IJEA State Director Brenda Field honored at 2019 National Journalism Convention

December 3, 2019

Brenda Field, MJE, yearbook adviser at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview and IJEA board member, has been named one of this year’s five recipients of the Journalism Education Association’s Medal of Merit.

Field, who serves as the JEA’s state director for Illinois, received the award at the 2019 JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, which took place Nov. 21-24 in Washington, D.C.

Brenda Field
JEA MEDALIST: Brenda Field, Glenbrook South High School, 2019 recipient of the Journalism Education Association’s Medal of Merit. (Brenda Field/JEA photo)

The award is given annually to individuals who have contributed significantly to the JEA and to scholastic journalism throughout their careers.

The other honorees this year were Connie Fulkerson, Journalism Education Association, Manhattan, Kan.; Pete LeBlanc, Antelope High School, Antelope, Calif.; Leland Mallett, Legacy High School, Mansfield, Texas; and Carmen Wendt, Scottsdale, Ariz.

IJEA members are well aware of how deserving Field is of this recognition. In 2017, she was inducted into the IJEA Hall of Fame along with her predecessor as Illinois state director, Stan Zoller, after they led the successful push for the Illinois New Voices student press rights law.

Among journalism educators, Field is known nationally as one of the leading experts on yearbook journalism. Her Glenbrook South students have consistently won top honors for their book, Etruscan, including multiple NSPA Yearbook Pacemaker awards.

In her role as state director, Field also administers the Illinois Journalist of the Year contest, maintaining and updating the online submission process and ensuring that Illinois is well represented in the national competition each spring.

Here is what the JEA said of Field in its announcement of this year’s winners. The following is reprinted from the JEA’s official press release:

Brenda Field, MJE, has become a powerhouse supporter for scholastic journalism, giving her time to multiple causes over the past few years, to help the state of the programs in Illinois and around the country.

“Brenda succeeded me as Illinois state director, a position she still has, and continues to serve JEA members in Illinois with a diligence any state director would envy,” nominator Stan Zoller, MJE, said. “Handling state director responsibilities, which include Illinois’ Journalist of the Year competition, seems like second nature for Brenda, who not only meticulously coordinates entries, but the judging as well.”

Field’s services extend far beyond the requirements of her role as state director, though. As the New Voices movement began, Field worked alongside Zoller to ensure that scholastic journalists in Illinois received new press rights.

“Where I got to see Brenda as a true scholastic journalism titan was during the successful quest for HB 5902 — which in July of 2016 became Illinois Public Act 0678, The Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act — Illinois’ New Voices law,” Zoller said. “I saw Brenda’s amazing strategic insights at work, which helped propel the bill through the Illinois legislature. Brenda’s involvement in the pursuit of 99-0678 could serve as a template for other journalism educators fighting for scholastic press rights.”

Shortly after Field completed her work on the New Voices act, she said ‘yes’ again to another big position — local committee chair for Chicago’s 2018 JEA/NSPA convention.

“Brenda led her 40-member committee to host the second-largest national convention in JEA history,” Susan Hathway Tantillo, MJE, said. “Her committee included current and retired advisers from Illinois and Indiana, from Chicago suburbs, from those who had never attended a national convention to veterans, from scholastic to collegiate ranks. Brenda has a knack for including everyone who wants to be included.”

Congratulations to Brenda from everyone here at the Illinois Journalism Education Association. As Stan Zoller said, she is a true scholastic journalism titan!

Dave Porreca, CJE, has been a member of IJEA since 1995 and served as IJEA president from 2001 to 2004. He taught journalism and advised student news publications from 1995 to 2010 at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana, where his students were NSPA Pacemaker finalists nine times and winners six times. His students were the 2009 IHSA journalism state champions and the 2008 runners-up. He currently works as the web/media specialist for Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401.


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