DURHAM, NC (August 15, 2013) – Mindy Hutchison, the executive director of the National Press Photographers Association since October 2010, has told NPPA's board of directors that she is resigning effective October 1, 2013.
"It's been a privilege to lead this extraordinary organization," Hutchison said today. "I've had the pleasure of working and interacting with so many wonderful people through the years, and many of my colleagues have become true friends. It will be tough to say goodbye to the NPPA."
Hutchison is moving to Guatemala in October to begin a Spanish language immersion program and to volunteer for several NGOs for a few months. After that she plans to explore opportunities to live and work in Central or South America.
"This spring I traveled around Nicaragua for a week, and the experience inspired me to make a change in my life," Hutchison told News Photographer magazine today. "I decided to pursue my longtime dream of spending some time living abroad."
Before becoming NPPA's executive director three years ago, replacing Jim Straight, Hutchison was the organization's membership director. She joined NPPA's staff in September 2005.
"Mindy has done a great job guiding the NPPA through a very tough period," NPPA president Mike Borland said today. "She found ways to serve members and cut expenses at the same time. I want to thank her for all she's done over the years as part of the NPPA family, from working in the office then as membership director and finally as executive director. Mindy always did what needed to be done and did it well. I'm sad to see her go."
Borland said NPPA intends to do a thorough search for a new executive director, and within a short period of time NPPA will post the job description.
"The ideal candidate will be experienced in association management and will be able to help the NPPA grow," Borland said. "As more and more journalists, especially young journalists, are responsible for both written and visual stories we need someone who can help broaden our appeal." NPPA's president said the executive director search committee will be made up of the Executive Committee plus board member Rick Green and some other members who will be appointed shortly.
"I'm confident we can find someone to help us evolve while visual journalism and visual journalists are evolving," Borland said. "It will be someone who can help us deliver the educational programs these new (and old) journalists need in order to serve their communities best, someone who can help us do more with the limited resources we have right now. We feel the NPPA is a vital resource for journalists today. Our new executive director will need to understand and embrace this notion."
Many of those who have worked closely with Hutchison today recalled her tireless and creative efforts to move NPPA forward.
"Mindy has worked for the NPPA for almost as long as I've been on the board," NPPA past president Sean D. Elliot said today. "She's become more of a friend than an employee to those of us who've served during those years. I deeply respect her need to move on, but I am sorry for myself and my colleagues on the board and for the NPPA as a whole that we are going to be losing someone who has shown such a passion for helping NPPA navigate the times through which we've been traveling these last several years."
"I think one of the reasons that Mindy has been a great executive director is because she actually knows so many of the members, having first served as the membership director for many years," News Photographer magazine editor Donald R. Winslow said today. "She went to many of the events, she talked to the membership on the phone – often – and she saw their renewals come and go each year. And she supervised the database merger (which means in many cases she saw each and every member's record, eliminating the duplicates). I think she has a 'feel' for the membership, and each day she kind of takes the pulse of where NPPA is and where it is headed.
"A lot of the feedback she got from the members helped us to steer the direction of the magazine, and pick up on trends that were impacting our members. She was a very valuable source of grass roots information for the journalism we've been trying to practice for the last ten years, in the magazine and on the Web site. She is a very valuable resource not only to me, but to the entire organization.
"While we search for a new executive director, it's just a fact that no one, not even the most highly qualified candidate, is going to be able to walk in the door with the institutional knowledge of NPPA that leaves with Mindy when she rides off into the sunset," Winslow said.
NPPA Advocacy Committee chair Alicia Calzada, also an NPPA past president, praised Hutchison for her efforts to move NPPA into a more valuable and visible role in photographers' lives.
"With very little staff, Mindy has helped expand what NPPA accomplishes," Calzada said. "She has been a fervent supporter of our Advocacy program, nurturing and enabling the growth of our efforts to work behalf of photographers. She has overseen re-branding, a massive Web site overhaul, the implementation of our Short Grants program, and other programs related to our ACA funding. She worked hard to find and plan programs that fit within the ACA guidelines and benefit photographers. As the organization has faced enormous challenges due to changes in the industry, Mindy has helped us meet those challenges with grace and enthusiasm. When faced with an opportunity to benefit photographers, such as the Short Grants, Mindy's response has always been to find a way to make it happen. She is a tireless advocate for photojournalists and we owe her a huge debt of gratitude for all that she has done for NPPA over the years, especially in her years as executive director."
Calzada added, "It will be incredibly tough to find an executive director who can match her commitment and talent. I am sure there is no limit to what she can accomplish in this next chapter of her life and I wish her all the best. I'm really going to miss working with Mindy."
Northern Short Course chair Michelle McLoughlin also recognized Hutchison's deep institutional knowledge of NPPA and its history.
"Mindy understood NPPA inside and out, and her drive to keep pushing the organization forward has been a benefit to us all and will be greatly missed," McLoughlin said.
"Having worked closely with Mindy over the last few years, I can say NPPA is losing a true supporter of the goals of the organization and the field of photojournalism. Mindy has accomplished so much during her time with the organization, from creating new educational events to her key role in the re-branding of and new Web site for NPPA. I will truly miss the great working relationship we have cultivated over the years. Mindy has been a tremendous advocate of the Northern Short Course and helped us to grow the event with her understanding of the need for onsite education events."
Hutchison said she plans to spend her remaining weeks in North Carolina assisting the search committee and strategizing with staff and volunteers to achieve a smooth transition and continued momentum toward achieving NPPA's goals.
BELOW: Mindy Hutchison, seen earlier this year while horseback riding on Playa Escamequita beach in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Photographs by Heather Blue van Doorninck