Emerging Leaders

Applications for the 2020 Emerging Leaders Council have closed. The nomination deadline was March 20, 2020.

Nonprofit news is growing rapidly, and so is demand for people with the vision and skill to lead the field. INN is now accepting nominations for the 2020 INN Emerging Leaders Council, an initiative to identify and support future leaders of the nonprofit news sector. 

This program teaches leadership, management and business tools that yield immediate results, and it creates space for participants to develop and launch a project with help from a supportive network. 

This program is for full-time staff at INN member organizations who can advance the nonprofit news sector throughout the next decade. We encourage the nomination of individuals mid-level in their careers who have the potential to lead their own or another organization, or leaders of small organizations who want to develop their ability to run larger nonprofits.

In particular, we seek candidates who:

  • Show potential to lead a nonprofit news organization
  • Express interest in management strategies and building business leadership skills
  • We want to retain in nonprofit news
  • Reflect the diversity of the communities they serve
  • Will invest in the peer group as well as draw from it

Throughout the four-month program, participants will come together once in person for a workshop designed for nonprofit leaders, and they will meet twice monthly via video conferencing for project development and follow-through, leadership and business skills discussions.

Applicants must be nominated by their Executive Director/CEO, or if they themselves are the director of a small organization, nominated by their board chair. The cohort will be selected from among the eligible nominations by a panel of INN and industry leaders. Selected participants will be notified in mid April 2020.

The council will convene on June 15 ahead of INN Days in Alexandria, VA, and fellows will also attend INN Days on June 16 and 17. Conference registration is included for participants, as is lodging. Participants are responsible for making their own travel plans, and will be reimbursed up to $600 in travel costs after attending the council’s June meeting and INN Days.

If you have questions about the program, please email Sara Shahriari at sara.s@inn.org


INN formed the Emerging Leaders Council in 2017 to support current and future leaders in nonprofit news through a year-long program peer support and professional development. 

Generous support for the 2019 program year is being provided by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.

Emerging Leaders Council is part of an INN initiative to build business, strategy and leadership skills among nonprofit news managers and to bring entrepreneurial journalists into the field. For more information about the 2019 council, contact Fran Scarlett, fran@inn.org. To learn more about the 2019 council, read the full release here.

Meet the 2019 INN Emerging Leaders Council

These leaders represent the excellence and diversity of nonprofit news organizations working to inform communities through factual journalism and build philanthropic support for news.

Thomas Brennan
Founder, The War Horse
Thomas Brennan is the founder of The War Horse, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom educating the public on war and its impact. Since being medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2012, he has held fellowships with the Center for a New American Security, the Atlantic Council, the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Carey Institute for Global Good. His reporting has appeared in Vanity Fair, Center for Investigative Reporting, the front page of The New York Times, and has resulted in multiple changes to military and federal law.

Brian Calvert
Editor-in-Chief, High Country News
Brian Calvert is the editor-in-chief of High Country News, a magazine that tells the ongoing story of the modern American West. In recent years, the magazine has expanded its reach and impact within national conversations on ethics, the environment, and what it means to live in one of the United State’s fastest growing regions. HCN’s recent coverage has won two Walter Sullivan awards for science writing, a James Beard award for foodways, and six first-place awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including best coverage of Native America. In addition to management and administration, Brian edits and writes features, analyses and reviews. His feature essay, “Down the Dark Mountain,” was listed under notable essays and literary nonfiction in Best American Essays 2018. He holds an MFA in poetry, a bachelor’s degree in English, and was a Ted Scripps Fellow at the University of Colorado – Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism.

Candice Fortman
Chief of Engagement and Operations, Outlier Media
Candice Fortman has turned her love for all things media into a career focused on diversifying newsrooms and journalistic organizations to reach beyond traditional news audiences.
Before joining Outlier Media, Candice was the Marketing & Engagement Manager for WDET 101.9-Detroit’s NPR station. Candice led the effort to build WDET’s audience and grow the station’s digital communities and content by engaging listeners around news, music, and culture.

Prior to joining WDET Candice served as Promotions Manager at Clear Channel Radio (now iHeart Media) where she led promotional and engagement strategy for three radio stations inside the Detroit cluster for more than five years. In 2018 she was selected for Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media.

Lucas Grindley
Executive Director, Next City
Lucas Grindley is executive director for Next City, a nonprofit journalism organization that reports on solutions for the problems facing our cities. He is the former President of Pride Media and oversaw leading LGBTQ brands Out magazine, The Advocate, PRIDE, Out Traveler, Chill magazine, and Plus magazine. Grindley was also editor in chief of The Advocate, the longest running LGBTQ magazine in the country. In 2016, NLGJA named Grindley as “LGBT Journalist of the Year" with its Sarah Pettit Memorial Award. He came to Pride Media in 2011 from Washington, D.C., where he was managing editor for online at National Journal magazine, covering politics and policy making. He now lives in Philadelphia with his husband and twin daughters. He also serves on the board of directors for Extraordinary Families, a nonprofit helping create more families like his through foster-adoption.

Andrea Faye Hart
Co-Founder and Director of Community Engagement, City Bureau
Andrea Faye Hart is a media-based organizer, social entrepreneur and interdisciplinary educator. Andrea is a Co-Founder and the Director of Community Engagement for the Chicago-based journalism lab City Bureau. Since 2011 she has designed civic journalism projects for media outlets as well as leading youth media organizations. She was a 2016 Voqal Fellow, a Fall 2015 recipient of a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant and continues to serve as a consultant for the Democracy Foundation. She is a proud queer femme and mama to a demon dog named Studs.

Brian Hiatt
Marketing and Membership Director, Mother Jones
Brian Hiatt is the marketing and membership director for Mother Jones. He leads their efforts to earn the support of online readers, and ever since an ad at the bottom of a long column from our CEO and editor-in-chief—about a lawsuit MoJo prevailed in—raised a lot of money, he has helped develop innovative campaign and messaging strategies. Brian served a brief stint as a fisheries biologist before deciding he wanted to swim upstream alongside people, not salmon. He became an organizer as the internet’s rise lead to new ways nonprofits could engage their supporters, and he consulted on digital strategy with leading nonprofits for nearly a decade. He earned a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from Northern Arizona University and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England. He first picked up a MoJo sometime in the late nineties in suburban Ohio and it blew his mind.

Kay Lima
Director, INN Labs
Kay Lima leads a team of news technologists at the Institute for Nonprofit News, a fast-growing network of nearly 200 public service news organizations. She identifies and builds innovative solutions for independent news publishers to better engage with the public, strengthen revenue sources, and build trust. The team she directs build products which help newsrooms with their digital presentations of news.

Kay brings her experience in digital marketing, project management, and creative strategy to INN. She leverages this experience to lead trainings and digital innovations for over 70 publisher sites and news organizations each year.

Byrhonda Lyons
Video Journalist, CALmatters
Byrhonda Lyons, a video journalist at CALmatters in Sacramento, California. She creates compelling video news stories that engage and educate viewers about California policy and politics. Byrhonda is specifically interested in California’s criminal justice system.

Her work has appeared on CALmatters, KVIE-PBS, and local television stations throughout California. Prior to joining CALmatters, she was a freelance video producer and worked as a digital media specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. She was also an editor for the San Quentin News, an inmate-run newspaper in California.

Byrhonda is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a historically black college in my hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. When she’s not working, you can catch her searching archives for trailblazing black women who have been left out of history books.

Asraa Mustufa
Digital Editor, The Chicago Reporter
Asraa Mustufa is a digital editor at The Chicago Reporter, a nonprofit investigative news organization that focuses on race, poverty and income inequality. A Chicago transplant by way of New Jersey, she has a background in reporting and studied journalism, political science and South Asian studies at Rutgers University.

Akoto Ofori-Atta
Managing Editor, The Trace
As managing editor at The Trace, Akoto is responsible for managing partnerships, outreach, special projects, and editorial operations and the fellowship program. She directed "Since Parkland" The Trace's groundbreaking student journalism project, which deployed 200+ teen reporters to write 1,200 portraits of young gun violence victims. Akoto has a B.A. in print journalism from Hampton University and an M.A. in Communications, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, where she worked as an associate editor for the university's alumni magazine. Previously, she held the position of Associate Editor and Social Media Manager at The Root and as a Senior Editor at Essence Magazine. Before coming to the The Trace, she completed a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. Akoto is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Online New Association.

Tasneem Raja
Executive Editor, The Tyler Loop
Tasneem Raja is the Executive Editor of The Tyler Loop, an innovative nonprofit local news outlet that explores policy, history, and demographics in Tyler, Texas. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported for NPR, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Mother Jones, and other national outlets. A former senior editor at NPR, she launched a popular podcast exploring issues of identity and race with NPR's Code Switch team. At Mother Jones, she specialized in data visualization and led a team that built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She's a pioneer in the field of data-driven digital storytelling, a frequent speaker on issues of journalism and inclusion, and a die-hard fan of alt weeklies, where she got her start as a local reporter. She lives in Tyler with her husband, her stepson, and two imperious terriers.


Meet the 2017 INN Emerging Leaders Council

These leaders represent the excellence and diversity of nonprofit news organizations working to inform communities through factual journalism and build philanthropic support for news. The 2017 council members come from Inside EnergyHonolulu Civil BeatinewsourceCenter for Public Integrity, PublicSourceMother JonesWisconsin Center for Investigative JournalismTexas TribuneNJ Spotlight, and The Hechinger Report.

Jim Small
 | Natalie Choate | Lauren Fuhrmann | Sarah Garland | Dave Levinthal | Ben Nishimoto | Brad Racino | Amber Rivera | Paula Saha | Halle Stockton | Jason Alcorn

Jim Small AZCIR

Jim Small | Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Jim Small is the executive director and editor of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting. His journalism work has largely focused on state government and politics, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. He covered the complex state budget process, immigration issues, state prisons, education, the Arizona Corporation Commission, political campaigns and campaign finance matters. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations, many of which were rooted in data collection and analysis. He began his journalism career covering city government, public safety and business for a pair of community newspapers in the West Valley. Jim joined AZCIR in December 2016.

Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSmall.

Natalie Choate INN Emerging Leader

Natalie Choate | Texas Tribune

Natalie Choate has a long history in Texas politics and media. In a previous life, she worked two legislative sessions in the Texas Capitol, served as government relations coordinator for Trinity Industries, completed Annie's List Campaign School and was both a political fundraiser and campaign consultant. Natalie started with The Texas Tribune in January 2011 and today is the director of media relations and partnerships for the largest statehouse newsroom in the country. She is a University of Texas alumna, a Leadership Austin graduate and an unapologetic news junkie.

Follow Natalie on Twitter at @Natalie_Choate.

Lauren Fuhrmann INN Emerging Leader

Lauren Fuhrmann | Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Lauren Fuhrmann is associate director at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Lauren joined the Center in 2011 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. At the Center, she leads revenue development efforts as well as public engagement initiatives; tracks the distribution and assesses the impact of WCIJ’s news stories; assists with development of donors and writing of grant reports; handles bookkeeping duties; produces photo, audio and video content; and copyedits stories. Lauren is vice president of the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She was among five young leaders in the inaugural group of “Future Headliners” honored in 2014 by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Follow Lauren on Twitter at @laurenfuhrmann.

Sarah Garland INN Emerging Leader

Sarah Garland | The Hechinger Report

Sarah Garland is the executive editor of The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization based at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has written about education, crime, and immigration for numerous national outlets and is the 2009 recipient of the Spencer Fellowship in Education Reporting at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her first book, Gangs in Garden City: How Immigration, Segregation and Youth Violence Are Changing America’s Suburbs (Nation Books, 2009), was a runner-up for an Investigative Reporters and Editor award in 2010. Her second book, Divided We Fail: The Story of an African-American Community that Ended the Era of School Desegregation, was published in 2013 by Beacon Press.

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @s_garl.

Dave Levinthal | Center for Public Integrity

Dave Levinthal | Center for Public Integrity

Dave Levinthal joined the Center for Public Integrity in 2013 and leads its federal politics reporting team. Under Dave's direction, the Center for Public Integrity's political coverage has prompted federal investigations, forced politicians to acknowledge wrongdoing and earned numerous awards, including an Editor & Publisher EPPY Award honoring the nation's best political coverage. For two years prior to joining the Center for Public Integrity, Dave reported on campaign finance and lobbying issues for Politico and co-wrote the daily Politico Influence column. He regularly provides political analysis for television and radio, including NBC, CBS, and National Public Radio. Beyond politics, Dave is also a two-time winner of Canada’s Northern Lights Award for his writing about the Arctic. Dave graduated from Syracuse University with degrees in newspaper journalism and political philosophy and edited The Daily Orange.

Follow Dave on Twitter at @davelevinthal.

Ben Nishimoto | Honolulu Civil Beat

Ben Nishimoto | Honolulu Civil Beat

Ben Nishimoto is the director of philanthropy for Honolulu Civil Beat where he is responsible for communicating the impact of local nonprofit journalism to prospective individual, foundation and business supporters. Prior to Civil Beat, Ben was the Vice President of Advancement of the state's only public television station, PBS Hawaii, where he played a leadership role in the station’s capital campaign while also overseeing annual fund strategies. Born and raised in Aiea, Hawaii, Ben graduated with a degree in politics from Occidental College in Los Angeles. A news junkie, Ben is thrilled to work in a newsroom and among journalists dedicated to making Hawaii — his home — a better place to live.

Follow Ben on Twitter at @ben_nishimoto.

Brad Racino | inewsource

Brad Racino | inewsource

Brad Racino is a senior reporter, assistant director and director of partnerships & innovation at inewsource, a nonprofit news organization in San Diego. He has produced work for print, radio and TV on a variety of topics including political corruption, transportation, health, trade, surveillance and maritime. Brad also has won national honors for his reporting and videography, including back-to-back national medals from Investigative Reporters and Editors, two national Edward R. Murrow awards, and a national Emmy nomination. He received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2012.

Follow Brad on Twitter at @bradracino.

Amber Rivera | Inside Energy

Amber Rivera | Inside Energy

Driven by an urge to connect more directly with the public, Amber Rivera pivoted early in her career from private sector work in energy to public media journalism. Based in Denver, Amber is in year three as the Engagement Editor for Inside Energy, a multi-state collaborative journalism project funded by the CPB. Amber has evolved the engagement objectives of the project to amplify reporters’ reach and impact in spite of being a small, startup, non-profit organization. From advocating for new tools to increase digital engagement, to cloning herself on the ground by creating resource kits that empower anyone to bring powerful Inside Energy storytelling to their community, Amber targets efficient and lasting solutions. She also plays an active role in defining what the financial sustainability of Inside Energy looks like beyond the grant period. A Hoya at heart, Amber holds a B.S. in Science, Technology, and International Affairs from Georgetown University grounded in critical reasoning, quantitative analysis, and independent research.

Follow Amber on Twitter at @amber_waves.

Paula Saha | NJ Spotlight

Paula Saha | NJ Spotlight

Paula Saha is the director of audience and donor development at NJ Spotlight. Paula's professional experience includes a decade as a reporter in New Jersey and public relations for the state's largest performing arts center. She has been with NJ Spotlight since 2012 and has worked in all aspects of the organization, including editorial, grant-writing, marketing, sponsor relations, website operations and event planning. Paula is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has a Masters in Journalism from Syracuse University, where she was the recipient of the Newhouse Fellowship for Minority Journalists.

Follow Paula on Twitter at @paulasaha.

Halle Stockton | PublicSource

Halle Stockton | PublicSource

Halle Stockton is the managing editor of PublicSource. She has won several awards for her journalism, including being named a 2016 finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists for a series on psychotropic drugs prescribed to juvenile offenders. She was honored in 2015 with a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for a story about a couple who both have cerebral palsy. In 2007, she won the William Randolph Hearst Foundation's national writing championship. Halle was previously a staff writer at the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune. Some of her favorite activities include fishing, hiking, cuddling with her standard schnauzer, Dexter, and watching Star Trek. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Development Initiative, a program of Leadership Pittsburgh.

Follow Halle on Twitter at @HalleStockton.

Jason Alcorn

Jason Alcorn

Jason Alcorn is the peer leader of the INN Emerging Leaders Council. He is a consultant for newsrooms, foundations and nonprofits working to build an informed citizenry. Until 2016, he served as associate director of InvestigateWest, overseeing fundraising, partnerships and product development. He also led data reporting and digital production for all InvestigateWest stories. Jason has led strategy and technology initiatives for a wide variety of nonprofit and public affairs clients in Boston and New York, including fundraising campaigns, audience development, website redesigns, and brand identity. Jason has a M.S. in Journalism and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, with a focus on media and public policy.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @jasonalcorn.