Karen Bordeleau, president of the New England First Amendment Coalition, is the Reynolds Visiting Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is a retired executive editor/senior vice president of The Providence Journal.
Bordeleau is the first woman in The Journal’s 190-year history to hold the title of senior vice president and executive editor. She is responsible for shifting the newsroom into a “story-first” digital operation and is also credited with swinging open the proverbial doors of The Providence Journal by introducing many audience engagement initiatives — among them the award-winning Publick Occurrences forums to promote civil discourse on complex topics. Under her leadership, The Journal won numerous state, regional and national reporting awards.
Bordeleau began her journalism career in the 1970s and eventually became the editor of two small daily papers before joining The Providence Journal in 1996. In 2014, she was honored with the Yankee Quill — the highest individual journalism honor in New England — which recognizes a lifetime contribution of excellence in the field. In 2016, she was presented with the Judith Brown Spirit of Journalism Award, given annually to one woman who has made a significant impact on journalism in New England. In 2013, she was named one of the “Top 10 Women to Watch in the U.S. Media” by Editor & Publisher magazine. She has also been named one of Rhode Island’s Most Powerful Women by Rhode Island Monthly.
Bordeleau has organized and/or participated in many journalist exchange programs including those with Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Kenya. The mission of these exchanges and workshops is to share the principles of ethical and responsible journalism in countries with fledgling democracies and/or restrictive press laws. She has also taught news management, advanced reporting, social media and ethics courses in Pakistan and Kenya.
Bordeleau served as a Pulitzer Prize juror in 2015 and 2016. She is past president of both the New England Associated Press News Executives Association and the New England Society of Newspaper Editors.
Bordeleau has taught journalism for 24 years at institutions of higher education including Arizona State University, Emerson College, Northeastern University, the University of Rhode Island and Bryant University.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in political science summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island. She was a Sulzberger fellow at Columbia University in 2011.