Submitted by the Northern Illinois News Association
The Northern Illinois News Association continues its growth and positive momentum with the addition of three outstanding journalists to its board of directors.
The board voted unanimously on March 9 to welcome former Evanston RoundTable Publisher and Manager Mary Helt Gavin, Beacon-News (Tribune Publishing) Reporter Megan Jones and DeKalb Daily Chronicle (Shaw Media) Editor Kelsey Rettke to the NINA leadership team.
NINA President John Lampinen noted that the board membership now includes many of the top news organizations in Northern Illinois.
“One of our goals for 2023 has been to expand the breadth of experience, expertise and perspective on NINA’s Board of Directors,” Lampinen said. “These three appointments, along with two announced earlier this winter, do just that, and I know I speak for the entire board when I say that we are excited about how these talented news leaders will help us fulfill our mission ‘to be the leading advocate in northern Illinois for reliable and factual local journalism.'”
In January, NINA adopted a new vision statement. In February, NINA welcomed Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy and Kane County Government Public Information Officer Julie Mann to its board of directors.
New board member profiles
Mary Helt Gavin is one of the founders of the Evanston RoundTable, a free paper in Evanston that began as print only, added a website and then converted to an online-only site.
As former publisher and manager of the RoundTable, she received the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop (now Public Narrative) and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce Businessperson of the Year award; and shared a Lisagor award with five colleagues for having the best community newspaper website in 2020.
She helped with the transition of Evanston RoundTable LLC to the nonprofit Evanston RoundTable Media NFP, to which she still contributes and edits stories. She and several RoundTable colleagues recently completed a book, Encountering Evanston History.
Megan Jones covers crime and its impact in Aurora for The Beacon-News and neighboring suburbs of Kane and Kendall counties.
She watched a community’s hopes rise over the possible resurfacing of a long-missing boy, only to see those hopes dashed when his identification was found to be a hoax. She located the victim of a now-known serial killer and uncovered her story, which police didn’t take seriously in 1979. Before joining the Beacon in 2018, she covered city government at the Northwest Herald and studied journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served as editor-in-chief her junior year for the university’s independent student newspaper The Daily Illini.
She has covered a multitude of topics and breaking news events from being the first reporter on the scene of a warehouse shooting that left five employees dead in Aurora to covering destructive protests in the city’s downtown in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
She has written and interned for various suburban newspapers including the Lake County News-Sun, Daily Herald and the Journal-Topics newspapers.
Kelsey Rettke has been the editor of the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb since March 2020. During her first year as editor, the Daily Chronicle was recognized by the Illinois Press Association as best small daily newspaper in Illinois.
Kelsey has been with Shaw Media since 2018 and previously worked as a reporter covering city government, crime and courts, education and breaking news in DeKalb County. Her work has been recognized by the Illinois Press Association, the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and the Northern Illinois News Association.
She is a graduate of Beloit College.
Founded in 1962 to promote the newspapers of Northern Illinois, the Northern Illinois News Association’s newly adopted vision statement is “to be the leading advocate in northern Illinois for reliable and factual local journalism – teaching what it is, celebrating its achievements, spreading its virtues and defending its role in society.”
NINA develops programs and workshops to enhance the profession and recognizes journalistic achievements through a prestigious annual contest.
NINA’s ties with Northern Illinois University extend to its beginnings when it was founded by Dr. Donald Grubb, long-time chairman of the university’s journalism department.
NINA remains affiliated with the Communication Department, which now houses NIU’s journalism programs. Members are located throughout Northern Illinois and include individuals, newspapers, magazines, online publications, radio and television.
NINA board officers include Lampinen, president; Cristi Kempf, first vice president; Jim Killam, second vice president; Dan Campana, treasurer; Pat Szpekowski, immediate past president; Jason Akst, executive secretary; and Shelley Hendricks, communication coordinator. In addition to Krishnamurthy and Mann, NINA board members include Sharon Boehlefeld, Margarita Mendoza, Rick Nagel, Roger Ruthhart, Penny Wiegert, Madhu Krishnamurthy and Julie Mann.
Congratulations, Mary! It’s great that you will continue lending your expertise to
the local journalism scene. And let me say that I am getting nostalgic at the sight of the original print version of the RoundTable.