NABJCC Board Members - National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter
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NABJCC Board Members


Maudlyne Ihejirika is a Chicago Sun-Times Urban Affairs Reporter/Columnist with 30 years in Newspaper, P.R., and Government. She pens the Sun-Times “Chicago Chronicles,” long-form columns on “people and places that make Chicago tick,” focusing on black and Latino communities. She is author of “Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War,” a riveting tale of her family’s survival of the brutal Nigerian-Biafran War, and miracles that brought them to the U.S. as refugees in 1969. 25 years with the Sun-Times, she has covered crime and inner-city issues, housing and education, politics and philanthropy. Weekend City Editor in 1997, she left to work as Gov. Jim Edgar’s press secretary for DCFS until 1999. She then launched the Ihejirika Media & Communications Group, managing media operations for members of the U.S. Congress, Illinois Legislature and City Council until 2003. Returning to the Sun-Times, her numerous awards the prestigious Studs Terkel Award, top national and local awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists, and several civic awards. A frequent guest contributor on WTTW-TV’s “Chicago Tonight: Week In Review” and FOX-32’s “Good Day Chicago,” she has appeared as a political analyst on CNN, TV One, ABC, CBS, NPR and more.

 Vice President, Broadcast
Brandon Pope is a millennial journalist at WCIU-TV. Brandon is passionate about covering the issues Chicagoans care about most. His work has included coverage of the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Elections, the London Olympics, the Indy 500, college football, the PGA tour and the NFL and NBA playoffs. He is a proud Ball State University alumni and a passionate Ohio sports fan and a former member of The U’s sister station in South Bend, ABC 57. He’s ALWAYS tweeting. If you’ve got a news tip for Brandon, want to share a funny meme or want to suggest a good place to eat, send him a tweet!

Vice President, Print

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune, covers sports pop culture for the Chicago Tribune’s “Chicago Inc.” column. He has held a wide variety of roles over the course of more than 25 years in media, starting as a city government reporter at the Tampa Tribune before becoming a copy editor and later one of the first pioneers in digital journalism. He moved to Chicago in 1997 to join the Chicago Tribune’s early online newsroom as a sports producer. Start-ups and media innovation have been career themes, working for and helping launch RedEye, a tabloid targeted to 20-somethings, and leading The, a teen newspaper and journalism program, as its editor. The Norfolk, Va., native is a proud product of an HBCU (historically black college or university), Norfolk State University.

Vice President, Digital

 Lee Edwards is a multimedia/digital journalist who is currently the program coordinator for The Real Chi, an experimental “learning newsroom” program of Free Spirit Media based in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.

Prior to joining the Free Spirit Media, Lee spent the last six years as a digital journalist covering a wide spectrum of beats across the Chicagoland region as a former reporter/contributor with Block Club Chicago, The Chicago Defender, Austin Weekly News, Times Republic. and City Bureau among other media outlets.


 Vice President, Archive
 Tony Smith is a meteorologist and news reporter. He has also worked in Miami, Omaha, Norfolk, Greensboro and Las Vegas. But Chicago is home for this weatherman. Tony is looking forward to working with other NABJCC board members  in order to bring together Chicagoland journalists dedicated to truth and excellence in newsgathering, reporting, and equality in the media industry. Tony encourages everyone to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Valarie West, Ret. Fox Chicago, has been the NABJ Chicago Treasurer for many years.  A long-time media professional, she was News Unit Business Manager for Fox Chicago for 16 years before she retired in 2009.  Valarie also worked at CBS for 10 years.