Journalist Dori Maynard helped create The Chauncey Bailey Project after the assassination of the Oakland Post editor in 2007. Credit: Courtesy of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
Dori Maynard, who served as president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, encouraged open and honest conversations on diversity and race issues. She died Tuesday at age 56.Credit: Courtesy of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education Credit: Courtesy of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

I first met Dori when she came to The Philadelphia Inquirer more than 25 years ago to lead diversity training for a newsroom and organization that had a lot to learn. She was a petite iron lady – patient, persistent, never loud but unbending in her commitment to diversity and upholding the highest ethical standards of journalism.

Dori’s perspective on race, her honesty and, more importantly, her insistence on guiding people to candid conversations and thinking sometimes made others uncomfortable.

She made us look at ourselves and our view of the world and who we are on issues of race. But discomfort always led to learning and changes in others’ thinking and even actions that led to better journalism and awareness of the value of diversity. I know her lessons and teaching stuck with me and influenced my personal thinking when it comes to hiring and mentoring other journalists.

When I came to the San Francisco Bay Area, I had more interactions with Dori in her role as president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

I got to know Dori best after I joined The Chauncey Bailey Project in late summer 2007. Dori and journalists Sandy Close and Linda Jue had the vision and strength to create the project after Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post, was assassinated on an Oakland street.

Dori was again the iron lady behind the scenes for me personally, and my respect for her as a journalist and person grew. But more importantly, and to my benefit, Dori and I became good friends.

Dori also was a board member of The Center for Investigative Reporting when I was hired in January 2008. As a guiding force behind the Bailey project and a CIR board member, Dori and I had many professional interactions.

But what I will really miss about Dori were our breakfasts, lunches, dinners and phone calls, and the quiet, honest and open conversations we shared. Those conversations were about the ups and downs of life, the challenges of running nonprofits, and always journalism.

Dori Maynard leaves a remarkable legacy. I will always be grateful for what she taught me. She educated many and touched and improved the lives of thousands with her commitment to diversity. None of us should ever forget the powerful and lasting cause she championed. That is a legacy we owe her.

This story was edited by Phil Bronstein and copy edited by Sheela Kamath. 

Robert J. Rosenthal can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosey18.

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Robert J. Rosenthal

Robert J. Rosenthal is the chief executive officer at The Center for Investigative Reporting. Rosenthal was the executive director of CIR from January 2008 to spring 2017. When he joined CIR, it had a staff of seven and when he left, it had a staff of nearly 70 and was recognized as one of the leading nonprofit newsrooms in the country. He is an award-winning journalist and worked for some of the most respected newspapers in the country, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenthal worked for 22 years at The Inquirer, starting as a reporter and eventually becoming its executive editor in 1998. He became managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in late 2002 and left in 2007. During this time, he led the investigation into the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. That work became known as the award-winning Chauncey Bailey Project. Before joining The Inquirer in 1979, Rosenthal worked for six years as a reporter at The Boston Globe and three and a half years at The New York Times, where he was a news assistant on the foreign desk and an editorial assistant on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pentagon Papers project. As a reporter, Rosenthal won numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club Award for magazine writing, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished foreign correspondence and the National Association of Black Journalists Award for Third World reporting. He was a Pulitzer finalist in international reporting and was a Pulitzer judge four times. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Rosenthal is also currently advising or on the board of multiple journalism nonprofits. In 2018, Rosenthal was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists for his “extraordinary contribution to the profession of journalism.”