Staff

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Sue Cross

Executive Director and CEO

Sue Cross directs INN’s work to advance non-profit, public service newsrooms that inform communities across the U.S. with fact-based, non-partisan, accountability journalism.  Cross has worked in nonprofit and public service news for 20+ years and ran a strategy firm helping nonprofits and news organizations increase their impact and reach. As senior vice present for The Associated Press, the nonprofit global news agency, Cross directed business development and partnerships throughout the Americas, managed a nationwide membership cooperative and developed digital partnerships with global media and technology firms. In prior roles in digital product development and partnerships, she expanded Spanish language news and video production and helped introduce digital video to thousands of news websites, an initiative awarded the Chairman’s Prize for Innovation by the AP board of directors.

She previously served as AP’s Los Angeles bureau chief and directed news coverage and media operations in Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas. She began her career as a reporter in Alaska and Ohio. Cross serves on boards including EdSource, a California education media and research nonprofit, the Social Enterprise Alliance - Los Angeles and the Center for Health Journalism at USC Annenberg.

Contact: sue@inn.org

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Fran Scarlett

Director of Programs and Services

Fran Scarlett is INN’s director of programs and services. She specializes in helping organizations understand and leverage their value propositions to build business models that maximize their potential for revenue growth and long term sustainability. 

Most recently Fran served as the regional director of the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She was responsible for starting businesses, growing capital investment and creating jobs in Southeastern North Carolina. Prior to that, she ran her own management consulting firm, Scarlett Ink Media, providing strategic and tactical consulting to news media organizations with an emphasis on developing new revenue models; product development and cross-platform collaborations.

Before consulting, Scarlett spent ten years at The Plain Dealer in the advertising division.  In her role, she worked closely with the news division in content development to grow incremental revenue. During her tenure she created and served as the general manager of the custom publishing group with responsibility for editorial, sales and operations. 

Scarlett received her MBA from Harvard University and a B.S. in Mass Communications from Boston University. 

Contact: fran@inn.org

Mara Jezior

Membership & Development Coordinator

Mara Jezior is INN’s membership and development coordinator. She is responsible for managing and helping to build INN’s growing member community and strengthening INN’s individual and corporate development initiatives.

Prior to joining INN in July 2017, Mara held marketing and development internships at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and MinnPost, two of INN’s earliest members. As the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s first public engagement and marketing intern, she took ownership of several responsibilities on a small staff, including tracking the reach and impact of individual stories, producing reports for funders and created the Center’s first stakeholders report. During her time at MinnPost, she honed her skills using databases and donor prospecting.

Mara graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 with a B.A. in journalism and history. She first realized her passion for nonprofit, public-interest journalism while serving as managing editor of UW-Madison’s independent student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal. There, she wrote and received her first grant, which awarded the newspaper $5,000 to support the coverage of under-reported topics on campus during a time when ad revenue was dwindling and the newspaper was seeking new revenue streams.

Contact: mara@inn.org, @marajezior

Sherry Skalko

Director, Amplify News Project

Sherry Skalko is the director of the Amplify News Project, a pilot program designed to raise the visibility of work produced by INN members in the Midwest.

A veteran digital news leader, Skalko has a record of creating and leveraging quality journalism to drive audience growth for news outlets, nonprofit organizations and niche publications. She specializes in using technology and data to shape editorial content, audience development and monetization.

Her career spans more than 25 years and across several platforms at national organizations, such as ESPN.com, AOL’s Patch and Tribune Interactive, as well as at local and regional organizations, such as The Chicago Reporter and South Florida SunSentinel. Skalko also worked for the Online News Association, the world’s largest nonprofit membership organization for digital journalists.

A native of Cranston, R.I., she graduated with a degree in journalism from Boston University and began her career at her hometown newspaper, The Providence (R.I.) Journal. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.

Contact: sherry@inn.org, @sskalko

Julia Smith

Julia Smith

Director, INN Labs

Julia Smith manages INN Labs, the product and technology arm of INN. She leads a team of news technologists to develop software that supports and advances the work of INN member organizations.

Smith regularly speaks at journalism-tech conferences across the globe, sharing insights on interactive storytelling, newsroom product management, and news application design. She comes to INN from the Center for Investigative Reporting where she was a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow researching mobile data visualization.

Smith’s editorial work has appeared in National Geographic, Reveal, The Chicago Reporter, and The Omaha World-Herald. Her data reporting projects have been recognized with an IRE Philip Meyer Award and a NATAS Emmy Award for New Approaches in Current News Coverage.

Smith is earning her M.S. in Information Design & Strategy from Northwestern University with a specialization in Data Science & Analytics. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from Creighton University.

Early in her career, Smith worked as a corporate software developer and user experience designer before an enthusiastic return to the news industry.

Contact: julia@inn.org, @julia67

RC Lations

RC Lations

Lead Developer

RC Lations is the lead developer on our Largo WordPress platform and also helps out our members and clients with individual projects to further our mission of building open source tools to serve independent and nonprofit publishers.

RC comes to INN most recently from a marketing firm in Portland, Maine, where he's held roles as a developer, project manager, and product manager, focusing primarily on data-driven marketing programs and website performance metrics.

He holds a degree in Music Business from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and has been an active contributor to the WordPress community including as an organizer of WordCamp Maine.

Contact: rc@inn.org, @rclations

Kay Lima

Kay Lima

Support and Community Lead

Kay Lima is the Support and Community Lead on INN's product and technology team. Kay comes to INN most recently from a marketing firm in New York City where she has supported clients and users through her roles as a client-facing project manager and digital marketing manager. She has worked on various WordPress, Drupal, and custom technology projects. She also holds a degree in Music from Salem State University, is certified in Inbound Marketing and Google Analytics, and is a graduate of a renowned full-stack coding bootcamp.

At INN, Kay will be leading front-line support for our member organizations and consulting clients and will also be responsible for creating documentation, training and other resources to assist publishers in the adoption and use of our Largo WordPress platform and the other tools we build and support.

Contact: kay@inn.org, @kayleen_lima

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Ben Keith

News Apps Developer

Ben's duties at INN include working on Largo and contributing to internal products and editorial projects for our members and clients.

Ben Keith is INN's only news applications developer with a degree in agricultural communications. He graduated in May 2014 from The Ohio State University, spent the summer working on Largo, moved to Idaho for four months to write for Progressive Dairyman, and returned to INN in December 2014.

Ben's interest in web development began with messing around in the browser in high school, and then helping a national park set up a WordPress website during a summer internship. He ventured into journalism as a result of an agricultural communications course requirement, and liked it so much that he became the student webmaster ofThe Lantern, Ohio State's student-run paper.

Contact: ben@inn.org, @benlkeith