Freedom Forum announces 2023 Chips Quinn Journalism Fellows

The Freedom Forum, a Washington-based nonprofit focused on promoting First Amendment awareness, today announced its 2023 class of fellows for the Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism, an annual initiative that provides mentorship and training for early career journalists. Among them are Report for America corps members, Gabriel Poblete, The City, and Megan Sayles, AFRO News.

Megan Sayles

Founded in 1991, the Chips Quinn program pairs a group of early career journalists from underrepresented communities with veteran journalists who are alumni of the Chips Quinn program. Through in-person gatherings, individual meetings with their mentors as well as panels and training sessions provided by the Freedom Forum, each fellow gets hands-on career education to improve their “power skills,” including communication, leadership, collaboration, work/life sustainability, personal development, inclusivity and allyship.

This year’s mentorship program begins on Oct. 20 and runs nine weeks through mid-December. From Oct. 20-22, the fellows will convene at Freedom Forum headquarters to meet their mentors, determine their goals for the program, attend panels on succeeding in the media industry as well as receive training on press freedom, self-advocacy and newsroom diversity, equity and inclusion. The program also includes virtual one-on-one check-ins with their mentors, additional training on issues like burnout and workplace civility and will conclude with a closing ceremony in December.

Gabriel Poblete

This year’s Chips Quinn class is comprised of 13 early career journalists nominated by eight prominent media organizations that partnered with the Freedom Forum to identify a cohort of fellows. This year’s media partners are Journalism Funding Partners, NPR’s Next Generation Radio, the Public Media Journalists Association, Report for America, The Marshall Project, The Texas Tribune, USA TODAY, and WABE. Since its inception, the Chips Quinn Scholars program has produced more than 1,400 alums. All program expenses are covered by the Freedom Forum, and fellows and mentors each receive a $2,000 stipend.

The Freedom Forum is proud to welcome the following fellows to the class of 2023:

Tammy Galarza, a Marshall Project inside associate (nominated by The Marshall Project, paired with Francisco Vara-Orta, director of Diversity and Inclusion, Investigative Reporters and Editors, CQS class of 2006)

Brian Lopez, a Texas Tribune public education reporter (nominated by The Texas Tribune, paired with Isabel Lohman, education reporter, Bridge Michigan, CQS class of 2019)

shaylyn martos, who spells their name in lowercase, a newsroom associate producer for YR Media, a nonprofit media organization that provides youth journalism internships in Oakland, Calif. (nominated by NPR’s Next Generation Radio, paired with Tracie Hunte, correspondent/producer, WNYC Studios, CQS class of 2002)

Cheyenne McNeill, a contributor for EducationNC, a nonprofit newsroom in Raleigh, N.C., (nominated by NPR’s Next Generation Radio, paired with Nereida Moreno, digital equity reporter, LAist, CQS class of 2015) 

Marisa Mecke, an environment reporter for WABE in Atlanta (nominated by WABE, paired with Jordan Gass-Pooré, independent investigative journalist and podcast producer/creator, CQS class of 2014)

Gautama Mehta, a climate reporter for The (Macon, Ga.) Telegraph (nominated by Journalism Funding Partners, paired with Adam Kealoha Causey, assistant news director for Texas and Oklahoma, The Associated Press, CQS class of 2006)

Jordan Mendoza, a trending and breaking news reporter who covers sports for USA TODAY (nominated by USA TODAY, paired with Tyler Davis, breaking news editor, The Dallas Morning News, CQS class of 2015)

Di’Amond Moore, a photo editor for USA TODAY (nominated by USA TODAY, paired with Kainaz Amaria, national visual enterprise editor, The Washington Post, CQS class of 2007)

Maria Palma, an underserved communities reporter for KUNR in Reno, Nev., (nominated by Public Media Journalists Association, paired with Blanca Torres, producer and reporter, KQED, CQS class of 2001)

Gabriel Poblete, a reporter covering New York State government agencies and immigration for The City, a nonprofit media outlet in New York City (nominated by Report for America, paired with Khristopher J. Brooks, reporter, CBS MoneyWatch, CQS class of 2006)

Megan Sayles, a business reporter for The Afro-American Newspapers in Baltimore (nominated by Report for America, paired with Meena Thiruvengadam, founder and editor-in-chief,, CQS class of 2003)

Taylor Velazquez, a poverty and public health reporter for KUNM News in Albuquerque, N.M., (nominated by the Public Media Journalists Association, paired with Mariana Dale, senior K-12 education reporter, LAist, CQS class of 2015)

Allyson Waller, a newsletter writer for The Texas Tribune (nominated by The Texas Tribune, paired with Emma Carew Grovum, director of Careers and Culture, The Marshall Project, CQS class of 2009)

“The Chips Quinn program is tapping into its vast alumni network to provide mentorship and training to the next generation of journalists. In our diverse nation, newsrooms should represent the communities they serve,” said Patty Rhule, vice president and chief content officer for the Freedom Forum. “We’re supporting freedom of the press by providing this training to the emerging talent we see throughout the journalism industry. We thank our media partners and mentors for helping make the Chips Quinn program possible.”

The Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism was founded by John C. Quinn and his wife, Loie, in 1991 as a memorial to their eldest son John C. “Chips” Quinn Jr. Chips Quinn was the editor of The Poughkeepsie Journal when he died in 1990 at age 34. The elder Quinn was the founding editor of USA TODAY, a former president of Gannett News Service and deputy chairman of the Freedom Forum. Quinn died in 2017 in Rhode Island. He was 91.

About the Freedom Forum: Established on July 4, 1991, by USA TODAY founder Al Neuharth, the Freedom Forum is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) foundation dedicated to fostering First Amendment freedoms for all. As the nation’s foremost advocate for First Amendment freedoms, the Freedom Forum engages thousands of Americans each year in classes, conversations and celebrations of these essential rights, including through the Power Shift Project, the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, the Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism, the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, the Free Expression Awards, the annual “Where America Stands” survey, the Journalists Memorial and Today’s Front Pages.

About Report for America: Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities across the United States and its territories. By creating a new, sustainable model for journalism, Report for America provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and restore trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.