Stephen Komives named new executive director of SND

The Society for News Design has named veteran board member and industry leader Stephen Komives as its executive director.

Komives, Design Editor at the Orlando Sentinel in Orlando, Fla. for the past five years, has also directed the Society’s quick course design workshops since 2007. In his eight years on SND’s board of directors, he has also served as SND Diversity Director and organized two annual SND conventions — 2006 in Orlando and 2002 in Savannah, Ga. His first day as SND executive director will be Nov. 16.

Komives was chosen through an international search process coordinated by 12 SND leaders in five countries and was confirmed unanimously by the board of directors today. He succeeds Elise Burroughs, SND’s executive director since 2004, who is leaving the organization at the end of the year to explore new options.

In making its selection, the search committee lauded Komives for his deep understanding of the issues facing SND, his strong ideas about driving membership and participation, his fortitude in handling big change and his passionate, optimistic leadership style. Komives, who is fluent in Spanish, also has an impressive international background that will facilitate the Society’s global outreach efforts.

SND founder and former SND President Richard Curtis, who anchored the search committee, said Komives typifies all that SND was looking for in a successful candidate: a mastery of his craft, in-depth knowledge of the industry, a commitment to inclusion and diversity, and above all, talent.

“Stephen is articulate, thoughtful, obviously very, very bright,” said Curtis, a founding editor of USA Today. “He has a level-headed assessment of what the job entails, what the job can do, and what success will look like. His answers to our questions were succinct, engaging and illuminating. I have trouble even imagining a superior candidate.”

At the Orlando Sentinel, Komives oversaw the organization’s visual report, developing a team of information designers in print and digital media. He successfully led that team through several challenging transitions, including multiple redesigns and staff reorganizations; the launch of new sections; corporate-level content sharing initiatives; and the creation of a digital-first newsroom.

Prior to joining the Sentinel, he was at the Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., for nine years, the last seven as a planning editor for daily coverage and long-term projects. He also held editing and design jobs at the Santa Fe New Mexican and The Advocate in Stamford, Conn.

“SND has always been about transitions, whether for members moving on to new roles, or news organizations grappling with new ventures,” said Komives. “At every key transition point in my career — learning to design, learning to lead others, learning to lead change — SND has had immense value to me. That’s why I’m excited to take on this role and help give back.”

Komives is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

The 30-year-old Society for News Design represents 1,300 visual journalists in more than 50 countries. As executive director, Komives will be responsible for both the long-term and day-to-day management of the society and its enterprises, including member services, publications, educational direction, design competitions and annual conventions. He will represent SND to other organizations around the world and will work closely with the president of the SND Foundation, the nonprofit education and research effort of SND.

Members of the search committee were:

• SND President-elect Kris Viesselman, Director of Digital Product Development for National Geographic Maps

• Vice President Bonita Burton, Visuals Editor at the Orlando Sentinel

• Secretary/Treasurer Steve Dorsey, Deputy Managing Editor for Innovation at the Detroit Free Press

• Immediate Past President Gayle Grin, Managing Editor for Design and Graphics at the National Post

• International Director Hans Peter Janisch, a consultant with Zeitungs-und Kommunikationsdesign in Grossenlueder, Germany

• Competition and Judging Director C. Marshall Matlock, Emeritus Professor at Syracuse University

• Region 3 Director Melissa Angle; Senior Designer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

• Education and Training Director Denise Reagan, Assistant Managing Editor for Visual Journalism at the Florida Times-Union

• Executive Committee Advisor Cristobal Edwards, Professor of Visual Journalism at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago

• SNDS member Anna Thurfjell, Design Director at Svenska Dagbladet in Stockholm

• SND Past President Nanette Bisher, former Creative Director of the San Francisco Chronicle

• SND Founder and Past President Richard Curtis, retired Managing Editor for Photo and Graphics at USA Today


This has been a complicated, thorough search and I’m grateful to the committee members who donated so much time and energy to vetting this decision. Twelve SND leaders in five countries narrowed down more than 70 applications to three finalists. The group as a whole interviewed all three by phone before two finalists were interviewed in person in Washington, D.C. by President-Elect Kris Viesselman, Vice President-Elect Steve Dorsey and SND founder Richard Curtis.

All of us who’ve had the privilege of working with Stephen know how tremendous he will be in this position. If I may speak for all the visual journalists in Orlando, you’re truly in the very best hands.

Stephen leaves us with a legacy of creativity, innovation and sky’s-the-limit thinking. He’s going to be an excellent partner to Kris, Steve and Secretary/Treasurer Jonathon Berlin.

A bittersweet day in Orlando. But congratulations, Stephen, and congratulations to SND!

I couldn’t be happier for my good friend. He’s been a driving force in my career and as fun to work with as anyone I’ve ever known. It’s hard to not be a little sad, but SND couldn’t be in better hands.

Congrats, Stephen. I think you will do a wonderful job with this new task. A great choice. See you at SND Denver 2010.

This is fantastic news — Stephen is a top-notch pick for this position, and a first-class person to boot. Congratulations to both the Society and Stephen!

I sit next to Stephen every day and will miss being teased about Kirk Gibson. But, on a serious note, I think this role is perfect for Stephen’s talents. Congrats to him and to SND.

Stephen, a hearty welcome! I know you will be so very good for our organization.

And it will not be easy. I know SND is one of your passions and commitments. You are no stranger to hard work. We need to make sure you are not totally consumed in this new role, but knowing you, you will be!

I appreciated Elise as Executive Director so very much while I was president of SND in 2008. And you are perfect as our next Executive Director as we move into our future.

Bonita, I empathize for your loss of Stephen. You have been very professional throughout this search. And thank you for all the work you did in initially leading this Executive Director search.

Everyone in Orlando…I empathize your loss of Stephen.


Congratulations to my friend and former boss, Stephen. For my money, there is no one better suited to inspire the current and future generations of newspaper designers.

Hello,congratulations and greetings and from Hamburg (Germany)!
I hope we can connect and work together for some future projects.    Especially for a snd annual meeting in germany. Maybe 2012? Let’s talk about it.
Good luck and success for everything!

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