Chauncey Bailey Project

Journalist Dori Maynard, 56, leaves legacy of commitment to diversity

Dori Maynard, who served as president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, encouraged open and honest conversations on diversity and race issues. She died Tuesday at age 56.
Dori Maynard, who served as president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, encouraged open and honest conversations on diversity and race issues. She died Tuesday at age 56.

By Robert J. Rosenthal, Executive Editor, The Chauncey Bailey Project

I first met Dori when she came to The Philadelphia Inquirer more than 25 years ago to lead diversity training for a newsroom and organization that had a lot to learn. She was a petite iron lady – patient, persistent, never loud but unbending in her commitment to diversity and upholding the highest ethical standards of journalism.

Dori’s perspective on race, her honesty and, more importantly, her insistence on guiding people to candid conversations and thinking sometimes made others uncomfortable.

She made us look at ourselves and our view of the world and who we are on issues of race. But discomfort always led to learning and changes in others’ thinking and even actions that led to better journalism and awareness of the value of diversity. I know her lessons and teaching stuck with me and influenced my personal thinking when it comes to hiring and mentoring other journalists.

When I came to the San Francisco Bay Area, I had more interactions with Dori in her role as president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

I got to know Dori best after I joined The Chauncey Bailey Project in late summer 2007. Dori and journalists Sandy Close and Linda Jue had the vision and strength to create the project after Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post, was assassinated on an Oakland street.

Dori was again the iron lady behind the scenes for me personally, and my respect for her as a journalist and person grew. But more importantly, and to my benefit, Dori and I became good friends.

Dori also was a board member of The Center for Investigative Reporting when I was hired in January 2008. As a guiding force behind the Bailey project and a CIR board member, Dori and I had many professional interactions.

But what I will really miss about Dori were our breakfasts, lunches, dinners and phone calls, and the quiet, honest and open conversations we shared. Those conversations were about the ups and downs of life, the challenges of running nonprofits, and always journalism.

Dori Maynard leaves a remarkable legacy. I will always be grateful for what she taught me. She educated many and touched and improved the lives of thousands with her commitment to diversity. None of us should ever forget the powerful and lasting cause she championed. That is a legacy we owe her.

Robert J. Rosenthal can be reached at rrosenthal@cironline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @rosey18.

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