Alexandra Zayas is a senior editor at ProPublica, where she edited part of a series that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing and has overseen high-impact work on immigration, international aid and social services. She spent 12 years at the Tampa Bay Times, ultimately as the newspaper’s enterprise editor. As a reporter, her investigation into abuse at unlicensed religious children’s homes across Florida won the 2013 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Zayas is a former member of The Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board.
Elissa Yancey’s writing, teaching and consulting work revolves around bridging divides by building meaningful connections across differences. From translating complex scientific research to leading workshops on using journalism to elevate civil discourse and public understanding of the world, she is a creative entrepreneur with a knack for solving problems and an endless fascination with people and places existing outside of traditional news cycles.
Keith Woods is chief diversity officer at NPR. He leads NPR’s team that works with journalists in the NPR newsroom and those at more than 260 member stations across the country, training them in leadership, storytelling, editing, diversity, audio engineering and digital strategy.
Woods went to NPR in 2010 to lead the organization’s corporate diversity strategy and has visited more than 30 member stations, from New England to Alaska.
Before joining NPR, he was The Poynter Institute’s dean of faculty. Besides leading a dynamic faculty, he taught for 15 years in courses from reporting on race relations, to diversity, ethics and newspaper writing. Woods was editor for four years of the Best Newspaper Writing series, an anthology of award-winning newspaper stories. He created and continues to lead the online group seminar “Lead From Where You Are,” a four-week workshop on writing personal essays. He has also been on the faculty of Poynter’s Diverse Voices seminar on opinion-writing since its debut in 2017. He is co-author of “The Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity.”
Woods has worked to help professionals, faculty and students better understand and handle matters of diversity through workshops at dozens of journalism schools and training at major radio stations, newspapers and television stations across the country. While at Poynter, he chaired two Pulitzer Prize juries.
He is a native of New Orleans and a graduate of Dillard University and the Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work. He is a former sports writer, news reporter, city editor, editorial writer, and columnist, working his way through those jobs in 16 years at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Butch Ward has been a journalist and teacher of journalists for nearly five decades. He was managing editor of both The Baltimore News American and The Philadelphia Inquirer and then spent three years as vice president for corporate and public affairs at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia before joining the faculty of The Poynter Institute. He spent 13 years at Poynter, teaching, consulting and facilitating leadership and editing programs for print, broadcast and digital newsrooms and for journalism associations. Now semi-retired, he continues to help both aspiring and established newsroom managers become the leaders their staffs and communities need them to be. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he lives in Wallingford, Pa., with his wife, Donna.
Mizell Stewart III is a lifelong journalist and community servant with a passion for transforming organizations and lives for the better. Today, he is a news executive with Gannett and the USA Today Network. He is the former managing director and chief content officer of Journal Media Group, formed in 2015 via the merger of the newspaper assets of Journal Communications and the E.W. Scripps Co. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, developing and delivering leadership programs for mid-career professionals. In his previous role as vice president/content for the Scripps newspaper division, Stewart led the Four Platform Newsroom project, a digital transformation initiative that resulted in regional and national honors for the company’s newsrooms, including recognition among Editor & Publisher’s “10 That Do It Right.” He has been an editor, managing editor, local news editor and award-winning reporter. Under his leadership, the Evansville Courier & Press was named best daily newspaper in Indiana in 2011 by the Hoosier State Press Association. A four-time Pulitzer Prize juror, Stewart helped lead the team at The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. that won the 2006 Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Stewart earned a B.S. in journalism at Bowling Green State University and serves on the board of directors of the BGSU Alumni Association. He earned an M.S. in Executive Leadership and Organizational Change from Northern Kentucky University.
Katie Hawkins-Gaar is a journalism consultant, freelance writer, and the organizer of Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Hawkins-Gaar created The Cohort, Poynter’s newsletter dedicated to women kicking ass in journalism, and co-founded 40 Better Hours, a project to improve newsroom morale. She runs digitalwomenleaders.com, a site offering free one-on-one mentoring sessions for women working in journalism, and writes a weekly newsletter called My Sweet Dumb Brain. Hawkins-Gaar previously worked as Poynter’s digital innovation faculty. Prior to that, she was the managing editor of CNN iReport, the network’s global citizen journalism platform.
Steve Bien-Aimé is the lead instructor for the Poynter-Koch Media Journalism Fellowship and an assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University. Bien-Aimé teaches journalism in the College of Informatics’s Department of Communication. His research interests include race and gender portrayals in sports and news media. Prior to receiving his doctorate from the College of Communications at Penn State, Bien-Aimé worked as a copy editor at The News Journal in Delaware and The Baltimore Sun and served in a variety of functions at FOXSports.com in Los Angeles, departing as deputy NFL editor.
Sharif Durhams is a senior editor for news and alerting for CNN Digital and was co-leader of Poynter’s 2019 Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media. Durhams was previously a homepage editor at The Washington Post where he helped to structure coverage of the 2016 Olympics and election and directed homepage breaking news planning after the shooting of four police officers in Dallas and the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death. His team helped The Washington Post surpass The New York Times in digital traffic for the first time. The Post won the Online News Association’s General Excellence in Online Journalism award in 2015. Durhams created the role of social media editor and digital strategist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he pioneered the paper’s use of social tools to aid reporting and helped to restructure beats and departments for the digital era. He also worked as a state and local government reporter for The Charlotte Observer, where he covered a presidential campaign and the Duke lacrosse scandal and won a Society of American Business Editors and Writers award for breaking news coverage. Durhams has served as a judge for the National Headliner Awards since 2016. He is president and a lifetime member of NLGJA — the Association of LGBTQ Journalists, an organization he joined in 2000. He’s a member of the Online News Association and the National Association of Black Journalists. Durhams studied journalism and political science at the University of North Carolina, where he was the first African American editor of the student paper, The Daily Tar Heel.
Tom Huang is assistant managing editor for journalism initiatives at The Dallas Morning News, where he is leading a fundraising campaign to support local news and community engagement. As an adjunct faculty member of The Poynter Institute, he organizes and teaches seminars for professional journalists on writing, reporting and editing, and coaches in the Local News Innovation Program, which helps newsrooms make the transition to sustainable digital publishing. As an editor with the American Press Institute’s Better News site, he helps newsrooms present their best practices in digital transformation. In 2013, he was a Sulzberger fellow at Columbia University, where he studied executive leadership and journalism innovation. In 2016, he worked on the editing team of The Dallas Morning News’ coverage of the July 7 police ambush, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news. He began his reporting career at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, and since 1993, he has worked in Dallas as a reporter, features editor, Sunday & enterprise editor and assistant managing editor for features. He is a former president of the Society for Features Journalism and served on the governing board of the Asian American Journalists Association. He has launched two Knight Foundation-funded projects — the Hispanic Families Network and Storytellers Without Borders — and is co-organizer of the Dallas Festival of Books and Ideas. He is a 1988 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and engineering.
Jacqui Banaszynski is on the visiting faculty of The Poynter Institute. She worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 30 years, held an endowed chair professorship at the Missouri School of Journalism, and now edits Nieman Storyboard as well as coaching writers and editors around the world. While at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, she won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing and was a finalist for the 1986 Pulitzer in international reporting. Projects she edited have won numerous awards, including the 1997 ASNE Best Feature Writing Award and the 2003 Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing. In 2008, she was named to the American Society of Sunday and Feature Editors Hall of Fame.
Joy Mayer is the director of Trusting News, a project that trains journalists to demonstrate credibility and earn trust in their day-to-day work. She is an adjunct faculty member at The Poynter Institute and community manager for Gather, a platform dedicated to engaged journalism. She spent 12 years teaching at the Missouri School of Journalism, where she created an engagement curriculum and a community outreach team in the newsroom of the Columbia Missourian and also taught web design and print design.