Nominees for officer and director positions for 2023-24

From June 5 to 11, our chapter will hold an election to fill officer positions and seats on the board of directors for the coming year. Here are the nominees, who would take office beginning July 1:


PresidentMechelle Hankerson started her career at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., covering communities on the outskirts of Raleigh and later became the Raleigh City Hall reporter. After two years, she went to her hometown newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, where she covered her hometown, Virginia Beach. She took a chance in 2018 to join the nonprofit startup The Virginia Mercury to cover state government. She spent two years there and then moved to radio journalism at WHRO Public Media in Norfolk. She started as a reporter and quickly became news director, a position she currently holds. Mechelle is currently the secretary of the SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter. 

Vice PresidentElliott Robinson, the news director at VPM, has more than 15 years of experience in editing and newsroom managerial roles. He began his career as a reporter and columnist at The Progress-Index in Petersburg and went on to work in leadership roles at the Hopewell News, The Daily Progress in Charlottesville and Charlottesville Tomorrow before taking the position to direct news coverage for the NPR/PBS affiliate serving Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Elliott is currently the SPJVA vice president and would continue in that role for the coming year.

SecretaryRoberta Oster is a senior producer at VPM, leading the production of “VPM News Focal Point,” a weekly broadcast. She was previously communications director at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, served as associate dean for external relations at the University of Richmond School of Law and ran her own communications firm. She launched her career in New York, where she worked for two decades as a producer for NBC News “Dateline,” CBS, and ABC Network News. Roberta holds an MPA from Harvard University Kennedy School and a BS from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and was a Knight Professional Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

Treasurer — Brian Eckert is an independent media consultant and freelance writer with decades of experience in news and public relations, ranging from television news director to the media relations director for major universities. He has held leadership roles with SPJ at the national and state levels, was twice named SPJ’s Regional Director of the Year and in 2020 won the society’s Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for his service to the organization. Brian has served as the treasurer of the SPJ Virginia Pro Chapter for many years. He also is treasurer and executive director of the Virginia SPJ,SDX Educational Foundation, the chapter’s philanthropic arm.


Director 1, 3-year term (expiring 2026; succeeding Frances Broaddus-Crutchfield, whose term expired) – Jeff South, who served as president of SPJVA from 2019 to 2021, is an associate professor emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he taught journalism from 1997 to 2020. Previously, he was a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 20 years in Texas, Arizona and Virginia. Jeff continues to freelance and conduct journalism training; as a Fulbright Specialist, he recently held workshops for journalists in Mongolia.

Director 2, 3-year term (expiring 2026) – Nicole Livas, an anchor and special projects reporter for WVEC-13News Now (ABC) in Hampton Roads, would continue in this position. An Emmy-nominated multimedia journalist, Nicole has been an anchor/producer for Voice of America in Washington, D.C., and worked for WAVY-TV and WVBT-TV in Norfolk and at television stations in Rhode Island and Ohio. She has been voted best female newscaster by Coastal Virginia Magazine’s readers several times. Nicole also has been recognized by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters and Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals.

Director 5, 3-year term (expiring 2026; succeeding Brian Carleton, whose term expired) – Alix Bryan-Campos is an award-winning journalist and journalism educator with more than 14 years working in publishing. Alix is an assistant professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she teaches journalism and directs VCU Capital News Service, a student-powered newswire. She also is the faculty adviser for the SPJ chapter at VCU. Alix previously worked as an interactive producer at WTVR (CBS 6) and as a reporter for

In accordance with our bylaws, the election will be held via an online ballot that we will send to all SPJVA members. (That means everyone who is current on their national and local SPJ dues. You can check your membership status at

If you do not receive an email with the ballot but you believe you are eligible to vote in the election, contact us at

The deadline to vote in the election will be 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 11.

The SPJVA board of directors also will include the following members who are not up for election:

  • Chuck Jackson — Director 3 (expiring 2024)
  • Desiree Montilla — Director 4 (expiring 2024)
  • Hawes Spencer — Director 6 (expiring 2024)
  • Deana Meredith — Director 7 (expiring 2025)
  • Chris Tyree — Director 8 (expiring 2025)
  • Brett Hall — Director 9 (expiring 2025)
  • Dina Weinstein — Ex officio member as the chapter’s immediate past president
  • Robin Reed, faculty adviser to the SPJ chapter at Virginia Tech — Ex officio member as the board’s student chapter representative

Besides choosing officers and directors, SPJVA will hold a separate election from June 26 to June 2 to consider proposed changes to the chapter’s bylaws.

Published by SPJ Virginia Pro

SPJ is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.

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