• Faculty Champions and Fellows

Faculty Champions

The 33 Faculty Champions come from 21 different states. Fifteen of the “Champions” work at Minority Serving Institutions where student populations are majority non-white including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. Total funding of $54,000 is provided to the Faculty Champions.

Faculty Champion Stories of Impact

Read the press release

Faculty Champions and Program Summaries

Luis C. Almeida

Claflin University - Orangeburg, SC

Program Summary: Increase coverage of city politics in Orangeburg county through a partnership with the local paper, the Times and Democrat.

Dr. Luis C. M. O de Almeida is an award winning teacher and media producer, published Mass Communication scholar and writer who has served as a columnist in four American newspapers and international correspondent in two. He has engaged in international journalism reporting in a number of occasions in his career. He is currently the Interim Department Chair of Claflin University where he leads faculty, staff and students with covering local news as a means to advance democracy in the United States.

Emilia Askari

University of Michigan Ann Arbor - Ann Arbor, MI

Program Summary: Building a collaboration with Planet Detroit – a digital nonprofit – to publish stories that the students produce.

Emilia Askari teaches environmental journalism at the University of Michigan. She also advises a news nonprofit, Planet Detroit; judges the Oakes Award in Environmental Journalism; and serves on numerous Society of Environmental Journalists committees. Emilia has a PhD in educational technology. She’s been a staff reporter for the Detroit Free Press and the Miami Herald, and a Knight Wallace Fellow.

Doug Blackburn

Florida A&M University - Tallahassee, FL

Program Summary: Increase student reporting and access to student stories on the state legislature and state government through the development of mobile news gathering kits and distinct website and distribution channels.

Before joining the faculty at Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication in January 2015, Doug Blackburn spent more than 35 years in the industry as a reporter and editor. From 2006 to 2015 he was a senior writer at the Tallahassee Democrat, where he was the higher education editor responsible for covering FAMU and Florida State University, and how  they fared at the state Capitol less than a mile from each institution.

Dorothy Bland

University of North Texas - Denton, TX

Program Summary: Continue to diversify the Emerging Journalists Program with outreach to the Rio Grande Valley and North Texas area middle school levels for a program that provides in depth journalism training and regional placements for pre-college students.

Dr. Bland worked 25 years in the news industry, including daily newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado and USA Today. She is an award-winning journalist and earned three Gannett rings for outstanding performance as a publisher. She was named SPJ's Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award winner in 2022.

Justin Blankenship

Auburn University - Auburn, AL

Program Summary: Increase content for local news outlets –with a focus on underserved communities -- through stronger pipelines from classes to a digital news platform where stories are shared with media partners via creative commons licensing.

Justin Blankenship, PhD is an assistant professor and the associate director for journalism at Auburn University. He research focuses on evolving news production processes, specifically related to local television journalism. Before entering academia, Dr. Blankenship was an award winning video journalists at multiple local television stations in Alabama and Tennessee.

Lindita Camaj

University of Houston - Houston, TX

Program Summary: Engage journalism students to report data-driven stories for local audiences in the Houston Metro area in a collaboration with Community Impact Newspapers and Rice University.

Lindita Camaj is an associate professor and the Director of Graduate Studies at the Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston. She teaches journalism classes that focus on digital reporting, fact checking, and data journalism. She received a Carnegie Whitney Grant to develop a resource for teaching data journalism. Dr.Camaj serves as a board member with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for journalism studies and as teaching chair for the Political Communication division of Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Madison Cook

West Virginia University - Morgantown, WV

Program Summary: Build collaborations between West Virginia University student journalists and Black by God a statewide news outlets that tells stories from Black communities.

Madison Fleck Cook is the director of student media at West Virginia University. She has worked in print and broadcast media in West Virginia and Missouri and was the editorial director for Investigative Reporters and Editors, an international organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative journalism. Cook holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from West Virginia University and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Michael J. Cripps

University of New England - Biddeford, ME

Program Summary: Launch sustainable reporting partnerships with local news outlets to support community news production, regularize existing internship opportunities and broaden coverage through also engaging student media.

Professor Michael J. Cripps leads the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of New England, which houses the Communications major, English major, and Writing minor. Since 2019, he has worked with UNE’s Internships Office to help match interested students in these programs to opportunities in local news outlets. He teaches several courses in writing and digital storytelling.

Laura Cullen Glasscock

Kentucky State University - Frankfort, KY

Program Summary: Create a local news bureau staffed by students to increase availability of student reported community stories.

Laura Cullen Glasscock is an assistant professor of journalism at Kentucky State University, an HBCU in Frankfort, and is publisher of The Kentucky Gazette, a public affairs journal also in Frankfort, the state capital. In the classroom, Glasscock stresses a hands-on approach to teaching reporting and writing, and in the Gazette newsroom, she writes analysis pieces covering Kentucky state government. Her dual role allows her to place students in highly relevant internships in media and state government, and to submit their work to local media for possible publication.

Gregory Gondwe

California State University San Bernardino - San Bernardino, CA

Program Summary: Increase student reporting on the Hispanic community, including coverage of new immigrants and their hopes and challenges, consulting with families and parents of the primarily hispanic student body and building a news sharing partnership with the San Bernardino Sun newspaper.

Dr. Greg Gondwe is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at California State University - San Bernardino, and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard.

Melissa Greene-Blye

University of Kansas - Lawrence, KS

Program Summary: Support Good Morning Indian Country, a collaboration between students at Haskell Indian Nations University and KU journalism students – the only collegiate-level student-led Native news and information program in the nation.

Melissa Greene-Blye worked as an anchor and reporter during 20 years in the news business covering local news in television markets big and small. She enjoys using her knowledge and experience to educate the newest generation of journalists.  Melissa is an enrolled citizen of the Miami Nation. Her research examines journalistic representations and negotiations of American Indian identity past and present.

Jena Heath

St. Edward's University - Austin, TX

Program Summary: Expand student reporting and community engagement with a focus on access to voting in Texas, especially among young people.

Jena Heath is professor of Journalism & Digital Media and an associate dean in the School of Arts and Humanities at St. Edward's University, in Austin. Before joining the faculty in 2008, Jena spent two decades as a reporter and editor at five newspapers. She covered the 2000 GW Bush campaign and White House as DC correspondent for the Austin American-Statesman, and served as Education editor there and later at the San Antonio Express-News.

Alva James-Johnson

Southern Adventist University - Collegedale, TN

Program Summary: Expanding collaborative relationships with the Chattanooga Times Free Press and other news organizations and providing content for Black newspapers across the country.

Alva James-Johnson, associate professor at Southern Adventist University's School of Journalism and Communication, is a former newspaper reporter who covered various topics, including healthcare atrocities, political unrest and the plight of immigrants. She worked for newspapers such as the Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Syracuse Post-Standard and Omaha World-Herald. Alva has received numerous journalism awards.

Liefu Jiang

Chicago State University - Chicago, IL

Program Summary: Start a student-oriented news group to report local community news in the South Side of Chicago with a focus on public affairs news and stories of underserved communities.

Liefu Jiang obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Kansas, and Master's degree from  (professional track) The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, he worked in a publishing house and a magazine house in China for 5 years, as text editor.

Caroline K. Kaltefleiter

State University of New York at Cortland - Cortland, NY

Program Summary: Expand the production of radio programs/podcasts aimed at local audiences and aired on the student radio station including a public affairs show with local officials and student journalists.

Caroline K. Kaltefleiter is Professor of Communication and Media Studies at SUNY Cortland. Trained as a broadcast journalist, Dr. Kaltefleiter graduated from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. She has worked as a reporter and anchor for numerous stations. She currently serves as the Executive Producer and Host of The Digital Divide, a radio program on technology for NPR station WSUC-FM.

Joseph Kasko

Winthrop University - Rock Hill, SC

Program Summary: Building a partnership between reporting students and local media in Rock Hill, SC.

Joseph Kasko is an assistant professor at Winthrop University, where he maintains the student news site the Palmetto Report and manages the streaming radio station Eagle Air. He has worked in radio and television for more than 15 years, where he has held positions as a host, news anchor, reporter, photographer, operations manager, news director, music director and station manager.

Hans K. Meyer

Ohio University - Athens, OH

Program Summary: Build a collaborative sharing system with the Athens Independent – a community news newsletter and website – to enable Independent staff to easily integrate student work into local news reporting.

Before joining Ohio University in 2009, Hans Meyer spent nearly a decade as an editor and reporter with newspapers along the Interstate 15 corridor in Utah, Nevada, and California. He led a news and advertising team of 15 at the Desert Dispatch, a 6,000-circulation daily newspaper in Barstow. His research focuses on helping journalists embrace and tell better stories through new technology including podcasts, social video, and even VR.

Caitlin O'Neil Amaral

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth - Darthmouth, MA

Program Summary: Partner with local media organizations to report on the emerging blue economy on the South Coast of Massachusetts

Caitlin O'Neil Amaral is an associate teaching professor at UMass Dartmouth where she teaches journalism, advises the student newspaper, and oversees the Student Media Collaborative. Prior to teaching, Caitlin was a writer and producer for WGBH in Boston. Her freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Standard Times, Publishers Weekly, Budget Travel, and Poets & Writers.

Bob Page

Queens University of Charlotte - Charlotte, NC

Program Summary: Increase the number of students producing community news content for the Charlotte area through the Queens University News Service with content published in Spanish language and English.

As director of student media in the Knight School of Communication, Bob Page launched the Queens University News Service in 2021. Page joined Queens in 2012 after a career in media relations with IBM, Lenovo, and Davidson College. Page started as a reporter with United Press International’s Dallas bureau. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from Queens.

Novia Pagone

Governors State University - University Park, IL

Program Summary: Builds a local news consortium and deeper student reporting report on policing and use of force data from the region surrounding the university.

Novia Pagone holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Chicago, with a focus on cultural studies and media in the Spanish-speaking world. Her prior work in local politics serves as a foundation for her leadership of the Center for Community Media and informs her approach to fostering democratic engagement and to amplifying diverse voices on campus.

Lara Salahi

Endicott College - Beverly, MA

Program Summary: Restructuring the current news-academic partnership to operate as a news service that serves multiple cities and towns and partners --both startups and what is left of larger companies like Gannett on the north shore.

Lara Salahi is an award-winning journalist, author, and associate professor of journalism at Endicott College. Lara has worked in every medium, from film and  local news, network and cable television, international print, and documentary film, and her work has been published in and broadcast on numerous news outlets worldwide. She and her research collaborator founded the term "news-academic partnerships," now used industry-wide. She studies such partnerships as sustainable business models for local news and as a hydration source for news deserts.

Toby Rosenthal

Stockton University - Galloway, NJ

Program Summary: Increase student reported content through the Community Reporting Innovation Lab (CRIL) and a partnerships with the local daily publication, The Press of Atlantic City.

With more than 20 years of professional storytelling experience for broadcast and digital platforms, Rosenthal spent most of the last decade at Stockton University developing projects and courses that center community and critical information sharing. Most recently, Stories of Atlantic City and the Community Reporting Innovation Lab (CRIL) are projects that connect community members, students and media partners.

Katerina Spasovska

Western Carolina University - Cullowhee, NC

Program Summary: Expanding collaborations with the local weekly newspaper, The Sylva Herald developing in-depth reporting on local issues in a community in western North Carolina.

Katerina Spasovska worked as reporter and editor in North Macedonia and Balkan region for over 14 years in the 1990s and 2010. She transitioned to academia in 2000s as a trainer for young and mid-career reporters focusing on CAR and investigative reporting in Southeast Europe. Spasovska has been in academia in U.S. for over 12 years now teaching reporting/ writing classes. Her teaching philosophy is learning through doing so my students do not take just a class. They are part of a newsroom reporting for audience that they reach in various media and platforms.

David Squires

North Carolina A&T State University - Greensboro, NC

Program Summary: Increase the publications of student stories in local news platforms through advanced reporting and other content creation courses, with a particular focus on the hard hit local daily, the Greensboro News & Record.

David Squires teaches writing and editing courses at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. He is also a contributing writer for ESPN's Andscape.com, and has worked as a copy editor for the McClatchy Publishing Center in Charlotte, Assistant Managing Editor at SportingNews.com, deputy sports editor and columnist at the Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press and editor-in-chief  of the original BlackVoices.com. Other stops include the New York Times, Newsday, Detroit Free Press and Cleveland Plain Dealer. His first full-time newsroom job was as a sports reporter for the St. Petersburg Times.

Charles Strouse

Florida International University - Miami, FL

Program Summary: Collaborate with the Black owned press, the Miami Times/Biscayne Times to increase student stories and produce special supplements and editions.

Chuck Strouse is an FIU professor, director of the South Florida Media Network, and assistant director of the new Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media. He served as  editor-in-chief of Miami New Times for two decades and reported for a half dozen newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald, where he shared in a Pulitzer Prize. He speaks fluent Spanish and Russian, and has reported from 19 countries,

Nick Taylor

Northwestern State University of Louisiana - Natchitoches, LA

Program Summary: Increase visibility of student reporting programs and grow student coverage through the use of branding materials.

Taylor’s motto is “Make the small story big.” Nick began his career producing local, state, and national news, working as a stringer for various news agencies.  Currently, Taylor works with NSULA as an Assistant Professor. He oversees the department’s ENG inventory, advises the Hispanic Student Journalist Association and student multimedia broadcasts.  Taylor remains an active producer, creating documentaries highlighting South Texas and the Hispanic American experience.

Jason Torreano

Bloomfield College - Bloomfield, NJ

Program Summary: Build a partnership between Bloomfield College students and Public Square Amplified, based in Newark, NJ, to increase content for the community and build student skills and confidence.

Jason Torreano is a Media Communications instructor at Bloomfield College. He began working as a printer reporter for the NeXt section of The Buffalo News and has been an Associate Producer in Rochester, NY as well as an anchor and reporter in several markets across the country. He is interested in partnering with hyper local news organizations that focus on learning about, and serving, their respective communities.

Demi T. Washington

Lane College - Jackson, TN

Program Summary: Start a statehouse reporting project “Lane at Capitol Hill” in the capitol city of Nashville.

Demi Washington is Professor of Digital Media and Chair in the Department of Mass Communication at Lane College, where he has been since 2020. He studies the creativity of media performers, television as culture, media portrayals of the Black male image and race, gender and class in the media. Demi is an active member of the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Associaton of Black Journalists, and the National Communication Association, where he has serves as the chair of the American Studies Division.

Stephenson Waters

University of Louisiana at Lafayette - Lafayette, LA

Program Summary: Increase community reported multi-media stories available to local media outlets through the creation of mobile journalism kits.

Stephenson Waters is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Before becoming a professor, he worked as a writer and editor for newspapers throughout Florida. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

Chad Whittle

Georgia College and State University - Milledgeville, GA

Program Summary: Produce a daily radio news and longform broadcasts covering local news and community happenings, in collaboration with WGUR 95.3 FM, the Baldwin Bulletin, a local newspaper, and other Smith Communication newspaper websites.

Chad Whittle has over 20 years of experience in radio, podcasting, writing, and journalism. In addition to writing a weekly column, Whittle has also reported for and served as the editor and content manager of ValdostaToday.com, a local digital news source serving the Valdosta-Lowndes County, Georgia area. In his current position at Georgia College & State University, Dr. Whittle teaches journalism, media writing, and radio broadcasting courses. Chad Whittle holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Southern Mississippi (2018) and is currently an Assistant Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication at Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia.

Joanne Williams

Olivet College - Olivet, MI

Program Summary: Share student stories on a local news platforms in communities that lack regular news sources, and in consultation and cooperation with area residents.

A  former reporter for community newspapers, Joanne Williams has been at Olivet College for more than 20 years teaching media courses including media writing and editing and law and ethics, and advises the online student newspaper. She is current president of the Michigan Collegiate Press Association. Community news is her passion, and Olivet College is poised to offer student journalists the opportunity to produce and provide such information.

Marcie Young Cancio

Salt Lake Community College - Salt Lake City, UT

Program Summary: Creates a collaborative reporting project between four different Utah institutions, where students will work together and publish stories at amplifyutah.org and other local media partners.

A veteran newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and TV/multiplatform managing editor, Marcie Young Cancio founded Amplify Utah to help bolster representative storytelling in local media through emerging and student journalism. Marcie joined Salt Lake Community College as assistant professor of journalism and digital media in 2018 after nearly two decades living and working in Washington, D.C., New York, North Carolina and California.

Jerry Zremski

University of Maryland - College Park, MD

Program Summary: Grow the “Maryland Commons,” a statewide effort to collect state data, store and standardize it and populate it initially with county-level education spending for student reported stories and state journalists.

Jerry Zremski spent 40 years as a daily news reporter before joining the University of Maryland last July to create its Local News Network. His reporting for The Buffalo News won numerous awards over the years, and he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 1999-2000. In addition, in 2007 he served as president of the National Press Club.



Statehouse Faculty Champions

Statehouse Faculty Champions are leading student reporting programs that focus on state governance, legislation, and politics. Currently, there are 19 Statehouse Faculty Champions. The honor, which comes with a $1,000 award, is a priority program in our efforts to help build a sustainable future for local news around the country.

Why Student Statehouse Reporting Matters

Read the press release


Meet the Statehouse Faculty Champions

Paola Banchero

University of Alaska Anchorage - Anchorage, AK

Proposed collaboration between University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks to send one student to Juneau to cover the statehouse, providing up to six credits of upper-division coursework and mentorship opportunities.

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley

University of Georgia - Athens, GA

Proposed project to start a statehouse reporting program at the University of Georgia that will engage students in statehouse reporting and provide statehouse news stories to local media platforms at no cost.

Janice Marie Collins

Ohio University - Athens, OH

Exploring ways of getting students involved in statehouse news coverage both by supporting them in the existing program, where they work with established media in Columbus, and potentially creating additional ways for them to cover the statehouse as part of a bureau we create or as part of classes at Ohio.

Michael Cripps

University of New England - Biddeford, ME

Launching a statehouse reporting program that engages students in political and government coverage while providing the content for free to Maine media outlets.

Laura Cullen Glasscock

Kentucky State University - Frankfort, KY

Propsed study abroad-type program to bring students from anywhere to KSU for a semester of statehouse reporting, fulfilling an 18-credit minor in public affairs reporting.

Gwyneth Doland

University of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM

Planned experiential learning class will engage students in the 30-day legislative session beginning in January 2024.

Jennifer Duck Brown

Belmont University - Nashville, TN

Proposed course at Belmont University that will engage students in statehouse reporting and provide statehouse news stories to local media platforms at no cost.

Deborah Howlett

Rutgers University - New Brunswick, NJ

Establish a student news service at Rutgers University to provide coverage of the New Jersey statehouse to partners.

Patrick R. Johnson

Marquette University - Milwaukee, WI

A proposed spring semester political reporting class will involve students in political reporting and lay the groundwork for a series of future coursework and statewide partnerships for statehouse reporting in Madison.

Nancy Karibjanian

University of Delaware - Newark, DE

The proposed University of Delaware Statehouse News Fellowship will staff a Statehouse News Bureau, which will offer an experiential academic experience for students while providing legislative news summaries and stories to news outlets covering the state

Matthew LaPlante

Utah State University - Logan, UT

A partnership under the umbrella of Engage Utah would involve students from at least three Utah public universities in statehouse reporting.

Laura Moorhead

San Francisco State University - San Francisco, CA

A proposed course will offer students the opportunity to publish in local outlets and a partnership with other public universities in California will provide statehouse reporting training.

Marisa Porto

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, NC

Identifying potential for a UNC-led statehouse reporting project that would involve faculty.

Beth Potter

University of Colorado, Boulder - Boulder, CO

This cross-university partnership would recruit students across Colorado to report on how elected officials handle climate change issues.

Marie K. Shanahan

University of Connecticut - Hartford, CT

A capitol-based multimedia student newsroom at the UConn Campus in Downtown Hartford would report on the state legislature and impacts on the community, focusing on the topics of health and environment.

Brandon Shulleeta

University of South Carolina - Columbia, SC

A statehouse reporting program starting as early as sprin 2024 will expand opportunities for student work to be recognized while also improving the community by using student journalists to produce valuable news coverage.

Marquita Smith

University of Mississippi - Oxford, MS

Building a program that provides statehouse, government and democracy reporting and data, potentially in partnership with other universities and colleges in Mississippi.

Julia Thompson

Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ

Expanding statehouse coverage to include student beat reporters providing video, audio and digital stories for Arizona PBS and media organizations.


Faculty Fellows

Faculty Fellows collaborate with CCN staff to lead national initiatives that support university-led student reporting programs. Fellows serve one-year terms and receive a stipend for their leadership. To apply to be a Fellow contact Richard Watts (rwatts@uvm.edu)

Meet the Faculty Fellows

Mark Horvit, National Political Editor

Mark co-leads an initiative to collect, combine and distribute statehouse legislative stories. Mark is a professor of practice at the University of Missouri where he leads students in legislative and political reporting.


Deb Howlett, National Political Editor

Deb co-leads an initiative to collect, combine and distribute statehouse legislative stories.
Deb is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University who turned to academia after a 40-year career in newsrooms, including USA Today and many others.


Colleen Steffen, Student Experience Research

Colleen leads an effort to study the student experience in university reporting programs. Colleen is a professor at Franklin College where she directs the Statehouse File – a legislative reporting program in the Indiana Statehouse.

Alva Johnson, Faith Based Higher Education

Alva leads an initiative to encourage more faith-based educational institutions to start reporting programs that cover their local community. Alva is a professor at Southern Adventist University where she teaches reporting classes and advises the student paper.


Amanda Bright, Faculty Resources and Mentoring

Amanda leads the development and support of faculty resources pages, brown bags and individual faculty mentoring. Amanda is the Director of the Journalism Innovation Lab, managing editor of Newsource, and assistant editor of the Oglethorpe Echo at the University of Georgia.


Harriett Jones, Connecticut Statewide Student Reporting Program

Hariett leads the development of one of the first statewide student reporting coalitions that includes a number of community colleges and universities and CT Public and CT Mirror. Hariett is a radio journalist, teacher and educator.



The Center for Community News Faculty Champions and Statehouse Faculty Champions programs seek to address the crisis facing local news by recognizing faculty leaders building innovative programs across the U.S.

Increasing the number and strength of news-academic partnerships and university-led student statehouse reporting programs is a top priority for the Center for Community News. With the success of these early efforts, CCN plans to expand resources and attention to these programs in 2024.