San Diego SPJ Board Elections Underway

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Now that we’ve all gotten through California’s primary election, it’s time for San Diego SPJ members to vote.

Members of the San Diego Pro Chapter are asked to vote for up to seven candidates running for the local board by Thursday, June 23 at 11:59 p.m. Ballots are set to go out on Thursday, June 9.

This year’s candidates are board incumbents Jill Castellano, Kelly Davis and Kristy Totten and newcomers Cody Dulaney, Jakob McWhinney, Bella Ross and Steve Walsh. You can read more about all of the candidates here

Didn’t receive a ballot in your inbox? Email us at spjsandiego (at)

2022 San Diego SPJ Board Candidates

It’s time for San Diego SPJ’s annual board elections.

San Diego Pro Chapter members, check your inboxes for election information on Thursday, June 9.

Here are the candidates running for election.

Jill Castellano
I have enjoyed my two years on the board of San Diego SPJ so far, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to accomplish important tasks while facing the COVID-19 pandemic. One of my proudest accomplishments was leading the diversity survey that measured the demographic background of editorial staff at newsrooms across San Diego. I learned a lot in the course of designing the survey and collecting the data, and I hope to use that to help improve upon the survey in the future and conduct it again to measure trends over time. I hope members choose to re-elect me to a second term.

Kelly Davis
Kelly Davis is a freelance investigative reporter who writes about incarceration and vulnerable populations. For the last several years, her work has focused on the high rate of deaths in San Diego County jails, prompting a state audit and proposed law to address deficiencies in jail medical and mental health care. Her stories have appeared in The Guardian, The Intercept, The Crime Report, Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Imprint and The Appeal and have been honored by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.

Cody Dulaney
I’m running to serve the board of the San Diego SPJ because I want to support and elevate impactful journalism in a community I have grown to love. I’m originally from Florida and moved around the South before landing here in San Diego nearly three years ago, and for the first time, I feel like I found a home. I want to do everything I can to make San Diego a better place to live, and that starts with a strong Fourth Estate that holds government officials and the systems they run to account. In my time with inewsource, my award-winning investigative reporting has revealed mismanagement and neglect in COVID-19 hotel shelters run by San Diego County. As an SPJ board member, I would passionately advocate for more government transparency in the region, and push elected leaders and their communication teams to serve as a conduit rather than a barrier to matters of public concern.

Jakob McWhinney
I’m running to serve on the SPJ board to help people from diverse backgrounds find their voice in an industry that’s long suffered from homogeneity. My path to journalism was not the standard one. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit I was laid off and went from playing in bands to reporting – first at San Diego City College’s City Times, then as Voice of San Diego’s intern. Later this month I’ll start as Voice’s new education reporter.
At its best, journalism strengthens communities and gives individuals opportunities to be heard. But those who would most benefit from it are frequently not being reached or included in the conversation. Our backgrounds give us unique perspectives, and I believe journalism would be better off if a wider range of people were encouraged to pursue a career in the field. SPJ is in a unique position to help accomplish this.

Bella Ross
Before landing my current role as a community engagement specialist for The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, I worked in six other San Diego newsrooms as a freelancer, intern and employee. Navigating the local media environment early in my career taught me a lot about different newsroom cultures and how young professionals experience transitioning into the industry, particularly in the digital era. I want to be on the SPJ San Diego board because I believe my experiences as an early-career journalist who was deeply involved in student media and has worked in various newsroom capacities – from a writer, to editor to social media specialist and more – puts me in an ideal position to support other young professionals and understand their needs. I’m also passionate about government accountability and making information accessible and want to play a bigger role in advocating for transparency in the city I love.

Kristy Totten
My name is Kristy Totten and I’m an award-winning journalist with experience in print and broadcast. I’m an opinion editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune where I host the San Diego News Fix podcast and serve on the editorial board.
​I was appointed to the San Diego SPJ board in 2021, and I’m running for a second term to continue my work in mentorship and diversity. We recently launched a semester-long program to connect college students and recent graduates with experienced media professionals. As co-chair of mentorship, I look forward to refining and expanding the program to improve opportunities for young journalists. I’m also a member of SD-SPJ’s diversity committee, which surveyed news outlets about staff diversity and is now planning speakers series and workshops to improve diversity in local newsrooms.
I’m passionate about these projects and building community among journalists, and I’d be honored to serve another term.

Steve Walsh
I’m the military and veterans reporter at KPBS. I’ve been in San Diego for nearly 7 years and I’d like to give something back to our journalistic community.
At times it feels like journalism itself is in jeopardy. Our jobs are often precarious. Our role is being called into question. At the same time, we are finally becoming more diverse and the profession is at least open to new ideas.
I hope we can work together, including across the border, to promote a more open, transparent and safe environment for all journalists.
I’ve been in public media for over a decade. I was part of a project of Chicago Public Radio to promote new media and to diversify the audience. Before that, I was a print reporter in Gary, Indiana. I’d really like to help out.

Who Should be San Diego’s Journalist of the Year?

Every year, the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honors a local journalist whose work had a major impact in our San Diego community. We’re now accepting nominations for the 2022 journalist of the year. We ask that the nomination focuses on a journalist’s coverage of a particular story or topic in 2021.

Recent awardees include the Union-Tribune’s Paul Sisson, KPBS’s Claire Trageser and author and columnist Jean Guerrero.

To nominate someone, click here. The winner will be announced along with our other awards in June and celebrated at our awards reception in July. More details on the ceremony to come!

SPJ-SD’s Annual Journalism Awards Contest Kicks off Monday, April 4


Need to renew your SPJ membership to take advantage of our special membership entry fees? Through Friday, May 6, SPJ is offering $25 off the regular membership price of $75 (the website still advertises the cost as $75, but trust us — it’s $50).


The 2022 SPJ San Diego Area Journalism Competition will recognize outstanding work by San Diego student and professional journalists published or broadcast during the 2021 calendar year. Contest entries will be accepted Monday, April 4, through Monday, May 2 at 9 p.m. May 9 at noon, PST. Awards submitted by 9 p.m. PST on Monday, April 25, will get a discounted entry rate (please see instructions for actual fees).

This year’s Distinguished Coverage Award will honor stories about education, either coverage of a specific issue or ongoing education coverage. Each outlet should submit its best story, series or show/program along with an essay of no more than 500 words explaining why the coverage merits recognition. This award is open to all outlets.

We are also accepting applications for five $1,000 scholarships (in print, photography and multimedia), one $1,000 Agnes Diggs scholarship from the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation and our $1,000 Bradley J. Fikes scholarship (preference is given to applicants who show an interest in science or technology reporting).

Winners of the awards and scholarships will be announced on Thursday, July 21, at our awards reception at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station.

Submit your entries using the BetterBNC Media Awards Platform. To register or enter the contest, open a new browser window or tab to Keep this window open to refer to as you submit your awards.

If you have entered other contests on this platform before, either for last year’s SD-SPJ competition or for the SD Press Club awards, you are already in the system.

Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have questions, please contact Terry Williams at 619-743-3669 or

All entries must be submitted online (except for entries in the College Media Best Newspaper category, which must be mailed and postmarked by the contest deadline to: SPJ P.O. Box 880482, San Diego, CA 92168-0482). All entries must be entered by or on behalf of the individuals who produced the work and must identify those individuals.

Best of luck to all of our applicants!

How to Enter

Contest Guidelines and Categories 2022

Scholarship Details

FAQs 2022