SPJ Member John North hosts ETSPJ’s annual legislative Luncheon (Jan 2020)


The East Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ) draws membership from all of East Tennessee and is based in Knoxville.

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.

Our Mission

We are dedicated to the free practice of journalism in the United States and to encouraging and maintaining high standards for ethical behavior. We offer professional support for media practitioners, a regional voice in journalism advocacy, and provide a link for local members to maintain contact with nearly 10,000 SPJ members nationwide.

Become a Member

Any media professional or member of the public is welcome to become a member. Membership in ETSPJ provides discounts on program registration fees, award entries, etc.  Chapter membership is $10, in addition to the national membership fee. When registering, please make sure to select “East Tennessee Pro Chapter” under Local Chapters.

Board Members

Interested in getting involved, either on our board or on a committee? Contact us.

Maria Cornelius


Maria Cornelius is a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael. She covers the Lady Vols for 247Sports and worked for 14 years at The Knoxville News Sentinel. Her book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” chronicles the last season of Pat Summitt’s storied career as the Lady Vols head coach.

Jean Ash


Jean Ash spent 17 years as an anchor and reporter for WIVK. Ash is past president of ETSPJ and the founding president of the Front Page Foundation. She was named the 38th honoree at the Front Page Follies in 2016.

Jesse Mayshark


Jesse Mayshark worked as a reporter and editor for 20 years before working in communications for former Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero in 2011. He currently is co-founder of Knoxville political newspaper, The Compass.

Angela Dennis

Angela Dennis

Board Member

Angela Dennis is a journalist for the Knoxville News Sentinel-USA Today Network and co-host of the Black in Appalachia podcast a project of East Tennessee PBS.

She is a Knoxville native, raised in Florida, and covers issues at the intersection of race and equity through contemporary and historical lenses.

Gwendolyn Ducre

Board Member

Gwendolyn Ducre is a reporter and anchor at WVLT.

Gwendolyn is a bayou girl from south Louisiana who came to Knoxville in April 2019.

Her journalism career began as a teen on radio in Slidell, La. In college, she was Editor-in-chief for the award-winning newspaper, The Hawkeye, at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Jack Lail

Board Member

Jack Lail is a retired journalist who was most recently digital manager at WATE-TV. He served as digital director for more than two decades at The Knoxville News Sentinel.

Allison Lester

Board Member

Allison Lester is the director of media relations at Fletcher MarketingPR.

She is a dynamic leader with 13 years of experience in newsrooms across the country; most recently as the assistant news director at WBIR-TV for six years.

She was awarded a Knoxville Young Professional of the Year award in 2017 for her volunteer efforts in the community.

Tearsa Smith

Board Member

Tearsa Smith anchors Good Morning Tennessee and 6 News Midday on WATE 6 On Your Side. She hosts several special programs and covers the Community Conversations franchise on WATE.

Lexi Spivak

Lexi Spivak

Board Member

Lexi Spivak anchors Good Morning Tennessee Weekends and reports for WATE 6 On Your Side throughout the week. Lexi traded in the Ozark Mountains for the Smoky Mountains in June of 2020.

During her time in Springfield, Missouri, she was nominated for an Emmy for her work covering the tragic Duck Boat crash on Table Rock Lake in 2018.

Georgiana Vines


Georgiana Vines is a longtime News Sentinel political writer.