staff

Alexa Volland

Alexa Volland is a multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project. Before joining Poynter, she was the web editor for the Tampa Bay Times’ high school newspaper, tb-two*. She then went on to join the Times’ features department as a copy editor and designer. Prior to that, she was a journalism teacher in Pinellas County. She graduated from the University of Florida, where she studied journalism and education.

Alex Mahadevan

Alex Mahadevan is senior multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project.

He most recently worked as a data journalist at the personal finance startup The Penny Hoarder. Prior to that, Mahadevan served as the news innovation editor at Observer Media Group. He has covered politics, real estate and development and breaking news.

Cristina Tardáguila

Cristina Tardáguila is the International Fact-Checking Network’s Associate Director. She was born in May 1980, in Brazil, and has lived in Rio de Janeiro for most of her life. Since 2014, Tardáguila has dedicated her professional life to verification. She is the founder of Agência Lupa, the first fact-checking initiative in her country, and also responsible for LupaEducação, its educational branch.

Tardáguila studied Journalism at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and got her master’s degree, also in Journalism, from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid (Spain). In 2017, she added to her resumé an MBA on Digital Marketing, from Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV-Rio de Janeiro), and is now considered one of the strongest media entrepreneurs in her country.

As a reporter and/or an editor, Tardáguila has worked in some of the most important media outlets in Brazil: O Globo, Folha de S.Paulo, Globo.com and revista piauí. She has also published two books: “A Arte do Descaso” (in 2016), about the biggest art heist in Brazil – still an unsolved crime. And “Você foi Enganado” (2018), about presidential false claims heard in Brazilian politics since 1920.

Her interest in dis/misinformation combat has taken her to TEDx’s red carpet twice and has turned her into elPeriodico’s best journalist of 2018. This award is annually given by Grupo Zeta, in Spain, to the most impressive journalist of the year. Tardaguila has also been nominated for Premio Gabriel García Marquez, in Colombia, and Prêmio Comunique-se, in Brazil. Both in their innovation categories.

Tardáguila is married, has a daughter and is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish.

Heaven Taylor-Wynn

Heaven Taylor-Wynn is a recent graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, where she majored in telecommunication with a specialization in news. She previously interned at PolitiFact and returns to Poynter as a multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project.

Baybars Örsek

Baybars Örsek is the Director of the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute. Before joining the International Fact-Checking Network; Örsek co-founded Turkey’s first fact-checking project Doğruluk Payı and Turkey’s open data platform Veri Kaynağı, as the founding chair of Turkey’s leading media non-profit İzlemedeyiz (On Watch).

Josh Herrington

As Development Director, Josh Herrington is responsible for raising funds from individuals, businesses, and foundations to support Poynter’s programs. After studying advertising and music performance at The University of South Florida, Josh spent two decades in Seattle directing nonprofit fundraising campaigns in the areas of public media journalism, chronic homelessness, and the arts. Josh is thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of Poynter’s mission of helping develop inspirational and responsible journalism.

Bridget Donovan

Bridget Donovan

As interactive learning manager, Bridget oversees Poynter’s News University (NewsU) – the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered users from around the world. She is passionate about Poynter’s mission and critical role in journalism and democracy.

Bridget is a growth-minded strategic leader with 15+ years’ experience developing interactive, learner-centered online educational programs, courses and content for a variety of audiences. She has international leadership and education management experience working with diverse teams and technologies.

Prior to joining Poynter in 2019, she led her own company, media-ecology, helping brands and businesses engage learners online. From 2007 to 2013, she served as director, elearning & business development at the University of South Florida, the tenth-largest top-tier research university in the United States. Bridget partnered on the debut of NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News. She launched the U.S. digital education service for the London office of Espresso Education, the award-winning digital learning service. She oversaw training for Espresso Education in London and East England managing a customer base of 44 Local Education Authorities consisting of more than 3,500 schools serving 1.2 million students.

Bridget has produced digital media for PBS, Discovery Education Espresso, and her work has garnered Telly, Webby, Interactive Media Award and British Film Council and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts recognition. Bridget started her career working at PBS.org, contributing to PBS Kids, PBS Teacherline and a variety of digital offerings.

Bridget has a master’s degree in educational research from Cambridge University, where she conducted and published applied research on human-computer interaction. Bridget has two bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University, one in child and family studies and one in psychology.

Bridget loves raising her two children, living, working and stand up paddleboarding in Tampa Bay/St. Pete. 

Tom Jones

Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30 years, and has also worked for the Tampa Tribune and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Through his sports columns, including his popular weekly critique of sports on TV and radio called “Two Cents,” Tom has established himself as one of the most respected and accessible columnists in America today. He has a superb knack for blending the expertise gained from his reporting and rich network of sources, with the sensibilities of his audience. The result is work that is smart, easy to read and wonderfully resonant.

 

Latishia Williams

Latishia Williams has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 25 years in roles from Accounting Assistant to her current position as Staff Accountant.

Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman is a staff writer with PolitiFact based in South Florida. She was part of the team that launched PolitiFact Florida in 2010 and was part of the PolitiFact team during the 2016 election. She previously worked as a staff writer for the Miami Herald and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A native of Amherst, Mass., she graduated with a history degree from Macalester College in St. Paul.

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Aaron Sharockman

Aaron Sharockman is the executive director of PolitiFact, the largest fact-checking organization in the United States. Aaron leads the growth and development of PolitiFact, manages its outreach and news partnerships, and oversees new initiatives and product development. Aaron has been with PolitiFact since 2010 and served most recently as the editor of PunditFact, a website dedicated to checking claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers and the hosts and guests of talk shows. Aaron was a 2016-17 Reynolds Fellow at the University of Missouri and taught a class on political fact-checking at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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Katie Sanders

Katie Sanders is the managing editor of PolitiFact. Previously, she fact-checked talking heads and opinion-shapers for PunditFact as well as the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott for PolitiFact Florida, reporting from the Tallahassee bureau of the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she majored in English and journalism.

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Tong Phum

Tong Phum serves as The Poynter Institute’s Facility Manager, overseeing its premier headquarters in St. Petersburg. Tong plays an instrumental role in supporting Poynter’s in-person teaching capacity and the Innovation Lab @ Poynter. Tong manages vendors and special events as well as day-to-day facility operations.

Prior to joining Poynter, Tong served as Facilities Coordinator for 15 years in Seattle, Washington with the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS). He recently moved to St. Petersburg to be closer to family.

During his tenure at ACRS, he maintained a building nearly twice the size of Poynter, completed several large building projects, and handled event set-ups similar in size and scope to Poynter’s teaching and community events.

You’ll always find Tong with a smile or a quick laugh.

Sara O’Brien

Sara O’Brien is the multimedia designer for The Poynter Institute. She specializes in video and graphic design. Before joining Poynter, she spent 12 years working in television as a producer and creative manager for Sinclair Broadcast Group. She has worked on an array of video projects such as commercials, infomercials, promos, and television shows. In 2009, she authored St. Petersburg Then & Now, a local history book. She is also the owner of Wide Sky, a t-shirt company in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 2015, Wide Sky was voted Best New Local T-Shirts by Tampa Bay’s Creative Loafing.