Merritt resigns JEA director-at-large role as she pursues career change

Merritt resigns JEA director-at-large role as she pursues career change

By Sarah Nichols, MJE, JEA president

Caption: JEA board members honor Katie Merritt, MJE, at the end of her final monthly meeting as director-at-large.

The Journalism Education Association announced today that Katie Merritt, MJE, has resigned from her director-at-large position as she transitions from the journalism classroom to a new career.

Merritt started her own company, Design Optimism Group, and plans to work with yearbook representatives to support them and the scholastic journalism programs they service through workshops and individual consultations.

She said she leaves with fond memories and fun moments from her time on the board. 

“Serving on the JEA board was an opportunity like nothing else I’ve ever done, and I’m so grateful for the professional relationships and friendships formed during my time on the board,” Merritt said. “I will miss the opportunity for community through our monthly meetings where we talked about what was best for JEA and its members. I truly enjoyed learning from each other — as we all came from a variety of backgrounds each with our own unique experiences — and working together to share this knowledge with members.”

The position will remain vacant for the remainder of the three-year term, which ends April 30, 2023.

“I’ll miss working with Katie. She brings a contagious energy to projects, and she’s kept us laughing. JEA has benefited from her ability to connect advisers with each other, particularly those who are new to scholastic media advising,” Director-at-Large Brenda Field, MJE, said.

Rather than fill the board vacancy for such a short time period, JEA President Sarah Nichols, MJE, decided to focus on developing a robust slate of candidates for the next JEA election. Any teacher-adviser member in good standing is eligible to run for a position on the board of directors to serve a three-year term. Information about each position is available here.

“I want to invite each member reading this to consider serving your organization as a JEA board member. The opportunity to work alongside such passionate educators is rewarding on multiple levels,” Nichols said. “One of my goals for the next few months is to have as many personal conversations as possible with prospective candidates so we draw a wide range of teachers and advisers toward leadership roles. Each elected leader plays a role in crafting goals and strategies to serve our members and strengthening JEA for the future.”

The election cycle begins informally in August 2022, with members announcing their candidacy by Oct. 1, 2022, and a formal slate presented to the membership in November at the fall membership meeting. Details and timelines will be shared at, in member newsletters, on the association’s social media and via JEAHELP.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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