SD-SPJ congratulates our scholarship winners

Each year, the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awards up to five scholarships to local college students and recent graduates in the categories of print, photo and multimedia journalism. We also give out a scholarship to honor the memory of North County Times award-winning journalist Agnes Diggs and, this year, introduced the Bradley J. Fikes Scholarship to memorialize San Diego Union-Tribune science journalist Brad Fikes, who died in December 2019. All recipients receive $1,000 to cover the cost of their studies.

Congratulations to this year’s winners! They turned in some impressive work that underscored, once again, the breadth of talent among San Diego’s young journalists.

Print Journalism Scholarships

Jack Trent Dorfman, UC San Diego (check out Jack’s work)

Kaitlin Clapinski, San Diego Mesa College (check out Kaitlin’s work)

Julia Woock, Southwestern College (check out Julia’s work)

Andrew Ha, UC San Diego (check out Andrew’s work)

Multimedia Journalism Scholarship

Amber Salas, San Diego State University (check out Amber’s work)

Agnes Diggs Scholarship

Elaine Alfaro, Point Loma Nazarene University (check out Elaine’s work)

Bradley J. Fikes Scholarship

Katy Stegall, San Diego State University (check out Katy’s work)

We’ll be honoring our scholarship recipients and other special awards winners on Thursday, Sept. 23, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Stone Brewing in Liberty Station. Stay tuned for more details.

Welcome to our new board members!

Recently, SPJ San Diego had to say goodbye to two longtime board members, Tom Jones and Andrew Kleske. But we’re fortunate to have two talented journalists filling their seats. Please join us in welcoming Lynn Walsh and Kristy Totten to the board. You can read a bit more about them below.

Also, please SAVE THE DATE for our 2021 awards event. This year, we’re opting for something casual and outdoors, with lots of space to say hello to friends and colleagues you’ve missed over the last year and a half. The event will be held at Stone Brewing in Liberty Station the evening of Sept. 23. Mark your calendar and stay tuned for more information.

Lynn Walsh

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism for more than 10 years. Currently, she is a freelance journalist and the assistant director for the Trusting News project, where she works to help rebuild trust between journalists and the public by working with newsrooms to be more transparent about how they do their jobs. 

Lynn is also an adjunct professor at Point Loma Nazarene University where she teaches journalism and communication classes. She is a past national president and former ethics chair for the Society of Professional Journalists. Previously, Lynn led the NBC7 Investigates and NBC7 Responds teams in San Diego. Prior to working in California, she was a data producer and investigative reporter for the E.W. Scripps National Desk and worked as the investigative producer at WPTV NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach, FL. 

Lynn has won state and local awards as well as multiple Emmys for her stories. She loves holding the powerful accountable and spends more time than she would like fighting for access to public information. Lynn is a proud Bobcat alumna having graduated from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

Kristy Totten

Kristy Totten is a member of The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board and hosts two U-T podcasts, the San Diego News Fix and Name Drop San Diego

Before moving to San Diego in 2019, Kristy covered technology, education, government and the arts for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Public Radio and Las Vegas Weekly. As a freelancer, she has written about food and culture for NPR, Rolling Stone, Artsy, Thrillist and Vice. 

Kristy is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has a regional Emmy for documentary writing at VegasPBS and shares an AP Radio award for coverage of the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas. 

As a board member, Kristy looks forward to building community with San Diego journalists, improving representation in local news coverage and encouraging young journalists to get more involved in SPJ and the local journalism community. 

It’s San Diego SPJ Election Time

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is kicking off its annual board election.

Incumbent board members Bianca Bruno, Matthew Halgren, Lisa Halverstadt, Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Lauren J. Mapp and Arthur Santana are up for re-election this year. You can read about the candidates here.

SPJ members will receive a link to vote via email and should vote by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 25. Members may only vote once.

Election results will be announced by early July. If you think you did not receive a ballot and are a current San Diego pro chapter member, please email the board at spjsandiego (at)

2021 San Diego SPJ Board Candidates

It’s time for San Diego SPJ’s annual election.

Here are the incumbents up for re-election.

Bianca Bruno

Bianca Bruno is the San Diego reporter for national online legal and politics website Courthouse News. She is currently SD SPJ secretary and has served on the board for three years.

While on the SD SPJ board I have advocated for young journalists, women and POC journalists and have served as chair of the Diversity Committee.

In 2020, I spearheaded our board’s efforts to establish a Journalist Relief Fund for San Diego journalists who lost full-time or freelance work during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through the fund, our board was able to give out more than $4,400 in grants to local journalists in 2020.

I also represented SD SPJ at the National SPJ conference in San Antonio in 2019 and currently work to amplify the work of our board and local professional and college journalists through our chapter’s social media channels and communications.

If re-elected, I will continue to prioritize ways to give back to SD SPJ members. I hope to have your vote to continue working on behalf of San Diego journalists and to collaborate with our professional journalist organization colleagues.

Matthew Halgren

As a First Amendment lawyer, I advise members of San Diego’s news media industry on all matters related to the reporting process, and I help them to avoid the legal pitfalls that can accompany the work of a free press. I have been honored to serve on the SDSPJ board since 2018, and it has been my great pleasure to work with this outstanding group to protect the rights of journalists throughout San Diego. If reelected, I look forward to continuing to lend my expertise to our chapter’s efforts to support, educate, and advocate for journalists in our community.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego who has served on the local SPJ board since 2013. She is a previous board president and has been a champion of the board’s increased focus on advocacy for local journalists and greater government transparency in recent years. She now serves on the board’s diversity and communications committees, and is passionate about what San Diego SPJ can do to help increase diversity and equity in local newsrooms. In her day job, Halverstadt reports extensively on San Diego’s homelessness crisis, city real estate debacles and other local government issues. Before joining VOSD in 2012, Halverstadt was a reporter at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

Elizabeth Marie Himchak

Incumbent Elizabeth Marie Himchak has served on the SPJ San Diego board since January 2019. She has chaired the contest/awards committee the past two years and added membership chair duties this year. Himchak has also been on the scholarship committee for two years. Prior to joining the board, she was an awards banquet committee member.

I have become very involved with board decisions, taken on leadership roles, assisted with SPJ chapter events and completed other board duties, such as judging contest entries from out-of-state chapters. I would appreciate your vote for another term.

Himchak is editor of the Rancho Bernardo News Journal and Poway News Chieftain, part of Union-Tribune Community Press. Before her promotion to editor in April 2020, she was a reporter for the newspapers for 15 years. Her beat included community news and events, politics, community government, schools, crime and the Palomar Health district. She is also the newspapers’ theater reviewer. The University of San Diego alumna started in journalism at The Vista, USD’s campus newspaper. Her professional career began as a freelance writer for newspapers such as The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Southern Cross.

Lauren J. Mapp

Lauren J. Mapp is the caregiving, senior care and Indigenous communities reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune. She previously wrote for inewsource, North Coast Current, Times of San Diego, The Daily Aztec at SDSU and was the editor in chief of The Mesa Press. Mapp was also a staff writer at Indian Time and The People’s Voice on the Akwesasne Kanien’kehá ka (Mohawk) Reservation before moving to San Diego in 2005. 

As a graduate of the journalism programs at San Diego State University and Mesa College, Mapp strives to give back to the next generation of journalism students through volunteering in honor of those who mentored and supported her during academic journey. During her first term on the SPJ board, she helped launch an initiative to improve diversity in San Diego’s media scene and increase equitable coverage of underrepresented communities. She has also volunteered as a mentor and guest speaker for college students and classes throughout the county. 

Mapp hopes to continue her support of media diversity and equity if elected for a second term on the board. 

Arthur Santana

I am a journalism professor at San Diego State University. For the past 13 years, I have taught and researched journalism. My research appears in peer-reviewed journals. Prior to joining academia, I was a reporter and editor for 14 years, including at the San Antonio Express-News, The Seattle Times and The Washington Post. I earned a B.A. from the University of Texas, an M.S. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. My first academic appointment was at the University of Houston. I joined SDSU in 2015. I have been advisor to the SDSU SPJ chapter for three years. I have been a SD pro chapter member since 2019.