CHICAGO – The board of directors of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity has unanimously elected Minneapolis Star Tribune media critic Neal Justin as its next president.

Justin was chosen Saturday during the board’s fall board meeting following a UNITY Chicago Media Summit that attracted 80 attendees at Loyola University. He will succeed Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter Russell Contreras, whose term ends Dec. 31.

Contreras and Justin“I am excited that Justin has been selected to lead the alliance for the next two years,” Contreras said. “He comes to the position with a lot of energy and passion for media diversity. I can’t wait to see where UNITY goes under his leadership.”

Justin was one of the original members of the AAJA governing board and was named AAJA member of the year in 2006. He also served as AAJA president for the Minnesota chapter and as the convention co-chair in 2005. He is a co-founder of JCamp, a national program for the country’s top high-school journalists, which is now entering its 17th year.

Justin previously covered crime for the Rockford Register Star. His duties at the Star Tribune include helping to run the summer internship program. Neal grew up in Mason City, Iowa and graduated from Northwestern University.

Under Contreras, UNITY shifted its focus to hold regional media summits in areas of the country facing economic challenges. The first media summit was held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in May 2015. Others were held in Detroit, Alabama, Phoenix and Chicago. The media gatherings attracted more than 400 attendees and gave UNITY a new direction.

The UNITY board of directors also re-elected former editor of Philadelphia Gay News Sarah Blazucki as treasurer and selected Haskell Indian Nations University instructor Rhonda LeValdo as secretary.


UNITY Journalists for Diversity is a strategic alliance that:

  1. Advocates fair and accurate coverage about diversity — especially race, nationality, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  2. Aggressively challenges that industry to staff its organizations at all levels to reflect the country’s diversity.

The UNITY board is made up of representatives from the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association, and NLGJA: The Association of LGBT Journalists.

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