Who ARE These Guys? Meet The NINA Board 2019!

NINA Officers 2019
NINA officers 2019. From left to right, Fuller, Mendoza, Campana, Slonoff, Sloup.

It’s not your grandpa’s NINA anymore.

We’re shaking things up in 2019, with a new slate of officers, a little more youth and diversity and some bold new ideas.

Who’s the “we” in this case?

A new class of board members and new officers was elected at the year-end meeting of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association — which represents daily and non-daily newspapers, news websites, educators and freelance journalists in northern Illinois.

Fuller Executive Session IMG_3573Jim Fuller, senior writer for the Daily Herald and adviser to the student newspaper at College of DuPage, is the new president.

Margarita Mendoza, editor of El Observador, the Spanish language newspaper of the Diocese of Rockford was elected first vice president.

Dan Campana, a freelance writer, was elected second vice president and Jim Slonoff, publisher of the Hinsdalean is treasurer. Tammie Sloup, editor of The Times of Ottawa, became past president.

Fuller’s vision for the year is a more visible and vocal NINA, with members who are willing to be active proponents of the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate.

That’s something NINA has done for 56 years, serving the journalists and educators in Northern Illinois in conjunction with the Northern Illinois University Communication Department.

For more information, check out the NINA website or our new brochure. For information on how to join, click the JOIN button in the navigation bar or contact Shelley Hendricks at shendricks@niu.edu or 815-753-4239.

But the NINA board isn’t limited to its board of directors. Take a look at some of the names and experiences of NINA’s 2019 board:

FullerJames Fuller is a senior writer at the Daily Herald covering the 14th Congressional District, Kane County and general news features. His work has also appeared in the Sun-Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal and papers in Hawaii and Arkansas. He also oversees the editorial and business operations of the Courier student newspaper at the College of DuPage and is on the board of the Illinois Community College Journalism Association.

Mendoza, Margarita-2016

Margarita Mendoza is the editor of El Observador, the Spanish language newspaper of the Diocese of Rockford. She is also the director of Panamericano Hoy, a publication focusing on positive information, and directs the Latino Film Festival in Elgin and Aurora. She is author in “Today’s Inspired Latina Volume 4.”

Dan Campana headshotDan Campana spent nearly a decade as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers in the Chicago suburbs. He has been a freelance writer with a focus on niche publications since 2010. He joined the NINA board in 2015.

Jim Slonoff.jpgJim Slonoff is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a major in photojournalism. Slonoff worked at The Northern Star as a photographer, photo editor and managing editor. After graduation he spent 25 years at The Doings, starting as photographer and finishing as publisher. Today he is co-owner of the Hinsdalean in Hinsdale.

Tammie Sloup headshotTammie Sloup graduated from Eastern Illinois University and started her career at The Star in Tinley Park. In 2002, she was hired as a reporter at the Ottawa Daily Times, covering everything from the La Salle County Board to the city of Ottawa, crime and courts. In 2009 she was promoted to news editor and in 2015 to managing editor.

Phil Jurik headshot TIGHTPhil Jurik is metro editor at the Chicago Tribune. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and has a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois, Springfield. Previously he has been editor of the Tribune’s Suburban News Group and deputy metro editor.

Roger Ruthhart HEADSHOTRoger Ruthhart is the retired editor of The Dispatch-Rock Island Argus-QC Online in the Quad-Cities. The graduate of Bradley University spent his 50-year journalism career in northern Illinois and has served on the NINA board since 1986 including several terms as president. He also served on the board of the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors for more than three decades and was inducted into the prestigious Lincoln League of Journalists by IAPME. His son covers city hall for the Chicago Tribune.

DCF 1.0

Penny Wiegert is the director of Communication and Publications and editor of The Observer, official Catholic newspaper for the Diocese of Rockford where she has been since 1986. In addition to serving NINA for more than a decade, she is a past president of the Catholic Press Association for the United States and Canada and serves on the Catholic Media Conference National Planning Committee and board of the Catholic Journalism Scholarship Fund.

Cristi KempfCristi Kempf is the executive editor of Chicago-based PCMA Convene, which covers the business events industry online and in a monthly print magazine. Previously she was the associate managing editor for editing and presentation at the Chicago Tribune, overseeing editing and production for the Tribune and its other Illinois daily and weekly papers as well as shared content for all Tribune Newspapers. Before joining the Tribune, Kempf lived in Rome, where she worked for magazines and Vatican Radio, and freelanced for the Chicago Sun-Times, where she had previously been features editor.

Jay DickersonJay Dickerson is the advertising manager of The Galena Gazette where he’s worked since 2003. During that time, The Galena Gazette has been honored numerous times by the Illinois Press Association as sweepstakes winner for both news and advertising.

Eric OlsonEric Olson is general manager of Shaw Media’s DeKalb office, which includes the Daily Chronicle, MidWeek and Valley Life newspapers. He has been a working journalist for almost 20 years in news, business, and sports.

Etheredge mugshotJohn Etheredge is editor of the Record Newspapers for Shaw Media in Yorkville which publishes the Oswego Ledger, Kendall County Record, Plano Record, Sandwich Record and KendallCountyNow.com. He is a Northern Illinois University journalism grad and has spent his entire professional career with the Record Newspapers and has won numerous news, editorial and featuring writing awards. He has been on the NINA Board since 1991 and oversees the NINA High School Journalist of the Year Scholarship program launched in 1997.

Rick Nagel headshot 2Rick Nagel is editor of Kane County Connects, an electronic outreach initiative of Kane County government. His sordid past includes (but is not limited to) stints as founding editor of Geneva Patch, vice president of editorial for Sun-Times West Region, editor-publisher of The Beacon-News, managing editor of Press-Republican newspapers in Geneva and editor in chief of Press Publications in Elmhurst.

Tom Parisi.pngTom Parisi has worked for two decades as a media relations specialist at Northern Illinois University, specializing in publicizing science and research. He previously worked as a reporter, editor and columnist in the western suburbs.

Pat SzpekowskiPat Szpekowski, APR is president of PR Strategies & Communications in Elgin, a full-service advertising agency/public relations firm founded in 1987. Services include writing, media relations, custom graphic design, and candid event photography. She is an award-winning freelance writer with recognition from the Catholic Press Assn., Illinois Women’s Press Assn., National Federation of Press Women, and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Assn.

Joe BieskJoe Biesk is an editor on the Chicago Tribune’s politics desk. He previously was the editor of the Daily Southtown, Post-Tribune, News-Sun and Joliet Herald-News. Before that, he was a reporter for The Associated Press in Chicago and the Kentucky statehouse. He’s a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting Program.

hendricksShelley Hendricks, NINA communications director, is adviser of Northern Illinois University’s student-run newspaper, the Northern Star. Before joining NIU in 2012, she worked from 1996 to 2009 at the Rockford Register Star as a copy editor, assistant news editor, assistant business editor, community news editor, metro editor and editor of Rockford Woman magazine. She was a copy editor at the Kane County Chronicle and on the staff of The Spectator, the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire. 

Jason Akst mug AJason Akst, NINA executive secretary, has been in journalism and public relations for more than 30 years as an educator and practitioner. He teaches journalism and public relations at Northern Illinois University. He also serves as a fill-in reporter for the (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.