Chapter Officers

Clockwise from top: Cindy E. Rodriguez, Vanessa de la Torre, Natalie Benoit, Sabrina Herrera and Cristela Guerra.

2021-22 Board Members, effective July 2021:

Cindy E. Rodriguez, President

Cindy is a veteran journalist with more than two decades of daily newsroom experience. She also taught journalism throughout her career — at NYU, Fordham University and Boston University, to name a few —  before deciding in 2011 to teach full time. Cindy is currently a Senior Journalist-in-Residence at Emerson College, where she teaches an array of journalism courses, including several she has developed such as Covering Immigration. In addition to serving as president of the New England chapter of NAHJ, she serves on the boards of Massachusetts Mass Media Fund for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ) and the Massachusetts Scholastic Press Association. Cindy was elected president of the NAHJ New England chapter in June 2021.

Cristela Guerra, Vice President and Director of Professional Development

Cristela is an arts and culture reporter for WBUR in Boston. She worked for nearly four years at The Boston Globe writing human-interest features, covering everything from blizzards to arts to immigration as well as breaking news around New England. She started her career in Florida logging seven years at The News-Press where she wrote about about Cape Coral City Hall, crime, education, LGBTQ issues and business. She’s driven to understand peoples’ passions, committed to local communities and hopes to use the arts as a lens to delve deeper into stories of equity, culture, social justice and race. Cristela, who had previously served as an executive officer for the NAHJ New England chapter, was appointed vice president in July 2021.

Vanessa de la Torre, Financial Officer

Vanessa is executive editor of the New England News Collaborative, a regional hub of 9 public media stations sharing news, ideas and a united mission to empower communities through journalism. She is based at Connecticut Public in Hartford, where she was previously a radio reporter covering issues of race, identity and culture. Before joining public media, Vanessa wrote for newspapers such as the Hartford Courant, where her investigative storytelling won regional and national education reporting awards. She also was part of the team that was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. Vanessa grew up in El Centro, Calif., a desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border, and is a graduate of Princeton University. She received her master’s degree from Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Journalism. Vanessa was elected to the board in June 2021.

Natalie Benoit, Secretary and VP of Membership

Natalie is a producer for WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Emerson College with a bachelor’s in journalism — where she served in various executive roles as part of the NAHJ Emerson student chapter — Natalie was selected as a 2021 Fred Young TV Producing Fellow. She graduated in December 2020 and just over a month later, left for New Hampshire to begin the 14-week fellowship with Hearst Television’s WMUR, an ABC News affiliated station. Before starting her professional career, Natalie practiced her reporting and journalism skills with multiple organizations at Emerson, including its “Good Morning Emerson” program as well as executive producing several special projects and weekly entertainment shows or Spanish-language news segments with WEBN-TV. Natalie was appointed to the NAHJ New England chapter’s board in July 2021.

Sabrina Herrera, Director of Engagement

Sabrina is social media editor for Connecticut Public. Until recently, she ran social for the Hartford Courant as a visual content creator on the audience engagement team, and previously worked for NBC Connecticut as a lead newscast video editor. Her background in video and television news production has helped her find creative ways to engage with audiences and allowed her to expand into digital news production, social graphics and content creation, metrics tracking, and social media management. Sabrina, a 2014 graduate of the University of Connecticut, was appointed to the board in July 2021.

Job Descriptions for Chapter Officers


  • Ensuring that the chapter works to fulfill the strategic plan on the local level.
  • Carrying out requirements to maintain chapter certification, including submitting the annual report.
  • Making statements on behalf of the chapter and preside at most chapter events.
  • Serving as the primary contact person for potential members.
  • Working with chapter leaders to recruit new members and retain existing members.
  • Being acquainted with most chapter members and work to meet their needs within the NAHJ mission. It is often the president’s vision that guides the programming at the chapter level and helps develop the national organization through chapter work.
  • Grooming a successor through outreach, recruitment and skills building. It is often the case that you will need to ask people to run for office, tell them what the job entails and encourage them with some examples of how it has benefited you.
  • Facilitating, supporting and assisting with activities intended to support the mission of NAHJ, as managed by the NAHJ staff and approved by the Board of Directors.
  • Keeping members informed of chapter activities through newsletters, e-mails, fliers or other mechanisms.
  • The president or any other board member from the chapter board must attend the annual convention. (Chapter may use its funds to pay for all or part of the convention expenses, however this it’s up to the chapter board’s discretion). Convening with other chapter presidents once a year is important, this meeting could also help with leadership training, skills building and networking.

Vice President

  • In the absence of the president, the vice president shall perform all duties of the president.
  • When so acting, the vice president shall have all the powers of, and be subject to all the restrictions on the president.
  • The vice president shall assist the president and shall have other powers and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the chapter board.

Financial Officer/Treasurer

  • Responsible for submitting an annual chapter budget to the national office and completing annual financial reports.
  • Recipient of the chapter’s bank statements
  • Keeping the local bank account open and in good standing
  • Issuing checks from the local bank account to pay for chapter expenses.


  • Taking minutes at meetings and sending them to chapter leaders and members.
  • Greeting attendees at NAHJ events and asking them to sign in and make a nametag.
  • Writing chapter newsletters, e-mails or other communications.
  • Creating fliers, signs or other communication pieces for the chapter as needed.

Additional Board Members

Chapters may opt for additional elected leadership roles, including but not limited to: social media coordinator, web master, job fair chair, etc. The chapter may appoint members to non-elected positions based on its needs.

Source: NAHJ Chapter Manual (2017)