Joel Engardio

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Joel Engardio
Joel Engardio.jpg
Born (1972-09-17) September 17, 1972 (age 42)
Occupation Journalist, documentary filmmaker, writer, business owner

Joel P. Engardio (born September 17, 1972) is a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. He is an award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker and civil liberties advocate. Engardio was the only candidate endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle in his 2012 race for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He finished close to third in a nine-candidate field. Engardio was the first openly gay supervisor candidate to run in San Francisco’s conservative District 7, where half the voters in some precincts supported a 2008 ban on gay marriage.[1] Engardio's PBS documentary Knocking won the jury award for Best Documentary at the USA Film Festival. At the American Civil Liberties Union, Engardio combined reporting and multimedia storytelling skills to pioneer more effective ways to mount lawsuits and communicate public education efforts. He was the ACLU’s first “story finder” and implemented a process that applied journalism methods to plaintiff-finding.[2] Engardio found plaintiffs who had narratives that played well in both the court of law and public opinion. He also started a video department that produced shorts for online audiences, which prompted mainstream media to cover the same stories.[3]

Career[edit]

Joel Engardio has won numerous journalism and documentary film awards, for work that appeared on PBS and in USA Today, Washington Post.com, San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Weekly. He is currently a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. and was written for the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor and P.O.V. magazine. In radio, he has written essays broadcast on NPR’s This I Believe series [4] and KQED-San Francisco’s Perspectives.[5] In television, Engardio worked as an associate producer for ABC News at the news magazine 20/20 and the network's documentary unit, Turning Point. Engardio wrote, narrated and directed Knocking, a documentary on Jehovah’s Witnesses that was nationally broadcast in the United States on the PBS series Independent Lens in 2007.[6] It was named Best Documentary at the 2006 USA Film Festival. Knocking was also broadcast in Australia, Canada, Greece and Israel. It was released on DVD in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Russian.[7] In public relations, Engardio worked as a senior media strategist for Manning Selvage & Lee in San Francisco. He also organized a national outreach campaign for his PBS documentary and was a media consultant for Stanford University’s Asian Liver Center and Jade Ribbon Campaign.[8] Engardio received a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2011, with classes at Harvard Business and Law Schools. He was a mid-career student on scholarship from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. After graduating, he was asked to help teach negotiation at Harvard Law School.[9] Engardio currently serves on the board of directors of SF Moderates, a San Francisco policy group that advocates for moderate solutions[10], and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club[11].

Awards[edit]

Engardio's San Francisco Examiner column won First Place in Columns/Criticism at the 2014 Freelance Journalism Awards sponsored by the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Engardio won a national opinion writing award at the 2010 American Academy of Religion Journalism Awards.[12] His short film "Voices from Guantanamo" received the Global Justice Award at the 2010 Media That Matters Film Festival, with screenings in New York and London.[13] His film Knocking was named Best Documentary at the 2006 USA Film Festival. Engardio was the recipient of the 2000 National Press Foundation award for science writing. In 2003, his opinion writing was recognized with a first place award by the Society of Professional Journalists in Northern California. He was a finalist for the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award in 2000. Engardio was also a finalist for the University of Missouri 1999 national writing award in multicultural journalism.

Background[edit]

Engardio graduated from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 2011 with a Master in Public Administration. He attended Harvard on a full-tuition scholarship from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. His undergraduate degree is from Michigan State University, where he majored in journalism and history. He was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan where his mother was the only member of a large Italian Catholic family to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Engardio never joined the faith.[14] He currently lives in San Francisco. Engardio has completed seven marathons: Chicago (twice), New York, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle (twice). He also rode a bicycle 545 miles over seven days from San Francisco to Los Angeles for the AIDS Lifecyle charity.

Political Campaign[edit]

In 2012, Engardio was the only candidate endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle in his race for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The Chronicle said Engardio “lacks the financial backing of his rivals, yet he’s rich with ideas.” Engardio finished close to third in a field of nine candidates. He was the first openly gay supervisor candidate to run in San Francisco’s conservative District 7, where half the voters in some precincts supported a 2008 ban on gay marriage.[15]

Knocking Documentary[edit]

Engardio's documentary film Knocking explored how the unpopular religion of Jehovah's Witnesses played a major role in First Amendment history, setting Supreme Court precedents that expanded individual liberties for all Americans. In interviews, Engardio said Knocking is not about the theology of Jehovah's Witnesses but instead uses the religion as a case study to examine how disparate and disagreeable groups can hold their unique beliefs without marginalizing or limiting the freedom of others. "We may not be each others' cup of tea," Engardio said on NPR, "but tolerance allows a variety of kettles to peacefully share the stove." Knocking won several film festival awards and was covered in Newsweek, USA Today and newspapers across the United States. Entertainment Weekly named it "What to Watch" for the week of May 20, 2007. Critics of Jehovah's Witnesses said the film did not deal harshly enough with controversies surrounding the religion, like the practice of shunning. Engardio told film festival audiences that "Knocking" contained criticism organic to the film's storylines. Engardio has written Washington Post essays critical of Jehovah's Witness practices, including shunning [16] and refusal of blood transfusions.[17] Engardio has also written essays for the Washington Post and USA Today about civil rights issues involving Jehovah's Witnesses outside the scope of his film. Most notable was the 2010 ruling by a federal judge that overturned California's ban on gay marriage, in which the key legal precedent cited by the judge was a 1943 Supreme Court case won by Jehovah's Witnesses.[18] Another Washington Post essay by Engardio warns that a ban on Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is a dangerous precedent that could lead to the loss of freedoms for other unpopular groups in the emerging democracy.[19]

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