Prior to her selection for the National Urban Fellows Class of 2014, Lauren Rochester was Director of Awards for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization.   Its mission is to encourage the free practice of journalism and stimulate high standards of ethical behavior.

As director, she managed two of the country’s largest and most well-respected journalism contests, the Mark of Excellence Awards and the Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which recognize outstanding collegiate and professional journalism. Lauren’s responsibilities included managing all department functions, contest finances, marketing, communications, and recognition-ceremony logistics. She spearheaded the creation of an online awards-submission platform that eliminated the previous paper-submission process. After implementing the platform, contest entries increased by 27 percent. Her job responsibilities expanded to include planning SPJ’s annual Ted Scripps Leadership Institute. She also managed the Diversity Leadership Fellows Program which seeks to provide diverse journalists with a broader voice in the industry through national SPJ leadership.

Lauren was initially hired as the organization’s awards coordinator. She served as the primary contact for SPJ’s national award programs and annually recruited and supervised more than 90 volunteer contest judges.

In her spare time, Lauren enjoys volunteering with programs that focus on youth development. Her volunteer activities include working with her church’s youth ministry, and talking to high school students about college preparation.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Lauren attended Indiana University at Bloomington where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a certificate in Journalism. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. She also completed a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

The National Urban Fellows program will help Lauren achieve her ultimate goal of becoming an impactful leader in the public sector.