Mentors and participants in the 2019 Womens Leadership Accelerator. Mentors represented a wide range of experience and expertise.

Speakers and mentors joining the 2019 Women’s Leadership Accelerator

By on February 7, 2019

Each year a dynamic group of digital media leaders contribute to the Women’s Leadership Accelerator as speakers and mentors. The 2019 Accelerator kicks off Feb. 10-15, and we are thrilled to introduce the leaders who will guide this year’s cohort as they learn skills for navigating change and challenges specific to their careers.

Welcome speaker Karen Pensiero, Managing Editor, The Wall Street Journal, will set the tone for the weeklong training by sharing her experience leading the Journal’s digital transformation. Karen has been in charge of teams on both the journalism and commercial sides of the organization, and is now leading the WSJ2020 project to transform the newsroom’s workflow.

Kamal Sinclair will keynote the program with a discussion about the nonlinear path to her current role as Director of the New Frontier Lab Programs at the Sundance Institute. Kamal supports projects at the intersection of art, media and technology, including experiments with virtual reality, augmented reality and data storytelling. She will offer tips on collaboration across industries, solving creative challenges and building relationships with the audience.

More than a dozen experts in business development, community building and editorial and product innovation will join Karen and Kamal to share lessons from their leadership journeys throughout the week.

Charo Henriquez, Senior Editor of Digital Transition Strategy at The New York Times; Jessica Strelitz, Head of Strategic Partnerships at ONA; Kristen Muller, Chief Content Officer at KPCC; P. Kim Bui, Director of Audience Innovation, Arizona Republic and Sara Catania, Director of Journalism School Partnerships at Solutions Journalism Project, will deliver candid talks on leadership styles and making the most of strengths and personality.

Celeste LeCompte, Vice President of Business Development at ProPublica; Evelyn Larrubia, Executive Editor of Marketplace by APM; Jennifer Brandel, Co-founder and CEO of Hearken; Kate Lesniak, Senior Strategist at ThinkShout; Meghan Murphy, ONA’s Senior Manager of Communities and Local Journalism Initiatives; Steph Yiu, Head of Support for VIP and Yuri Victor, Senior Director of Innovation for the Los Angeles Times, will lead sessions on changing culture, including how to build inclusivity into hiring and coverage as well as how to manage up and across an organization.

The programming also includes visits with innovative digital teams in the Los Angeles area. Women in the cohort will hear from Netflix’s Product Studio about building strong relationships with audiences and improving how people discover new stories. The Walt Disney Studios will host the group for a studio tour and panel discussion on creative and powerful storytelling, featuring insights from some of Disney’s top female leaders.

We are also pleased to host a special event with the ONA LA group at KCRW on Friday, Feb. 15 — a conversation between KCRW President Jennifer Ferro and Claudia Bestor, Director of Public Programs at the Hammer Museum. Jennifer and Claudia will discuss how they reach diverse audiences through in-person experiences and transformed their organizations. The event is open to other digital journalists; register now to join us.

Following the weeklong training, women in the Accelerator will continue to receive support from ONA as they work on their challenges, and the program culminates in a workshop Saturday, Sept. 14, during ONA19 in New Orleans.

Speakers and mentors

Program designers and facilitators

  • Tran Ha, Founder and Principal, Tiny Collaborative
  • Jennifer Mizgata, Director of Programs, Online News Association

Program supporters

The Women’s Leadership Accelerator is tuition-free thanks to the support of lead funder Dow Jones Foundation, and additional support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation; VIP; KCRW, KPCC + LAist; Disney Parks, Experiences and Products; John S. Knight (JSK) Journalism Fellowships and MM.LaFleur.

Dow Jones Foundation

We are seeking more partners committed to investing in women’s leadership and digital journalism. If you are interested in supporting the Accelerator program, contact Jessica Strelitz, Head of Strategic Partnerships, at, to discuss opportunities.