Glover’s financial focus praised
Finances, making ‘tough choices’ are priorities for president of NABJ
Sarah Glover has been fighting an uphill battle since last August when she assumed her position as the 21st president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
NABJ ended 2015 with its fourth financial deficit in six years, declining fundraising totals and low national convention registrations — which have steadily declined over the past four years.
The struggles of the organization caught the attention of multiple national news outlets, with one reporting that NABJ was on the verge of closing its doors. These reports have since been strongly refuted by NABJ’s national board.
The hardships NABJ faced at the end of 2015 also came as the organization celebrated its 40-year anniversary.
“Sarah was under additional pressure to right the ship and to make sure that all the sacrifices that had been made by our founders 40 years ago would go ahead,” NABJ Vice President/Digital Benet Wilson said. “She did have to make very tough choices.”
But on the heels of the final days of her first year as president of the organization, Glover has managed to flip a once destructive financial situation, described last year by NABJ treasurer Greg Morrison as “the Titanic,” to one of optimism, growth and promise.
At NABJ’s business meeting Friday, Morrison reported that the organization has a total net income of nearly $1.2 million as of June 30. That figure puts the organization over its annual budget net income by $695,000.
This comes just one year after NABJ ended the 2015 fiscal year with an audited deficit of $414,000.
For the board, Glover’s ability to lead the financial turnaround amid NABJ members’ calls for an economical overhaul shows her proficiency when it comes to making decisions for the organization.
“I don’t think we’ve made a wrong decision since we’ve stepped into office, in terms of correcting our financial situation,” Vice President/Print Marlon A. Walker said. “There were some things that have been questioned of course, but all for the greater good at the end of the day.”
NABJ also reported that it generated $1.4 million from sponsors, a $476,000 increase from last year’s sponsorship total. Walker said fundraising was a “pet project” that Glover took on at the beginning of her presidency.
“As journalists we don’t really have the capacity to do a lot of fundraising,” Walker said, “and she’s found a way to do it without jeopardizing her ethics while putting forth a good face for NABJ.”
Executive consultant and lifetime NABJ member Drew Berry praised Glover and her administration.
“What’s happening now is the right people, the right leadership,” Berry, who was appointed as executive consultant last November, said during his report at Friday’s meeting. “You guys know Sarah has been preaching since day one ‘finances, finances, finances’ and I must say that this board, we couldn’t do this without Sarah and the board’s support.”
In addition to bringing on Berry, who also served as a consultant in 2010 and helped turn a $600,000 NABJ deficit into a $400,000 surplus, Glover appointed former NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. as finance committee chair. Lee, a past NABJ treasurer, was also part of the financial turnaround involving Berry.
Since Glover became president, she has overseen numerous cost-saving changes, including adopting a zero-based budgeting approach to justify NABJ expenses and renegotiating the organization’s lease with the University of Maryland to lower office rent costs.
At the end of Friday’s meeting, Glover received a standing ovation from many in attendance. NABJ members thanked her for reversing the organization’s financial dysfunction.
Longtime member Meta J. Mereday described Glover’s first term as “exceptional.”
“She has really stepped up the game in terms of returning the organization to a leadership model level (of) excellence that NABJ is known for,” said Mereday, editor-at-large for Savoy Magazine. “It’s very important that we have that type of leadership, but also, the continuity of that leadership so that the organization can maintain its status and continue to grow and be dynamic.”
Nearing the end of her first year, Glover gave her board an “A” but would not grade herself.
“What we’ve accomplished in the past year has been an extraordinary win-win for NABJ and has set the organization up for future success,” Glover told The Monitor and Latino Reporter. “We’re looking forward to seeing how we can continue to sustain our organization and develop our efforts so that we have a lasting foundation that we can continue to build on.”
At Friday’s meeting, she said a priority in the second year of her presidency will be upgrading technology at the NABJ offices and conventions, creating standard operating procedures for the organization’s officers and working to rebuild the group’s reserves. An auditor hired by NABJ reported that the reserves have dropped to just $300,000.
Morrison said although there’s still a lot of work to do, NABJ is “getting stronger” under Glover’s leadership. He said her leadership style has been balanced and that she pushes the board when it’s appropriate.
He said Glover has done well at juggling her president’s role and job as the social media editor of NBC.
“She has exhibited the kind of leadership that you need, not necessarily overbearing but asking people to really dig deep and think about where we want NABJ to go,” Morrison said. “They’re asking her to do a lot and she has put herself through a lot as our national president.”