When Lisa Wilson ascended to the role of second vice president in 2018, she could already picture her incoming presidential speech two years in the future.
She imagined a ballroom room full of people at the APSE summer conference, where she would deliver her speech that was two years in the making. But when that moment came in 2020, however, it was through a laptop, looking at people with virtual backgrounds and black screens.
Wilson, the current Editorial Director for The Athletic, made three goals clear in her speech: increasing diversity in newsrooms, growing APSE’s mentorship and strengthening APSE student chapters around the country.
Even during a pandemic, the ways of achieving her goals may have changed, but the goals themselves never wavered.
Wilson, APSE’s first Black female president, wanted to give back to those who paved the way before her. She created the Garry D. Howard Scholarship in honor of her mentor and APSE’s first Black president, who opened the door for her and other young journalists of color.
“[Lisa] touched my heart when she told me she named a scholarship in my name, which once again brought a tear to my eye,” Howard said. “She wanted it to be known that people of color matter a great deal at APSE, and she wants to continue to turn the needle with that, and it’s been a blessing.”
Wilson hopes APSE will continue to advocate for diverse newsrooms through the APSE Diversity Pledge and that in-person events will resume soon, starting with this summer’s convention in Las Vegas.
“As challenging as it was to not be in-person and not getting to see anyone, it’s opened up other avenues of communication that we might’ve not done if it wasn’t for this pandemic,” Wilson said.
She expanded the mentorship program — which pairs a small-outlet sports editor with a colleague from a larger newsroom — from two pairs to six pairs, created a newsletter and a new scholarship. She did all this while pushing for APSE to become a premiere journalism organization. Wilson leaves office as a trailblazer for female journalists and journalists of color.
“She had to deal with so many changes this year in APSE, but she’s made out of steel,” Howard said. “She doesn't bend, and she’s going to do what it takes to get things done and she navigated those waters beautifully this year.”
Wilson will make her outgoing remarks during the summer convention. Incoming president Gary Potosky of the Philadelphia Inquirer will begin his transition into the president role from first vice president.
Wilson advises Potosky to set attainable goals as she did and to focus on the top priorities he wishes to fulfill during his time. Even if he doesn’t accomplish what he wants in the year, he can set those goals in motion that his first and second vice presidents can continue.
“That’s where I’m trying to hand it off to [Potosky] right now to take some of the things I’ve started and then build on them with some of his ideas as well,” Wilson said.
The pandemic has altered the structure and functions of many journalism newsrooms and organizations, but Wilson didn’t let that stand in the way of her completing her goals as APSE president.
“We’ve made some strides, there’s more work to be done,” Wilson said, “but I hope that people remember that I came in and gave it my all and tried to leave APSE a little better than how I found it.”