Celebrating 5.5 years of Hadar Harris as SPLC Executive Director

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

As Executive Director Hadar Harris ends her tenure today at the Student Press Law Center, SPLC Board Chair Logan Aimone and Hadar each reflect on the successes of the past five-and-a-half years and look to SPLC’s important work moving forward.

A Note From SPLC Board Chair Logan Aimone

Since its founding in 1974, the Student Press Law Center has served as the lifeline to protect and defend the rights of student journalists and their advisers, ensuring that they are able to access public records, understand media law, and publish without censorship. Over the past five years, SPLC has transformed from a small and scrappy organization into a cohesive, talented, tireless team focused on empowering students and amplifying their voices.

Hadar Harris has led that transformation as executive director since 2017. As she departs SPLC for new opportunities, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank her for what she helped SPLC achieve during a period of unprecedented challenges in education and journalism.

Under Hadar’s leadership, SPLC has grown and strengthened to have a greater impact. Working with the board, she facilitated a strategic planning process that laid the foundation for evolution and expansion. Increased investments from foundations and individual contributors reflect confidence in SPLC’s mission and success.

Hadar increased the budget, built the staff, extended the outreach and helped shift the legal landscape. She reinforced and refined core programs like the legal hotline as she expanded partnerships for new programs like Student Press Freedom Day. She encouraged the development of new resources that reflect today’s needs: guides to covering protestsadvocacy for policy change, and using pronouns and preferred names. Most significantly, today the free expression rights of tens of thousands more students are protected through continued legislative success with the New Voices campaign.

Viewing her work through a human rights lens, Hadar has always kept the focus on students, centering them in conversations and strategy, while elevating their work and voices. Equally important, Hadar has brought warmth, humor and empathy to every collaboration.

SPLC is the only organization that works at the intersection of education, journalism and law, work that is more important today than ever. Soon I will share the news about SPLC’s next visionary leader. That person will join an SPLC team that is strong and positioned well for continued success and impact thanks to Hadar’s efforts. On behalf of the community of student journalism and media law, we thank Hadar for her dedication and endless energy in fighting for student journalists, and we wish her continued success.

headshot of Logan Aimone

— Logan Aimone, MJE
Chair, Board of Directors

A Note From Hadar Harris

Today is my last day as executive director of the Student Press Law Center. In a previous post, I talked with pride and excitement about the growth of the organization and the strategic evolution we’ve undergone.

While the organization’s growth was intentional and methodical, the battles we fight now were beyond expectation nearly six years ago when I first joined SPLC.

Today, the fight to protect press freedom is taking place at every level of American society. Contempt for the media has been normalized. The censoring of student work now takes place against the backdrop of increasing attacks on education and restrictive legislation that seeks to prevent the discussion of “controversial” topics, whether it is content related to LGBTQ+ students, the impact of COVID-19 mandates or other important issues.

The bold journalism of students is more important than ever. Student journalists have a unique voice and perspective that needs to be fostered and celebrated. Journalism advisers are educational heroes, and their role is ever more important (and ever more complicated). We see you and thank you.

And in order to promote, support and defend this work, SPLC is more important than ever.

I am grateful to you all for the work you do, and to the SPLC Board for entrusting this organization to me for the past five and a half years. Most of all, I am grateful and so, so proud of the SPLC team: Josh, Mike, Hillary, Danielle, Jon, Alexis, Sommer, Devin and Grayson. I leave knowing that SPLC is strong and strategic, ready to fight the censorship battles, answer the legal questions, and shift the legal landscape to protect the important work of student journalists and their advisers. Because of all of that, no matter what battles await, I know the future is bright.

Keep doing great journalism. And remember, write the story — SPLC has your back!

Headshot of Hadar Harris

Hadar Harris

P.S. To keep in touch or check out my next steps, you can contact me at www.rightsandjustice.org. I look forward to keeping in touch and continuing to support bold journalism, brave advocacy and SPLC’s next steps.