LaSharah S. Bunting.
LaSharah S. Bunting.

LaSharah S. Bunting joins ONA as new CEO and Executive Director

Journalist, transformational leader, equity advocate will lead organization

By on February 6, 2023

The Online News Association, the world’s largest digital journalism association, is thrilled to announce that LaSharah S. Bunting is the association’s new CEO and Executive Director, effective March 13.

A headshot of LaSharah S. Bunting.

LaSharah S. Bunting.

LaSharah was most recently a Vice President and Executive Editor at Simon & Schuster, where she acquired and edited nonfiction titles, with a particular focus on deeply reported narratives that explore the complex issues of our time. Before that, as Director of Journalism at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, she managed grants and initiatives that accelerated digital and organizational transformation in newsrooms, advanced equity and inclusion and boosted the development of new skills and expertise.

LaSharah has long supported the ONA community, ranging from providing financial support during her tenure at the Knight Foundation to advising ONA on numerous programmatic initiatives, including the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, the Challenge Fund for Innovation and Journalism Education, ONA’s annual conference and more.

“Following a thorough and comprehensive search process, LaSharah emerged as the clear choice to lead ONA into its next era,” said David Smydra, ONA Board President. “The Search Committee was deeply impressed with LaSharah’s appreciation for ONA’s role in the industry, her vision for how ONA can best serve the journalism community and her executive leadership abilities to get the job done. We are excited to begin working with her.”

“It is my privilege to join the incredible team at the Online News Association, whose work inspires innovation and excellence in journalism,” LaSharah said. “I have been part of the ONA community for more than a decade, and I have experienced firsthand the inclusive and collaborative spirit of the organization. As journalism continues to evolve, I believe ONA’s mission is more vital than ever. I look forward to partnering with our staff, Board of Directors, members and supporters to grow the organization and expand our impact across the industry.”

LaSharah previously worked at The New York Times for 13 years, holding roles such as Senior Editor for Digital Transition, which involved leading a new team focused on implementing digital skills and organizational change across the newsroom. She also worked as an Editor on the Times’ National Desk, where she directed breaking news and oversaw the department’s daily report, multimedia projects and audience engagement. She was an Assignment Editor on the Metro and Arts and Culture desks as well as Editor for Frank Rich’s Sunday Op-Ed column. Before coming to The Times, LaSharah was an Editor at The Dallas Morning News. She serves on the Board of Directors for Outlier Media, Open Campus and Dow Jones News Fund.

LaSharah will be the first woman of color to serve as CEO and Executive Director of ONA.

ONA’s most recent Executive Director, Irving Washington, departed the organization on Dec. 31, 2022, joining the Kaiser Family Foundation as Senior Fellow for Health Disinformation. ONA’s Board of Directors began searching for a new Executive Director shortly after Irving publicly announced his departure in July 2022.

To lead this search, ONA retained the services of Cara Erickson at NewCoordinates, an executive search firm whose specialty is to help publishing, digital media and information businesses recruit transformative talent at the VP level and above.

The ONA community can look forward to meeting LaSharah at our upcoming virtual and in-person meetups and at the ONA23 conference in Philadelphia from Aug. 23-26.

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

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Carrie Blazina

Carrie Blazina

As ONA’s communications manager, Carrie’s responsibilities include content strategy, event promotion, email and social media campaigns, press releases and overall editorial support.