Meet the people behind Finding America: the 17 independent storymakers whose ideas form the core of our production, the station collaborators, and teams of community contributors working in each location to make stories and invent a public media with and for all of America.
AIR Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Localore Executive Producer
Schardt leads AIR’s network of 1,100 producers in 47 states and 30 countries. She presents frequently on media-technology including at the 2012 media “Think Tank” in Leipzig, NEA’s National Council, FCC’s Future of Media in the Digital Age, Australian Centre for Moving Image, MIT Open Docs Lab, and a 2014 keynote at the PMDMC Conference. She was among a group of Americans invited to Kiev in 2015 to advise the formation of a new public media system. She was a 2014-15 National Arts Strategies fellow and served on NPR’s Distribution and Interconnect Committee.
Localore: Finding America Network Manager
Adriana Gallardo was the network manager for AIR’s Localore: Finding America. Before joining AIR, she travelled the country as a facilitator with the StoryCorps mobile booth, collecting more than 400 local stories. In her hometown, Chicago, she spent more than a decade working as a print journalist, online editor, and radio producer. She was director of youth media education at the National Museum of Mexican Art, cultivated media programs for After School Matters and co-founded the Vocalo Storytelling Workshop.
Localore: Finding America Supervising Producer
Teresa Gorman was the Supervising Producer for Localore: Finding America, and oversaw the development and implementation of the Localore: Finding America metasite/ metadocumentary. She has spent her career working at the intersection of public media, digital media, and social media. Prior to AIR, she worked on NPR’s editorial training team, where she helped NPR’s affiliate stations and staff strengthen their digital storytelling skills.
Localore: Finding America Field Documentarian
Joanie Tobin is a videographer, photographer, audio producer and content creation machine who runs on cookies. She served as Harvard Business School’s first Digital Content Producer, where she produced nearly 100 videos for school websites and social channels, and created and produced HBS podcast The Business, distributing 21 episodes in 11 months. Currently she is currently a producer at Bustle and Elite Daily.
Localore: Finding America Video Editor
Joshua Banville is a director and editor who has devoted his career to films addressing human rights and social justice issues. He reads books by smart people hoping it will increase his average IQ.
Localore: Finding America Field Producer
Localore: Finding America Site Designer
Localore: Finding America Site Team
Alexei is a full-stack engineer, dev team leader, customer communicator and public speaker. Alexei loves open source: you can find the code powering this very site on GitHub. He previously led product/engineering of Ghostery, a popular browser privacy tool.
Localore: Finding America Site Team
Dan is a creative technologist and front-end developer who has worked on large scale projects for clients such as Spotify, Time Inc, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In these roles he has led conceptualization rounds to develop new and innovative platforms, coordinated efforts from multiple stakeholders as a technical project manager, and worked as the lead programmer on breakthrough user experiences. Dan is currently working on JustFix.nyc, an ongoing project to empower New York City tenants
AIR Talent Director
Rebecca (Bec) Feldhaus Adams is an audio producer, a talent curator, a curious mind and a community volunteer. As AIR’s talent director, Bec managed membership and programming and served as a personal resource to more than 1,100 producers. She’s worked as a general assignment reporter at WKMS and an education reporter at the Paducah Sun, handled educational outreach at Murray State University, and worked as a multimedia freelancer.
AIR Editor and Digital Strategist
Betsy O’Donovan, AIR’s former editor and digital strategist, spends most of her time thinking about innovation in public and digital media. Her 10-year career in community newspapers (and a four-year side trip into outdoors coverage at ESPN) led to a 2012-’13 fellowship at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism.
AIR Curating Producer
Ryan McGrath tracks engagement for AIR and Finding America through social media. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor’s degree in English in 2014. In 2015 he gathered news and organized social media and web content for New England Cable News. He can now be found in AIR’s office on the weekdays curating content for AIR and Localore: Finding America. While he’s not working, he’s practicing comedy or listening to podcasts.
AIR Chief Operations Officer (COO)
New England native Ryan Somerfield joined the team as AIR’s operations manager in 2016 and became Chief Operations Officer (COO) in 2016. He handles day-to-day office management, bookkeeping, human resources and IT. Prior to joining AIR, he led Clear Channel’s news and traffic division, Total Traffic Network, in Florida, where he managed a large team of producers, reporters and photographers serving broadcast affiliates across the state.
Laurie Selik entered the nonprofit sector in 1999 when she joined Marketplace Productions and American Public Media. She made the leap to arts education and currently directs institutional giving strategies at the Colburn School, an internationally renowned music conservatory and leader in afterschool performing arts education. Selik is the co-author of Compelling Conversations for Fundraisers: Talk Your Way to Success with Donors and Funders (2016).
Katie Davis is a longtime independent journalist based in Washington D.C. She has been a producer, host and reporter at NPR and contributor to This American Life.
Brendan Sweeney, managing producer for new content and innovation at WAMU 88.5, has produced more than a thousand talk show segments and helped pull off radio broadcasts from churches, theaters and the head librarian’s office at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
WAMU 88.5's staff work with Anacostia residents give them tools to record, and then get out of the way. This includes inviting Anacostia Unmapped's Community Producers regularly on to The Kojo Nnamdi Show.
Kymone Freeman is an activist and co-owner of We Act Radio AM in Anacostia, Washington D.C.
John A. Johnson, is a poet and playwright who records life and change in Anacostia.
Schyla Pondexter-Moore is a housing organizer who focuses on displacement in Anacostia and Barry Farms.
Brandon Gatling is a documentary photographer based in Washington, D.C.
Flawn Williams listens for a living. In 30 years with National Public Radio, Flawn did field recordings and postproduction, winning all major awards.
Sonja D. Williams is a professor of media, journalism, and film at Howard University, and her new book is Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom.
Stacia is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, New Republic, Slate, Vox, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan and various other publications. Raised in Baltimore from age four, Stacia has a passion for telling the city's stories and engaging others in its rich cultural history. The Baltimore Sun named her one of the city's notable tweeters in its "The 410 in 140" series. Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City is her first foray into radio.
Marsha Jews is an award-winning civic leader and noted public speaker on topics ranging from leadership, diversity, work/life balance, entrepreneurship, and breaking the glass ceiling. She has several years of experience producing two radio shows for national public radio stations: WHCR 90.3 FM in New York, and WEAA 88.9 FM in Baltimore. “Keep It Moving with Marsha Jews” airs Mondays at 7 p.m. on WEAA.
As program director at the radio station at Oberlin College, Ali Post became interested in radio as a forum for storytelling, education, and community-generated media content. In 2012, she worked as a production intern for the oral history project StoryCorps. In 2014, she taught radio production to teenagers at Radio Rookies, WNYC's youth media program. She also periodically does freelance research and production for the podcast “Radio Diaries” and currently serves as WEAA's digital content producer.
Mawish Raza is a documentary filmmaker invested in using media as a participatory tool to encourage engagement and ownership. She has partnered with Amnesty International and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) to produce video campaigns and currently works with the Baltimore-based nonprofit Wide Angle Youth Media to lead the Mentoring Video Project Program.
Steve Mencher, creator of “Beyond Belief” with KCPT, fell under the spell of radio listening to distant ball games from his Bronx bedroom. He has worked at Carnegie Hall, NPR, and AARP. His company, Mensch Media, helped the U.S. Department of Defense find students to learn Arabic after 9/11, and produced a film about Bill Gates and Leonardo da Vinci for Ovation TV.
Janet Saidi is the vice president for news at KCPT, the home of FlatlandKC.org. As a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, Janet and the news team produced award-winning journalism projects. In her spare time, Janet is a literary geek who writes books reviews for the Christian Science Monitor.
As Vice President for Digital & Multimedia Content at Kansas City Public Television, Carla McCabe heads a team developing digital-first content and storytelling through a collaboration with digital storytellers, journalists, and filmmakers. A member of the senior leadership team at KCPT, McCabe has overseen a wide-range of station initiatives, including the development of multiple websites and digital-first video productions in her previous role as Operations Director.
As a novelist and filmmaker, Ayah Abdul-Rauf believes that stories connect us to our experience in a way that transcends biases. As a student at Kansas City Art Institute, and having written and produced several short films, she hopes to bring her values and experience to her work at KCPT.
Born and raised to be proud of KCMO, Josh Atkinson wants to use his skills in documentary filmmaking to change the world. Josh also has acting experience and has created a number of experimental films. He is a recent graduate of Avila University, where he majored in communication and digital media.
Hope Austin, KC native and writer, believes in using what she calls “the power of public media” to tell stories that are often unheard. She uses her words to bring communities together. Currently, Hope is editor in chief of University News, UMKC’s student newspaper. Hope will earn her degree in creative writing in May 2016.
Cleveland Neal served in the military for six years, including two tours with the U.S. Army in Iraq. During his service, he also studied sound design and completed audio projects for numerous clients. Cleveland now attends Avila University, where he studies directing and cinematography and has worked on more than a dozen films. He expects to earn his bachelor’s degree in May 2016.
Lisa Marie Evans has worked as a youth mentor for the Jackson County Family Courts’ “Sentenced to the Arts” Project, and has also been a teacher and leader for Youth Out Loud, Hate Crimes as Human Disaster, which focuses on human rights issues and hate crimes. She served as Director of Service-Learning, Camp Fire USA, where she supervised volunteers, produced curriculum, and created budgets.
Father Marcus Halley currently serves as the pastor for young adults and families at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also active in the local community, occupying spaces of interfaith, interdenominational, and interracial dialogue to promote understanding and reconciliation. He was ordained as a priest on November 1, 2013, by the Rt. Rev. Martin Field, Bishop of West Missouri (on behalf of the Bishop of Atlanta).
Dr. Robert Lee Hill is minister emeritus of Community Christian Church, Kansas City, Missouri, where he served for more than 30 years. Along with the Rev. Eric Belt, he was a founding co-chair of the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2). Since 1993, Dr. Hill has been a co-host of the renowned weekly Sunday morning radio call-in show “Religion on the Line" on KCMO-Talk Radio 710 AM/103.7 FM. He is the author and/or editor of nine books.
From 1976 to 1988, Mark Levin served as rabbi of the Congregation at The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah, Kansas City, Missouri. He then served as rabbi, Congregation Beth Torah, Overland Park, Kansas, 1988–2014. Among many community activities he’s currently engaged in, Rabbi Levin is co-chair of Project Chai, reacting to trauma in the Jewish community. He’s the author of two books, including Praying the Bible: How Bible Quotations in Prayers Explode Meanings, End Boredom, and Make Each Praying Experience Unique.
Mahnaz Shabbir is the president of Shabbir Advisors, a management consulting company focusing on strategic planning, feasibility studies, marketing plans, public relations, and diversity training. She is also a well-recognized and respected leader in the Kansas City Muslim community. Shabbir co-authored the chapter on Islam in The Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Health Care Providers published in 2013.
Sophia Paliza-Carre is an independent radio producer interested in cultural mashups, geography, and data experiments. She has previously worked in the digital humanities, and produced for The Moth, The Stanford Storytelling Project, and WNYC. She loves a good neighborhood association meeting as well as an excellent pozole.
Mariana Dale reports on K–12 education and edits stories for the Web at Arizona Public Media. Dale is an alumna of The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, a “Morning Edition” internship, the Chips Quinn Scholars and AIR’s New Voices.
Rudy Flores is a 20-year sign maker and part of the historical neon sign restoration of Tucson. He is a linocut printmaker and print enthusiast, and a 3-D sculptor. He is the creator of the Army Man Project in which he 3-D scans and prints local musicians, artists, business owners, and other locals.
Liliana C. González hails from Anaheim, California, and is currently a PhD student in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona with a minor in gender and women’s studies. Liliana is writing a dissertation on gender and sexuality in U.S., Mexican, and Colombian narco culture.
Alex Lewis is an independent radio producer and musician living in Philadelphia. He has reported stories for national and local public media outlets and has worked as a producer with NPR’s “World Café” and WHYY’s “NewsWorks Tonight.” He studied music at Northwestern University and radio at the Transom Story Workshop.
Jeanette Woods has been reporting and producing for WHYY since 2011. She has worked for over 20 years as a reporter, producer, and researcher for media outlets including WGBH and National Geographic. Jeanette co-created and produces “The Remix” podcast, which takes a fresh look at race, pop culture, and politics.
Avory Brookins is a senior journalism major at Temple University. Her work has aired on WHYY's “The Pulse” and “Morning Edition.” She has also received awards from Temple University's Department of Journalism for Excellence in Journalism and Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.
Isaac Kestenbaum has been a lobsterman, a farmer, a newspaper reporter, and a robotics instructor. Most recently general manager at Cowbird, he is also the former production manager for StoryCorps and co-creator of the climate change audio project Winters Past. He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Originally from Maine, he now lives in Brooklyn.
Josephine Holtzman is a Brooklyn-based multimedia storyteller, with a focus in audio documentary and interactive soundwalks. A graduate of Vassar College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, she is a producer for the NPR Music program “Jazz Night in America.” She is also co-founder of the climate change audio project Winters Past.
Joaqlin Estus, a Tlingit Indian, is news director at KNBA, an Alaska Native owned and operated radio station in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s worked as a reporter at Alaska radio stations and Minnesota Public Radio. She regularly contributes stories to the statewide radio show “Alaska News Nightly” and to “National Native News.”
KNBA is the first Native radio station located in an urban market. KNBA has been on-air in Anchorage, Alaska since 1996. KNBA is owned by the Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. KBC's mission is to be the leader in bringing Native voices to Alaska and the nation.
Shyanne Beatty is Han Gwich’in Athabascan and grew up in a subsistence lifestyle in Eagle, Alaska. She is the network manager for Native Voice One and the former host of the national radio program “Earthsongs.” Her work for Koahnic Broadcast Corporation has included directing the Native Media Empowerment Project, where she designed and constructed media training sessions for Alaska Native participants in rural locations.
Frank Chythlook hosts KNBA's Native Music programming, and is also the station’s operations and production coordinator. Frank first joined KNBA as an Alaska Native Youth Media Institute participant in 1994, and returned in 2001 after snagging a broadcast degree from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Frank has also served as an instructor in media production at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Loren Dixon has been on Anchorage radio for 30 years. His passion for music and the triple-A radio format began in the early ’90s, which led to him to help establish the format for KNBA when the station signed on in 1996. When not on the radio hosting a music show and interviewing local and national music acts, you’ll find him hanging out at his log cabin in the quiet but bear-filled hillside valley of his hometown, Anchorage.
James Dommek Jr. was born and raised in Kotzebue, Alaska. The 27-year-old Alaska Native (half Inupiaq Eskimo, half German/Irish) is one of the founding members of the Anchorage-based rock band the Whipsaws. They have since recorded two full-length albums, toured Alaska and a large portion of the Lower 48, and shared the stage with Wilco, Lucinda Williams, and the Hold Steady. They are currently signed to Blue Rose Records (Europe).
Holly Mititquq Nordlum is an Inupiaq visual artist and graphic designer, born in Kotzebue, Alaska. Throughout her childhood, Holly developed an appreciation for her culture, arts, and life in the arctic. Holly attended the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and completed a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree. Since then, she has been an award-winning multimedia artist and activist.
Vikram Patel produces and coaches storytellers for Anchorage storytelling program Arctic Entries and co-founded local high school storytelling program Story Works Alaska. Vikram spends his days at the Parks & Rec Department, helping out the people who build playgrounds and organize softball leagues.
John Sallee is a news intern for KNBA. He is a junior studying journalism and public communications at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Sallee’s inspiration to pursue journalism stems from his fascination with entertainment news, as he aspires to become a red carpet correspondent. Outside of journalism, Sallee enjoys staying active, spending time with family, and listening to music.
The Anchorage Museum brings the best of Alaska to the world and the best of the world to Alaska. Through a combination of art, history, and science, the Anchorage Museum creates a rich, deep understanding of the human experience. The museum’s Polar Lab looks at the contemporary and future North through exhibitions and programs.
Meredith Turk has reported on gold mining in Romania and goat herding in Ferguson, Missouri. She is a former reporter at KBIA, Fulbright student in Slovenia, Coro fellow in St. Louis, Missouri School of Journalism grad, and investigative data reporter at Scripps.
David Sommerstein is a reporter and assistant news director at North Country Public Radio. He covered Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division when it was the most-deployed unit in the military through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reports extensively on agriculture, loves baseball, and hosts “The Beat Authority,” a Latin and funk music show.
Hans Anderson is an award-winning freelance radio producer and reporter. His work has appeared on NPR, WAMU, KCRW, “Life of the Law,” and WBUR. His middle name is not Christian.
Colleen Heine is a graphic designer and folk musician from St. Louis, Missouri, and living in Savannah, Georgia.
Denise Igo is the admin of Fort Drum Area Events and Fort Hood Area Events. She absolutely loves keeping the communities informed of the weather, information, resources, and of course, area events.
Allison Herrera (Salinan Nation) is the former editor of the award-winning online publication the Twin Cities Daily Planet, producer for Ampers and reporter for KFAI radio in Minneapolis. She’s completing a documentary about Ojibwe painter Jim Denomie and lives in Minneapolis with her daughter, Anna.
Rachel Hubbard, KOSU Radio’s content director, started her radio career reading the obituaries for a community station. Since then, she has won national awards for her reporting on politics and natural disasters. She makes a mean apple pie and travels extensively.
Fire Thief Productions
Jamie Alsabrook is Fire Thief Productions’ office manager. She has worked with Jeremy Charles Photography for more than five years and is an independent photographer and visual artist.
Fire Thief Productions
Kyle Bell completes Fire Thief Productions as the sharpshooter and equipment expert of the team. He also is an independent filmmaker and owner of Red Stick Film Productions.
Fire Thief Productions
Jeremy Charles is an award-winning visual artist, photographer, and art director, best known for his creative portraits of musicians, public figures, and athletes. He is a co-founder of Fire Thief Productions and is a producer on the award-winning television show "Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People."
Russell Cobb is a writer and academic. He is Associate Professor in Spanish at the University of Alberta. He is the author of Heart in Darkness and is Contributing Editor for This Land Press. His current project is a novel about one family's role in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.
Fire Thief Productions
Sterlin Harjo is a critically acclaimed filmmaker, founding member of the Native comedy group The 1491s, co-founder of Fire Thief Productions, and producer of The Cuts Podcast. His latest film, Mekko, premiered internationally at the Toronto International Film Festival and had its European premiere at the Stockholm Film Festival. He also is a producer on the award-winning television show "Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People."
Bike Tour Leader
Stuart Hetherington is fortunate enough to combine his passions for cycling, Oklahoma history, and business by acting in as both the bike shop manager for Tulsa Hub as well as a brand manager for Oklahoma media company This Land Press.
Fire Thief Productions
Jessi McEver is a Cherokee and Creek filmmaker from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She's produced and edited nearly 100 mini-documentaries for Cherokee Nation Businesses, Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, and "Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People.” "The Lindsey House" marks her directing debut. She is a part of the Fire Thief Productions team and is working to share more stories featuring women, Natives, and Oklahomans.
Mary Quintas is an independent audio producer whose work has been featured on public radio,Transom.org, PRX Remix, and in the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project and the Latino oral history project Nuestras Raíces. She is a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop.
Rachel Osier Lindley is news director at WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama, where she shapes the station’s local and regional news coverage and community outreach. Rachel’s true love is radio and has been since her childhood, when she spent hours recording fake newscasts and radio plays on her boom box.
Matt Diffie is a photographer, videographer, and multimedia editor from Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015, and works for WBHM 90.3 FM as an assistant in both underwriting and production. His goal is to have a positive impact on the lives of others.
Eric Von has nearly three decades in broadcasting as a news director and talk show host. Von has received many awards and commendations for his on-air and community service work. He is the founder of the men’s health and wellness website brainbrawnbody.com and the managing partner of Von Communications.
Brad Lichtenstein, an Emmy-nominated creator of Precious Lives with WUWM, is the president of 371 Productions, a Milwaukee-based independent media company creating film, radio, and technology projects for the common good. His work has appeared in theaters and on PBS, Al Jazeera America, Discovery Channel, and the BBC.
Michelle Maternowski started out at WUWM 89.7 FM—Milwaukee Public Radio as an assistant producer and station receptionist. Now, she oversees all things digital as the station's Digital Services Coordinator, where she has received numerous awards and helped to create the project “I Am More Than My Record.”
WUWM has served Milwaukee since 1974. WUWM's mission is to serve listeners in southeastern Wisconsin with quality news, public affairs and entertainment programming.
Live Show Director
Michelle Lopez-Rios is a theater artist and social activist. Co-founder of The Royal Mexican Players, she and Alvaro Saar Rios have devised original works and conducted voice and writing workshops for a variety of communities around the country. She is an associate professor of voice and speech at UW–Milwaukee.
Kiran Vee is a creative director and youth advocate specializing in media-based mentorship. He received his BA in music and creative writing, and an MLS in American cultural studies from UW–Milwaukee. Over the past six years, Kiran has been an active musician and multimedia artist.
Paul Kjelland is the Engagement Director for 371 Productions. Paul’s foundation has been working at the intersection of art, media, and action. As a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, an international decentralized network of visual artists, he has produced work with and for social andenvironmental justice movements. He is a co-founder of the Riverwest24, ReciproCity, and Climate Prints.
Mary Ellen Jones creates and implements an engaging and influential marketing and communications strategy to support United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County’s community initiatives and community-wide collaborations. Mary Ellen recently earned her Master of Education from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is also a track coach.
Community Engagement & Media Production Intern
Tevin Smith currently attends the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where he is earning his Bachelor of Arts in communications with a minor in journalism, advertising and media studies. As a 371 Productions intern, Tevin hopes to have a positive impact on the Milwaukee community by assisting with media production and events.
Over a 30-year career, John Biewen has followed his radio work to 40 American states and to Europe, Japan, and India. He is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where he teaches and produces the podcast “Scene on Radio.” He co-edited the book Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound.
As program director at North Carolina Public Radio WUNC, David Brower has focused on sustainable, listener-focused development, including the WUNC Youth Reporting Institute, expanded education coverage, and a national reporting project about military veterans. He is a big fan of strong coffee, old-time music, and college basketball.
Community Partner, Assistant Audio Trainer
A former teenaged co-founder of the Youth Noise Network, a CDS-based youth radio project, and now a community organizer, Mya co-directs SpiritHouse’s Harm Free Zone initiative. She is also an aspiring pastry chef who recognizes the cultural significance of good food.
Nancy “Mama Nia” Wilson is executive director of SpiritHouse, Inc. With a background in nursing, client services, and community organizing, including using Story Circles in a Harm-Free Zone project in Durham, she helped to shape and co-led the Story Circle process for the Storymakers process.
Jess Mador is an award-winning public radio reporter, writer, producer, and storyteller who has produced stories for news organizations around the country, including Minnesota Public Radio, NPR News, and PBS member stations. She has a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Matt Shafer Powell manages the news department at WUOT in Knoxville. A two-time national Murrow Award winner, Matt is an audio junkie who has spent time as a disc jockey, news reporter, writer and producer of commercials, and sound recording engineer. He created TruckBeat's sister project at WUOT: Tenn Words.
Cinematographer and Editor
Phil Batta is an award-winning cinematographer/director who specializes in creating short-form documentaries and multiplatform visual media for social impact. His work appears on PBS, The New Yorker, UK Channel 4, ITN, The Guardian, ABC7, CNN, and ITVS. He’s currently directing two documentaries exploring youth social justice and gender equality.
Visual Artist and Composer
Sam Keenan is a visual artist, UX Illustrator, musician, and composer who works in multimedia production. He is an ex-longtime public radio recording engineer and producer, and a current public radio refugee. Sam co-produces “Level with Emily Reese”—@LevelwithEmily—a podcast about the video game industry.
Leslie Snow is a regular freelance producer for WUOT. She has a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Arlington. Leslie has been working on special projects for WUOT since 2010. She also writes a weekly column for the Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper.
Liz Wood is a senior in linguistics at the University of Tennessee. She’s held news editor and staff writer positions at the Daily Beacon, and layout editor at the Tangerine, UT's satirical news publication. Liz is passionate about writing, learning about language, and sociolinguistics. She also enjoys photography and visual art.
Prior to UnMonumental, Kelley Libby was a producer of “With Good Reason,” a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Kelley holds a master’s degree in writing and rhetoric from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Station Collaborator and Impact Liaison
Kelsea Pieters has worked as a reporter and producer for WVTF since March 2014. She regularly contributes feature and news stories and produces Back to the Blue Ridge with Kinney Rorrer. Kelsea graduated from Roanoke College in 2013 with a BA in Communication.
Connie Stevens is the news director for Roanoke, Virginia-based WVTF Public Radio, RADIO IQ, and Virginia Public Radio. Connie’s early career in public radio led to adventures in television and academia. She returned to public radio in 2007.
Colleen Brennan is a designer and professional people-watcher. She investigates environmental psychology and social behavior through installation and spatial design. Also a woodworker, she makes furniture and home goods. When she’s not working, you might find her hugging a stranger’s dog, cooking a new recipe, or on a camping trip.
Untold RVA Founder and CXO
Free Egunfemi (formerly Maat Free) is a young old head who's lived in RVA longer than it was even cool to be from here. She's been kicking up sand in the River City for 25 years, pushing and prodding and moving the needle forward with her odd menagerie of brilliant friends. She founded Untold RVA and its companion side project, COMMUNIVERSITY, to empower Richmond's brightest and brokest folks with the sharpest tools to present the missing pieces of the local historical narrative. In a town where most people are relatively new here, Free is what's known as an original don dada.
Chioke l’Anson is a philosopher, radio producer, and Instructor of African American studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He rides motorcycles and loves podcasts. Before UnMonumental, he produced for “BackStory with the American History Guys.” Now he prowls RVA streets with Kelley.
As a Library Community Services Manager, Patty believes in the importance of libraries in providing everyone free and equal access to information, resources, and programs. Her favorite resource is the library’s talented community of human resources. She has been the “Laptop Librarian” at farmer’s markets for the last 15 years and is a big fan of preserving people's stories through a favorite RPL project, the People's Library, which invites library patrons to create handmade books by checking out a blank book, writing their own story, and returning the book to have it cataloged and entered into the library’s collection to be shared with the community.
Boqin Peng is an independent graphic designer who works with a concept-driven approach. He has worked across various media, on projects including: publication design, brand identities, Web design, illustration, and self-initiated art practices. He stands in the area of graphic design and/but takes advantage of technology.
Allison lives in Bloomington, Indiana but makes Virginia radio as Associate Producer at With Good Reason. Allison's work has played on news outlets across the country, as well as Backstory with the American History Guys, Word of Mouth, Distillations, and PRX Remix. She just finished up a year as Producer of SiriusXM's The Briefing.
The mission of the Richmond Public Library is to inform, enrich, and empower Richmond's residents: to enrich lives and expand opportunities for all citizens by promoting reading and the active use of cultural, intellectual, and information resources through a dedication to excellence and professional service.
Eve Abrams is an audio documentarian, writer, and teacher who mainly gets around New Orleans on her bicycle and fusses over greens in her backyard. Eve’s recent work includes “Along Saint Claude,” regional winner of the 2015 Edward R. Murrow documentary award, Preservation Hall, the book, and “Sentinels and Celebrants” in Unfathomable City.
Jason Saul is the digital director at 89.9 WWNO, down in New Orleans, and does everything from sports reporting to underwriting sales as the needs arise. Jason is a native New Yorker who left Boston for Louisiana, and spent several years there working for national music show “American Routes.”
WWNO serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting news, information, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content.
Cheryl Gerber is a photojournalist working in her native New Orleans. She has been a regular contributor to The New York Times, the Associated Press, New Orleans Magazine, and Gambit Weekly for more than 25 years. Her new book is New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy.
Listening Post Coordinator
Jesse Hardman is a public radio reporter, writer, media developer, videographer, and journalism educator based in New Orleans. Hardman created the Listening Post, an innovative community engagement project that’s inspired similar programs around the U.S. He’s a current contributor to NPR, Al Jazeera America, Le Monde Diplomatique, and other outlets.
Laine Kaplan-Levenson is a multimedia producer living in New Orleans. Laine was the first producer for WWNO's Coastal Desk, and is now the producer of “TriPod: New Orleans at 300.” She runs the live storytelling event Bring Your Own. Her work has appeared on "Marketplace," "Here & Now," Gravy, NPR, and more.
Asha Lane is a high school senior born and raised in Maryland. She moved to New Orleans in 2014 and began attending International High School. Asha spends weekday afternoons at Bard Early College. She enjoys writing and performing spoken-word poetry, and plans on attending a four-year institution in the fall.
Viki Merrick is senior producer/editor for Transom.org and the voice coach for its media training program: The Transom Story Workshop. A collaborator on four Peabody Award-winning series, “Lost & Found Sound,” and “The Sonic Memorial Project”; senior editor on the NPR series “This I Believe,” she currently co-produces “The Moth Radio Hour” with Jay Allison.
Katy Reckdahl is a New Orleans-based news reporter who is a frequent contributor to the New Orleans Advocate and the Hechinger Report and has written for The Times-Picayune, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Weather Channel, The Nation, Next City, and the Christian Science Monitor.
Kortney Williams is a 22-year-old New Orleans native and a junior at Xavier University majoring in mass communications. She wants to be a radio personality one day. Unprisoned is her first audio project. Kortney loves traveling and eating crawfish and snowballs.
Mona Yeh has followed her work in nonprofits, communications, media production, youth development, and civic education to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Hyderabad, India, to train and work with educators, community members, and youth in how to use media for social action. Mona completed her undergraduate degree in radio/TV/film at Northwestern University.
Sonya Green is an award-winning, broadcast journalist with more than 20 years of experience. Sonya is the News & Public Affairs Director at KBCS. She is the board president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and sits on the media advisory board for the South Seattle Emerald, a nonprofit media and news outlet. Sonya was named the 2011 Woman of the Year by the Bellevue chapter of Business and Professional Women. Sonya is also a member of JAWS, Journalism and Women Symposium.
Whitney Henry-Lester is a documentary media maker, production manager, and aspiring placemaker. She produces radio, podcasts, film, and oral histories and has worked with organizations such as StoryCorps, the Third Coast International Audio Festival, Heritage Radio Network, CHIRP radio, and The Recollective. She has lived 24 places between the Catskills and the Cascades. Now, she calls the Pacific Northwest home, where she enjoys writing letters and sharing food.
Contributing Photographer, Seattle PI
New to the Pacific Northwest, Midwestern transplant Grant Hindsley is a staff photojournalist at SeattlePI.com. Outside of the wild world of photography, he spends most of his time with breakfast food, dirt bikes, and his Weimaraner-chocolate Lab, Harper.
David Joseph is a communications major at Bellevue College. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music, primarily from the 1980s and 90s including R&B and soul with a twist of rock and roll.He also enjoys DJing, taking photos at events and playing chess.
Yuko Kodama couldn’t go to sleep at night unless she listened to radio when she was growing up in Utah. She later found herself producing weekday segments for a number of radio stations in Japan, including J-Wave Radio, FM Yokohama, and ZIP FM. She was also awarded a Paul Robeson Foundation grant to produce a syndicated show featuring stories from throughout the northwest U.S., Alaska, and British Columbia. Yuko’s other passions are sea kayaking, cooking, and lots of other outdoor hobbies (especially if they involve foraging for food).
Seattle Times Collaborator
Caitlin Moran is an engagement editor at The Seattle Times, where she solicits and edits community voices to appear in the newspaper’s Opinion section. Prior to joining The Times in 2013, she spent three years managing hyperlocal news websites for Patch. She is a graduate of the University of Portland and enjoys spending her free time hiking, skiing, and climbing the Cascade Mountains.
Contributing Writer from Seattle Globalist
Goorish Wibneh is an award-winning journalist who regularly writes for the Seattle Globalist. His work has also appeared in publications such as the South Seattle Emerald. He covers Seattle protests, the migrant experience, education, gentrification, and anything in between.