The Lenfest Institute for Journalism on Tuesday announced the inaugural class of Fellows and Executive Advisors who will take part in the Lenfest Constellation News Leadership Initiative, a comprehensive management development program designed to provide 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.

The Fellows and Executive Advisors are: 


Executive Advisors:

  • Emma Carew Grovum, Newsroom Consultant, Kimbap Media
  • Sandra Clark, Vice President for News and Civic Dialogue, WHYY
  • Anthony Cuffie, Vice President-Local Advertising, Labor, & Advertising Operations, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Michael Days, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Jos Duncan, Director of Product Management, WURD Radio
  • Gabriel Escobar, Editor and Vice President, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Jim Friedlich, CEO and Executive Director, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism
  • Ric Harris, President & General Manager, NBC10/Telemundo62
  • Danese Kenon, Visuals Editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Melony Roy, Director of Digital News, WHYY
  • Daniel Tsao, Publisher, New Mainstream Press

The Fellows and Executive Advisors were chosen through an open application process that sought to identify 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 were reviewed by a team of Lenfest Institute staff members and other industry experts. 

“This program was designed based on community feedback on the needs of mid-career news executives with the goal of increasing access to training and opportunities. We are immensely proud of the work this cohort is already doing in Philadelphia, and we are excited to help amplify their impact even more,” said Lenfest Institute Program Manager Cheryl Thompson-Morton. “No one program can solve the issues of systemic oppression baked in our society, but it is my hope that this program, along with other work happening at Lenfest and in the local news ecosystem, will help to build new equitable systems.” 

The past few months have served as a powerful reminder that there is much work to be done to build equitable news organizations that are representative of all 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 Newmark J-School, will begin in early 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. 

The Institute will share key lessons and best practices from the Constellation courses as the program progresses. 

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