Introducing the 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator cohort, speakers and mentors

26 women from six countries join the cohort for yearlong leadership training and coaching

By on March 10, 2021

The Online News Association is pleased to introduce the 2021 cohort of the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, plus 16 phenomenal digital media leaders confirmed to serve as speakers and mentors during the program’s kickoff week.

The Accelerator is a tuition-free, yearlong program aimed at advancing women in digital journalism through intensive training on leadership and management skills, coaching and practical guidance to navigate career challenges. The program is a key part of ONA’s broader commitment to boost diversity and inclusion in journalism.

The 26 women in this year’s cohort represent six countries and serve audiences from Anchorage, Alaska, to Cairo, Egypt. The majority of this inspiring group identify as women of color, and they bring to the cohort a range of journalism backgrounds. We are thrilled to welcome editors, managers, producers, entrepreneurs and journalists with expertise in local news, product development, audience, digital strategy and visual and audio production.

The 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator includes:

Get to know the speakers and mentors

The 2021 Accelerator kicks off March 22-26 with an intensive week of hands-on personal and professional work, candid discussions and one-on-one mentorship with industry leaders about navigating change, leadership paths and organizational culture. The program is fully online for the first time this year due to pandemic-related restrictions. We look forward to delivering an experience that has been thoughtfully designed to facilitate meaningful virtual connections.

Speakers and mentors include:

In addition to the intensive kickoff week, ONA will provide check-ins, targeted guidance and personal coaching throughout the year as women in the program focus on a challenge specific to their careers. They will also join online sessions tailored to the needs of the group, connect with the broader ONA community at the 2021 Online News Association Conference (ONA21, June 22–25) and close the year with a half-day workshop that solidifies the cohort as a career-long support system.

More opportunities for women beyond the cohort

We are excited to continue providing training and networking opportunities beyond the flagship cohort-based program, including a virtual event series designed for women managing people or projects who are looking to connect with other inspiring women. Last year’s WLA Summer Series featured unique sessions about launching and leading the 19th*women in productwomen in entrepreneurship and navigating career paths. (Recordings are available on-demand for all four sessions.)

ONA21 will also feature programming tailored to women in leadership. Plus, it’s a great platform for women to showcase their work and expertise to industry leaders and peers—women represent over 50% of the speakers at the annual conference. The call for pitches will open in the next few weeks.

Thanks for supporting women in digital journalism

The 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator is tuition-free thanks to the support of lead funder Dow Jones Foundation, with additional support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

To learn about ways to support this program and strengthen the leadership pipeline for women in digital journalism, contact Jessica Strelitz, Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer, at

Dow Jones Foundation

To learn about other training opportunities and resources from the Online News Association, subscribe to the ONA Weekly newsletter and follow us on Twitter @ONA.

The Online News Association was founded in 1999 as a forum for digital news pioneers to collaborate on common challenges and encourage the practice of the highest journalistic standards. Become an ONA member or make a donation to sustain our mission to inspire innovation and excellence in digital journalism.