About Us

Originally called the Chicago Press Veterans organization, the respected, nonprofit Chicago Journalists Association was founded in 1939 by journalists who met at the World’s Columbian Exposition, and today continues its mission of rewarding journalistic excellence and providing area journalists comradeship.

President’s Letter: Hello and Welcome from Your New Leadership

As you have heard, the 79-year-old Chicago Journalists Association, a respected nonprofit organization that has been rewarding journalistic
excellence and providing comradeship among Chicago area journalists since 1939, is, as they say, under new management.

First, we would like to extend our appreciation to our stalwart, longtime leader, Allen Rafalson, CJA’s President of the past 15 years, who recently retired, passing the baton to the remaining officers, under the leadership of new President Maudlyne Ihejirika.

Your continuing Executive Board is excited about beginning this new chapter in our distinguished history! But we cannot do it without you! To that end, we take this opportunity to introduce your new Board and some of the initial advancements planned in this transition.

Maudlyne Ihejirika is an award-winning, Chicago Sun-Times Columnist/Reporter, with 30 years experience in Journalism, Public Relations and Government. Vice President/Treasurer Yudi Zhang is the president of China Star News, with 25 years in the news business. And Vice President/Secretary Stephanie Choporis, who has led CJA’s Associate Board since its 2014 inception, is a multimedia journalist and co-founder/managing editor of Happenstance.

The first adjustment to report to you is our decision to promote our Associate Board of millennial journalists to the Executive Board, as both reward for their many years of dedication and in the interest of rejuvenating this organization with younger members who can help steer CJA as it wrestles with issues every veteran organization is wrestling with in an evolving industry. You will find our new officers’ bios on our website (www.chicagojournalists.net), under the “About” tab.

The next adjustment to report to you is our Board’s decision to eliminate annual membership dues in this transitional year, with the goal to re-evaluate the dues structure that has been the support base of our organization. Please know that we are considering all options in order to bolster the sustainability of our organization, an endeavor required of any veteran journalist organization in this increasingly digital landscape.

Please stay tuned as we strategize and plan new and exciting programming! We’re excited to see what the future holds for this great organization, and we hope you will continue to follow us along this journey! Your organization meets the second Thursday of each month. Members are always invited and welcome!

Note our new mailing address: 2318 S. Canal St., Chicago, IL 60616; new phone number: 773-789-9488; and new email: chicagocja@gmail.com. Please reach out if your contact information has changed, needs to be updated, or if you are joining for the first time during this exciting period. Check the website regularly for updates on events and new initiatives. Onward and upward!


Maudlyne Ihejirika, President
Yudi Zhang, Vice President/Treasurer
Stephanie Choporis, Vice President/Secretary