By: Editorial Staff THE SOCIETY OF Professional Journalists has a new executive director. Gregory Christopher, formerly SPJ marketing and development director, was promoted to the top management post following the resignation of veteran SPJ leader Ernie Ford. Christopher, 28, was selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants. His appointment was recommended by a search committee of six journalists headed by Reginald Stuart, SPJ president-elect and assistant Washington news editor at Knight-Ridder Newspapers, and approved unanimously by the SPJ board. The promotion was decided at SPJ's spring board meeting at the association's headquarters in Greencastle, Ind. At the meeting, board members approved a $1.6 million budget for fiscal year 1995, which begins Aug. 1, 1994. The budget allows for an expanded series of professional development programs next year. Workshops will be held throughout the country. It also provides for a series of libel seminars, a broadcasting seminar, the hiring of a communications director, funding of the SPJ newsletter, and support of the society's regional directors through a new fund. SPJ leaders also approved Legal Defense Fund grants to appeal a Louisiana lower court ruling barring a campus newspaper from gaining access to student disciplinary proceedings. The case, which involves Louisiana State University in Shreveport, is being pursued by student and professional chapters there. Also approved was an LDF proposal to give financial support for legal efforts by the University of Hawaii student chapter to gain access to disciplinary records of the Honolulu Police Department. In addition, a $1,000 LDF grant was awarded to the new Georgia First Amendment Foundation to support its mediation program for resolving disputes with public officials over press access to public meetings and records. Board members discussed plans for SPJ's national convention to be held in September in Nashville. In conjunction with the gathering and in partnership with Nashville's public schools, SPJ will sponsor Journalism Day to teach students First Amendment values.