September 18, 2019

This class of 29 women will come to Poynter from England, Finland, South Africa, Turkey and the United States for a week of intensive leadership training. 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2019) – The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism, is pleased to announce the third and final class selected for its fifth annual Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. This elite group of 29 women will join a network of more than 300 graduates who consistently report being transformed personally and professionally through the program.


Applicants in 2019


Women selected


Distinct academies

“Every women’s leadership academy is special, so we are eager to empower our latest cohort,” said Doris Truong, Poynter director of training and diversity. “Their time at Poynter will give them greater insights into how to manage their teams and themselves. And it’s always special when we have non-U.S. journalists participate because we can find globally relevant solutions to shared challenges in connecting with a 21st-century audience.”

This class will come to Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida, Oct. 20-25. During the intensive program, participants receive one-on-one career 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 digital news organizations.

“The 2019 academies have been fantastic so far, and I have no doubt that this upcoming academy will be just as fulfilling and thought-provoking,” said Katie Hawkins-Gaar, lead faculty for Poynter’s 2019 Leadership Academies for Women in Digital Media. “The fall cohort brings a unique perspective to the program, and they’ll learn from an especially strong faculty lineup. It’s more important than ever for journalists to form connections to support each other in this industry, and I can’t wait to see this incoming cohort do just that.”

Hawkins-Gaar will be joined by the following guest faculty members during the third academy:

  • Neil Brown, President, the Poynter Institute
  • Moni Basu, the Michael and Linda Connelly Lecturer for Narrative Nonfiction, Department of Journalism at the University of Florida
  • Cheryl Carpenter, Leadership Faculty, the Poynter Institute
  • Candice Fortman, Chief of Engagement and Operations, Outlier Media
  • Mel Grau, Marketing Communications Writer, the Poynter Institute
  • Kristen Hare, Local News Reporter, the Poynter Institute
  • Sabrina Hersi Issa, CEO, Be Bold Media
  • Sara Konrad Baranowski, Editor, Times Citizen Communications
  • Dani Mae, Yoga Instructor, Breath Guide, Breath Guidance
  • Kelly McBride, Senior Vice President, the Poynter Institute; Chair, Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership
  • Carol Pauli, Associate Professor of Law, Texas A&M University
  • Chris Sheridan, Former Media Executive at ESPN, CNBC, NBC and ABC
  • Rachel Smolkin, Vice President and Executive Editor, CNN Politics
  • Doris Truong, Director of Training & Diversity, the Poynter Institute

Fortman and Konrad Baranowski are graduates of Poynter’s academy and will be returning as instructors after leveling up in their careers. Sheridan and Truong will lead a new session called, “#UsToo: Building Trust in the Newsroom,” which is part of Poynter’s new partnership with Press Forward. Smolkin will be the keynote speaker, providing her advice for staying sane and supported while covering politics and leading teams.

Meet the fall 2019 cohort

The 29 women selected for the fall cohort were chosen from more than 400 applicants for the 2019 academies. They have been identified as leaders in their organizations, ready to rise to the next level of their careers. The participants are selected by a committee of graduates of the program, 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 Digital Media:

Heather Burns
NFL Nation Deputy Editor

Sushil Cheema - Penny Hoarder

Sushil Cheema
Lead Editor
The Penny Hoarder

PinarDag_Dag Media

Pinar Dag
Founder, Data Journalist, Lecturer
Dag Medya

Janel Davis
Senior Editor, Enterprise
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Rebecca Feldhaus Adams
News Director

Meredyth Grange
Associate Community Manager, Chorus
Vox Media

Rebecca Halleck
Editor, Digital Storytelling and Training
The New York Times

Rachel Hislop
Okayplayer & OkayAfrica

Ally Jarmanning
Digital Producer

Jane Yong Kim
Culture Editor
The Atlantic

Ivana Kottasova
Digital Producer
CNN International

Paige Lavender
Senior Editor, Breaking News

Laurie Lawrence
Creative Director, National Content Team
American City Business Journal

Alysha Love
Content Editor

Kristina Lucarelli
Digital Curation Desk Manager
Hearst Television

Marissa Miley
Senior Editor
The GroundTruth Project

Kristin Musulin
Senior Editor, Smart Cities
Industry Dive

Erica Perel
General Manager
The Daily Tar Heel

Jacqueline Policastro
Washington Bureau Chief
Gray Television

Rachael Sadon
DCist (WAMU)

Rachel Sams
Albuquerque Business First
@rachel_sams, @ABQBizEditor

Meredith Shamburger
The Panola Watchman

Judith Siegel
Director of UX and Digital Design
Dow Jones

Ashlin Simpson
Program Manager
Code for Africa

Alexandra Smith
Growth Director

Rebecca Smith
Vice President, Editorial Operations & Strategy

Suvi Tanner
Head of Content
Era Content

B.J. Terhune
Assistant Metro Editor, Breaking News
Los Angeles Times

Felecia Wellington Radel
Audience Editor
USA Today

More Poynter resources for women in media

In addition to teaching three times more women in 2018 and 2019 through the signature leadership academy, Poynter publishes the Cohort newsletter every other Tuesday, by and for women in digital media, edited by Poynter’s Mel Grau. Each issue features a different woman in the industry and includes authentic storytelling, real advice and useful resources.

Hawkins-Gaar also founded, a platform that facilitates female mentorship within the media industry. More than 75 graduates from Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media and ONA’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator volunteer time on their calendars to coach women on topics like navigating start-up culture, managing remote teams, planning career changes and more — for free.

The 2019 Poynter Leadership Academies for Women in Digital Media are made possible in part through support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, McClatchy Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Gannett Foundation and WordPress.

Applications for the 2020 Leadership Academies for Women in Digital Media will open in November 2019.

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.

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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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