The James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at Grady College recognized Thursday evening the aspiring student leaders who completed the Institute’s fifth leadership development program.
Fourteen students were selected from a pool of faculty nominations based on a demonstrated commitment to their professional development through work in student media, internships and other student activities. They are Cory Cole, Taylor Cromwell, Denver Ellison, Daniel Funke, Zachary Hansen, Lauren Herbert, Reann Huber, McKenzie Lewis, Anna Logan, Miles Moraitis, Mollie Simon, Lauren Sloan, Jaylon Thompson and Katelyn Umholtz.
These students, family, faculty and guests gathered at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Libraries for a dinner ceremony where the students received a Cox Institute Leadership Medal in recognition of their achievements.
Richard Griffiths, who retired this week from his post as vice president and senior editor director at CNN, was the event’s keynote speaker. Griffiths, who is an Industry Fellow with the Cox Institute this semester, told the students: “Remember you don’t need a vice president and senior editorial director’s title to be a leader in a newsroom. Don’t be a snotty know-it-all in your first job, but accept mentorship, and where you can offer insights and specific expertise, mentor upstream…Give the mentorship that you receive back.”
Cecil Bentley, who retired from Grady in August, was recognized with the Cox Institute’s Distinguished Service Award. Prior to his retirement, Bentley had served as the Cox Institute’s assistant director and leader of its annual Management Seminar for College News Editors.
Students participating in the leadership program met weekly during January and February with Keith Herndon, professor of practice in journalism and director of the Cox Institute. The sessions featured student discussion leaders guiding conversations about leadership principles drawn from the “Your Leadership Edge” course developed by the Kansas Leadership Center.
“The premise of this material is that you can ‘lead anytime, anywhere,’ and that is something I strongly believe in,” said Herndon. “Students entering the chaotic news industry find themselves leading teams and managing projects earlier and earlier in their careers. This program helps them understand proven leadership principles and how they can deploy them.”
The program features reading material and online video modules that focus on key elements of the training material, but the six live sessions were designed to foster discussion among the participants.
“Being a part of the Cox Leaders Program has given me the opportunity to engage and discuss important topics in journalism and leadership with fellow students,” said Cory Cole. “It has encouraged me to embrace change and to lead by doing things with my whole heart.”
Lauren Sloan said her “key takeaway is that a leader is not afraid of failure or change.” Denver Ellison added the program taught her how to approach leadership as a “learning process” that “involves practice and engaging with others.”
Unlike generic leadership programs, the Cox Institute Leaders program, places the discussion of leadership in the specific context of the news industry and the challenges facing newsroom leaders.
“The issues the media faces today are difficult and, at times, discouraging. But focusing in this program with media peers about those very subjects we’re about to face head on has made that chaos seem tamable,” said Miles Moraitis. “We have not just an opportunity, but an obligation to have the courage to solve these problems, and this program has given me confidence in that.”