TO: Members of the Foreign Press Association
FROM: David P. Michaels
DATE: September, 2014
SUBJECT: Message from the President – “FPA Updated”
Over the past few months, countless hours have been invested by the FPA’s Executive and other committees, with the objective of putting the FPA on a path to greater success.
We are making strong progress, and we all owe a big “thank-you” to members of the Executive Committee, volunteers from our general membership, and two hard-working and enthusiastic interns, all who have contributed their valuable time and expertise. (BTW, if you are willing to volunteer a few hours a month to our teams, please let me know).
In keeping with the FPA’s objective of being the leading association for international journalists and those directly involved or interested in media-related activities, we have focused on:
- Enhancing FPA communications.
- Building out our events program.
- Identifying and adding talented people to the Executive Committee, events team, and developing the annual dinner and awards fundraising team.
- Growing our membership.
- Generating more income.
- Introducing new member benefits.
I have the pleasure to announce that Laura Bianchi and Ian Williams, two well-respected, full-time journalists and media professionals, have joined us on the Executive Committee, filling two of the vacancies created by the departures of Kinue Weinstein, Anjali Sharma, and Claus Mueller.
Many of you know Ian Williams, who has served two terms as President of the United Nations Correspondents Association, (“UNCA”). He is also the Chairman of the UNCA Awards Committee, which he founded in 1995, and which now grants prizes of over $60,000 a year to journalists worldwide for their work on the UN and its agencies.
Laura Bianchi is a journalist and communications professional with an extensive list of media achievements and production/editing credits.
The Events Committee, led by Michael-Ann Rowe and Simon Locke, has also added Laura Bianchi, Cindy Fields, and Julie-Ann Marshall to the events team.
Julie-Ann, an Associate Member for fourteen years, is a former Executive Director of BAFTA, (British Academy of Film & Television Arts), and Senior Event Producer for Morgan Stanley. She now runs her own events company which does work for organizations including the United Nations, HBO, the British Consulate, and the International Emmys.
Cindy has been an Associate Member of the FPA for five years. She has more than 30 years of experience in the financial markets; outstanding relationships in the financial sector; and is an active participant in numerous prestigious industry and community organizations.
I am pleased to inform you that the challenge to fill the roles of administrator of the Association and of the Scholarship Fund is being addressed. Normally, the skill-sets to work in these related, but distinctly different, FPA entities are usually found within particular personality profiles. Therefore, it has been determined that it will be more efficient and effective if the positions were undertaken by two well-qualified persons rather than one with either strong fund-raising skills, or strong office administrative skills. The executive search for these positions was further complicated by virtue of their part-time nature.
We have identified a possible candidate to manage the FPA from early in 2015. However, notwithstanding the assistance of volunteers and interns, it is essential that the day-to-day administrative needs of the organization be properly managed without further delay, particularly as we not only enter upon a busy time of the year, but also the launch of some new initiatives. Therefore, I am happy to inform you that Mr. Anthony J. Morenzi will be assuming the role with effect from 1st October until such time a permanent appointment is made.
During his more than thirty-years in state government, “Tony” Morenzi has worked for two New York State Assembly members as Chief of Staff and District Office Manager, and served as the Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for New York City. He has an established track record of creative problem solving, strategic advocacy and broad based policy analysis. Tony has extensive citywide intergovernmental and community relations experience with legislators and their staff, governmental agencies, the private and non-profit sectors, and community-based and civic organizations. He was educated at Bernard M. Baruch College (CUNY); Fordham University; and Columbia University. His extra-curricular activities include the Board of Directors & Chair of the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award Committee; and Treasurer, Board of Directors, New Media Repertory Company.
I am also pleased to announce that we have also reached the final stages of negotiation with a most experienced fund-raiser and event planner to manage the FPA Scholarship Fund.
Camilla Hellman, MBE, has agreed to manage the FPA Scholarship Fund, with effect from 1st October. Many of you will know Camilla in her position as Executive Director of the American Scottish Foundation, and her association with the National New York Tartan Day Parade Committee; the British Memorial Garden Trust; and The Luxury Channel TV. Camilla is probably best known for her leadership, from concept to reality, of the international goodwill project to establish the British Garden at Hanover Square, New York. Launching a $7.5 million fundraising campaign, which included overseeing grant and sponsorship applications; cultivating major donors; orchestrating program of fundraising and community-based events, the initiative culminated in the reopening of the park in 2007 and the official New York City naming of the Park in May 2009 by HRH Prince Henry (“Harry”) of Wales. Camilla organized major fundraising gala dinners, signature concerts, and public ceremonies in the Park. Events surrounding the project included four visits by the British Royal Family – as well as working with leading members of the British and American governments. She acted as the spokesperson for the garden, which included undertaking interviews with major TV networks and the international print media. In recognition of her outstanding efforts, she was honored by HM Queen Elizabeth II for services to British-American relations.
These additions to the FPA-USA Team will allow us to build on the work that we have been doing since the beginning of the year to enhance our website. (Please note our new web address: www.ForeignPressAssociation.org); social media presence, (FaceBook and Twitter); increase the flow of events, (view Events Calendar); and add new member benefits.
I can report that we have made progress on all these fronts. The FPA website is today much more vibrant than at the beginning of the year, with new content and a consistent presentation of our brand, the “Foreign Press Association.” (For those members who may not be fully aware of our origins, our organization was provisionally called, “The Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States”). Notwithstanding the recent changes to the FPA web site, we are working on a redesign to incorporate a newer and fresher look, combined with more efficient and user-friendly technologies.
Our Events Calendar is a platform for FPA and third-party events. I encourage you to take the time to see what’s planned, on a regular basis. (We sometimes receive invitations to entertainment, art and cultural events at very short notice, so if you don’t look, you may miss them). You will also find news and events oriented toward FPA member interests, including a “BREAKING NEWS” section, (viewable on most web pages), that updates every few minutes! (You must refresh the page to update).
On the subject of events, a few weeks ago we asked members to complete an online questionnaire in order that we have a more precise profile on our members, including their professional expertise and interests. This information is of great assistance when organizing specialist industry presentations and events, particularly when a host has limited space and/or press seating. If you did not complete the form, please do so now. If you require assistance with this online form, please let us know by clicking here, and someone will telephone you to assist you.
On the social media front we now actively tweet news and events of interest to members along with having more engaging Facebook content. I encourage you to like the Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Taking the time to do both, will help us raise our social media profile. We encourage and welcome feedback and perspective as well as links to stories you’d like us to publish.
I am pleased that the FPA is continuing to offer benefits that make the modest investment in membership one of the best values in town. For example, the NYU Dental Clinic provides extraordinary value for our members. Our strategic alliance with PR Newswire offers significant discounts on their services, and access to news for journalists. (Click here to view the press release and see some of the benefits offered). There is a special ”Benefits” page on our web site that has links to great discounts on DELL computers and major brands of photographic and electronic equipment!
We believe that the focus on these initiatives is paying off. The FPA is consistently increasing its membership of active journalists and media/communications-related professionals, while adding value to what we offer for existing members. We also remain focused on generating additional, non-traditional revenue streams from sources including public relations/communications corporate associate membership.
We are looking to add members from new channels including developing “strategic alliances” with other press associations around the world; launching the FPA Scholarship Awards Alumni, and the promotion of student membership, thereby creating both networking and membership marketing opportunities.
FPA Scholarship Award Alumni are being contacted and will have a special section on our web site to exchange news and to develop their professional network.
The media industry has drastically changed in the last decade or so, and the Executive Committee deemed it essential that the FPA’s Constitution & By-Laws be reviewed to reflect, not only the current realities of the media industry, but also the “make-up” of the FPA’s current membership. (The last time the FPA’s Constitution & By-Laws were revised was about 25 years ago!) Revisions are being drafted, and will be proposed and then voted upon at an appropriately constituted meeting of the FPA membership.
Although it is prudent to continually adjust to the realities and technologies of today’s media industry, the experience of the past is also important in order that we learn from both our experience and history. Therefore, the Presidents Emeriti, Alan Capper and Gabriel Plesea, have been invited to attend Executive Committee meetings as observers and advisors.
We are headed in the right direction. The Executive Committee is aligned and focused on adding value for members in a rapidly evolving media environment. The organization will continue to change and develop as we align it around member needs and industry realities. We value your input and engagement in this process as we build a strong foundation for the next century of FPA operations.
Thank you for your continued support.