Leaders from both the journalism and national service worlds have come together around this big vision. Report for America co-founders Charles Sennott and Steven Waldman are both nationally known, veteran journalists and social entrepreneurs dedicated to saving journalism. RFA is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists, plus a top-flight advisory board of leaders in journalism and service.
Co-Founder & President
Steve crafted the plan for Report for America after authoring the Federal Communications Commission landmark report “Information Needs of Communities,” which NPR described as “one of the most comprehensive overviews of the US media ever produced.” An experienced entrepreneur, he co-founded the multifaith religion website Beliefnet.com, which won the National Magazine Award, and LifePosts.com, a platform for online memorials. Earlier, he was National Editor of US News & World Report and National Correspondent for Newsweek. He was Senior Advisor to the CEO of the Corporation for National Service and wrote a book on the creation of AmeriCorps (The Bill). He also wrote the national bestseller, Founding Faith.
Reach Steve by email at email@example.com.
Co-Founder & GroundTruth CEO
Charlie is the Founder and CEO of The GroundTruth Project, and has been building the prototype for Report for America in several newsrooms across the country. A longtime reporter, editor and entrepreneur, Sennott served as Boston Globe Middle East bureau chief before he co-founded the award-winning international news organization GlobalPost and then founded The GroundTruth Project, which is based at WGBH in Boston. He is an award-winning foreign correspondent and a pioneering social entrepreneur. In response to the collapse of foreign coverage, he co-founded GlobalPost in 2008, which trained, edited and fielded a stellar team of freelance correspondents all over the world. The team won the George Foster Peabody Award, the Polk Award and the RFK Award for Human Rights. Sennott launched GroundTruth in 2014 to broaden the commitment to training the next generation of journalists. Sennott has reported on wars and insurgencies in 15 countries, and served as the Boston Globe’s Special Projects reporter, Middle East Bureau Chief and Europe Bureau Chief. Before that, he was a local reporter for the New York Daily News.
Reach Charlie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Kleman, National Director
Kim has an esteemed career as an editorial leader and teacher. She served as Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Reports, one of the largest nonprofit media organizations in the country, and Editor-in-Chief of The American Lawyer. She started her career in local news, working first as a reporter at the Tampa Tribune and then as a reporter and ultimately the city editor at the St. Petersburg Times. She is an adjunct associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she has taught investigative skills, reporting and consumer reporting, and has directed honors theses for graduate students in print, digital, broadcast and radio concentrations. Kleman is also the co-author of a book, to be published next year by MIT University Press, on how to achieve diversity in the workplace. She has also served as a judge and interviewer for Report for America. She is based in our headquarters in New York.
Reach Kim by email at email@example.com.
Alison Bethel McKenzie, Director of Corps Excellence
Alison is an award-winning journalist and experienced non-profit media executive. She has more than 35 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, bureau chief, senior editor, media trainer and executive director. She has worked in senior-level positions at The Boston Globe, The Detroit News, Poughkeepsie Journal, Legal Times and the Nassau Guardian in The Bahamas and as a reporter and junior editor at several other publications. She served as Washington Bureau Chief for The Detroit News from 2001 to 2006. Bethel McKenzie is a former executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists and of the International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria. From July 2016-May 2017, Bethel McKenzie was visiting professor of print and investigative journalism at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media in Bangalore, India. She also spent a year (2008-2009) in Accra, Ghana, for the International Center for Journalists, as a Knight International Journalism Fellow. Bethel McKenzie has lobbied on behalf of press freedom and jailed journalists in more than 70 countries over the course of the past 12 years. Bethel McKenzie is a native of Miami and resides in Washington, D.C.
Reach Alison by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Todd Franko, Director of Local Sustainability and Development
Todd Franko is RFA director of Local Sustainability and Development. He served as editor of The Vindicator from 2007 until it closed in August 2019. He previously was an editor at the Rockford Register Star in Illinois, the Sandusky Register, the Post-Tribune, the Columbus Telegram and the Corning Leader. His Ohio newsrooms won first place General Excellence awards in competitions in 2014, 2013, 2002, 2001 and 1999.
Franko has also been an active civic leader and fundraiser for local causes, as board member of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Youngstown; founder of The Simeon Booker Group, dedicated to honoring famed Civil Rights journalist Simeon Booker; co-founder of The NewsOutlet, an Ohio journalism collaborative of 5 universities and 5 professional media organizations; and a founder of the “Greatest Golfer of the Valley” franchise that every summer engages 3,300 golfers.
When not doing any of this, you can find him playing hockey, golf, jarts or Spikeball or just hiking the Ohio-Pennsylvania woods.
He’s a son of Buffalo, NY. His wife is a teacher and his 3 sons are all in college.
Reach Todd by email at email@example.com
Ashley Garrett, Editorial Assistant
Ashley is a recent journalism graduate from the University of Central Florida. She has previously held positions as a reporter, writer and editor with the Orlando Business Journal, WMFE 90.7 (NPR), WKMG News 6 (CBS), and more. As editorial assistant, Garrett works alongside RFA’s president and national director in facilitating RFA’s interview and judging process for potential newsrooms and corps members. She also assists with planning the annual training week for corps members and creating social media content. Garrett is based in our headquarters in New York.
Reach Ashley by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman Parish, Director of Recruitment
Norman Parish III, who over a three-decade career has worked in newsrooms in seven states, including as a metro editor in Chicago newsrooms, is Report for America’s Director of Recruitment.
Most recently, Parish was the metro editor at the Daily Southtown, a Tribune Publishing Co. newspaper covering parts of Chicago’s South Side and suburbs. Before that he was an assistant metro editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was also a reporter at the Sun-Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Arizona Republic, (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Milwaukee Journal, Post-Tribune (Northwest Indiana), and the Jackson (Tennessee) Sun. He also worked for several African-American publications including the Chicago Citizen newspapers, the St. Louis American and contributed to the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. He is active in the National Association of Black Journalists, among other organizations, and has taught workshops for journalism students and helped high school journalists start a newspaper.
Reach Norman by email at email@example.com
Rachel Rohr, Director of Training and Service
Rachel is a journalist, editor, podcast producer and digital strategist. She has worked as managing editor of The GroundTruth Project, where the projects she led received a National Murrow Award, five Regional Murrow Awards and an Online Journalism Award. She was a public radio journalist for several years, including running the digital side of the NPR show Here & Now. Rachel was a 2018-19 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she focused on new approaches to news for teenagers. She’s an alumna of the 2016 ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Rachel started her journalism career as a local newspaper reporter on Martha’s Vineyard. Her past adventures include living on a small sailboat and being a Vatican City tour guide. Rachel is based in Milwaukee.
Reach Rachel by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Douglas Grant, VP Strategic Initiatives
Kevin is Co-founder and Executive Editor of The GroundTruth Project. Previously Senior Editor of Special Reports at GlobalPost, he has led reporting projects around the world and his work has been recognized by the Edward R. Murrow, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University, Overseas Press Club and Online News Association awards. He holds an M.A. at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, where he was founding Executive Editor of its pioneering news organization Neon Tommy. Grant is the former Operations Director of semantic news analyzer Inform.com and an alum of DePaul University. He is currently based in Washington, D.C.
Reach Kevin by email at email@example.com.
Maggie Messitt, Senior Advisor
Maggie has worked as a journalist, editor, and social entrepreneur inside underserved communities in rural South Africa and the American Midwest. In South Africa, she was the editor/publisher of an award-winning community newspaper and the founding director of a nonprofit focused on training women journalists inside the former Apartheid-era homelands of Lebowa & Gazankulu. In the United States, Messitt spearheaded the launch of Wisconsin Public Television’s first digital engagement site and managed multimedia storytelling projects aimed at localizing national issues. She also joined forces with the Writers in Prisons Project, the WI Department of Corrections, and UW—Madison’s MFA program to launch nonfiction workshops for minimum/medium security prisoners. She is also the author of The Rainy Season, longlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. Messitt joined Report for America as National Director and grew the initiative from 3 reporters in Appalachia to 61 in 50 newsrooms across the country. She currently serves as Senior Advisor to the RFA leadership team and is the first Mellon Fellow at Denison University’s Center for Narrative Journalism. She is based in Pittsburgh.
Reach Maggie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanne Heyman, Senior Advisor
Joanne, Founder and CEO of Heyman Partners, is a internationally-respected strategic advisor in the “pro-social” space. Previously, she was the founding Executive Director of the Urban Zen Foundation, Executive Director of The International Center in New York, Vice President of the Corporation of Yaddo, Managing Director of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, and a senior advisor to The Goldman Sachs Foundation and the American Jewish World Service.
The GroundTruth Project
GroundTruth is dedicated to supporting the next generation of correspondents to tell the most important stories of our time. Over the last five years, GroundTruth has awarded 150 reporting fellowships to top, young journalists to carry out team reporting projects around the world and across the U.S.
GroundTruth has pioneered unique training and reporting approaches, both nationally and internationally, that pair journalists with local reporters. The projects have won the National Edward R. Murrow Award, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, the Overseas Press Club Award and shared in the Online Journalism Award. GroundTruth reporting fellows have gone on to work at The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, CBS News, Politico, 60 Minutes, VICE and other prominent news organizations.
GroundTruth’s editorial operations are led by Co-Founder and Executive Editor Kevin Grant, who brings a unique skill set for leading innovative digital journalism projects, in-the-field training and cross-cultural reporting teams. Grant will bring that experience to Report for America.