CPJ board elects Joel Simon new executive director

New York, June 20, 2006–Members of the board of the press freedom advocacy organization the Committee to Protect Journalists elected Joel Simon executive director today. CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger said Simon will bring “energy, intelligence and experience to CPJ and journalists around the world at this critical time for press freedom.”

Simon worked as a journalist in California and Latin America before joining CPJ as Americas program coordinator in 1997. Promoted to deputy director in 1999, Simon has led missions to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Yugoslavia, Tajikistan, Mexico, Colombia, and the Gambia and has written widely on press issues, including press freedom and international law.

“It is rare that you can find an individual as committed to the cause of freedom of the press with the kind of experience that nine years at an organization can provide. We on the board are delighted to have Joel take over this important job at this important time,” Steiger said.

Simon succeeds Ann Cooper, who led CPJ for eight years. Cooper will leave at the end of June to become director of the broadcast program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Simon began his career as a writer and photographer based in Central America, focusing on Guatemala’s civil war. After obtaining a master’s degree in Latin American studies from Stanford University, he moved to Mexico City in 1989 where he worked as an associate editor for Pacific News Service and as a freelance writer and photographer for a number of U.S. publications. He covered Mexico and Cuba throughout the 1990s, including the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas. His book on Mexico’s environmental crisis, Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge, was published by Sierra Club Books in 1997.

Simon assumes the executive director position on July 5.