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News leaders to focus on succession planning, board development and fundraising through 2024 Emerging Leaders Council

April 29, 2024

The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) welcomes 14 members of the 2024 INN Emerging Leaders Council (ELC). These forward-looking, innovative leaders set the stage for sustainable growth for their organizations and serve as a model for leaders across the field. 

Over four months, participants engage in one-on-one coaching and connect with a network of their peers to launch transformative projects that develop their leadership skills and strengthen their organizations.

This year’s cohort will focus on succession planning, board development, fine-tuning long-term fundraising practices and growing collaborative networks that unite nonprofit newsrooms to report on key issues. 

“Leadership is such a key component of any organization’s success. Teams take their cues from leaders,” said Karen Rundlet, INN’s executive director & CEO. “Everything from how leaders interact with staff and audiences to what they prioritize. The nonprofit news sector is larger and so much more sophisticated than it was 15 years ago, when INN was founded. It’s critical that today’s leaders focus on the long term sustainability of their organizations.”

Nonprofit news leaders face an incredible variety of immediate demands every single day. Added to the daily pressures of news, these same leaders may also be responsible for building up their organization’s board, designing and executing fundraising strategy or securing their organization’s future in other ways — for example through succession planning.

“The INN ELC is unique because we don’t tell these busy leaders what they need to learn, “said Sara Shahriari, INN’s director of leadership and talent development. “Instead, we ask how we can support them as they undertake significant projects that are already on their agendas, and we build coaching and community around those needs.”

INN’s network of coaches, some of whom are ELC alumni themselves, has deep experience in the many challenges of nonprofit leadership work, and their 1-1 coaching provides the thought partnership so many leaders struggle to find. 

“Isolation can be a real problem in an emerging field where people are always innovating and working hard but not deeply connected to peers who can offer support,” said Shahriari. “It increases the risk of burnout, which can lead to smart, capable and committed people leaving the field. The ELC recognizes that mentoring, coaching and advancing key projects are important, but the most meaningful aspect of the program is the peer communities leaders build with one another.” 

Alyia Paulding, director of membership and development at PublicSource, participated in the ELC in 2023 and said the program has been an amazing catalyst for her already.

“The opportunity to connect, compare notes, and dream with leaders in the industry is priceless,” she said. “The intentional attention paid to helping participants develop as leaders and work on issues they care about is such a gift. I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned to uplift others and help nonprofit newsrooms thrive, and I can’t wait to see the positive impacts of my ELC colleagues’ work.” 

The INN Emerging Leaders Council is made possible through generous support from the Knight Foundation.

About the 2024 emerging leaders

Laurén Abdel-Razzaq is executive director for BridgeDetroit. Prior to joining the nonprofit newsroom, Laurén spent two years with Crain’s Detroit Business as an assistant managing editor working with reporters who cover the city of Detroit, nonprofits, real estate and health care. Laurén is a two-time graduate of Wayne State University where she was a member of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity. She currently sits on the board of the Michigan chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.

Khadijah Bland is director of major gifts for The Beacon. She graduated from Friends University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications and was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame for softball. Khadijah has a background in fundraising for nonprofits. In her free time likes to go to drive-in movies with her husband and 2 year old pit bull.

Tara Francis Chan is the managing editor and operations director for The Appeal. She was previously an editor at Newsweek and Business Insider, where she helped establish an international news team. Tara is passionate about innovative leadership and centering care for journalists. She graduated with a bachelor’s in communications and a diploma in innovation management from the University of New South Wales.

Andrew Fan is the executive director at the Invisible Institute. Andrew was part of the team that produced the series “Mauled: When Police Dogs are Weapons,” a year- long investigation into police K-9 units which won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting. Andrew also led a team of City Bureau reporters who partnered with WBEZ to publish “Where Banks Don’t Lend,” a 2020 investigation that revealed racial disparities in Chicago home lending. The series was cited by Illinois lawmakers in passing new bank regulations the following year.

Ja Keen Fox is founder of The Dreamland Report. He’s a dedicated community organizer/activist known for powerful truth-telling, galvanizing community members to action, and consistency in collaborating to craft meaningful and intentional collective action. Ja Keen founded The Dreamland Report to ensure Black and Immigrant communities have culturally competent and affirming news that changes public perception and leads to radical self determination.

Alex Ip is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Xylom, a Gen-Z-led nonprofit growing science with words, and the only AAPI-serving science newsroom in the United States.  Born and raised in Hong Kong, he covers environmental justice and the future of cities in the American South and the Global South. Alex will graduate with a Master’s degree in Science Writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in September 2024; he holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Georgia Tech.

Kathryn Juricic is the development and impact manager at The Narwhal, where she’s supported members and donors since the publication’s launch in 2018. Kathryn is an advocate for resilient communities and has spent the last decade organizing neighborhood cultural events and raising funds for everything from Indigenous legal challenges across Canada to produce drives for families. When she’s not making spreadsheets for the greater good, you can usually find Kathryn reveling in some natural wonder, running trails or sewing.

Vandana Kumar leads the India Currents Foundation as president and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents in 1987 and published an award-winning print magazine until 2017. Fully digital today, India Currents has the largest following among Indians in the United States. Vandana has won the Asian American Hero award from the County of Santa Clara and the Leadership in Business award twice from the California Legislature Assembly. Vandana serves on the Board of the California News Publishers Association.

Christiaan Mader is the founder and executive editor of The Current. His work has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, Gambit, Offbeat, 64 Parishes, USA Today Network and The Advocate. He is a Lafayette native and a recovering musician.

Colleen Murphy is the managing editor for the Local Network at Open Campus, a growing collaborative newsroom that covers colleges for communities. In her role, Colleen provides subject-matter expertise and coaching to reporters around the country to create more nuanced coverage of higher education.  Before joining Open Campus, she reported and edited at outlets including CalMatters, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Bloomberg Tax.

Lupita Parra is development director for MLK50. She began her career in the journalism industry with SembraMedia and went on to become Enlace Latino NC’s first development director before joining MLK50. Lupita works with nonprofit organizations whose missions align with principles of social, racial and economic justice. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, French, and Spanish (with a minor in neuroscience) from the University of Portland, and a master’s degree in Latin American studies from UC San Diego.

Celine Piser is senior director of development at The Intercept. With a focus on narrative-driven fundraising and communication strategy, Celine leads efforts to develop partnerships with institutional and individual supporters. An experienced development strategist, she has supported nonprofits in journalism, education, and the arts. She holds a doctorate in comparative literature from UC Berkeley and has taught at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and San Quentin State Prison.

Jessica Silverman is executive director of Tradeoffs, a non-profit news organization that reports on health care’s toughest choices. Jessica has nearly 15 years of nonprofit leadership experience. Most recently she ran her own consulting practice, specializing in helping small and midsize nonprofits build the fundraising, branding, and operations needed to scale up. Previously, she built and ran the development team at Code for America and led public-sector partnerships at Carnegie Hall.

Mia Warren (she/her) is the Managing Director of Feet in 2 Worlds, a journalism training organization dedicated to publishing stories by and about immigrants. She has more than 10 years of experience in audio storytelling. Before Fi2W, Mia was a Senior Producer at Sony Podcasts. She also worked at StoryCorps, where she contributed to a Peabody-nominated podcast season and collaborated on Un(re)solved, an Emmy Award-winning civil rights series with Frontline. Mia is the daughter of a Korean immigrant. She is a bread baker, cyclist, and public transit enthusiast.

Sara Shahriari (she/her) is director of leadership and talent development at the Institute for Nonprofit News. She believes that programs like the Emerging Leaders Council are crucial to sustainability, growth and talent retention in nonprofit news. If you have questions about the Emerging Leaders Council or journalism talent development, reach out to

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