorial Journalism and served as SPJ/SDX Chapter President. He then went on to the St. Thomas University School of Law where he earned a Juris Doctor degree in 1992. Mr. Salomon practiced law until 2008 and has been a freelance journalist for the past several years.
  • Aurora Rodriguez
    Rodriguez is an adjunct professor in media and communications at Miami-Dade College and teaches English and has taught media at Boca Raton Community High School. She previously taught at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. She has worked as senior web editor for the Bauer Xcel Media Group, publisher of J-14, M Magazine and Twist Magazine, managing editor for Where South Florida, and online producer for The Miami Herald. Rodriguez holds a master’s degree in journalism from FIU.
  • Brendon Lies
    Brendon is currently the Art Director at South Florida Gay News, where he also writes as a columnist. He attended school at Minnesota State University Moorhead before transferring to Florida Atlantic University, where his career as a designer earned him the title of Creative Director at the University Press. He never sits still in his spare time, and uses his intense interest in social justice and ethics as inspiration for his exploration of the arts.

Student Board Member – Will be appointed by the 2016-2017 Board

  • Rachel Wang
    Wang is a telecommunications student the University of Florida. With a passion for storytelling, she has been involved in multimedia journalism since the beginning of high school. She served as SPJ Florida’s student representative last year, and was previously 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.
  • Emily Bloch
    Bloch, a senior at Florida Atlantic University, is wrapping up her second term as editor-in-chief for the school’s University Press. She’s participated in and run multiple SDX funded events, including Death Race and Zombie Stories. Last year, Bloch ran the SPJ AirPlay Twitter account and last semester, she hosted successful Midnight Snack and Zombie Stories events at CMA Austin. Bloch is now working on reviving her school’s dormant SPJ student chapter.



The Society of Professional Journalists’ Florida Professional Chapter’s annual election meeting is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, July 9, 2016 following the 2016 Sunshine State Awards at the Firefighters Memorial Building in Miami.

The election shall be by simple majority vote of eligible chapter members, cast by ballot in person.

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


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