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Thomas announces end-of-year resignation as executive director


Dear KSPA members,

On Feb. 3, I provided the KSPA board with a letter of resignation, ending my work as the executive director of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association effective June 7, 2024.

During the remainder of the spring 2024 semester, I will remain executive director through our state contests, 50th anniversary celebration and all other KSPA activities. In following semesters, I will remain an instructor at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, while also freelancing as a writer and photographer.

During recent discussions, Dean Ann Brill of the Wiilliam Allen White School signaled that a continued partnership between KSPA and KU would remain strong. KU will continue to host KSPA, and the next executive director of KSPA will teach within the school. I have connected KSPA board president Becky Tate and Dean Brill to begin discussions about an executive director search, aimed at finding someone who would be KSPA executive director while teaching at KU.

I am very proud of the work that the KSPA membership, board, staff and I have accomplished during my 10 academic years at KSPA. Our organization financially stands in its most healthy state since I became director. We transitioned many contests online to a judging and feedback system that helps students and teachers. During those ten years, six Kansas students have been named National Student Journalist of the Year or runner-up. In 2017, with the help of KSPA staff, the “Pittsburg 6” made national news when they exposed their newly hired principal as a fraud. During the lock-down months of the COVID-19 pandemic, KSPA continued its contests and programming.

Add to that, KSPA has started many new awards and programs, including:

  • The Portfolio of the Year contests
  • Renaming signature awards for teachers Susan Massy and Mary Patrick
  • Launching a robust web page to support student free speech on kspaonline.org
  • Transitioned financial support for mentoring from JEA to KSPA
  • Created the Courage in Journalism Award

Additionally, in 2017 we hosted an overnight KSPA conference in Topeka to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Kansas Student Publications Act. Looking forward, we are poised to celebrate the association’s 50th anniversary at the JEA/NSPA National Convention in Kansas City in April 2024 and at the State Celebration in Lawrence in May.

I want to thank you, the members of KSPA, along with the board of directors for entrusting this vital state association to my leadership. I learned so much through my ten years on the job, especially about the incredible student journalists spread around this vibrant state — and the teachers who guide those brave young students. I have made many friendships that I treasure deeply. Thank you!

I am confident that the association will continue to thrive, and I am happy to assist in recruiting and training a new director during this transition period. Thank you again for the incredible 10 years. I look forward to seeing the success of KSPA in the future.


Eric Thomas

KSPA executive director


Dear KSPA Members,

We would like to thank Eric Thomas for a decade of steady leadership as executive director of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. Eric informed the board this weekend of his decision to move on from KSPA in early June to focus on teaching and his own work in journalism.

During his tenure, KSPA experienced unprecedented challenges and opportunities. His leadership of KSPA during COVID-19 shutdowns allowed students to continue to be recognized during the most challenging of circumstances when other school activities were often sidelined. He also served as a strong leader when schools faced First Amendment challenges, advocating for the free press rights of students in Kansas. His work also guided the growth of contests offered by KSPA. He also has helped our organization celebrate two important anniversaries: the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Kansas Student Publications Act and the 50th anniversary of KSPA, which we will celebrate in April during the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Kansas City. It will be difficult to see someone who has done so much for the organization take his leave.

As we look to the future, we appreciate the success KSPA has experienced under his leadership, and we look forward to KSPA’s next chapter. We hope to move expediently toward selecting a new director in coordination with the University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where the executive director role has also included duties teaching two classes each semester. The connection between the journalism school and KSPA has been strong, and we continue to appreciate the support of the school and Dean Ann Brill.

We know this will create an exciting job opportunity for those passionate about scholastic journalism. As soon as we know more details about the process for selecting the next director, we will share that information.


KSPA Board of Directors

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