Northern Illinois Newspaper Association elects first woman Latina president

  • Margarita Mendoza, editor of the El Observador, is the new president of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.

    Margarita Mendoza, editor of the El Observador, is the new president of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.

Submitted by Northern Illinois Newspaper Association
Updated 1/10/2020 8:31 PM

The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, which advances print and digital journalism through education and training in Northern Illinois, is pleased to announce its newly elected executive board leadership for 2020.

At the December board meeting, NINA president Jim Fuller of the Daily Herald passed on the reins to the 2020 president, Margarita Mendoza, editor of the El Observador, the Spanish-language monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Rockford.


"I am proud to be the first Latina president of NINA," Mendoza said. " I see this year as one where we use technology to make a difference. Education has been and will continue to be key, and one of our goals this year will be to create webinars that improve our knowledge base and provide training to our members."

Mendoza, of Elgin, is an experienced journalist, translator, and public relations professional. She is a translator, and the editor of the international award-winning Spanish language monthly newspaper, El Observador, for the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.

In 2012, Mendoza launched and directed the Latino Film Festival Elgin. Several years ago she started the Latino Film Festival Aurora. She is featured in the book series Today's Inspired Latina, founded by Jackie Camacho-Ruiz. She is also a director of Colombia Hoy and edits the Panamericano Hoy, a Spanish language newspaper focused on optimistic news.

Joining Mendoza on the NINA executive board are: first vice president Dan Campana,; second vice president Pat Szpekowski, PR Strategies & Communications Inc.; treasurer Jim Slonoff, The Hinsdalean; immediate past president James Fuller, Daily Herald; executive secretary Jason Akst, Northern Illinois University Department of Communication; and communications coordinator Shelley Hendricks, Northern Star, Northern Illinois University.

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Board members are comprised of individuals representing diverse newspaper, journalism, and media expertise: Joe Biesk, Chicago Tribune; Jay Dickerson, The Galena Gazette; John Etheridge, Kendall County Record Newspapers; Phil Jurik, Suburban Trib, Chicago Tribune; Rick Nagel, Kane County Outreach; Eric Olson, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb; Tom Parisi, Northern Illinois University Division of Marketing and Communications; Roger Ruthhart, editor, retired; Tammie Sloup, The Times, Ottawa; and Penny Wiegert, The Observer, Diocese of Rockford.

About NINA

Founded in 1962 to promote the newspapers of Northern Illinois, 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 come from throughout Northern Illinois and include individuals and newspapers ranging from independent weeklies with circulations under 2,000 to large chains with circulations over 200,000.

For membership information, contact Shelley Hendricks at

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