Kelly Furnas named to Student Press Law Center’s board of directors

The lecturer in the School of Communications is one of four appointees joining the SPLC board consisting of educators, journalists, lawyers and students who advocate for student press freedom.

Kelly Furnas, a journalism lecturer in the School of Communications and faculty mentor for Elon News Network, has been named to the Student Press Law Center’s board of directors. He is one of four new appointees joining the 15-person board that oversees the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that defends, supports and promotes the First Amendment rights of student journalists.

Kelly Furnas

Founded in 1974, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) also provides a legal hotline, develops educational materials, and conducts training and programs throughout the United States – all at no charge to student journalists and the educators who work with them.

Furnas will serve a three-year term on the volunteer board that is charged with making decisions on the overall strategic direction and priorities of SPLC. The board sets policy, plans for the future, and monitors finances, development and funding. Members of the board hail from the journalism, legal, education, and nonprofit management fields, with one board seat reserved for a student representative.

“It’s always been critical to SPLC’s mission to fight censorship on high school and college campuses,” Furnas said. “But just as important, and certainly more exciting, is how the organization proactively nurtures the efforts from educators and policymakers to support student expression. Today, especially, we need to reaffirm that free speech is better for education and better for democracy.”

Joining Furnas on the board this month are Angela Buonocore, a longtime communications executive, Amy Kristin Sanders, an attorney, former journalist and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Neha Madhira, a student journalist at the University of Texas at Austin.

“There can be no more important time to support and protect student journalists, and we are gratified that these new board members will generously share their talent and time to lead the organization during an era of both internal growth and vexing challenges to the First Amendment rights of student journalists,” said Jane Eisner, chair of the SPLC board of directors, in a Jan. 27 news release.

In 2018, Furnas was named a National Scholastic Press Association Pioneer Award recipient, acknowledging his passion for — and contributions to — scholastic journalism. According to the NSPA website, the Pioneer is the highest honor NSPA awards to journalism educators.

Student Press Law Center

The Student Press Law Center is a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of law, journalism and education to promote, support and champion the rights of student journalists and their advisers at the high school and college levels. The SPLC provides information, training and legal assistance at no charge to student journalists and journalism educators. For more information on the SPLC, visit