2013 AAJA-Philadelphia Executive Summary

The AAJA-Philadelphia chapter had a good year in 2013! We increased our membership, held a successful story-pitching event, gave out three scholarships, played a role as a media watchdog, and visited two places to learn more about our area. Please read below for more details. 

Highlights of 2013

Our Nov. 9 First Pitch event, held at Temple University, was an opportunity for aspiring, freelance and professional reporters to pitch story ideas to a panel of editors and receive feedback in front of an audience. Our editors panel consisted of Sandra Clark, Philadelphia Inquirer; David Lee Preston, Philadelphia Daily News; Brian Howard, Philadelphia Magazine; Brian Hickey, NewsWorks; and Eugene Sonn, WHYY. About 50 people attended. Thanks to AAJA-Philly’s mentorship program director Yowei Shaw for organizing this!

Scholarships: The chapter handed out three scholarships in 2013. Sara Khan, who graduated from Temple University in May, was the recipient of our John Curley Scholarship, which reimbursed her up to $1,000 to attend the AAJA National Conference in New York in August. By attending the conference, Sara made a contact at CNN, and then got a job with CNN in Atlanta!

The chapter also gave out two $500 Vijaya L. Balaji scholarships, which help pay the expenses for a college student who intends to pursue a journalism career and who is of low-to-moderate financial means. Anna Pan, a University of Pennsylvania student, and Camisha Brown, a Penn State student at the Schuylkill campus, were the two winners of this scholarship.

Media Watchdog: After noticing an article in Philadelphia City Paper that described Asian waitresses at an Uzbekistan restaurant as “exotic” and “almond-eyed,” board members Juliana Reyes and Yowei Shaw led the effort to write a letter to City Paper, whose editor then removed the offensive descriptions. AAJA National’s MediaWatch was also alerted about this issue; it posted the chapter’s letter on its website. Read the letter here.

Educational visits: Our chapter took two trips this year. In April, we visited the NBC10 news station in Bala Cynwyd. In addition to getting a tour and seeing a live broadcast, we were able to speak with Anzio Williams, the station’s vice president of news.

In June, we went to West Windsor, N.J., (near Princeton) to meet with the mayor, the head of the school board, and some of the town’s other Asian American leaders. West Windsor has a 37 percent Asian American population. Thanks to board member Rikki Massand for organizing this event!

Member Monday profiles: Michelle Shinseki, our social media director, came up with this idea to highlight the AAJA-Philadelphia membership. The profiles are short and fun, and have appeared on our website, https://aajaphiladelphia.wordpress.com/tag/member-monday/, about once a month.

Other items of note

Membership: AAJA-Philadelphia had 44 official members in 2013, an increase from the 41 members in 2012.

Please remember to renew your membership for 2014 and support our chapter!: http://www.aaja.org/join-aaja/

Donors: We’d like to give thanks to the following people  and companies:

  • John Curley, former president, chairman, and CEO of the Gannett Company, for his continued financial support of our chapter, including funding the John Curley Scholarship.
  • 6abc for its financial support.
  • Murali Balaji, board advisor, for funding the Vijaya L. Balaji Scholarship, in honor of his late mother.
  • Porus Cooper, board advisor, for donating money to help a member in financial need renew his/her membership.

In addition to receiving funds, our chapter also donated money in 2013. The board voted to give $1,000 to AAJA National’s JCamp program, which trains high school students in journalism skills.

National Convention in NYOur chapter had 14 members who attended the AAJA National convention in NY, the most of all the small chapters. For this, we were awarded two free Southwest Airlines tickets. Member Sara Khan won the tickets in a drawing at the convention.

Mentorship Program: Our mentorship program continued in 2013 with seven mentor-mentee pairs. Thanks to Yowei Shaw and Murali Balaji who oversaw this program.

Fall Elections: Most of our board members agreed to stay on the board for the 2014-15 year. We added a new board member, Stephen Jiwanmall, who is our student outreach coordinator. The other board members are: Julie Shaw, president; Michelle Lee, treasurer; Juliana Reyes, national advisory board representative; Yowei Shaw, mentorship program director, and Rikki Massand, secretary.

Board Advisors: We’d like to welcome David Boardman, the new dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication, as one of our new board advisors. Michelle Shinseki, who has stepped down from our board at the end of 2013, has agreed to stay on as a board advisor.


  • We had a brunch get-together at Michelle Shinseki’s place in February to kick off the year.
  • We held our annual mixer in June with the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania at SangKee Noodle House in University City.
  • We had two chapter meetings this year: in April at Yowei Shaw’s house and in September at Han Dynasty in University City.
  • We celebrated the end of the year at a holiday dinner get-together at Xi’an Sizzling Woks in Chinatown.

All the best,

Julie Shaw

AAJA-Philly president