April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, has been named 2017 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Ryan is a Baltimore native and graduated from Morgan State University. She inadvertently came into the spotlight earlier this year during a particularly unusual exchange with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
"April Ryan is a true trailblazer and truth seeker," said NABJ President Sarah Glover. "She's dogged and unapologetic about her pursuit of the story. In the White House press corps circle, where too few Black women have been given an opportunity to report, April has excelled and persevered in spite of the many obstacles she has confronted. Her work has risen to the top."
In her role as a White House correspondent, Ryan has covered the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and has interviewed each former president. Her work took her on a tour of Sub Saharan Africa with former President Obama where she covered healthcare efforts, infrastructure and trade.
With 30 years in the journalism industry and 20 years at AURN, Ryan has received several honors for her work including the 2016 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Trailblazer Award from the National Council of Negro Women and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author nomination for her 2015 book "The Presidency in Black and White."
"It is wonderful to be honored by such an esteemed organization," Ryan said. "I am humbled and honored. So many of these [NABJ] journalists do important work and I am so thankful they would think of me for this honor. It has been an amazing couple of months and you guys give me some wind to say 'keep going.'"
Ryan made national headlines during her time covering the Donald Trump Presidency. In one instance, White House spokesman Spicer told her to 'stop shaking [her] head,' which prompted calls for him to apologize and helped launch the #BlackWomenAtWork hashtag on social media.
Ryan also garnered unintended attention when Trump asked if she could arrange a meeting between himself and the Congressional Black Caucus.
The experiences prompted Ryan to say on CNN, where she recently joined as an analyst, that the press is "under attack" by the Trump administration.
In a release announcing her NABJ honor, Ryan encouraged Black journalists to stay vigilant.
"We all have a job to do and some of the stories we are doing wouldn't be told if it weren't for us," Ryan said. "We all need to keep pressing because the First Amendment is under attack."
Ryan gives back as a mentor to young, burgeoning journalists. She has served on the board of the White House Correspondent's Association, becoming one of three Black board members ever to serve in the organization's more than 100-year history. Ryan is also a member of the National Press Club.
Her most recent book, "At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White," was published in December 2016 and looks at race relations through the lens of lessons mothers have given to their children. an updated paperback version of "The Presidency in Black and White" featuring information about Trump is set to be published later this year.
Ryan will be recognized in New Orleans on Aug. 12 at the NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards during the NABJ Convention and Career Fair.