The Lenfest Institute for Journalism today announced that Amy L. Kovac-Ashley is joining the Institute as Head of National Programs to expand its grantmaking and support of local news around the United States.
Kovac-Ashley was most recently Executive Vice President and Chief of News Transformation at the American Press Institute, where her portfolio encompassed all of API’s Journalism programs. Those included accountability journalism; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB); and organizational transformation and culture change, a major piece of which is the Table Stakes program, an initiative funded by The Lenfest Institute and the Knight Foundation. She was the creator and nurturer of the Table Stakes Alumni Network, its programming, and newsletter. During her tenure at API, she designed and led API’s adviser and community listening programs and was a principal architect of API’s Listening and Sustainability Lab.
“While The Lenfest Institute calls Philadelphia home, we continue to expand our work nationally, advising local news efforts in multiple cities and states, hosting national convenings, and supporting like-minded partners,” said Lenfest Institute Executive Director & CEO Jim Friedlich. “Amy brings unparalleled expertise and deep connections with local news leaders from coast to coast. We’re thrilled that she’s joining our team to enhance this critical work in support of local news and democracy.”
At the Institute, Kovac-Ashley will lead a portfolio of efforts to uncover, develop and support best practices to help ensure the sustainability of quality local news that serves cities, states, and diverse communities throughout the country.
“The Lenfest Institute has had a marked impact on local journalism in Philadelphia and beyond since its founding just six years ago. I am thrilled to help deepen that impact at such a crucial moment for local journalism,” Kovac-Ashley said. “It is exciting to be able to join a team that is so mission-aligned and focused on advancing something dear to me — local journalism rooted in truth and empathy that thrives because it is inextricably linked to the communities it serves.”
Kovac-Ashley has been an adviser and coach to news leaders on cultural change and DEIB initiatives, including mentorship programs, and was an adviser to the ONA Journalism Mentorship Collaborative in 2018. She cares deeply about the sustainability of local news — for communities, news organizations and the people who work in them. She is interested in finding new ways to support talent development in news organizations and to facilitate peer learning. She serves on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit news organization Open Campus Media.
Prior to her work at API, Kovac-Ashley worked as a journalism educator. She was the managing director of West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media Innovation Center and the assistant dean of Georgetown University’s master’s in journalism program. She has taught journalism ethics, media writing, media law, and Capstone courses.
Kovac-Ashley spent a dozen years as a professional journalist, with most of her time working in print or digital news. She reported on education and other local affairs at The Herald News and The Roanoke Times and was an editor at Foreign Policy magazine, Patch.com, and The Washington Post, where she was the paper’s first social media editor. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Originally from the desert of Southern California, she now lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, two children, and dog.