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BREAKING: U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland to speak on campus during national journalism conference

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, April 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)

United States Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland will be at Columbia in October to give a keynote speech as the inaugural “Big Idea Speaker” at the Journalism and Women and Symposium’s Conference and Mentoring Project being held at the college this fall. 

Haaland, who will speak Sunday, Oct. 15, is the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history. 

Patricia Sullivan, part-time journalism professor at Columbia and former president of JAWS, said she is excited to hear what Haaland has to say as the first Native American woman in the role. 

“We are incredibly grateful to Columbia for hosting the event,” Sullivan said. “JAWS really is a sisterhood of female and woman-identifying journalists that really care about the future of journalism.” 

Jennifer Kho, executive director of the Chicago Sun-Times, is the current JAWS president.

The journalism group was invited to hold its conference on campus this year by the Communication Department, led by former interim Chair Erin McCarthy, associate professor of history in the Humanities, History, and Social Sciences Department.

“Secretary Deb Haaland’s career trajectory has been nothing short of amazing and not just because she made history as the first Native American to serve as a cabinet member,” Communication Department Chair Peg Murphy said. “She is also a fantastic role model, notable for her efforts championing public lands and the environment, indigenous women and breaking barriers for future generations. Any students who hear her speak will undoubtedly be inspired and, hopefully, motivated to also be change-makers, now and in their future endeavors.

Haaland will be one of a number of speakers at the conference, which has chapters all over the country and holds annual “camps” each year. This year’s conference will be held at Columbia’s 1104 S. Wabash Ave. building from Oct. 13-15. 

“I’m looking forward to aspiring female journalists to learn more about the industry and for early career journalists to teach the reporters who have been in the field for years,” said Suzanne McBride, dean the School of Graduate Studies and a professor in the Communication Department. 

Riley Schroeder, a senior magazine journalism major, said she will be at the conference.

“I feel like Columbia is such a film school, so it is really great to see an event that is so communications-based,” said Schroeder, who is also the president of Columbia’s Journalism Club.

JAWS is a national organization which brings together working journalists, journalism educators, researchers and students across the country to support one another within the reporting industry.

“It’s exciting to have the annual JAWS CAMP come here this year for its first-ever urban camp,” said Suzanne Cosgrove, the Chicago region JAWS representative. “Chicago journalists are a tight, feisty bunch, and we are eager to show off our city and share our legacy.” 

Sullivan said this year’s conference will have about 200 journalists from around the country in attendance. Columbia students and faculty were able to register for free and receive a one-year membership in the organization. 

Susy Schultz, contract editor at the Sun-Times and former part-time professor at the college, said she is “so excited” for JAWS to have its first urban conference. 

“This is an exciting moment for JAWS to experience how wonderful Chicago is,” said Schutlz.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Cohen
Olivia Cohen, Former Editor-in-Chief
ocohen@columbiachronicle.com   Olivia Cohen is a senior journalism major, minoring in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She primarily reports on Columbia's financial health, administration and unions, but has also written about personnel and department changes, COVID-19 policies and abortion. She joined the Chronicle in August 2021.   Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota