September 9, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2019) – In partnership with The Washington Post, the Poynter Institute is pleased to announce the journalists selected for its fourth annual Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media. 

The 30 journalists who emerged from over 120 applicants are pioneers in digital media who have demonstrated an aptitude for leadership through current projects and references. They were selected by a committee including graduates of the program, with an emphasis on ensuring diversity across ethnicity, geography, technology platforms, organization size and skill sets. 

“The journalists we chose for this year’s academy are the people eager for the launchpad that this training will provide to accelerate their growth,” said Doris Truong, Poynter’s director of training and diversity. “Just as important, their managers see their promise — which Poynter will nurture. I’m proud of the emphasis Poynter and our partners place on ensuring that journalists of color will be at the forefront of important newsroom decisions.”

This group — one of the most intersectionally diverse classes in the history of the program — will join a network of 75 graduates who regularly describe their experience in the Diversity Academy as “life-changing” and “transformational.” With The Post as a teaching partner for the first time, the 2019 program has been enhanced with more instructors and The Post’s insights about innovation as one of the nation’s most diverse newsrooms. 

“We are thrilled to provide some of the best journalists in the news industry as instructors,” said Carla Broyles, senior editor for recruiting and training at The Post. “We look forward to sharing not only our philosophies which center on quality journalism and storytelling innovation but also practical skills valuable in any newsroom across America.”

Poynter and The Post are pleased to welcome members of the upcoming Diversity Academy:

Eva-Marie Ayala
The Dallas Morning News

Ray Boyd
Senior Engagement Editor
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Wilkine Brutus
Digital Reporter
Palm Beach Post

Dwayne Burtin
Deputy Editor of Digital News
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Geraldine Cols Azócar
Assistant News Director
Univision New York

Suleman Din
Technology Editor, American Banker

Armand Emamdjomeh
Graphics Reporter
The Washington Post

Taryn Finley
Black Voices Editor

Joanne Griffith
Assistant Managing Editor, Digital

Karen Hao
AI Reporter
MIT Technology Review

Kaitlyn Jakola
Assistant Managing Editor
Insider Inc.

Oscar Jovel
Senior Editor

Reina Kempt
Deputy Sports Editor
The Advocate

Qiongying Klein
Deputy Bureau Chief, North America
The South China Morning Post

Mohammed Kloub
Audience Engagement Editor

Shefali Kulkarni
Operations Editor
The Washington Post

Brandon López
Digital Media Manager

Katrina Louis
Managing Editor

Alex Mena
Sports Editor
Miami Herald

Justin Myers
Data Journalist and News Automation Editor
The Associated Press

Sheila Rayam
Community Engagement Editor
Democrat and Chronicle

Kevin Richardson
Visual Content Editor
The Baltimore Sun

Joe Ruiz
Senior Editor

Brenda Salinas Baker
Audio Content Strategist

Jennifer Samuel
Photo Editor
National Geographic

Aliyya Swaby
Public Education Reporter
The Texas Tribune

Michelle Turingan
Managing Producer, Video
Xtra Magazine | Pink Triangle Press

Lora Victorio
Deputy Editor, Digital
Los Angeles Times

Meta Viers
Video Producer and Aggregation Producer

Carlos Virgen
Digital News Director
The Day

These journalists will come to Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Fla., for intensive training Oct. 13-18. The Diversity Academy will be led by Broyles and Sharif Durhams, senior editor at CNN Digital.

“We’re excited to have many of the most creative and successful leaders in our industry in our lineup of instructors,” said Durhams. “Just as important: They all believe diversity is an essential component in quality journalism. They will teach skills and share real-world advice on how they make decisions, and we expect the many mentoring relationships will last long beyond the week of the class.”

Poynter and guest faculty members include: 

  • Cheryl Carpenter, Leadership Faculty, The Poynter Institute
  • Candi Carter, Executive Producer, ABC
  • Eric Deggans, TV Critic, NPR
  • J. Freedom du Lac, Live News Editor, The Washington Post
  • Ramon Escobar, Vice President Talent Recruitment and Development, CNN
  • Teresa Frontado, Digital Director, WLRN
  • Mitra Kalita, Senior Vice President, Digital News & Programming, CNN
  • Mira Lowe, Assistant Dean for Student Experiences and Director of the Innovation News Center at the College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida; Incoming President, JAWS
  • Wesley Lowery, National Correspondent, The Washington Post
  • Everdeen Mason, Audience Editor, The Washington Post
  • Kelly McBride, Senior Vice President, The Poynter Institute
  • Kevin Merida, Senior Vice President, ESPN; Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated
  • Madhulika Sikka, Executive Producer for Audio, Post Reports Podcast, The Washington Post
  • Mizell Stewart, Senior Director of Talent, Partnerships and News Strategy, USA Today Network
  • Sydney Trent, Senior Editor, Social Issues, The Washington Post
  • Doris Truong, Director of Training and Diversity, The Poynter Institute
  • Butch Ward, Affiliate Faculty, The Poynter Institute
  • Benét Wilson, Freelance Aviation Journalist; Strategic Content Marketing Writer; Associate Editor, The Points Guy

“I am very happy to be back at Poynter almost nine years to the day I graduated from the Leadership Academy,” said Frontado, a Poynter alumna who is now returning as instructor. “The skills I learned here have helped me navigate the changes in our industry and lead the way to digital change in three different newsrooms. I am looking forward to open and honest conversations with participants about our role in digital media and how we can use our own voices to empower others.”

Poynter and guest faculty will teach hands-on sessions about leading an agile 24-hour news operation, using metrics to grow audience, breaking down silos, prioritizing the right projects, making smart business decisions, understanding a process for ethical decision-making, and navigating conflict. Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron will open the week with a conversation about the importance of newsroom diversity. During the week other prominent media executives, including Candi Carter and Kevin Merida will share their insights with the group. Faculty will also be available for one-on-one coaching, including Poynter faculty Cheryl Carpenter and Butch Ward. 

“The single most pressing challenge for news organizations is to become highly relevant to a diverse audience. The most significant step newsrooms must take to achieve that is to hire and retain a diverse group of journalists,” said Kelly McBride, Poynter SVP and chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership. “The individual journalists and faculty in this program are on the front lines of solving this problem and Poynter is proud to be there with them.” 

The Diversity Academy is made possible in part by support from CNN, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Scripps Howard Foundation, TEGNA Foundation and WordPress. 


About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University,, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. The world’s top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.


About The Washington Post

The Washington Post is an award-winning news leader whose mission is to connect, inform, and enlighten local, national and global readers with trustworthy reporting, in-depth analysis and engaging opinions. It combines world-class journalism with the latest technology and tools so readers can interact with The Post anytime, anywhere.

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Mel Grau is the senior product specialist at The Poynter Institute, focusing on Poynter's training experiences and newsletters. She previously edited The Cohort, Poynter’s biweekly…
Mel Grau

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