Announcing the 2021-2022 Constellation News Leadership Initiative class

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is pleased to announce the Fellows and Executive Advisors of the 2021-2022 class of The Lenfest Constellation News Leadership Initiative. The Constellation program is a comprehensive management development program providing career coaching and executive leadership resources to Philadelphia-area media professionals of color pursuing senior roles in local news media enterprises.

Over the seven-month program, the Fellows will receive world-class training from three sources: Executive coursework from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, mentorship from a group of senior Executive Advisors who have advanced to positions of leadership in news enterprises, and career coaching from Crawford Leadership Strategies, a Black-owned leadership development firm. The Lenfest Constellation News Leadership Initiative is generously supported by the Independence Public Media Foundation, M&T Charitable Foundation, and the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation.

The Fellows and Executive Advisors are: 

Fellows:

Executive Advisors:

The Fellows and Executive Advisors were chosen through an open application process focused on identifying news leaders of color who have exhibited leadership in Philadelphia’s news organizations, expressed a desire to continue to grow their careers, were recommended strongly by their co-workers, and have a passion for equity. The applications are reviewed by a team of Lenfest Institute staff members and other industry experts. 

We recognize that Philadelphia benefits from a thriving media ecosystem, however we also know that it suffers from a lack of diversity in ownership and leadership of these institutions. I am reminded of a quote by Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, where he notes that “Inequality is the greatest harm to our democracy because inequality asphyxiates hope.”’ We are proud that this initiative can play a role in breathing hope back into our communities.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core operating principles of The Lenfest Institute. The Constellation News Leadership Initiative focuses specifically on the urgent need to support and advance more executive leaders of color into important management roles within local news media. This program is part of the Institute’s commitment to equity and increasing access to communities that have been historically marginalized in the news industry.

The Constellation programming, developed by the Newmark J-School, will begin in mid-October. The Fellows will take courses on how to identify and serve news audiences, build successful products, develop new business opportunities, manage teams, and lead an organizational transformation process. They will gain a deep understanding of product thinking and how to create and execute a product strategy, become more effective in driving change and transformation in their news organizations, obtain the skills to navigate and advance in their careers, and much more.

“We feel strongly that areas such as product thinking, audience-centric work and business model innovation are essential skills for modern news leaders to actively shape the future of the industry,” said Anita Zielina, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Newmark J-School and an architect of the Constellation training program. ”We are excited to provide a holistic course on modern media management to this stellar cohort”.

Each Fellow will also be paired with an Executive Advisor. The Executive Advisors will assist Fellows by offering mentorship, providing opportunities for the Fellows to expand their networks, and working with the Fellows on specific news media leadership skills. 

90% of participants in the inaugural 2020-2021 Constellation fellowship reported an expansion of job responsibilities during the program and 40% reported a job promotion.  The Institute will again share key lessons and best practices from the Constellation courses as the program progresses. 

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