Dawn Garcia named next JSK director

Dawn E. Garcia, managing director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships Program at Stanford, has been named director of the program.

She will succeed James Bettinger, who is retiring August 31 after 27 years as director and deputy director. The appointment is effective Sept. 1.

Garcia, 56, was named to the position by Richard Saller, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. The appointment culminated an international search conducted by a seven-person search committee.

The JSK program each year brings 18 to 20 U.S. and international journalists and journalism entrepreneurs to Stanford. They focus on journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, and work on journalism challenges that they propose as part of the selection process. The program celebrates its 50th anniversary this year; its 1,000th fellow will be part of next year’s class.

“I am delighted that Dawn Garcia will lead the JSK Fellowship Program,” Saller said. “Her experience with the program and her dedication to nurturing diverse talent in journalism make her the right person for the role.”

Garcia has been managing director of the program since 2012, and was deputy director for 11 years before that. She came to the program in 2001 from the San Jose Mercury News, where she was assistant managing editor/metro. Before the Mercury News she had been a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Modesto Bee and the Oceanside Blade-Tribune.

Garcia was a fellow in the program in 1991-92. She earned a M.A. in Liberal Arts at Stanford in 2008 and a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1981.

“I feel ready for the honor and the challenge of leading the JSK Journalism Fellowships into its next era of championing journalists and journalism ideals — including innovation, diversity and press freedom,” said Garcia.  “It’s a privilege to build on Jim Bettinger’s legacy, which has kept the program nimble and focused on the core values of journalism.”

Garcia said she had been inspired by JSK Fellows and is eager to hear their ideas, as well as those of other journalists and innovators, about ways to increase the program’s impact, influence and visibility around the globe. She said she wanted to focus on fresh opportunities for partnerships to help the program help journalism at a crucial point in its history.

“I look forward to working with JSK Fellows around the world and partners at Stanford and in Silicon Valley to ensure the JSK Fellowships actively meets the challenges facing journalism. Together we’re going to see journalism into the future. We’ve got work to do.”

 “Dawn has been an outstanding managing director of the program,” Bettinger said, “and no one could be better prepared to be director. I’m looking forward to her leadership of the program in these disruptive times in journalism.”

Sandra Mims Rowe, chair of the JSK Board of Visitors, cited Garcia’s “distinguished record of leadership with the JSK Fellowships and in the wider journalism world. She has been instrumental in turning the program’s focus toward innovation and leadership while building on its diversity. With her leadership and experience, the program will address journalism’s significant challenges, serve its values and take full advantage of JSK’s home in the heart of Silicon Valley.”

Garcia has held a number of leadership roles in journalism organizations. She is currently the board president of the Institute for Justice and Journalism. She was president of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) from 2007 to 2009. She was also a member of the executive board of the California First Amendment Coalition from 2004 to 2006.

The JSK program was founded in 1966, as the Stanford Professional Journalism Fellowships program. After initial funding from the Ford Foundation, news organizations and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the program was put on a permanent, self-sustaining basis beginning in 1984 with a $4 million grant from the Knight Foundation.

Beginning with the 2009-10 fellowship year, the program shifted its focus from personal and professional improvement to journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Bettinger has been director of the program since 2000, after serving as deputy director for 11 years.