An informal gathering of National Newspaper Publishers Association board members and publishers has galvanized the 79-year-old organization and has served to renew its commitment as the voice of Black America.
Though it was not an official board of directors meeting, the two-day planning session and retreat in Houston included NNPA executive board members: NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards; First Vice Chair Janis Ware; Second Vice Chair Fran Farrer; Treasurer Brenda Andrews; and Secretary Jackie Hampton.
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., also attended the gathering and Sonya Ware of Blue Beagle Consulting served as the facilitator.
“We have a lot of talented publishers in this organization who are very knowledgeable,” said Richards, who in June won election as chair by an overwhelming vote of the publishers.
“The tranquil location provided a peaceful environment. It was an opportunity that allowed my thoughts and energy to focus on the future of NNPA, especially at a time when the newspaper industry is evolving and transforming,” said Ware, the publisher of the Atlanta Voice newspaper.
“Change is inevitable, and the NNPA must adapt to the change to propel ourselves into the future. The African American newspapers have captured the history of our communities. And, the people we serve in a positive light will reflect our contributions to the world and will speak to the powerful legacy of our people,” said Ware, adding, “I am excited about the future of our newspapers and the future of the National Newspaper Association. The new leadership has adopted a position of inclusiveness and expansion of our members, providing an opportunity for growth,” she continued.
Farrer, the publisher, and editor of The County News in Statesville, N.C., called the informal gathering “awesome,” adding that she is excited to be with the new team, which has a clear vision for the future.
“The new team will increase visibility and the comfortability of all our member publishers,” Farrar said. “We made great plans, and we did teamwork. There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team,’ and that was very obvious with this new team,” she said.
Farrar senses a “new Black Press of America.”
“I think everyone at NNPA will be proud to call themselves members and I see new publishers who will want to join. I am so proud to be a member of this board,” she said.
Andrews, the publisher of the New Journal & Guide in Norfolk, Va., said she believes the new administration has begun a bonding process that’s necessary in creating a strong team for the NNPA membership.
“Rather than a retreat, I would call our two-day gathering an advance,” Andrews said.
“By that I mean the energy and synergy in the room suggested that those present were on board to work together in moving the organization forward and excited about the direction given by Board Chair Karen Carter Richards,” she said.
“I am so happy to share that the Board of Director’s informal retreat exceeded my hopes and expectations,” said Hampton, the publisher of the Mississippi Link in Jackson.
“I am leaving Houston energized, ignited and ready to do my part in fulfilling the mission of the association and the needs of member publishers throughout the nation,” Hampton said.
“Regardless of our various backgrounds, size of the market, or size of publication, we are more alike than we are different because our needs are practically the same. This board, with the assistance of an excellent facilitator, connected in a way that convinced me we can reach new and greater heights of success,” Hampton said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the right leadership is in place and we will work side by side as we allow our CEO, Dr. Ben Chavis and his staff carry out the needs of the officers and members of NNPA,” she said.
For Richards, who publishes the Houston Forward Times, the gathering is just a foregleam of good things to come for the NNPA.
She said the informal gathering, which included all who comprise the NNPA executive committee, helped to jump-start what’s sure to be a banner year in 2020, the 80th anniversary of the storied organization.
“It was insightful, reaffirming, marvelous, and encouraging. Everyone was energized and grateful,” Richards said.
“There’s going to be a rebranding of the NNPA. After so much that we’ve been through to this point, we want us to all be of one accord and come together and identify, understand, and come up with solutions to address the needs of the member publishers,” Richards said.
“The mission is to elevate the NNPA. This is what has to be done because we are the original Black Press of America,” she said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but we’re going to have fun doing it.”
The NNPA “is now especially blessed with an outstanding, competent, and well-experienced executive board leadership team led by NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards,” said Chavis.
“The two-day informal board retreat in Houston was a celebration of our new leadership and revived spirit to sustain the present and future transformative legacy of the publishing excellence of the Black Press of America via print, digital, and social media,” Chavis said.