Board Biographies

PRESIDENT

Neal Justin

Neal Justin

Neal Justin
Media Critic
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis, MN

Neal Justin is the media critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He previously covered crime for the Rockford Register Star. His duties at the Star Tribune include helping to run the summer internship program. Neal was one of the original members of the AAJA governing board and was named AAJA member of the year in 2006. He also served as AAJA president for the Minnesota chapter. He is a co-founder of JCamp, a national program for the country’s top high-school journalists, which is now entering its 15th year. Neal previously served two years on the UNITY board.

His goals for UNITY in the near future include discovering new ways to reach out to young adults – particularly freshmen and sophomores in college – and getting them more involved in our activities, creating programming beyond our conventions and insuring that we are open and clear to our members.

TREASURER

Sarah Blazucki

Sarah Blazucki

Sarah Blazucki
NLGJA Vice President
Print, Digital Writer-Editor
The Peace Corps & the Resume Place
Washington, DC

Sarah Blazucki is the vice president for print and digital media for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She is the former editor of Philadelphia Gay News, the oldest LGBT newsweekly in the country. During her tenure from 2006-12, PGN reported on LGBT homelessness and domestic violence, produced an annual Gay History Month series and interviewed presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Under Sarah’s direction, the staff won more than 35 awards for news writing, arts and entertainment, columns, photos and advertising. Sarah was co-chair of the NLGJA 2011 annual convention in Philadelphia and was on the programming committee for 2012 UNITY Journalists Convention, a quadrennial conference of minority journalist organizations.

In 2012, she led the development of a website to find LGBT rights (lgbtrights.me) by address or GPS locator on a smartphone.

In addition, Sarah is a freelance résumé writer and career coach and has served as a contributor, editor and proofreader for several résumé writing books. Prior to that, Sarah served as news editor for the LGBT biweekly The Baltimore Alternative. She received her B.A. from Towson State University in mass communications, with a concentration in journalism and a minor in women’s studies. In her free time, Sarah runs, bikes, and practices yoga. She now lives in D.C. and is an editor for The Peace Corps.

SECRETARY

Rhonda LeValdo

Rhonda LeValdo
NAJA
Media Communications Faculty
Haskell Indian Nations University

Rhonda LeValdo (Acoma Pueblo) is a Faculty in Media Communications at Haskell Indian Nations University.

LeValdo is also a host for Native Spirit Radio 90.1 FM-KKFI Kansas City and past president of the Native American Journalists Association. LeValdo currently sits on the board of directors for Native Public Media and was a member of the Heartland Project Advisory Council that done in collaboration with the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

LeValdo received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Kansas in Journalism and Mass Communication.

DIRECTORS

AAJA REPRESENTATIVES

Yvonne Leow portrait

Yvonne Leow

Yvonne Leow
AAJA President
San Francisco, Calif.
Yvonne is currently the President of the Asian American Journalists Association. She was formerly an editorial project manager at Sequoia Capital, the senior Snapchat Editor at Vox.com, and from 2014-2015, was one of twelve – and the youngest in the program’s history – to be a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

Before, she was the senior associate at North Base Media, a venture capital firm investing in journalistic enterprises in emerging markets, and the director of video at Project Thunderdome, a digital news startup within Digital First Media. She’s based in San Francisco.

 

Mi-Ai Parrish

Mi-Ai Parrish

Mi-Ai Parrish
President and Publisher,
The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
Phoenix, Ariz.

Mi-Ai Parrish joined Republic Media as president and publisher of The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com in October 2015. She came to The Republic from The Kansas City Star Media Company, where she was president and publisher of The Kansas City Star and kansascity.com from June 2011 to October 2015. She also was president and publisher of The Idaho Statesman for five years before serving at The Star.

Prior to becoming a publisher, Parrish spent the majority of her career in newsroom roles ranging from reporting and copy editing, to travel editor and projects editor. Parrish served at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Arizona Republic, Chicago Sun-Times and The Virginian-Pilot.

Parrish serves on the boards of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University, Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Greater Phoenix Leadership. She was The Star’s first female publisher, where she served on the boards of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Area Development Council and The Civic Council. She also was a co-chair for KC Rising, a regional development initiative, as well as a United Way business council member.

She’s done a variety of speaking engagements, ranging from the convocation at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism to presentations at Sprint’s Global Diversity initiative, the Central Exchange, American Society of News Editors, Asian American Journalists Association, Centurion’s Women’s Forum, and Middle of the Map Tech Forum on Women Innovators.

Parrish is a two-time Pulitzer Prize Juror, longtime member of the Asian American Journalists Association, and was named one of the 100 Most Important Minority Journalists of the last Century. She was named to the University of Maryland Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013. She is married to Pulitzer-Prize winner Dave Parrish.

 

Portrait of Clea Benson

Clea Benson

Clea Benson
Deputy Editor, Politico Pro
Arlington, Va.

Clea is deputy editor at POLITICO Pro. Before joining POLITICO as financial services editor last year, she spent five years covering financial regulation and federal housing policy at Bloomberg News. She has also written about politics, government, and economics as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sacramento Bee, and Congressional Quarterly. Clea has taught at or directed AAJA’s JCamp every year since 2001. She’s from Los Angeles, went to Bryn Mawr College, and holds a graduate journalism degree from U.C. Berkeley. Follow Clea on Twitter @cleabenson.

 

Padmananda Rama portrait

Padmananda Rama

Padmananda Rama
Video Producer,
The Associated Press

Washington, D.C.

Padmananda is a broadcast journalist for the Associated Press where most recently she covered the 2016 presidential election as well as feature enterprises for AP domestic and global clients. Padma is a graduate of AAJA’s 2016 Executive Leadership Program. This past summer, she was also a co-instructor with MSNBC’s Richard Lui for JCamp’s broadcast students at George Washington University. In the past year, thanks in part to the mentorship she received during ELP, she’s taken on a greater role at the AP reporting on Asian American issues, including AAPI voter trends. As a multi-ethnic journalist, Padma has always been interested in learning more about and reporting on the stories of people who reflect a broad range of backgrounds.

An award-winning journalist, her work has been featured by several major news organizations including CNN, NPR and Slate. Prior to the AP, Padma was a digital editor with NPR covering the 2012 presidential election. A multi-platform journalist, she has reported for television, digital print and radio. Follow Padma on Twitter @padmananda

 

NLGJA REPRESENTATIVES

Jen Christensen

Jen Christensen
NLGJA President
Investigative Producer & Documentarian,
CNN

Atlanta, GA

Jen Christensen is a Peabody-award winning producer for CNN Special Investigations & Documentary Unit. In that role, Christensen has produced a variety of in-depth investigative stories and compelling long-form documentaries for CNN Presents, the most honored documentary series in cable news. She is based at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters.

Christensen served as a producer for the Peabody and DuPont award-winning CNN Presents: God’s Jewish Warriors; and the award-winning documentaries about Martin Luther King Jr., Words That Changed a Nation; Black in America: Eyewitness to Murder; and Obama Revealed; Sarah Palin Revealed; and Christiane Amanpour’s Generation Islam. She also produces regular investigative pieces for CNN’s primetime programs. And has been a regular freelance reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Professional Photographer’s Association Magazine, the Advocate, Pain Solutions, and Sirius OutQ News.

Previously, Christensen ran the investigative unit for WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and started the investigative unit at WTVQ in Lexington, Ky. where she also worked as a line producer. While still in college, she started her broadcast career at WXIN in Indianapolis running the assignment desk and as a line and field producer.

Prior to her broadcast journalism career, Christensen worked in London on nuclear non-proliferation issues for NATO’s Atlantic Council and worked re-drawing voter redistricting maps at the Chicago Board of Elections. She is listed as a co-author for two books: Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: a Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Greenwood Press, 1993) and Women Confronting Retirement – A Nontraditional Guide (Rutgers Press, 2003).

Christensen severs on several non-profit boards. She is the Vice President for Broadcasting with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association, a KEYS core team member at Turner Broadcasting, and the Secretary for GirlsRockCampATL.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Butler University in TV/radio and political science with a gender studies minor and also attended the London School of Economics where she studied foreign policy and economics.

 

Sharif Durhams

Sharif Durhams

Sharif Durhams
Homepage Editor,
The Washington Post

Washington, DC

Sharif Durhams is a homepage editor on the Post’s universal news desk. Previously, he was the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s social media editor and a digital strategist, working with reporters and editors to restructure their beats and departments to focus them on interaction with readers and preparation for digital platforms.

He’s the treasurer of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and served as the convention co-chairman for NLGJA’s 2014 convention. He’s also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force. In 2014, he taught social media basics for journalists as part of a Massive Open Online Course on social media for the Knight Center at the University of Texas.

 

Ken Miguel

Ken Miguel

Ken Miguel
NLGJA
Vice President of Broadcast
Special Projects Producer
KGO-TV
San Francisco, CA

Ken is a Segment Producer at KGO-TV, the ABC owned station in San Francisco. A three-time Emmy award winning producer, Ken has been active in NLGJA for over a decade. He served as President of the Northern California Chapter and as a member of the NLGJA National Board.

NAJA REPRESENTATIVES

Bryan Pollard portrait

Bryan Pollard

Brian Pollard
NAJA President
Director of Tribal Relations,
Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative

University of Arkansas School of Law

Bryan Pollard is the Director of Tribal Relations for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, a policy think tank at the University of Arkansas School of Law created to assist Native American tribes to develop and implement food and agriculture policies and practices to increase food sovereignty.

Prior to joining the Initiative, Pollard was the executive editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the tribal news organization for the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah, Okla. During his term as executive editor, Bryan expanded the audience of the Cherokee Phoenix by improving the quality of the newspaper and launching an array of digital products such as a responsive, multimedia website, a daily electronic newsletter, a weekly radio show, news videos, and the adoption of social media platforms. He also positioned the organization to play a vital role in revitalizing the Cherokee language by using the Cherokee syllabary in many of its print and digital products. As a result, the Cherokee Phoenix is recognized as one of the best newspapers in the state of Oklahoma and all of Indian Country.

Before joining the Cherokee Phoenix, Bryan was the founding managing editor of street roots, a non-profit newspaper focusing on issues affecting the homeless and low-income community in Portland, Ore.

Bryan is a lifetime member and current president of the Native American Journalists Association and is a member of NAJA’s Free Press Committee. He sits on the board of directors for the High Country News and UNITY: Journalists for Diversity. He has also served as a board member for the North American Street Newspaper Association. In 2014, he was awarded the Medill Milestone Achievement Award by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism for outstanding contributions to Native journalism.

He is a certified high school journalism teacher and has taught at Sequoyah High School, an Indian boarding school in Tahlequah, and has served as a mentor for numerous journalism workshops including the Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists Working Press, the UNITY News and the NAJA Student Projects and Project Phoenix.

Bryan holds a B.A. in anthropology from Louisiana State University and is currently pursuing a master’s in journalism at the University of Arkansas.

Graham Lee Brewer

Graham Lee Brewer

Graham Lee Brewer
NAJA
Reporter
The Oklahoman

Graham Lee Brewer has covered the state Legislature, criminal justice, the state prison system and the death penalty for The Oklahoman, that state’s largest daily newspaper, since joining its staff in 2013.

He began his news career as a reporter for KGOU, the University of Oklahoma’s NPR member station, and later joined Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit investigative news team where his beats included immigration and drug addiction.

After that, he joined the legislative news wire eCapitol, where he covered the state senate, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, and the Office of Juvenile Affairs, among other state agencies.

Brewer has won several local and national awards for his reporting, including a 2011 Unity Young Journalist Global Reporting Fellowship at the United Nations. He received a bachelors in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and a master’s in 2011. He is an Oklahoma native and a member of the Cherokee Nation.

 

Edgar Blatchford portrait

Edgar Blatchford

Edgar Blatchford
Associate Professor,
Department of Journalism and Public Communications,
University of Alaska Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska

Results-oriented public servant with a passion for the entrepreneurial spirit who has successfully lead multi-divisional State of Alaska departments in the implementation of the Governor of Alaska’s management plans and strategies in full cooperation and coordination with the Alaska Congressional Delegation.  Successfully communicated and interacted with numerous rural and urban profit and non-profit organizations and local governments during a 25 year-plus career in public policy positions.  Testified before committees of the United States Congress and the Alaska State Legislature with passion and vision.  Managed $100-plus million departments and supervised through division directors hundreds of employees under two different Alaska governors.  Small town businessperson with the entrepreneurial spirit to create the largest weekly newspaper chain in Alaska.

EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS

Kathy Chow

Kathy Chow

Kathy Chow
Executive Director
Asian American Journalists Association
San Francisco, CA

Kathy has over ten years of experience in program development and nonprofit management with various non-profit agencies. Prior to coming to AAJA, Kathy was the Director for Hands On Sacramento, a volunteer action center that provided volunteer opportunities in three counties.

Kathy also worked for six years as a public affairs representative for The Sacramento Bee where she was in charge of their employee volunteer program, managing charitable contribution, special projects, and the development of client relations with businesses such as the Asian, Hispanic, Black and Metro Chambers. Kathy has also consulted with companies such as VSP and lead workshops on multicultural marketing. Kathy is certified by the Newspaper Association of America as a Diversity Facilitator, and has served on the advisory council for the National Corporate Volunteer Council and the National Hands On Schools Council for Hands On Network & Points of Light Institute.

 

Adam K. Pawlus

Adam K. Pawlus

Adam K. Pawlus
Executive Director
National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

Prior to joining NLGJA, Pawlus served the Physicians for Social Responsibility as its Director of Operations and at the Voluntary Protections Programs Participants’ Association as the Deputy Executive Director after he was the Director of Communications & Outreach. Pawlus serves on the NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Board of Directors and is an active member of many non-profit organizations in the DC area. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Georgia at Athens.

 

Rebecca Landsberry

Rebecca Landsberry
Executive Director
Native American Journalists Association

Rebecca Landsberry graduated with a degree in Public Relations with a minor in Native American Studies from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

After working as an intern with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Judicial Branch for three summers, she was hired as senior writer for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Communications Department in 2008. Landsberry was later promoted as the youngest editor in Muscogee Nation News history at 23 where she served for five more years in tribal media. In addition to her duties as editor, she co-hosted the tribe’s weekly 30-minute talk radio program, Mvskoke Radio.

Under her management, the MNN doubled production and became a semimonthly, award-winning newspaper in 2008. She also led the editorial division in the creation and development of a social media presence.  During that time, she served on the Native American Journalists Association Board of Directors as secretary in 2013.

Landsberry joined NAJA full-time as the membership and communications manager in April 2013 where she has worked to increase membership from 270 to more than 400 in 2015.  She has worked with NAJA staff and volunteers to deliver programs and services including the annual Native Media Summit in Norman, Oklahoma and National Native Media Conferences in Tempe, Arizona and Santa Clara, California.

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