February 4, 2020

Updated Feb. 18, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2020) – The Poynter Institute is pleased to announce the first of three classes selected for its sixth annual Leadership Academy for Women in Media. This elite group of 30 women will join a network of more than 330 graduates who experience significant personal and professional transformation through the program.

“We had a particularly talented pool of applicants whose backgrounds and impact in the journalism industry are inspiring,” said Doris Truong, Poynter director of training and diversity. “Poynter is committed to supporting women with an aptitude for leading. As these women — with their diverse perspectives from around the world — take on even bigger decision-making roles, they will have a strong foundation to build on from their time in our academy.”

During each academy, participants receive one-on-one coaching from top media executives, learn practical advice on navigating newsroom culture and gain a deep understanding of what it takes to successfully lead today’s news and media organizations. By connecting with instructors and peers, graduates of the program leave inspired and reinvigorated.

Kelly McBride, Poynter senior vice president, ethics chair and founder of the Leadership Academy for Women in Media, will continue to oversee the program in 2020. Truong and Cheryl Carpenter, Poynter leadership faculty, will return as instructors and coaches. The academy will be organized by Katie Hawkins-Gaar, founder of The Cohort newsletter and the Digital Women Leaders coaching initiative.

“We’re kicking off 2020 with such a strong start,” said Hawkins-Gaar. “I’m thrilled with the cohort of women selected for the February academy, and with the caliber of instructors they’ll learn from. We’ll tackle some crucial topics together, and I can’t wait to witness those conversations.”

The first class will come to Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg on Feb. 23-28. HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen will be the keynote speaker, jumpstarting the week of training with an off-the-record conversation about her career, thoughts on journalism and approach to taking care of herself and her team.

The next two classes will take place April 19-24 and Oct. 4-9; participants are already selected and will be announced closer to those dates.

The following guest faculty will join the core Poynter teaching team in February:

  • Mel Grau, Marketing Communications Writer and The Cohort Editor, the Poynter Institute
  • Kristen Hare, Local News Reporter, the Poynter Institute
  • Mandy Hofmockel, Deputy Editor of News,
  • Debbie Lundberg, Founder & CEO, Presenting Powerfully; Author, Faculty, the University of South Florida
  • Dani Mae, Founder, Breath Guidance
  • Samantha Ragland, Director, Digital Content Strategy, USA Today Network – Florida
  • Chris Sheridan, Former Media Executive at ESPN, CNBC, NBC and ABC
  • Christina Tapper, Deputy Editor, Zora magazine at Medium

Hofmockel, Ragland and Tapper are graduates of the women’s leadership academy and will be returning as instructors after leveling up in their careers. Sessions will cover ethics, diversity and inclusion, self-care and mental health, balancing strategy and execution, negotiation tactics, overcoming imposter syndrome, and building trust in the post-#MeToo workplace.

“It’s an honor to come back and teach the 2020 Poynter women’s leadership cohort,” said Ragland. “I am forever inspired by my lady peers in this industry, and while being present as guest faculty, I am fully aware that I’ll also be present as a participant, as a student. There is just too much brilliance in that room at Poynter to not bask in it, reflect on it and grow because of it.”


Women accepted to Poynter’s 2020 program


Academies in 2020


Years of leadership training specifically for women

The 2020 Poynter Leadership Academies for Women in Media are made possible in part by support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the Gannett Foundation.

Katie Couric, the pioneering broadcast journalist who broke one of the industry’s glass ceilings when she became solo anchor of the CBS Evening News, personally made a donation to Poynter’s leadership programs for women during Poynter’s annual fundraising gala in November. She told McBride that helping the next generation of women leaders become executives was “one of the reasons I wanted to start my own company.”

“I’m really excited about helping young women, and a diverse group of young women, to really consider journalism as an important career,” Couric said. “We’ve been under siege a lot lately and to be able to be in a group that really recognizes and appreciates what journalists do is so gratifying.”

Meet the winter 2020 cohort
The 30 women in the winter cohort come from all over the United States as well as Canada and France. They were selected by a committee of graduates and Poynter faculty, with an emphasis to ensure diversity across ethnicity, geography, technology platforms, organization size and skill sets.

Poynter is pleased to welcome the following members of the upcoming Leadership Academy for Women in Media:

Natasha Alford
Vice President, Digital Content & Senior Correspondent

Juliana Barbassa
Latin America Editor
The New York Times

Julie Beck
Family Editor
The Atlantic

Nat Castañeda
Digital Storytelling Producer, Enterprise and Investigations
The Associated Press

Rebecca Cooper
Digital Editor
Washington Business Journal

Carmel Delshad
Editor & Reporter
WAMU 88.5

Jennifer Ditchburn
Policy Options

Nana aba Duncan
Radio Host/Producer
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Lauren Frohne
Lead Video Journalist
The Seattle Times

Michelle Garcia
Deputy Editor

Carrie Holt
Digital Executive Producer
Local Now/ The Weather Channel

Lorraine Lee
Managing Editor

Ginger Maddox
Executive Producer
WBBM-TV (CBS) Chicago

Liz Martin
Senior Visual Journalist
The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette

Marianne Mather
Visual Editor
Chicago Tribune

Sarah Miller
Chief Photographer
Tyler (Texas) Morning Telegraph

Tamika Moore
Video Producer and Photojournalist
Red Clay Media

Claudia Morales
Senior Producer
CNN Digital Video

Raj Mukhopadhyay
Executive Editor
C&EN BrandLab, at American Chemical Society

Kelly O’Shea
Deputy Health Editor
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Cécile Prieur
Deputy Editor
Le Monde

Christina Prignano Deering
Senior Digital Editor, Politics
The Boston Globe

Shirley Qiu
Audience Engagement Strategist
American Press Institute

Mollie Reilly
Assignment Editor, Breaking News

Lindsay Sample
Editorial Director
The Discourse

Salina Sanchez
Senior Business and Admin Manager
Hechinger Report

Charlotte Simmonds
West Coast News Editor
The Guardian

Natasha Vicens
Interactive & Design Editor

Julie Vitkovskaya
Projects Editor
The Washington Post

Hannah Withiam
Staff Editor
The Athletic

Applications for the 2021 Leadership Academies for Women in Media will open in the fall of 2020.

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, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a teen digital information literacy project. 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 broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
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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