15 speakers announced for 2020 Women’s Leadership Accelerator

By on February 19, 2020

The Online News Association is proud to introduce 15 digital journalism luminaries confirmed to serve as speakers and mentors for the 2020 Women’s Leadership Accelerator, a yearlong intensive program aimed at advancing women in digital journalism. The Accelerator kicks off with a week of hands-on work, March 1-6 at the University of California Los Angeles.

Programming during the kickoff week will facilitate candid discussions and one-on-one mentoring with speakers about leadership, navigating transitions and organizational culture.

Raju Narisetti, Global Publishing Director Elect for McKinsey and Company, will return as a speaker and mentor for the program to share insights on business models from his three-decade experience creating and rethinking operations and products for news organizations.

Speakers contributing to the Accelerator for the first time include Ashley Alvarado, Director of Community Engagement for Southern California Public Radio; Mercedes Kraus, Executive Editor and interim Editor-in-Chief, Curbed; Elodie Mailliet, CEO of Catchlight; and Roxann Stafford, Managing Director of the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund at Lenfest Institute.

We are also pleased to have 2017 cohort member Kristen Lepore, currently Managing Producer of the Independent Producer Project at KCRW, return to the program to speak about her approach to finding and creating new opportunities.

The week in Los Angeles will also include visits with teams known for their digital innovation and storytelling. At Netflix, the cohort will hear from women on the Product Creative team about how the company approaches creative work and audience engagement. Disney Parks Experiences and Products will host the cohort for conversations with the Walt Disney Imagineering team and other professionals, as well as provide behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming projects and innovation. National dining chainlet Flower Child will share an executive’s perspective on branding during a visit to their Santa Monica location. Finally, as a powerful conclusion to the week, we are excited for Microsoft News to engage the cohort and other Los Angeles-area digital journalists in a public conversation about women leading innovation in storytelling.

Following the kickoff week, women in the 2020 Accelerator will continue to work with ONA. Throughout the year, they receive practical guidance tailored to individual challenges and opportunities to connect with peers who will be a powerful support system as each cohort member advances in their career. The program culminates in a half-day workshop during the 2020 Online News Association Conference — ONA20, Sept. 30–Oct 3 in Atlanta.

Speakers and mentors include: 

  • Irving Washington, Executive Director/CEO, Online News Association
  • Jessica Strelitz, Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer, Online News Association

Program leads

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

Cohort members

The 2020 cohort includes 26 outstanding digital media innovators. They represent seven countries and a range of expertise, from local broadcasting to international news and production development to visual journalism.

Program supporters

The Women’s Leadership Accelerator is tuition-free thanks to lead funder Dow Jones Foundation and additional support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Microsoft News; Ethics & Excellence in Journalism; Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, the John S. Knight (JSK) Journalism Fellowships and Flower Child.

Dow Jones Foundation

To learn more about supporting the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, contact Jessica Strelitz, ONA Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer, at jessica@journalists.org.