A note from the Board Chair: Thank you, Hadar! And what’s ahead for SPLC

white logo saying SPLC and Student Press Law Center on a bright blue background

Yesterday, SPLC’s Executive Director Hadar Harris announced that, after five years of remarkable service, she will be looking to the next chapter and challenge in her career, including launching rightsandjustice.org, a new consulting firm that will work on human rights-based organizational transformation.

Although we’re lucky to retain her leadership until early next year, the SPLC Board of Directors and staff want to take this time to celebrate Hadar and her many accomplishments.

Under Hadar’s leadership, SPLC has grown its team and budget, strengthened its programs, made new partnerships, and most importantly, transformed the way SPLC supports and empowers student journalists and their advisers. Over the past five years, the pandemic and political and social upheaval threw SPLC – and our community – every conceivable curve. But Hadar not only adapted, she helped turn the power of the law into an even stronger tool for our community to use in the classroom, in the legislature and in the courts.

For 48 years, SPLC has been the First Responder for student journalists, most widely known through our free hotline and expert legal advice. Hadar’s commitment to and passion for a free press and First Amendment rights moved the organization into a more proactive role, with her team doubling down on legislation through New Voices, a student-powered, grass-roots movement that’s now responsible for protection laws in 16 states; building student leadership and organizing skills through the free New Voices Student Leaders Institute; exploring legal, ethics and policy issues through the Summer Media Law & Policy Institute; and putting student journalists’ rights and issues in the national spotlight with our annual Student Press Freedom Day. All while continuing to train, educate and support student journalists and advisers through the hotline, SPLC in the Classroom and expansive online resources.

Hadar has accomplished all this and more with deep empathy, a collaborative spirit, humor and an organization-wide commitment to making sure our newest journalists can publish without fear or censorship. 

Thanks to Hadar, her tireless team and our strategic board, we have a strong, forward-thinking organization, and we now face a challenging but exciting goal – finding an inspirational and strategic leader to move SPLC into the next phase of its storied history. A dedicated Search Committee is committed to taking the time and care to do just that.

To that end, today we’re posting a job description that outlines what we’re seeking in SPLC’s next Executive Director. We are looking for a leader who will bring renewed energy to our mission to promote, support and defend the First Amendment and free press rights of student journalists and their advisers. We welcome those with a passion for issues at the intersection of education, media and law to apply. 

As Hadar heads into her final months, we at SPLC will continue to celebrate her work. For now, our wonderful community – including thousands of students, educators, lawyers and journalists – offers her the first of many sincere and heartfelt appreciations. And, personally, thank you Hadar for your fierce dedication to protecting student journalists across the country and taking SPLC to the next level.  

Headshot of Jane McDonnell

Jane McDonnell
SPLC Board Chair