What design leaders have to say about Steve Dorsey

Most members of the Society have a “Dorsey” story to share. It only took a few emails to get the superlatives flowing, which became the genesis of this project. Below you can read what was emailed to us, and if you have something you’d like to say please leave it in the comments field at the bottom. 

BILL GASPARD, past president of SND

If ever there was “a face of SND, it would have to be Steve. He’s too young still for it even to be possible, but you’d think he was there at the founding of the Society.His contributions have been enormous. Few have ever been involved at so many levels, at so many places around the globe on behalf of SND. Thank for all you’ve already done and what I know you will still do. Cheers to the amazing Mr. Dorsey!

MATT MANSFIELD, past president of SND

Dorsey’s the most-reliable volunteer in my experience with SND. Anything you ask, Steve finds a way to deliver.

MARIO GARCIA, design consultant

Steve Dorsey and SND are usually spoken in the same sentence. He has been one of the most dedicated SND officers ever, constantly pushing to make the organization viable and better. I must say that Steve has the ability to get most of us to do whatever he asks for in terms of SND. When confronted with his unselfish dedication to the organization — and to our craft — one can’t do anything but say, yes, Steve, I will do it. SND needs a thousand Steve Dorseys. Let’s go find them as we say thanks to Steve for setting the example.

DEB WHITEY, past president of SND

Just want to say I always enjoyed working with Steve when we were both with Knight Ridder and I treasure the Pewabic tile he gave me before I left our dear city of Detroit!

SND past-president Steve Dorsey, international director Cristobal Edwards and vice-president David Kordalski.
SND past-president Steve Dorsey, international director Cristobal Edwards and vice-president David Kordalski.

DAVID KORDALSKI, vice president of SND

Think about it: Since the early-90s, Steve has been a student volunteer, editor of Design Journal, SND Foundation president, competition committee member, the 21st Creative Competition coordinator, a judge at the 23rd, a facilitator at nearly every other competition, a juror at Malofiej. As president, he went to Dubai, SNDS and Mexico to represent SND. He’s spoken at more quick courses and workshops than we can begin to count. He was a driving force in creating the web desk to cover the competition and the workshops, he’s been … well, you get the picture. It’s exhausting just TYPING those roles! So to the Swiss Army Knife of SND leadership, to someone who set the bar so high in terms of commitment and followthrough, to the Energizer Bunny of volunteerism, thanks so much. Get a little rest and personal time in. Oh, and Steve, would you be willing to speak at … ? 😉

STEPHEN KOMIVES, executive director of SND

I met Steve Dorsey more than 15 years ago, when he was working in Lexington. I remember asking someone about him and was told, “Nobody works harder than he does.” Which is true. In SND he’s run publications, the Foundation, led the organization and served as an ambassador for visual journalism all over the globe, from Europe to China to the Middle East to Central and South America. I’ll say this: I didn’t fully appreciate just how hard he works and how much he gives until I moved into my current post. I wish it was appropriate to share how much some individuals actually give to SND in ways no one else ever sees. Just know there are some people who never miss a chance to donate to the Foundation, who pay for other people’s memberships, who are always available, who are generous in ways that kind of leave you speechless. I’d love to list out just how much SND actually owes to Mr. Dorsey, but it’s impossible.

THOM FLADUNG, managing editor of The Plain Dealer (former ME at the Detroit Free Press)

Steve always glimpsed the possibilities. And then he pushed for more. That’s what made him fun. That’s what made his newspapers better. He can drive you nuts. He doesn’t have nearly as good a taste in music as he thinks he does. But, damn, I’d do journalism with him any day.

KRIS VIESSELMAN, past president of SND

Reliable. Consistent. Generous. It’s impossible to imagine how SND could have progressed without him. Thanks for everything you’ve done for the organization–and me–over the years. You’re a gem.

JONATHON BERLIN, past president of SND

Steve is incredible. I’ve learned so much from him over the years. What’s funny is how often a question would come up and the answer would always be … “I don’t know, but Steve would.” And indeed he would know and have a great, creative, innovative answer complete with historical perspective. Steve, you’re awesome!

GAYLE GRIN, past president of SND

Steve is always there! Personally as a mentor, as a good ear, as a support… I recall how he drove to Toronto after his shift to participate in Quick Courses or other SND leadership stuff without hesitation. Always giving to the organization! As an SND leader he is a solid person with so much integrity who gave our organization so much energy and support. Steady, passionate and true! And now he has become my personal supportive friend. Thank you Steve for being who you are!

HANS PETER JANISCH, design consultant

During countless board meetings, over many years, I found Steve always to be an advocate for the international members of SND. Our society would not be as widespread as it is right now without his efforts! Looking forward to see you in Lou!

RICHARD EPPS, presentation editor of the Detroit News

Steve made me a better visual journalist by having to compete with him for ten years. And trust me, that was not easy. Now that we don’t battle head-to-head, as Steve’s current role enables him to promote the efforts of both the News and Free Press, I have gained an even greater appreciation for him.


I met Steve at SND Phoenix 2001. He struck me as a friendly, rather quiet, smiley guy. He recommended a great steakhouse in the city for dinner one night and I enjoyed our conversation about news, design, Brazil and more even more than the delicious meal we had.
I became part of the SND board that year and ever since I have been impressed by Steve’s talent, passion, commitment and good humor. “Mr. President”, as I called him in the past two years, led SND through some of the most challenging times in the industry and the society -always with optimism. What a friend I have in him, what a friend we all have in him!

Steve is the soul of SND. I am eternally grateful for all the help he’s given me but especially all the time, money and effort he has put in to The Society. I don’t know where SND would be without him!

I could never forget SND/Buenos Aires. Steve dancing the tango in a Boca nightclub until dawn. Steve drinking yerba mate tea with the locals. Steve singing a milonga (really sad argentinian song) in perfect porteño spanish. Steve seasoning a parrillada (argentinian BBQ) with gauchos (argentinian cowboys) … ok, maybe I’m embellishing a little, but we still had a great time.

Visual leadership requires design skills, sure, and Steve is loaded for bear in that milieu. But Steve’s gifts are far greater than that, gifts that give generously to colleagues as well as to readers and viewers. I’ve worked alongside a lot of talented folks in our field, but not all of them are easy to work with. Steve is that rare combination of positive thinking, quick to smile, and eager to lend a hand to a novice or peer. How does he do it day after day? Fighting the good fight in Detroit, a beleaguered news operation since the big strike. That takes a certain kind of person, an almost unfathomable mix of talents. I was born there, worked there, but was fortunate to do so when times were better. One of my current highlights — I still get to work with Steve via RJI’s Digital Publishing Alliance and SND. This collection of tributes isn’t a sendoff; Steve has so much more, and so many more years, to give. This is but a milestone in a career that he continues to redefine.

I twice tried to lure Steve into working with me, and each time he politely turned away, leaving me feeling like the socially awkward kid who keeps asking the cheerleader to prom but is always politely rebuffed. The first time, he didn’t want to come to a decaying Rust Belt town like Pittsburgh when he could go to a model of urban renaissance — Detroit. They do, I guess, have a place called the Renaissance Center. Next, he wouldn’t come to the desert because — get this — he opted instead to become a corporate vice president. Whatever. I think it had more to do with contemplating season tickets to the Tigers vs. season tickets to the Diamondbacks. The common theme (besides rejection) is my love of working with Steve, and the desire to do so more often. I’ve always treasured the endeavors in which we’ve intersected (and, thankfully, there have been a number of them). So smart, so funny, with the right tone at the right times. His insights are always so valuable, and I cherish being able to seek them out. And he is generous with his time and his ideas, giving me that cheerleader smile that makes me think, NEXT time he’ll say yes. It’s a York Daily Record thing.

Leave a Reply