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First female chairman in industry history named by SPOA

Claudia Dencer
Claudia Dencer

School Photographers of America (SPOA) has elected a woman to chair its board for the first time in the industry's 99-year history. Claudia L. Dencer, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Leonard's Photography, St. Augustine, FL, was named chair of the governing board of SPOA. Dencer, the first woman to serve in the top leadership role of the new association, is one of the family leaders of a third-generation school photography business and is a founding member of the industry's trade association.

“The majority of school photography businesses are family-owned and operated as multigenerational businesses,” she says. “There are third- and fourth-generation businesses still thriving in this industry. It’s very important to advocate, educate and support our industry in every way possible. We, as SPOA, strive to protect our industry, which is so important in creating memories and supporting the security of students in our schools nationwide.”

As one of three women on the 12-person governing board, Dencer adds this is a vital aspect to a board being relevant to its membership and to its end users: “It’s important to show it doesn't matter whether you are male or female or the size of the company, we can all band together with our love and respect for the tradition and future of this industry, and how we educate others about the importance and value of the school photography.”

“First and foremost, Claudia is an established leader in the volume photography industry,” says David Crandall, Executive Director, SPOA. “Her expertise and experience are crucial to the important projects, events, and programs the association has going forward. In addition, her participation and support of the SPOA Women's Leadership Advisory Council, led by Dr. Lillie Cox of WE LEAD, has been essential to lead efforts to build and sustain a thriving, equitable, and inclusive culture that values gender equity and inclusion at all levels of leadership for the industry. The Women’s Leadership Advisory Council represents not just women, but some of the most talented leaders in the photography and yearbook industry.”

The mission of SPOA is to advocate, educate, preserve, protect and promote the great school traditions of school photography and yearbooks. They will be hosting their annual conference this June 9-11th in Houston, Texas at the Westin Galleria. The conference will have experts in student data privacy and cybersecurity and offer training with a focus on leadership development, all while celebrating the best school photographers and yearbooks that were done in this last school year of 2021-2022.

The members of the governing board are: Brent Babbs, Geskus Photography; Michael Bell, Bell Photographers Inc; Josh Cady, Cady Studios; David Crandall, SPOA Executive Director; Claudia L. Dencer, Leonard's; Cindy Gallien, Photo Texas Photography; Mike Harris, Victor O'Neill Studios; Rodney Halterman, HR Imaging; Courtney Lutz, Visual Image Photography; John Mark, Dorian Studio; Steve Miller, Irvin Simon Photographers; Tom Struzziero, O'Connor Studios; Aric Snyder, Jr., Inter-State Studio & Publishing Co.; Mike Strawbridge, Strawbridge Studios Inc.; and Chip Wagner, Wagner Portrait Group. About School Photographers of America (SPOA):

School Photographers of America (SPOA) is a trade association and 501c6 dedicated to the school photography and yearbook industry. SPOA serves to advocate for and protect the preservation of photographers' copyrights, as well as establish and govern healthy standards and best practices for the school photography industry. To learn more about SPOA, visit or email David Crandall at

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