Youth Today Founder Retires; New Publisher Named

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Bill Treanor

Sara Fritz

Prize-winning investigative journalist Sara Fritz will become publisher of Youth Today in April, succeeding co-founder and Publisher Bill Treanor.

Like her predecessor, Fritz will also serve as executive director of the American Youth Work Center, a nonprofit corporation that operates both Youth Today and an international training program for youth workers.

Treanor launched Youth Today in 1992, because, he said, “the field urgently needed a voice, and especially needed to hear its own voice.”

Fritz joins Youth Today at a crucial time, as newspapers around the country struggle with how to evolve in order to survive as more and more people get their news online for free. In recent years Youth Today has been transforming itself into a news service, with a more active website (www.youthtoday.org) and e-mail newsletters covering such areas as grant announcements, juvenile justice, and college prep and career training.

“Unlike many publications operating in the current economy, we have an extremely loyal readership,” Fritz said. “Fortunately, more Americans are beginning to understand that our nation’s future is in jeopardy if we fail to provide the next generation – including millions of low-income and troubled youth – with the necessary personal guidance, quality education and job training.”

She hopes to “broaden the readership of Youth Today to include not only professionals in the field, but also the many concerned citizens who are looking for a way to help at-risk youth.”

Fritz spent nearly two decades as an investigative reporter for The Los Angeles Times, winning Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. She also has served as White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, managing editor for Congressional Quarterly and Washington bureau chief for The St. Petersburg Times.

Since leaving daily journalism in 2002, Fritz has worked in the field of nonprofits: first as executive director of The Faith & Politics Institute in Washington, then as founder of the Prince Edward Partnership for Success, a racial reconciliation program in southern Virginia. She currently serves as fundraiser for the partnership, which provides mentoring for youth.

Fritz’s other journalism awards include the Everett Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress and the Times-Mirror Journalist of the Year in 1997. She is a member of the Gridiron, Washington’s most elite journalism group, president of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, a former president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and a former officer of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

She co-authored two books about campaign finance: Handbook of Campaign Spending and Gold-Plated Politics, and is completing a book about the history of race relations in Prince Edward County, Va., where all public schools were closed in 1959 for five years when they were ordered to integrate.

In her new post, she said, “We will continue to offer the investigative stories for which Youth Today is known, and we will commit ourselves to better defining the strategies that succeed in transforming young lives. I see Youth Today as the best available forum for a nationwide discussion of future youth policy.”

A Career in Youth Work

Treanor, a 10th-grade dropout, received a GED in the U.S. Army and a master’s degree from Harvard University. He spent much of the period from 1965 to 1968 as a field worker with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Treanor went on to spend more than 40 years as a leader in the youth service field, founding one of the nation’s first programs for runaway and homeless youth, the D.C. Runaway House, in 1968. He served as executive director of the National Youth Work Alliance, and founded the National Network for Youth in 1974 and the group now known as the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in 1979.

He was a staffer on the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s, leading an investigation of juvenile corrections in Oklahoma.

Treanor founded the American Youth Work Center in 1984 to help youth-serving organizations increase their capacity to meet the needs of children and youth throughout the United States and abroad. The center’s Practical Training Program (www.awyc.org) offers career-oriented training and other international exchange opportunities for early-career youth workers from several countries to work temporarily at youth programs in the United States.

Youth Today was founded by Treanor and veteran Washington journalist Bill Howard, its first editor, with funding from the Ford, C.S. Mott, Annie E. Casey and AT&T foundations.

What has the newspaper accomplished? “I think it’s helped to identify the youth service field, and the importance of youth work, across sectors such as national service, juvenile justice, youth employment and behavioral health,” Treanor said.

The American Youth Work Center has a fiscal 2010 budget of $1.2 million. It has seven full-time employees.

In 2009 Treanor was appointed by the Washington, D.C., city council to the seven-member board of the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp.

Last month, Treanor received the Syd Howe Lifetime Achievement Award from the Corps Network, which represents 143 service and conservation corps nationwide.