Dori J. Maynard, longtime champion of diversity, died Tuesday, Feb. 24

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MIJE Staff
February 24, 2015

Dori J. Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and longtime champion of diversity in journalism and civic life, died Tues., Feb. 24, at her West Oakland home. She was 56. Maynard advocated tirelessly for the future of the institute and its programs, reminding all that the work of bringing the diverse voices of America into news and public discourse is more vital than ever. Under her leadership, the Institute has trained some of the top journalists in the country and helped newsrooms tell more inclusive and nuanced stories. New programs are empowering community members to voice the narrative of their own lives. On the morning of her death, she was discussing plans with a board member to help the institute thrive and to attract funding to support that work.



Dori was a founding member of

Dori was a founding member of the Chauncey Bailey Project. She and Sandy Close of New America Media organized the first meeting at a restaurant in Berkeley. Chauncey, of course, was a graduate of the training program offered by the Maynard Institute. I worked on the Bailey project, which led to Dori asking me to write a column for the institute for about a year aimed at educating the media how to stop stereotyping young boys and men of color in news coverage. You can hardly put into words how important the work Dori and the Maynard Institute did to train young people of color for careers in journalism and how the institute trained the media to write fair stories about communities of color. 

Bob Butler, President, National Association of Black Journalists; Reporter, KCBS Radio

So sorry to hear

Absolutely stunned. RIP.

So sad to lose Dori

Dori was a voice of conscience among journalists. She was fierce and correct in her challenges to all of us to do better. She and Sandy Close created an extraordinary project, which I then extended at UMass Boston with the New England Ethnic Newswire, a compendium of news from all the different ethnic (for want of a better word) media in New England. It never reached its potential for lack of funding (does that sound familiar?) but it carried the right spirit, which originated wth Dori and Sandy. Who will pick up the cudgels now that Dori is gone?

Dori Showed Up and Made a Difference

Hearing of the loss of Dori Maynard caused my heart to skip a beat. Dori. Gone? Not true

I know Dori from her work as a member of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the nonprofit educational arm of the Society of Professional Journalists. Dori contributed to our Board by showing up, and then by steering the discussions in ways the rest of us would not have considered had she not been present. When I thought she might be too busy, or too involved, or too far away to attend a Foundation board meeting, Dori showed up. When I hadn't heard from her before our meeting, and thought for sure she's have to miss a meeting, Dori showed up.

I will remember Dori for her passion for diversity in our profession, for her diligence in making a difference, for her advocacy as a human being. I mourn a loss way too soon. I offer my condolences to her family. But mostly, I will miss her showing up and being part of our discussions.

Steve Geimann,
SDX Board president, 2006-2012

A Phenomenal Woman, Exemplary Journalist, and Dear Friend

Dori Maynard's contributions speak for themselves. They are legion, impactful, and lasting. May she rest in peace.

Dori Maynard was a star in her own right

I just heard this news.

I am shocked.

I thought Dori would live forever.

I, too, was a young journalist when her father hired me. He died one year after taking me on. I learned a lot from Mr. Maynard. I learned even more from his daughter.

Dori was a gift to us all. Not just to journalists of color, but to all journalists. She cared deeply about the craft and contributed to it in so many ways.

But I love most the way Dori lived. Her smiles. Her hugs. Her instant friendship. I did not stay in touch as much as I would have liked. I blew that. But I always knew Dori was in my corner. She really was a champion for us all.

WE will miss you. And we will remember you.


Such a loss

This is such a loss. To those most personally close to her I offer my deepest sympathies. To everyone I offer this thought: She made a difference in so many lives, and the nation is a place of more diverse voices because of her. I mourn her loss. But I also know she helped build up a new generation that, inspried by her example, will carry on her work.


Ms. Maynard: Unbought and Unbossed

Dori carried the torch of pioneering "unbought and unbossed" Black women journalists such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett and African-Canadian newspaper owner Carrie Best.

Well done, Sis. You have earned your eternal rest



I was fortunate to meet Dori through her Mom, Liz and Aunt. Judy.  For all of her amazing work and noble goals, she was a surprisingly unassuming and gentle person. She was also generous in supporting the work of others. I think of Dori's sweet sense of humor and how she was clearly loved by everyone who knew her.

Dori's legacy

Dori taught all of us so much about leadership in journalism -- bringing the big idea to diversify coverage, training journalists, cutting through the unspoken messages in mainstream media.

But the most important thing she did for me was just to reach out and provide a kind word of support during a challenging time. She did that for me when I was serving as AAJA president in 2009. And it was the first time I met her! That small moment just stopping and really listening was everything. Thank you Dori.

a great voice is gone

Dori was an always clear and strong voice for diversity, integrity and aggressive pursuit of the news, as with the Chauncy Bailey Project, which counted her among its founders.

And so much FUN

In addition to her wonderful legacy as a journalist, my other clear memories of Dori are how much fun she was. The first time I met her was at a conference in Memphis, when we went on an Elvis tour in a 1958 pink Cadillac. Her laugh! Her sense of humor!

Farewell, Friend.

Support to you Evelyn & the rest of the Institute family

Not quite speechless at this news, but kind of blabbering. I can see Dori lowering her head and peering at me over her glasses as I write this, giving me that trademark look of hers. She was a fine friend full of warmth and laughter. She was sharp and tough and dedicated, a great journalist and a great person. I will miss her so much. Thinking of you especially Evelyn and remembering a rather long conversation that the three of us had at some conference years ago about our funerals. Dori was always ready to dispense with niceties and get straight to the real stuff. I think I'm supposed to bring See's candies. Is that right? She did have a few sweet memories from her time with us in Detroit. Just stunned. 

Dori, my friend

i have been off social media for Lent, and limiting my online life in general in order to focus on my spiritual side this season. So the shock and horror at reading a newspaper headline that Dori had passed took me aback. 

I can't even talk about how stunned I am. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that this vivacious, fierce, and incredible woman is no longer among us. The upnote is that she is with her beloved who preceded her. But how much poorer our lives are for her departure.

Dori first embraced me when I was but a pup reporter, working at the York Daily Record. She was in town, retracing the steps her father once walked as a reporter. That I had spoken with the great Bob Maynard as a Chips Quinn scholar just months before he had passed further connected us. It was a connection that grew and was cultivated for some two decades. She remained a beautiful presence, as a woman of color committed to creating a space for diverse voices and more accurate reflections in media, and to helping young communicators like myself along the way. I am still shaking at this news, in disbelief, in sadness.

But I'm also reminded to smile, thinking of her crazy cat stories, her sharp wit, that raucous laughter. Simply put, she will be so missed.

I'll stop here with a sincere prayer for all who knew and loved Dori. I send my embrace and condolences. And I offer a thank you for having been fortunate enough to have known, learned from, and worked with her. 

Dori Maynard (by Karen Dunlap)

To the Maynard Institute Family,

I want to join so many others in expressing my joy in knowing Dori Maynard and my sorrow in her passing. I awoke Wednesday to find notes from Kenny Irby and Al Tompkins telling me of her death. Here's an edited version of what I wrote for Poynter:

Dori was uncharacteristically absent from the Knight Stanford Journalism Fellows meeting of the Board of Visitors in January. During a break I sent her a note saying, "You're not here: Nothing is the same...." An Oakland resident, she responded, "You know the closer you are, the harder it is to get there!!!"

For decades "getting there" for Dori was pushing for news media diversity. She taught, mentored, strategized and cajoled for fair representation in news staffs and news coverage. Heading the institute that bears her father's name, Dori carried out a mission that was truly her own.

She and I would see each other at conventions and conferences over the years and we would take long, fun walks chatting about family, our institutes, media and African-American life and culture. No matter the city, Dori acted as though she knew the best route. I believed her at first, but then.......Really, Dori. The destination was less important than mind-expanding time with my soulful sister.

I miss her. The world of news media isn't the same without her. We need her. May the Robert c. Maynard Institute carry out the mission that she embraced. I'm blessed to have had times along the way with Dori.



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