The Buckeye Flame is Ohio's only LGBTQ+ newsroom. Our mission is to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our experiences, triumphs and struggles.
Mariah Thomas covers education and workforce development in Ashland, Ohio, for the Ashland Source. Thomas recently completed her bachelor's in journalism and political science at the University of Montana, where she served on the editorial board of the student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin. At the Kaimin, Thomas focused on gender discrimination lawsuits, sports, budget cuts and the state Legislature's impact on college students. She was part of a team that produced "In the Crosshairs," a project funded by the Poynter Institute to examine a bill in Montana that would have put guns on college campuses. While at the University of Montana, Thomas traveled to Northern Ireland with the school's Journalism Abroad program and reported on domestic violence rates there. She served on her school's Accessibility, Equity and Inclusion Student Council. Thomas completed an internship with her hometown newspaper, the Helena Independent Record, where she covered everything from education to music festivals. That internship also gave Thomas a chance to work with the Montana State News Bureau, one of the leading newsrooms covering Montana politics, where she produced a series looking at the Democratic party's future in the state following its down-ballot losses in the 2020 election. Thomas values community service, and worked as the president of her university's Honors Student Association to coordinate volunteer opportunities for her peers in Missoula.
Kevin Chill Heard covers social equity stories in the Greater Cleveland area for The Land. A lifelong journalist, he is completing his second term as President of the Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists. He is Executive Director of the nonprofit My Cool Solutions Inc. and worked at the Call and Post newspaper as an award-winning entertainment editor, Managing Editor and General Manager.
Heard has appeared on news stations WKYC, WEWS, FOX 8, WVIZ, WOIO and PBS radio station WNPR. During the summer he is an adjunct instructor at Case Western Reserve University. Known as Cleveland’s pioneering rap artist M.C. Chill, he attended Cleveland’s John F Kennedy High School, (and inducted into its Hall of Fame) and Kent State University. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, he has served as Assistant Editor of its International publication, the Kappa Journal. Heard is also co-founder of the Los Angeles-based African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA).
The Land was created in 2020 to report on Cleveland’s neighborhoods, economy and local government, delivering in-depth stories that foster accountability, inform the community, and inspire people to take action. This nonprofit started with a free website and a newsletter, and today it has built a diverse board, fostered community partnerships, welcomed thousands of subscribers, created an internship program and reporting fellowship for journalists of color, and published hundreds of stories.
Grant Ritchey covers education and the growing workforce for Knox Pages, a digital news organization serving residents of Knox County, in central Ohio. Prior to joining Knox Pages, Ritchey was a general assignment reporter for the Ashland Times-Gazette based in Ashland, Ohio, for which he reported and wrote features on sex trafficking, catalytic converter thefts, county and local government, crime, courts, new businesses, and on important and overlooked members of the community. While enrolled at Ohio University, Ritchey worked at the student-run news publication, The Post. There, he gained experience in meeting coverage, breaking news, investigative reporting, and feature writing. Ritchey interned at The Borgen Project, a nonprofit that addresses global poverty, where he wrote reports on internet access, clean drinking water and the steps being taken toward solving those issues.
Mandy Kraynak covers economic development for The Land, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on in-depth solutions journalism in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Before returning to northeast Ohio, where she grew up, Kraynak was managing editor at The Daily Orange, an independent, student-run newspaper in Syracuse, New York. She also worked as a culture editor, assistant feature editor, assistant copy editor and staff writer at The Daily Orange, writing feature stories on arts and culture. She has freelanced for publications such as The South Side Stand in Syracuse and The Devil Strip in Akron, Ohio, and studied journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Nathan Hart covers education and workforce development in Ashland, Ohio for Ashland Source, a digital news organization serving residents of Ashland County in north central Ohio. Before joining Ashland Source, Nathan worked on Capitol Hill and covered the Texas delegation of Congress for McClatchy DC and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as an intern reporter. Prior to that, Nathan worked in the Ohio statehouse as a statehouse news fellow for Cincinnati-based news station WCPO. Nathan’s journalism career started in high school where he worked on his school’s newspaper and weekly news show. Nathan has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio University. He is a member of Phi Betta Kappa and Kappa Tau Alpha, both academic honor societies for college students. In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing video games, performing stand-up comedy, and going to social events.
Peter Gill reports on central Ohio’s immigrant and refugee communities for The Columbus Dispatch. From 2014-2021, Gill was based in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he covered politics, the environment, and human rights issues for the Nepali and international press. He has also reported on housing for two Bronx-based papers in New York City, and produced an episode for the “Queens Memory” podcast about Nepalis living in the Queens borough of New York. Gill was born to American parents living in Kathmandu, and grew up in Nepal. A graduate of Carleton College, Minnesota, with a bachelor’s in history, Gill served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, holds a master’s degree in forestry from the University of Washington and is working towards a master’s from the CUNY Newmark School of Journalism. Gill speaks English and Nepali fluently, and Spanish, Hindi, and Wolof at an intermediate level.
Samantha Hendrickson covers the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio for The Associated Press. Before joining Report for America, she was a general assignment and business reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Hendrickson is a proud alumnus of The Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota’s student-run paper, and covered the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, the trial of Derek Chauvin and the police shooting of Daunte Wright. She also freelanced for The Intercept after discovering that a key witness for the defense in the Chauvin trial had a pending lawsuit against him involving the death of a young Black man. When she isn’t reporting, Hendrickson loves to craft, cook, read, do yoga and create the perfect playlist.
Theo Peck-Suzuki covers childhood poverty in southeast Ohio for WOUB Public Media, a PBS and NPR affiliate based in Athens, Ohio. A recent graduate with a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University, Peck-Suzuki interned with WOUB as a multimedia reporter. Previously, he worked to advance sustainable community development in Appalachian Ohio with the nonprofit Rural Action, and studied cultural anthropology at Brown University and The University of Chicago. His desire to write about people in a way that would be meaningful to those outside the academic world is what led him to become a journalist. In his free time, he writes creatively and plays guitar.