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Dori J. Maynard, champion of diversity in news coverage, has died at age 56

I first met Dori J. Maynard when I was just a baby journalist. She emailed me to say that she liked the fledgling blog I clumsily wrote for at the time, and said lovely things about it and me.

That was the first time she made me feel special and deserving when I was a bit unsure, but it wasn't the last. Dori died February 24 in her Oakland, California, home at the age of 56. A veteran journalist, she was the president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, which was co-founded by its namesake, her father, in 1977 to train minority journalists and improve the way people of color are represented in the news. She dedicated herself to promoting diversity in America's newsrooms, many of which certainly cover stories more effectively due to her hard work educating and advocating for journalism that better reflects the community it serves.

"Maynard advocated tirelessly for the future of the institute and its programs, reminding all that the work of bringing the diverse voices of America into news and public discourse is more vital than ever," the Institute said in a statement posted to its website. "Under her leadership, the Institute has trained some of the top journalists in the country and helped newsrooms tell more inclusive and nuanced stories.

Her work definitely made a difference in the industry on a grand scale, but even on a micro level, her efforts helped improve the quality of journalism. The second time she emailed me, it was to point out an error in one of my blog posts. I'm surely not the only young journalist who got such a nudge from her.

Thank you, Dori, for the big — and small — things you did to make us all better. Journalists and news consumers alike owe you a grand debt.

More about Dori Maynard:

5 lessons on diversity and journalism from Dori Maynard

In Memoriam: Dori J. Maynard

Dori Maynard, diversity champion, dies at 56