December 14, 2009

NABJ Executive Director Resigns

Karen Wynn Freeman Held the Job Three Years

Karen Wynn Freeman, has resigned, NABJ (National Association of Black Journalist) President Kathy Times said on Friday. Times added that the organization remains challenged financially but declined to say why or exactly when Wynn Freeman resigned.

Wynn Freeman did not respond to a request for comment.

"She continues to work with us to tie up some loose ends," Times said of Wynn Freeman. "She's pursuing other options. It's a personnel matter."

Drew Berry, a former television general manager and news director who is a past chairman of NABJ's Finance Committee, will step in as a consultant, Times said. NABJ will not have to pay the remainder of Wynn Freeman's contract, she said.

Times said she would speak with NABJ members via the Internet "as soon as possible," saying, "It's important for us to inform the membership of some specifics."

She characterized the organization's finances as "very similar to what we told" the membership "just a little over two months ago."

Then, Times said NABJ had run into higher expenses than projected at its summer convention and was reducing staff, imposing furloughs and asking members for one-time tax-deductible donations.

The organization had to pay penalties for unused hotel rooms for the Tampa, Fla., event.

"While we exceeded our sponsorship goals and attendance goals, we are not surprised that we did not meet our contracted room block at the convention," Times said then. "Understandably, many people either doubled up or tripled up in rooms, leaving many rooms empty. Nobody knew when the contract was signed in 2005 that we would be facing the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression."

Times maintained again on Friday, "We really need our members to step up" and said the organization would announce the program for its summer convention in San Diego earlier than usual — at the end of January — to generate excitement.

Wynn Freeman came to NABJ in 2006 after a financial crisis. The organization discovered it had ended 2005 with a $200,000 deficit. The financial and management issues, undisclosed to the organization's membership, led to the surprise and sudden resignation of Tangie Newborn, at the time one of NABJ's longest-serving executive directors.

Wynn Freeman, a veteran association manager who had served as co-executive director of APICS — The Association for Operations Management — was chosen from among more than 45 applicants during a two-month national search, NABJ said at the time.

NABJ is the largest of the journalist-of-color associations and in September counted 2,820 members. Many more claim to be, even though their memberships have expired.

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