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Brian Eckert Named SPJ’s 2013 Regional Director of the Year

University of Richmond PR director oversees SPJ's Region 2 chapters in Md., Del. and D.C.
Brian Eckert, director of media and public relations at the University of Richmond and Region 2 Director of the Society of Professional Journalists, was named the 2013 Regional Director of the Year at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet at Excellence in Journalism in Anaheim, Calif.

The award recognizes a regional director who serves and contributes to his or her region in the most outstanding fashion during the previous year and is based primarily on nominations and letters of recommendation. This is the second time Eckert has won the award since its inception in 2001, joining Dave Aeiken (Region 6) and Irwin Gratz (Region 1) as two-time winners.

Region 2 comprises six professional chapters and 13 student chapters in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. Eckert noted several pro chapter presidents that have come out of the woodwork when chapters seem particularly barren of leadership.

“Being a region director is a religious experience,” Eckert said. “I have prayed for leadership to show up in places. And miracles happened every time.”

An SPJ member since 1987, Eckert joined the Virginia Pro board in the late 1990s. He has held a number of positions over the years, including president from 2003 to 2005. The Virginia Pro Chapter earned the outstanding small chapter award from SPJ National during this period thanks to many of his efforts.

During the past year, he has been a member of the seven-person SPJ executive committee that oversees the entire society and its 8,000 members while continuing to serve SPJ as executive director of the Virginia SPJ & SDX Education Foundation, the chapter’s educational group.

“The point of all of this is that this is not an award for me,” Eckert said during his acceptance remarks. “I have done nothing except to ask people to do something. So really, this award is for every chapter in Region 2.”

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

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