Georgia Dawkins, 28, a producer at Tampa, Florida’s, WFTS-TV, has won a seat on the board of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS). JAWS, a nonprofit group created to support the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism, holds its Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) every year. This year, the event was held Oct.9-11, 2015, in Whitefish, Montana, with around 200 attendees.
Dawkins, the student board representative for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) from 2009 to 2011, attended her first JAWS CAMP in 2014 in Palm Springs as a fellow. “All roads lead to NABJ. Every opportunity for greatness has come through the organization that nurtured my leadership skills,” she said. “I learned about JAWS on the NABJ listserv when someone posted about [JAWS’] fellowship program. I was desperate for inspiration to stay in journalism so, I applied.”
Conference highlights included a keynote talk about the women feminism left behind lead by Los Angeles Times Managing Editor Mitra Kalita, discussions about diversity and harassment, a look at new investigative and data visualization skills and testing emerging storytelling tools. And 13 journalists were awarded fellowships through JAWS’ fellowship programs for early career, entrepreneurial, mid-career and diversity journalists.
The fellowship gave Dawkins a boost of confidence. “It also expanded my network. My experience as a fellow with JAWS humbled me. As a fellow, I still had to pay my dues,” she said. “I reported on CAMP sessions and assisted with the first-ever several CAMP events, including a mini film festival. My experience renewed my faith in journalism.”
This year, Dawkins attended CAMP as a mentor. “Every JAWS member has something to give. We all attend CAMP knowing that we’re going to get what we give. For me, I didn’t know I had the skills I had until JAWS asked me to use them,” she said. “I never thought I could teach tech sessions. This year, I taught three.”
Dawkins said she had been preparing herself to join the JAWS board since the moment she turned in her fellowship application. “Every bullet on my resume helped me get to this point. Being a member of the board is important to me because my greatest desire is to lift while I’ll climb,” she stated. “I want other journalists to know about the beauty of this sisterhood.”
Dawkins, a 2010 graduate of Florida A&M University, also serves on the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications’ Board of Visitors. Her priority for the JAWS board is to spread the word about the organization.
“I’m on a mission to tell as many women about JAWS as possible. This year, I’m chairing the fellowship committee,” said Dawkins.
“I have attended more than a dozen journalism conferences in my young career and CAMP is by far the most unique. This group revived me at a time when I thought I had nothing else to give journalism,” Dawkins said. “I learned that there countless other vehicles for my many talents. This year, three of my friends from NABJ attended for the first time. There’s something for everyone in JAWS.”