The 11th class of the APSE Diversity in Leadership Program got underway with three full days of intensive work (and play) from Dec. 9-11.

The six members of Class XI — Patrick Bernadeau of the Pensacola News-Journal, Meredith Perri of, Zack Powell of the Lock Haven Express in Pennsylvania, Damon Sayles of The Athletic, Alex Vejar of The Salt Lake Tribune, and Kelly Ward of The Seattle Times — kicked off their program year in Nashville where they were met by a cadre of volunteer instructor. That included program director Michael Anastasi and APSE president Jorge Rojas, who have worked hand-in-glove developing the ever-evolving curriculum since the Fellowship was founded in 2011.

The curriculum included a mix of classroom instruction that featured a host of leadership topics and modern newsroom strategy and analytics fundamentals as well as leadership discussions with local sports executives and presentations around the significant and fascinating history of the Civil Rights and Suffrage movements in Nashville and Tennessee.

Damon Sayles of The Athletic delivers a speech during the leadership retreat.
Damon Sayles of The Athletic delivers a speech during the leadership retreat.

The Fellows bonded through the shared experience of attending Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans games and an art exhibition in addition to plenty of late-night gab time.

And of course, as is a program tradition, each Fellow delivered a speech as part of developing their public-speaking skills.

The six Fellows of Class XI will bring the total number of program graduates to 54 once they reach the end of the current term at this summer’s APSE conference in Las Vegas. The APSE Fellowship Program is targeted at identifying and supporting women and diverse candidates for and in leadership positions in sports journalism.

Next up for the Fellows is attending APSE winter judging in Orlando in February.

Click here to learn more about the APSE Diversity in Leadership Fellowship.

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