NORMAN, OKLAHOMA — I’m happy to inform and confirm that Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who first became a member of the Native American Journalists Association more than a decade ago, will represent our organization on the UNITY Journalists for Diversity board of directors. He’ll serve as the new UNITY president beginning Jan. 1.
NAJA has been a part of the alliance that is UNITY since its founding in 1994. It currently includes the Asian American Journalists Association, NAJA and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. UNITY exists to serve all minorities in the news business and diversify newsrooms.
I’ve always known Russell to be a supporter of his colleagues and champion for diversity. He takes the helm of UNITY as the current leadership works to execute a plan that will advance the alliance’s mission by increasing year-round programming and initiatives. All ideas and plans put forward aim to improve the industry and opportunities for minority journalists, including members of NAJA.
Previously, UNITY focused on major conventions that brought together several journalism organizations once every four years.
Russell will bring invaluable experience, fresh ideas and tested leadership skills to his new post. The UNITY board voted unanimously Sunday afternoon for Russell to be the alliance’s next president.
Having worked with Russell for several years while an editor at the AP, I look forward to working with him again in the New Year through UNITY. I know he is a collaborator capable of energizing the organization for the good of NAJA and all of its partners.
I hope you will join me in congratulating and supporting Russell in his work. Additional NAJA appointments and nominations to the UNITY board will be forthcoming.
More about Russell:
Russell joined NAJA while still a student in 2001 and was AP’s NAJA intern in New Jersey in 2002. He is currently an AP reporter, photographer and videographer in Albuquerque, N.M., and his past news experience also includes reporting positions at the Boston Globe, AP Boston, and the Albuquerque Journal.
From 2010 to 2012, he served as the National Association of Hispanic Journalist’s financial officer, helping develop an austerity plan to turn a deficit of more than $250,000 into a $200,000 surplus within a year to avoid bankruptcy for the organization.
He also believes strongly in the notion important to NAJA of supporting the next generation of journalists, having been a mentor in the past at The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. In addition he has presented in past years at NAJA’s annual conference.
A member of a family that was involved in the Houston Civil Rights Movement, Russell is currently writing a book on President John F. Kennedy and Mexican Americans.
He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and a master’s from Columbia University. He is married to Mandi Torrez of McClave, Colo. The couple have a 1-year-old daughter, Ava.
UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, Inc. is a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about diversity — especially race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation — and aggressively challenging the industry to staff its organizations at all levels to reflect the nation’s diversity. (www.unityjournalists.org)