The CJA was founded in 1978 by a group of journalists after a conference of Commonwealth non-governmental organisations in Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The launch had the support of the then Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal as well as the Director of the Commonwealth Foundation – the body which over many years has generously provided core funding to the CJA.
Derek Ingram OBE from the UK was elected first President in 1983. Together with Patrick Keatley, Derek is one of the founding fathers of the Association. Ray Ekpu (Nigeria) was elected to succeed Derek in 1990 and Murray Burt (Canada) was elected in 1997 and again in 2001. Hassan Shahriar (Bangladesh) was elected President in 2003 and again in 2009. Rita Payne (UK) was elected President in 2012.