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