Veteran journalist Jeff Ballou will serve as the first African-American male president of the National Press Club come January.
The club announced the appointment of the news editor for Al Jazeera Media Network on Sunday, Dec. 11. He will also be the first to represent a foreign news organization in this role.
“I am deeply honored to step into this role,” Ballou said. “I am the bookend, at least for African-Americans, the dividend recipient of more than a century of toil and sacrifice.”
Ballou thanked his late parents, his “Pittsburgh values” and his mentors in journalism.
Ballou moved to Washington in 1990, joined the press club in 1992, and in 2012 was elected to the NPC board, where he currently serves as vice president.
He will be sworn in on Saturday, Jan. 14 in a Pittsburgh-themed inaugural gala, in tribute to his hometown.
Among his priorities will be “strengthening the bond among members,” attracting top newsmakers, providing professional development and fighting for press freedom, including convening a summit of news organizations.
“The Press Club, when it speaks, it must speak with authority, it must speak with power, it must speak deliberately, and it must be very measured,” he said.
Ballou’s journalism experience includes planning editor at WTTG-TV (Channel 5), general assignment reporter at CONUS and a White House producer. He also has worked at C-SPAN, WAMU, WTOP and National Public Radio.
His professional accolades during his 25-year career include team coverage conferrals such as DuPonts via Columbia University, Peabodys from the University of Georgia, Edward R. Murrows from the Radio Television Digital News Association, Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and spot-news awards from The Associated Press.
He graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and African-American studies from Penn State University.
He received the Hearst Broadcast News Fellowship, and took graduate coursework and taught at Howard University while earning a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from American University.
Ballou joins Sheila Cherry as the only African-Americans who have served as Press Club president. She served in 2004, the first black woman president in the club’s 108-year history.
Also elected Friday were Andrea Snyder Edney of Bloomberg as vice president, Jen Judson of Defense News as secretary, Ferdous “Danny” Al-Faruque of the Gray Sheet as treasurer and Michele Salcedo of The Associated Press as membership secretary.