Meet the candidates for SND officer 2014

Each year the Society for News Design holds elections for its officers: the secretary-treasurer, vice president and president. SND members vote and the winners are announced at the annual workshop. We are honored to introduce you to this year’s candidates for SND officer positions:

For the position of SND president:
• David Kordalski, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (@kord)

For the position of SND vice president:
• Lee Steele, design editor, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers (@leesteele)

For the position of SND secretary/treasurer:
• Gabi Schmidt, senior creative director at Schmidt Media Group, Mexico City (@GabiSchmidt1)
• Sara Quinn, teaches visual journalism, social media, writing forms, leadership and multimedia at the Poynter Institute (@saraquinn)

There will be a write-in option for each office. Bios and mission statements from the candidates are below.

How the election will play out

  • Voting begins: Monday, Oct. 14
  • How and who votes: The election will be conducted electronically (SND members will get an email). Voting is open to all members.
  • Voting deadline: Voting will end at midnight on Thursday, Nov. 7
  • The results: Results will be announced at the SND Annual Workshop and Exhibition in Louisville, on Friday, Nov. 8.
  • Lapsed or non-members can renew or join before the ballot is issued in order to vote. Renew your membership here.
  • Questions? Contact Executive Director Stephen Komives at
    [email protected]
    . The SND bylaws governing the election process is here.


Gabi Schmidt is running for secretary-treasurer of SND.
Gabi Schmidt is running for secretary-treasurer of SND.

Gabi Schmidt

En español

Candidate bio
Gabi Schmidt is the Senior Creative Director at Schmidt Media Group, providing design services, training and seminars for SND, CMDP, IFRA, SDI and several media organizations, with more than 18 years experience in news media industry in the United States, Mexico, India, United Arab Emirates and more.

She recently has been focusing on digital magazine projects using Adobe DPS, and maintaining operations and coordination with Apple iTunes as well as with external providers from one of the largest media companies in Latin America, where she has coordinated the launch of 12 different magazines for Apple News Stand.

From 2006 until 2008 she was the SND Regional Director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, creating in 2007 the seminars “Cierre de Edición” in 3 different cities and four universities in Mexico with attendance of 200-plus people in each site.

She has worked as design editor for Khaleej Times in Dubai, UAE. Gabi also worked for HT Media in India where she successfully launched the Hindustan redesign. She has worked with El Universal in Mexico City, and has been a guest speaker at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in the U.S. Previously she was Features Design Director at the San Jose Mercury News, where she won several awards, including SND’s World’s Best Designed Newspaper.

Top skills:
Gabi Schmidt has been, throughout her career, an essential part of communicating, planning and executing specific requirements from different areas of the companies – upper management, newsroom, finance, marketing and customers – since each is a key factor when it comes to delivering high quality products.

She has worked and lived in more than 6 countries of totally different cultures, religions and traditions, which makes her a very understanding professional of all the needs and expectations of a diverse group of people.

Priorities for SND
In its 34 years, since it was founded, SND has come a long way! And many exceptional professionals have joined and worked to build it and to improve it, but now, in an industry where hundreds of jobs have been cut in 2013, the organization has to be more aggressive in two fields: digital media and the international market.

Most of us depend on digital technology for news and information, so SND has to move faster into that direction as well, and provide its current and future members with tools they are accustomed to – for example, SND should have an app where readers can easily swipe though the pages of the latest winners, watch videos of members, interactive interviews, webinars, etc.

In the last few years, unfortunately, SND has lost members from Latin America and other regions in the world, due in part, to not having a strong presence in those regions through seminars and workshops, as well as student programs. More and more, we have been competing with new local organizations that are attracting audiences with very high quality events and conferences in Mexico, Venezuela, etc. If SND wants to gain back some of the potential members from other regions, as well as gaining new ones, it has to be sure to create new windows of opportunities and sponsor local programs as well.

It’s also becoming more and more difficult for our members to travel to attend events. We cannot ask people to give their money to SND if that membership doesn’t necessarily have enough programs for regions that have a lot of market potential. We must expand our offering to more parts of the world like Latin America and South Asia, just the way it has been successfully done in Scandinavia and Middle East-Africa.

Last but not least, SND must have more workshops where universities can benefit from local professionals in their regions and more students can get inspired and choose visual journalism as their future career.

Sara Quinn is running for secretary-treasurer of SND.
Sara Quinn is running for secretary-treasurer of SND.

Sara Quinn

When I first served as a regional director for SND back in 1994 in Kansas, many doors were opened for me—to jobs, to great friendships, cultural understanding and inspiration for visual storytelling. The learning opportunities have been enormous.

I marvel at the generosity of people who give their time to run workshops, contests, write for publications, organize auctions and serve as jurors for SND. For more than three decades, these diehard volunteers have been busy, professional people with families and personal demands.

What they’ve gotten in return, I believe, has immense value: an important sense of belonging to a group that speaks for visual communication and the dynamic ways that people understand the world around them.

That’s the strength of an organization made up of passionate volunteers and people who want to share ideas about their ever-changing craft.

Over the years, I have dabbled as a volunteer with SND, coordinating auctions, serving as a juror for the print, digital and World’s Best competitions, hosting Quick Courses, and speaking at workshops in the U.S., Scandinavia and Spain.

My heart has always been with SND. I am ready to dive back in to the heart of the organization. I would be thrilled to serve on the board as secretary/treasurer.

Among my top interests would be finding possibilities to work with other organizations looking to collaborate on visual storytelling opportunities.

The American Institute of Graphic Arts, for example, has seen an uptick in membership from the visual journalism world as newsrooms have downsized and more people have moved toward freelance projects. I have had the pleasure of serving on the boards of AIGA and I see potential in developing new training events, social media conversation and cross-promotion.

Similarly, there might be outreach opportunities with the National Scholastic Press Association, the Associated Collegiate Press and other student-focused groups looking for partners.

Last but not least, there are endless possibilities for networking with The Poynter Institute.

As the world of design increasingly intersects with technology and new platforms, the needs and opportunities are great for SND. I can’t think of a more exciting time to become more involved.

Thanks for considering me. I hope to be able to serve the Society for News Design.

All the best,

Sara Quinn teaches visual journalism, social media, writing forms, leadership and multimedia at the Poynter Institute. She leads the institute’s eyetracking research of newspaper, online and tablet reading habits to help journalists determine the best forms for storytelling. She has directed Poynter’s College Fellowship since 2003.

Before joining the faculty in 2003, Sara spent nearly 20 years working in newspaper newsrooms, including the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida and her hometown newspaper, The Wichita Eagle in Kansas.

For the Society for News Design, Sara has served as a regional director; coordinated auctions for the Kansas City and Washington, D.C. workshops; served as a juror for the print, digital and World’s Best competitions; and spoken at numerous Quick Courses and national workshops.

Sara teaches in-house workshops for newsrooms and universities around the world, most recently in Vienna, Madrid, Copenhagen, D.C. and Chicago. Earlier this year, she presented results of Poynter’s eyetracking research to a standing room only crowd at SXSW in Austin. Sara has edited and designed magazines, websites, books and newspapers. She has a B.A. from Wichita State University and a master’s in illustration from Syracuse University. She received Ball State’s Anthony Majeri Award for Leadership and Innovation in 2013.

Lee Steele is running for vice president of SND.
Lee Steele is running for vice president of SND.

Lee Steele

Bio: Lee has been that newsroom utility guy since the mid-1980s, taking any job that comes along. He has built his portfolio covering city hall, drawing editorial cartoons and charts, writing columns and features, copy editing stories, designing pages and blogging. He has also spoken before the Society of Professional Journalists and the College Media Association. Design editor for Hearst Newspapers in Connecticut, Lee oversees design for four daily and seven weekly newspapers, in addition to special publications and prototypes. He is also a part-time adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University teaching News Design.

Lee has a degree in Communications from Rowan University and studied art and humanities under the Wesleyan University graduate program.

The Society for News Design has always been a crucial resource for professionals in small- and mid-sized newsrooms, a fact that is not lost on Lee. Education is key, and SND is uniquely positioned to share information and insights from the industry’s best and brightest.

With SND: Lee was Region 1 director in 2009, soon after returning to newspapers after seven years designing at Conde Nast and Penton Media. In 2011, he was appointed training director, and then brought on the executive board as secretary-treasurer. He’s also blogged the World’s Best Competition for the past three years.

Going Forward: SND will remain the essential organization for designers at every stage in their careers: Training, education and networking. Celebrating our community of creative, talented visual journalists. And standing up for good design, compelling graphics and powerful visuals in an era that sees designer and photographers cast off by managers who see design (or even professional photography!) as a dispensable luxury item or some sort of frill. So we are not only striving to sharpen our own skills, we are educating others who want to know what good design is (and isn’t) and why it’s so important.


David Kordalski is running for president of SND.
David Kordalski is running for president of SND.

David Kordalski

Professional history: A visual journalist since the early 1980s, David is currently the presentation director for The Plain Dealer in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to that, he worked at large- (Detroit News), midsize- (Dayton Daily News, South Bend Tribune) and small-circulation dailies (Wooster Daily Record), as well as a weekly or two.

During his tenure, The Plain Dealer visuals team has been recognized by the Society for News Design and other professional organizations in nearly every design, photography, illustration and graphics category.

SND involvement: David has been SND’s Region 4 director and served as the organization’s first Education Committee chair. As a member of the competition committee, he’s often been a facilitator at the annual competition. He was selected as a judge for the 26th edition. He’s an occasional contributor to Design magazine, has spoken at the SND annual workshops in Houston and Orlando and a number of Quick Courses in the U.S. and Canada, and he’s a regular speaker for other professional and student groups. He’s served as host for several Quick Courses and was co-host when The Plain Dealer hosted SND’s annual conference in 2012. In 2005, David was proud to have received an SND President’s Award for volunteerism. He’s been an SND member since 1985.

Personal: David lives in suburban Cleveland with his wife, Susan, a dog, Beck, two cats, Q and Splinter, and several nameless fish. The Kordalskis have two adult sons, Andy and Kevin. In his spare time David plays indoor softball, builds Arts & Crafts furniture and cultivates Bonsai trees.

Priorities for SND
• Keep moving toward fiscal health. The path has been set; it’s imperative that SND continue the positive steps it has already taken.
• Re-engage old members and fire up new ones, certainly in new or emerging parts of the world, but also in areas where numbers have plummeted. Remind them of the value of networking, of the bond that shared problem-solving and common experience brings.
• Ensure that the value of membership is obvious by following through on what is promised.
• Develop greater partnerships with other professional organizations, not just for financial efficiency, but as a way of breathing new life into SND.
• Redouble efforts toward a more diverse membership.
• Build SND’s rather prodigious volume of material into an academic resource.
• Continue the improvements to the website and its content, and revitalize SND publications.
• Bring journalism fully back into the discussion, and continue to offer ways for people to cope in an ever-changing environment.
• Engage in discussions with the high-level leaders of news organizations to ensure they fully grasp the importance visual journalists bring to their publications, whether they be in the digital space or print.
• Open a dialogue with membership to find out what ideas they have to improve the organization.
• Present old standards like the contest book using 21st century tools.
• Continue refining the workshop model.
• Refocus the priorities of the SND Foundation to better serve all members.

Why SND is important, and why all members should vote for SND leadership: SND is not only an investment in our own careers; it’s also an investment in the careers of those who follow, and a repayment for the kindnesses of those who preceded us. A professional society is only as strong as its membership. A high voting percentage is one of the lynchpins of a healthy organization, because it signifies those members are active, engaged and informed. Simply put, you have a stake in the direction of SND when you select leadership. That’s why I’m not asking you to vote for me. But I am asking you to vote.

Remember, only active members can vote, so if you’ve let your membership lapse, go here to renew.

About Stephen Komives

Previously served as Executive Director of the Society for News Design, from 2009–2019.

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