First-Year Advisory Board Members

Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

In its first year, the NC Local News Workshop is grateful for the support of 26 advisory board members from across North Carolina, who will help us see and understand community information needs and opportunities across the state and help us build support — and ways to provide support — across the local news ecosystem.

Erica Allison is CEO and owner of Formation PR + Brand, a full-service public relations and branding firm in Hendersonville, North Carolina, with clients working in healthcare, nonprofit management, public health, higher education and the legal field.


Robert G. Anthony Jr. is curator of UNC’s North Carolina Collection at the university’s Wilson Library, and also serves as director of the library’s N.C. Digital Heritage Center (DigitalNC), a statewide digitization and digital publishing program that works with cultural heritage institutions of all sizes across North Carolina to digitize and publish historic materials online.

Leslie Boney is North Carolina State University’s vice provost for outreach and engagement and director of the university’s Institute for Emerging Issues, leading efforts to identify issues of importance to the state and develop consensus (through convenings and dialogue) for action and solutions.

Vanessa Bravo is associate professor of strategic communications and chair of the Department of Strategic Communications at Elon University’s School of Communications. In addition to her work in journalism research, publishing of journal articles, and education, Bravo was a journalist and editor in Costa Rica.

Paul Cuadros is associate professor at UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, an award-winning investigative journalist and author, and chair and executive director of the UNC Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a three-year mentoring and college preparatory program between UNC students and Latino high school students at six area high schools.

Seth Ervin is the chief innovation officer for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, which is a partner and web host of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative involving several local media organizations. He provides strategic direction for the library’s innovation activities, which includes maker spaces, community media, and programming partnership development.

Lariza Garzón is executive director of the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry (EFwM). Garzón has been working with farmworker communities since 2004, when she was in college at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. She is passionate about food production systems and farmworker justice, and EFwM has been actively working to support workers and families amid the COVID-19 crisis and the aftermath of recent natural disasters in Eastern North Carolina.

Cierra Hinton is co-director of strategy and operations for Press On, a Southern Media collective that catalyzes change and advances justice through the practice of movement journalism, and executive director/publisher of Scalawag magazine, a journalism and storytelling organization serving the South. She also holds national leadership positions in LION, an organization of independent digital news publishers, and the Facebook Journalism Project.

Deborah Holt-Noel is host and producer for UNC-TV’s programs Black Issues Forum and North Carolina Weekend. She also hosts Black Issues Forum discussions on the UNC-TV Facebook pages, including a series that focused on 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests and the road to progress.

Tamara Jeffries is associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism & Media Studies at Bennett College. Jeffries is experienced in journalism education, freelance and magazine editing. An experienced writer and editor, her work has been published widely in national and regional publications, and she held several executive roles, including executive editor of Essence magazine and editor in chief of HealthQuest magazine.

Ju-Don Marshall is chief content officer and executive vice president for WFAE, an NPR public radio station serving the Charlotte region. She has held executive roles at The Washington Post and News Corp., co-founded a media startup, and directed the Center for Cooperative Media’s efforts to foster collaboration and innovation in New Jersey’s news ecosystem, while also holding a variety of leadership roles in national professional and industry organizations. She is currently launching Story Mosaic, a collaborative reporting platform to help the community partner with local newsroom to shape reporting.

Fiona Morgan is a journalist/researcher and consultant for Branchhead Consulting and former journalism program director at the nonprofit organization Free Press. She authored “Learning from North Carolina,” a 2017 report exploring the state’s landscape of local news, and works extensively on projects and with a variety of local, national and international organizations addressing gaps and connections linking local news, community building, research and policy.

Phillip Napoli is a professor of public policy and associate dean for faculty and research at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He also is professor of Duke’s International Comparative Studies Program and associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. His research explores media and democracy, and also has focused on local news access, quality and financial models. 

Nick Ochsner is the investigative executive producer at WBTV in Charlotte. Ochsner is an Elon alumnus with experience in investigative and local TV in Texas and Virginia as well as North Carolina. He is one of the founders of the reporter-led investigative news collaboration, the NC Watchdog Reporting Network, with television, public radio and print media partners.

Orage Quarles III is board chairman of the McClatchy Journalism Institute and member of the Freedom Forum board. He served as publisher of newspapers in California and South Carolina for Gannett and McClatchy before moving to North Carolina as publisher and president of The News & Observer of Raleigh. Quarles won widespread industry recognition for his leadership in those roles and in industry organizations.

Fran Scarlett is chief knowledge officer and business coach for the Institute for Nonprofit News, a national support organization offering services and support to more than 250 nonprofit, nonpartisan independent media organizations. She specializes in helping organizations understand and leverage their value propositions to build business models that maximize their potential for revenue growth and long-term sustainability. Based in Wilmington, Scarlett also served as regional director of the Small Business & Technology Development Center at UNC-Wilmington.

Michael Schoenfeld is vice president for public affairs and government relations and chief communication officer at Duke University, where he also is a visiting professor of the practice in public policy. He has extensive experience leading external affairs for complex and highly visible global institutions in the public and nonprofit sectors, include the Voice of America, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Vanderbilt University.

Sarah Sloan is the Morehead City-based producer for Shoresides, a civic journalism lab, media producer, and training program launched by journalists in coastal and rural North Carolina to tell stories from the region following Hurricane Florence in 2018. Sloan, whose work is done in partnership with Working Narratives in Wilmington, is experienced in youth journalism, documentary, podcasting, and rural and community media.

Monique Smalls is a communications director at LabCorp, where she also worked as a project manager in corporate marketing services. Smalls, who began her career as an award-winning reporter at The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is experienced in corporate communications, strategic communications, leadership communications, and social media.

David Squires is a journalism lecturer at North Carolina A&T State University, and is a board member and editing instructor at the Sports Journalism Institute. A veteran journalist, he is contributing writer for ESPN’s The and works as an editor in McClatchy’s Charlotte-based publishing center.

Pat Stith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter known best for his high-impact work over decades for The News & Observer of Raleigh, where he and reporter Joby Stith reported on industrial pork production in the 1995 series “Boss Hog: NC’s Pork Revolution,” earning the newspaper the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service. Following his retirement from the N&O, Stith continues to speak and advise on investigative journalism, and launched a blog.

Ryan Thornburg is an associate professor of journalism at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and visiting lecturer in digital media at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. At UNC, he inaugurated the Carolina Data Desk and is a go-to advisor for North Carolina reporters pursuing data journalism questions.

Robyn Tomlin is president and editor of The News & Observer/Herald-Sun and Southeast Regional Editor for McClatchy. She has held senior roles at the Dallas Morning News, the former Digital First newspapers, and the Wilmington StarNews, among others, and worked in leadership positions at the Pew Research Center.

Keven Zepezauer is president, CEO and publisher for Restoration News Media and the Wilson Times. Zepezauer has pursued business innovation to reduce costs and advance community journalism, and has facilitated the purchase of 12 newspapers and one digital media company since his tenure began in Wilson. Restoration Media created a media services divisional hub handling pagination and ad production, website division, business office division, consulting firm and management services for community newspaper clients in North Carolina and other states.

Karin Zipf is professor of history at East Carolina University, where she joined the faculty in 2001. Her interests lie in American history and the study of gender, sexuality and race relations in the 19th and early 20th-century American South. She is the author of “Labor of Innocents: Forced Apprenticeship in North Carolina, 1715-1919” (2005) and “Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory” (2016), winner of the Jules and Francis Landry Award in Outstanding Southern Studies and the Fred T. Ragan Old North State Award for Non-Fiction. Her current book project is about farmworkers in the southeastern migrant stream during the 1980s.

Ex officio

Lizzy Hazeltine is the fund coordinator for the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund, which funds the North Carolina Local News Workshop. Since 2018, the fund has invested $1.6 million in N.C.’s local news and information ecosystem through 54 grants. Prior, Hazeltine worked in venture capital, software startups, and journalism and media, including the startup phase of Scalawag magazine and ExitEvent. She also coaches teams in the UNC Knight Table Stakes Initiative.

Elon University

Rochelle L. Ford is dean and professor of strategic communications at Elon University’s School of Communications.



 Anthony Hatcher is professor of journalism and chair of the journalism department at Elon University’s School of Communications.


Melanie Sill is executive director of the North Carolina Local News Workshop.