EW's President talks about Jeannie Park, the assistant managing editor for EW

Okay, we admit it: sometimes we get our best ideas from other people. For instance, the decision to make EW assistant managing editor Jeannie Park the focus of this president’s note was spurred, at least in part, by the Asian American Journalists Association, which recently gave Park its prestigious Special Recognition Award (last year’s recipient was CNN’s chairman and CEO, Tom Johnson), honoring her 11 years of leadership in the organization.

We at EW join in the commendation. In 1987, Park, then a reporter-researcher for TIME, cofounded the New York chapter of AAJA; the group’s initial meeting, held in the cafeteria of the Time & Life Building, was attended by all of nine people. But with Park as its first president (and still its resident den mother), the local chapter, now 300 members strong, has become an important force in lobbying for fair coverage of minority issues and pressing newsrooms for increased minority hiring.

A Cincinnati native who received a degree in biochemistry from Harvard before finding her true calling, Park is keenly aware of the importance of diversity. ”Given the enormous power of the media, and the fact that nearly 30 percent of America will be made up of people of color by the year 2010,” she says, ”it’s unthinkable for our industry not to diversify more fully.”

That she has devoted so much to this cause while working at three Time Inc. magazines — TIME, PEOPLE, and EW — since 1985 is typical of her style. ”Jeannie is an invaluable member of our staff for any number of reasons,” says EW managing editor Jim Seymore. ”She’s supremely organized, has a lively intelligence, and brings great journalistic skills to the magazine.” But what really astonishes us about Park — who lives in Manhattan with her husband, David Chan, and their two children, Ella, 3, and Ryan, 1 — is her sheer energy and unflagging cheerfulness. As Connie Chung, another notable Asian-American journalist, puts it: ”Jeannie has been a catalyst for change, but she’s also warm and caring and has an incredible ability to draw a large group of people together. She’d be a terrific United Nations ambassador.” She’s got our vote.

John Squires