June 2020—
1:00 pm—2:30 pm

This is a series of funder-only online discussions happening Tuesdays and Thursdays in June:

June 9 & 11 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
June 16 & 18 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
June 23 & 25 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET


If you are unable to locate the zoom information of any session, please contact Marie Porter at marie@mediafunders.org.


With the health and safety of our network in mind, we have decided to revise our plans for our upcoming Media Impact Forum. We are converting what would normally have been our daylong funder gathering into six online discussions, which will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in June:

June 9 & 11 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
June 16 & 18 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
June 23 & 25 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Download our interactive program here.


A lot of people are talking about what a new normal will look like in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever we do moving forward, our decisions need to be centered around protecting our planet and its natural resources. This is a wake-up call. It invites us to understand more deeply that we have to align our actions and policies to reflect the imperatives of the natural world. Media can illuminate that relationship and the need to protect the environment.

The effects of climate change are becoming ever more real and dangerous. Though the challenges are great and seemingly insurmountable, we also need to acknowledge that we still have the opportunity to make the right decisions about the future of our natural world. But those decisions need to be determined by evidence-based communications, informed by science.

The media, for its part, has an opportunity to give global warming more prominence in political debates in a critical election year, and beyond. And funders, for their part, are recognizing the need for more and better news coverage of our changing planet, and the role of storytelling in moving audiences to action.

This is an important opportunity for us to convene, and not solely because of the urgency of the challenge that lies before us. The Media Impact Forum, which MIF has been hosting since 2013, offers funders of journalism, documentary film and other media—who seldom cross paths in their everyday work—the chance to come together, deepen learning, and spark innovation and collaboration.

Our sessions throughout the month of June will focus on global reporting collaborations, environmental justice, the latest data in environmental media grantmaking, civic science, the relationship between health and the environment, and much more. And each program will feature inspiring and informative presentations, as well as plenty of time for funders to engage with speakers and offer their own illuminating observations.


Date: Tuesday, June 9 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Session: Climate Now!
Description: In this session, we’ll hear about climate activism, philanthropy’s role in supporting climate media, and global threats to civil society. Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! will interview marine biologist, policy expert and strategist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson about her work to protect the oceans and efforts to help communities to find climate change solutions. We’ll then hear from Academy Award and Emmy-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda about her perspective on the importance of media in climate activism. Goodman will then take the role of interviewee in a dialogue with Alex Jakana, former BBC journalist and current program officer of Global Media Partnerships at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund. Our speakers will discuss the growing threat of extractive industries in bolstering the rise of authoritarian regimes, even as they degrade the environment.


Amy Goodman, journalist and co-host of Democracy Now!

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard honored Goodman with the 2014 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” She is the first co-recipient of the Park Center for Independent Media’s Izzy Award, named for the great muckraking journalist I.F. Stone, and was later selected for induction into the Park Center’s I.F. Stone Hall of Fame. The Independent of London called Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! “an inspiration.” @democracynow

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Founder and CEO, Ocean Collectiv & Founder, Urban Ocean Lab

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, and Brooklyn native. She is founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a strategy consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the future of coastal cities.

Previously, as executive director of the Waitt Institute, Ayana co-founded the Blue Halo Initiative and led the Caribbean’s first successful island-wide ocean zoning effort, resulting in the protection of one-third of Barbuda’s coastal waters. She then led the growth of this initiative, launching it on Curaçao and Montserrat, in partnership with the governments and stakeholders.

Ayana earned a B.A. from Harvard University in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology, with a dissertation on the ecology, socio-economics, and policy of sustainably managing coral reefs. For her research, she was awarded fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Switzer Foundation, and American Association of University Women. The fish trap she invented to reduce bycatch won the first Rare/National Geographic Solution Search. Photo credit: Marcus Branch @ayanaeliza

Jane Fonda, Academy Award-winning actress, producer, author and activist

Jane Fonda is a two-time Academy Award-winning actress (Best Actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home), author, activist, and fitness guru. Her career has spanned over 50 years, accumulating a body of film work that includes over 45 films and crucial work on behalf of political causes such as women’s rights, Native Americans, and the environment. She is a three-time Golden Globe® winner, Honorary Palme d’Or honoree, 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award winner, and the 2019 recipient of the Stanley Kubrick Excellence in Film Award as part of BAFTA’s Britannia Awards. Fonda is currently in production for the seventh and final season of Grace & Frankie, which will be Netflix’s longest running original series. It is for her work on the series that she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2017. She was last seen on the big screen in Paramount’s comedy, Book Club in which she starred alongside Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen. Fonda also premiered Jane Fonda in Five Acts, a documentary for HBO chronicling her life and activism, at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The documentary received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special in 2019. Jane celebrated her 80th birthday by raising $1 million for each of her nonprofits, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and The Women’s Media Center. Currently, Jane is leading the charge on Fire Drill Fridays, a national movement to protest government inaction on climate change. @Janefonda

Alex Jakana, Program Officer, Global Media Partnerships at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Alex Jakana is a program officer for Global Media Partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, Alex helps set up media partnerships for the foundation as well as manage a portfolio of media investments in support of the foundation’s global health and development goals in Africa, India, China, Europe and the US. @Alex_Jakana


Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of Wallace Global Fund

Ellen Dorsey is Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation focused on progressive social change in the fields of environment, democracy, human rights and corporate accountability. Under her leadership, the Fund is recognized for creative philanthropic strategies and mission-related investing. This alignment of programs and investments led the foundation to support the fossil fuel divestment movement since its inception and to launch a new global campaign, Shine, to end energy poverty. Dorsey was awarded the 2016 inaugural Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Brave Philanthropy Award for launching Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of over 170 foundations committed to deploying their investments to address the climate crisis and accelerate the clean energy transition.

Dr. Dorsey came to Wallace Global Fund from a series of academic, philanthropic and non-profit leadership positions in the human rights and environmental fields, including serving as Executive Director at the Rachel Carson Institute, launching the Human Rights and Environment program at Amnesty International, and serving as senior program officer in the Heinz Endowment’s Environment Program.

Additionally, she has served on the board of numerous non-profit organizations promoting human rights and sustainable development, including Greenpeace USA, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United States Human Rights Network, and chair of the board of Amnesty International USA.

Dorsey holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Pittsburgh.  She was a Fulbright Research Fellow in South Africa during that country’s historic transformation. She served on the faculty of several Universities, teaching human rights and environmental sustainability. She has written extensively on effective strategies of non-governmental organizations and social movements. Dorsey is co-author, with Paul J. Nelson, of New Rights Advocacy: Changing Strategies of Development and Human Rights NGOs, Georgetown University Press, 2008. @EllenD35

Date: Thursday, June 11 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Session: Sharing stories from the front lines: Support and security for activists, indigenous communities, and journalists

Description:In this session, we’ll hear about how the Ford Foundation and the National Geographic Society co-created a grant program for journalists and indigenous storytellers in the Global South highlighting ecosystem-scale stories and solutions-oriented attempts to mitigate or reverse human impact on rainforests. Indigenous storyteller Michael McGarrell, a grantee of the new program, will share details about the work he’s producing on the Gayana Rainforest. We’ll also hear about the growing threats facing environmental journalists and activists, and what several organizations—Doc Society, Global Press Institute and WITNESS—are doing to keep them safe.


Tracy Rector, Managing Director, Storytelling, Nia Tero (moderator)

Tracy Rector, Managing Director of Storytelling at Nia Tero Foundation, has a passion for amplifying and empowering Indigenous voices. She brings two decades of experience as a community organizer, educator, filmmaker, film programmer, and arts curator, all infused with her deep roots in plant medicine. For the last 18 years she has directed and produced over 400 films including shorts, features, music videos, and virtual reality projects. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, Seattle Art Museum, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, as well as at international film festivals including Cannes and Toronto. Tracy is in her second term as a Seattle Arts Commissioner, sits on the board of the Mize Foundation, and is the co-founder of Longhouse Media.

Rachael Strecher, Storytelling Grants, Programs and Fellowships at National Geographic

Rachael Strecher is Senior Director for Storytelling at the National Geographic Society, where she leads grants, Fellowships and programs to support photographers, writers, film makers, data visualization experts, cartographers and other storytellers. Prior to her time at National Geographic, she launched and ran the Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellowship, a program designed to bring expert voices from the developing world into the global development discussion. Rachael began her career as a photojournalist in the Middle East, where she covered stories for the Associated Press and other outlets. She has a particular interest in innovative media and expanding the roster of who tells the world’s stories.

Marc Climaco, Strategic Communications Officer, Ford Foundation

Marc Climaco is a strategic communications officer at the Ford Foundation where he leads communications strategy for the foundation’s work on natural resources and climate change, disability inclusion, and the Ford Global Fellows. Previously, he led social media at the national headquarters of the ACLU, and at Human Rights First, where he led content strategy, including producing compelling refugee stories on video for advocacy and fundraising. Marc began his career in campaign communications at the labor union Unite Here.


Michael McGarrell, National Geographic Explorer

Michael Mc Garrell is a member of the Patamona indigenous people and has been working with communities across Guyana – and international advocacy organizations – to raise awareness and influence policy regarding indigenous land security. He is currently a policy advisor, geographer and media coordinator with the Amerindian People’s Association (APA), a national level indigenous coordinating body in Guyana as well as the Coordinator for Human Rights and Policies with the Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Amazon Basin (COICA) an multi-country coordinating body based in Ecuador. Michael manages a team of youth media producers in Guyana, as well as several mapping and monitoring efforts in the region. He has strong relationships with community leaders across the region and is a high-profile voice in both social and national media for indigenous people within Guyana and abroad.

Molly Bingham, founder and Board Chair, Orb Media (moderator)

Molly is the driving force behind Orb. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, photographer and journalist, Molly has covered news and conflicts around the globe. Her work has been featured in leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The Independent, Vanity Fair, and she has appeared on top network and cable television and radio news programs. Named in 2012 by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of “20 Women to Watch,” Molly is at the cutting edge of defining journalism in the digital age, with a unique vision for discovering and covering global stories while making original content accessible and engaging. Molly serves on the board of The Listen Campaign. A graduate of Harvard University, Molly was a Nieman Fellow in 2004 and a 2011 Sulzberger Fellow.

Laxmi Parthasarathy, Chief Operating Officer, Global Press Institute

Laxmi Parthasarathy is the Chief Operating Officer of Global Press. She leads worldwide operations across each Global Press brand, spearheads the global expansion strategy to build new bureaus, and develops new partnership strategies to bolster the organization’s reach and long-term sustainability. Over her career, she has led initiatives at the intersection of media and development in over a dozen countries. Prior to Global Press, Laxmi served as Director of Global Media Partnerships at Ashoka, the world’s largest association of social entrepreneurs.

From 2013 to 2018, Laxmi served on the board of Crossroads International, a leading Canadian international development organization, concluding as vice-chair. In 2019, Laxmi was appointed a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Mentor. In 2018, Laxmi authored a pioneering study, “The Bottom-Up Media Revolution: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Building Trust Between Communities and the Media,” that analyzed data on 200 media innovators across 22 countries. She has lectured widely on social entrepreneurship, media development and the future of journalism, including at Harvard, Oxford, and Georgetown University. Laxmi holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and did her undergraduate studies at Carleton University.

Priscila Neri, Associate Director, Programs, WITNESS

Priscila is a Brazilian journalist and activist. She joined WITNESS in 2008 and currently oversees the organization’s work in Latin America, including our critical response project on using video to demand accountability for police violence in Brazil. From 2011-2014 Priscila helped lead WITNESS’ global campaign on forced evictions, which trained 144 activists and supported 24 advocacy campaigns in Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, India and Mexico. Before coming to WITNESS, Priscila ran the NY office of the Center for Digital Inclusion, worked as a reporter for Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, and shot a documentary about seven incredible women in the dry inlands of northeastern Brazil, where her grandmother was born.

Priscila’s been featured for her work at WITNESS in the New York Times.

Prash Naik, General Counsel, Doc Society, Principal at Prash Naik Consulting

Prash Naik is General Counsel for the Doc Society and the former General Counsel for Channel 4 Television in the UK where he worked for 23 years defending & protecting filmmakers. Prash advises filmmakers on high-risk filming including duty of care and ethical best practice, safety protocols, and cases involving detention, kidnap & ransom. Prash was one of the expert advisors on the Safe & Secure initiative launched by the Doc Funders Network aimed at lowering the legal, physical, psychological and reputational risks taken by independent filmmakers. Prash also helped develop the new Filming in the Time of Corona protocol which helps independent filmmakers navigate the safety, legal and ethical assessments to determine whether they should or could be filming.

Prash now lives in Sydney advising filmmakers across the globe through his Australian law practice Prash Naik Consulting and through the London media law firm Reviewed & Cleared.

Date: Tuesday, June 16 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Session: The Daily Planet: Environmental journalism around the world

Description: Environmental journalism can make a lasting impact on every level – local, regional, national and international. We’ll be hearing about a range of local and regional projects, including Code Red: Baltimore’s Climate Divide, as well as Covering Climate Now, a global coalition of media outlets sharing climate-related content among more than 400 members, including pioneers such as The Guardian. We’ll also hear from Climate Central, a powerful news network that connects scientists and journalists, bringing the latest climate science to a vast audience.

Norris West, Director of Strategic Communications, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Media Impact Funders Board Member (moderator)

As director of strategic communications, Norris West leads a team that works to support the Foundation’s program and capacity-building units in developing messages, tools and communications materials that share our lessons and best ideas.

He is a former journalist who spent the majority of his 23-year journalism career at The Baltimore Sun, covering a broad range of assignments that included legal affairs, nonprofits, business and transportation. Since leaving journalism, he has worked as a communications professional. He has been director of communications at the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Casey Family Programs. In addition, he has served as press secretary at the Corporation for National and Community Service and communications strategist at the U.S. Coast Guard.

Rafael Lorente, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland

Rafael Lorente is the associate dean for academic affairs and the director of the master’s program at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Lorente oversees the college’s curriculum and its award-winning news service. He plays a central role developing partnerships with other units on campus and with news organizations across the country. Previously, he served as director of the Capital News Service Washington, D.C., and Annapolis bureaus. Lorente is a former reporter with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald. As a reporter in Washington for the Sun-Sentinel, Lorente covered the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the attacks of Sept. 11, and U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba. Lorente holds a bachelor’s in politics and public affairs and English from the University of Miami, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland. He lives in University Park, Maryland, with his wife and two daughters.

Joseph Lichterman, Manager of editorial and digital strategy, Lenfest Institute for Journalism

Joseph Lichterman is the Lenfest Institute’s manager of editorial and digital strategy. He writes Solution Set, a weekly newsletter on innovation in journalism and manages the From the Source: Stories of the Delaware River collaborative reporting initiative. Prior to joining the Institute, he was a staff writer at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. He also previously reported for Reuters in its Detroit bureau. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Joseph was editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, the university’s independent student newspaper.


Melissa Davis, Vice President of Strategic Communications & Informed Communities, Gates Family Foundation

Melissa is a former journalist and now Vice President for Strategic Communications and Informed Communities at the Gates Family Foundation. She also serves as Acting Director for the Colorado Media Project, which Gates helped to launch in 2018 in partnership with the University of Denver, business and community partners, and local and national funders. Melissa earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in journalism followed by a decade working professionally as a journalist in print, digital, and public radio. She also has over a decade of experience in nonprofit and government communications, public policy, fundraising, and management. At Gates she manages the foundation’s journalism portfolio and partnerships, and works with peers and grantees to bring greater visibility to the issues of equitable public education, sustainable natural resources, and vibrant communities. She also currently serves on the leadership team for ComNetworkDENVER.

Vince Stehle, Executive Director, Media Impact Funders (moderator)

Before joining Media Impact Funders in 2011 as executive director, Vince was program director for Nonprofit Sector Support at the Surdna Foundation, a family foundation based in New York City. Prior to joining Surdna, Stehle worked for 10 years as a reporter for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, where he covered a broad range of issues about the nonprofit sector. Stehle has served as chairperson of Philanthropy New York and on the governing boards of VolunteerMatch and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). Currently, he serves on the board of directors of the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Rachel White, Executive Vice President of Philanthropic and Strategic Partnerships, Guardian News & Media

Rachel White is president of theguardian.org and executive vice president, philanthropic and strategic partnerships at Guardian News and Media, where she leads and manages a global portfolio of editorially independent reporting projects aimed at critically informing the public and driving measurable impact.

Before joining The Guardian, she served as executive vice president and interim president of the journalism-centered think tank New America Foundation. Working across media, policy, government, the private sector, and philanthropy, she led the organization in advancing new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States and launched engagement platforms including New America NYC and New America Live. Prior to New America, Rachel spent 10 years working across strategy and fundraising at World Wildlife Fund, and worked in the development offices at the League of Women Voters and the National Women’s Law Center.

Jane Spencer, Deputy Editor and Head of Strategy, The Guardian

Jane Spencer is deputy editor and head of strategy at The Guardian US. Previously, she helped launch several journalism startups. She was executive editor of The Daily Beast, editor-in-chief and senior vice president at Fusion Media Group and a launch advisor at The Marshall Project. She started her career as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 2007 for coverage of China’s health and environmental problems.


Mark Hertsgaard, Executive Director of Covering Climate Now

Mark Hertsgaard is the executive director of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism initiative committed to more and better coverage of the climate story. He has covered climate change for 30 years, reporting from 25 countries and much of the US for outlets including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Time, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Bloomberg Businessweek, NPR, the BBC, and The Nation, where he is the environment correspondent. His books include Earth Odyssey: Around the World In Search of Our Environmental Future and HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.


Al Roker, Weather and Feature Anchor, Today and Co-Host of 3rd Hour, TODAY

Al Roker is the weather and feature anchor of NBC News’ TODAY as well as the co-host of third hour of TODAY. He joined in January 1996. From July 2009 to September 2015, Roker served as co-host of the morning show “Wake Up with Al” on the Weather Channel. Until January 2000, he also served as the weekday weather forecaster for News Channel 4’s early evening newscast Live at 5 on WNBC-TV, NBC’s flagship owned and operated station in New York City. Roker came to WNBC-TV as a weekend weathercaster in December 1983 from WKYC-TV, the NBC television station in Cleveland. Roker began his broadcasting career while still in college by landing a job as a weekend weatherman at WTVH-TV in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1974. After graduation he moved on to weathercasting jobs in Washington, D.C. (1976-1978) and Cleveland (1978-1983).

Roker is a member of several professional organizations including the Friars Club, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Meteorological Society.

Raised in Queens, New York, Roker received his B.A. in Communications from the State University at Oswego in 1976, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the school in 1998. He resides in Manhattan with his wife, ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts. Roker has two daughters and one son. (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Ben Strauss, President and CEO of Climate Central

Dr. Benjamin Strauss was elected President and CEO of Climate Central in April 2018 and also serves as Chief Scientist. He is author of numerous scientific papers and reports on sea-level rise and is architect of the Surging Seas suite of maps, tools and visualizations. Strauss has testified before the U.S. Senate and presented to state and local elected officials, and his past work has been cited by the White House and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Surging Seas has earned more than 100 million page views, and with Strauss’s research has generated more than 10,000 appearances in U.S. and international publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, China Daily and The Hindu. He has appeared as an expert on national network news, nationally syndicated radio and documentary television.

In earlier roles at Climate Central, Dr. Strauss served as Chief Scientist, Vice President for Sea Level and Climate Impacts, interim Executive Director and COO. He was a founding board member of Grist.org and the Environmental Leadership Program. Strauss co-organized the 1994 Campus Earth Summit, and consulted to the Nathan Cummings Foundation on higher education and the environment. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Biology from Yale University.

Date: Thursday, June 18 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Session: Environmental media grantmaking: The latest data from MIF

Description: Media Impact Funders is publishing a new report report highlighting trends in environmental media grantmaking. The report’s findings show that funders are increasing their investments in environmental work more broadly, and media focused on the environment, specifically. MIF’s Communications Director Nina Sachdev and research consultant Sarah Armour-Jones will share the top-level findings of the report, which also features essays from colleagues in the field about their support for environmental media. We’ll hear from those funders and engage in a dialogue with them about their work and what they’re seeing in the field.


Nina Sachdev, Communications Director, Media Impact Funders (moderator)

Nina Sachdev brings more than 15 years of journalism, news editing and marketing experience to her role as the communications director for Media Impact Funders. She cut her teeth in journalism at The Dallas Morning News, where—as an intern on the copy desk—she was tasked with editing the obituaries of famous people who hadn’t yet died. Since then, Nina has worked at The Santa Rosa Press DemocratThe Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Weekly in almost every editorial capacity imaginable, including senior editor, A1 editor (when that used to be a thing) and slot (does anyone remember that being a thing?). Nina is the creator and editor of the award-winning The Survivors Project: Telling the Truth About Life After Sexual Abuse, which exposes the reality of healing from the effects of sexual abuse. Nina holds an M.A. in journalism from Temple University.

Sarah Armour-Jones, Research Consultant, Media Impact Funders

Sarah Armour-Jones is a consultant to foundations, nonprofits and academic institutions, with a focus on media and the role it plays in making lasting social change. Aligning strategic planning, communications, creative campaigns, network development, research and community engagement, Sarah help organizations tell meaningful stories and increase their impact. Current and past clients include the Rita Allen Foundation, Media Impact Funders, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Proteus Fund, Wharton Research Data Services at the Wharton School, and Free Press. Prior to her work as a consultant, she served as Special Projects Manager for philanthropist David Haas, Officer of Program Administration at the Pew Charitable Trusts, Editorial Assistant at the British Film Institute and Marketing Director at Free Press. Sarah earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Christie George, Senior Advisor, New Media Ventures, Board Member of Media Impact Funders (moderator)

Christie George is one of the country’s leading experts on investing in mission-driven startups. Formerly the President of New Media Ventures, she has overseen investment into a portfolio of more than 80 nonprofits and for-profits, including Blavity, Indivisible and SwingLeft. Her work centers on fostering an independent, vibrant, and diverse media sector.

Christie started her career at a venture capital firm, spent six years managing sales and marketing for Women Make Movies, and is a co-founder of Louder (acquired by Change.org). She serves on the boards of the Roosevelt Institute, Media Impact Funders and Indivisible.

Christie holds a BA from Yale University and a MBA with distinction from the University of Oxford, where she was a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship and graduated with the Said Prize

Diane Ives, Fund advisor for People, Place and Planet, Kendeda Fund

Diane works at the intersection of issues related to economics, equity, and the environment. She led the creation of, and continues to manage the Environment Program at the Kendeda Fund with a focus on addressing climate change, building community wealth, advancing sustainable design, and expanding equitable innovation in cities. All of Kendeda’s environment-related grantmaking is prioritized to expand prosperity for all within the means of the planet.

Formerly, Diane served as Executive Director at the Beldon Fund, as Program Officer at the Tides Foundation, and consulted with the Putnam Foundation.

A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Mali 1983-1985), Diane is a graduate of Yale University.

Andrew Simon, Director of Leadership Programming, Grist

Andrew has led teams and projects at multiple award-winning media organizations. Since joining Grist in 2013, he has launched several programs, including the Grist journalism fellowship, the Grist 50, and a new Environmental Journalists of Color network. He began his career as a music journalist and held editorial positions at Rolling Stone, VIBE, and Complex Media. In 2008, he switched his focus to sports and joined ESPN The Magazine as a senior editor. In 2012 he became a senior editor at Fast Company, where he oversaw editorial franchises like Fast Talk and the Most Creative People in Business. He is co-author of the book Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR.

Angie Chen, Senior Program Officer, The Libra Foundation

Angie brings deep experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to her work, with particular strengths in nurturing community and building coalitions. She leads Libra’s environmental and climate justice grantmaking and community programs. As founding executive director of the Blue Sky Funders Forum, Angie created and oversaw all aspects of a national funder collaborative focused on expanding equitable access to opportunities to learn, play, and grow outdoors. She previously served as an advisor to the Pisces Foundation during its formation and as program officer at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Angie has also designed and managed grantmaking initiatives at the Pacific Forest & Watershed Lands Stewardship Council and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Angie holds a degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University, and a Master’s in Public Policy from UC Berkeley.

Devon Terrill, Program Officer, Journalism and Media, Stanley Center for Peace and Security

Devon Terrill is an Emmy-nominated media professional and Program Officer for journalism and media at the Stanley Center for Peace and Security, where she leads the center’s work with journalists, editors and visual storytellers who are reporting on topics related to three global peace and security issues: climate change, nuclear weapons, and mass violence and atrocities.  Since joining the Stanley Center in 2015, Terrill has collaborated with media partners around the world to create and carry out reporting trips and fellowships, journalism training and workshops, media forums and other programs designed to foster rigorous and independent journalism on international challenges that cannot be solved by one country or actor alone.  Previously, Terrill developed and produced award-winning documentaries, cable and broadcast series, feature films and other media content for outlets such as HBO, Showtime, The Sundance Channel, A&E, Fox Searchlight, Visa, and Amnesty International.

Meaghan Calcari Campbell, Program Officer, Marine Conservation Initiative, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Meaghan’s primary work focuses on bringing together diverse interests in Canada to resolve conflict and ensure a healthy ocean and sustainable communities. Before helping launch the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s marine conservation initiative in 2004, she was at Conservation International, where she evaluated community-based conservation and economic development projects in Southeast Asia. She has facilitated the Biodiversity Funders Group’s marine conservation funder working group. Meaghan also served on the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy’s San Francisco Bay Area steering committee and as board secretary for Environment Funders Canada. She currently serves on the board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association. She is an alumna of the Council on Foundations’ Career Pathways program and the Justice Funders’ Harmony Initiative. Meaghan received her B.S. in environmental science and psychology from the University of Notre Dame, Master of Environmental Management from Duke University, and M.B.A. in community economic development from Cape Breton University.

Joya Banerjee, Program Director, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Joya joined the Foundation in 2009, and she oversees the Foundation’s Environment Program. Joya works with the Environment team to advance water management and land stewardship in California, with a particular focus on advancing integrated solutions, building field capacity, and developing new partnerships. Prior to joining the Foundation, Joya was an attorney at Latham & Watkins and worked for the City of New York, first with the Mayor’s Office of Operations and later with the Economic Development Division of the Law Department. Joya graduated from the University of Southern California, and she received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School. Joya currently serves on a range of advisory boards; she is a board member for the newly formed state California Water Data Consortium and the San Francisco-based 826 Valencia.


Date: Tuesday, June 23 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Session: Taken for granted: Looking at our relationship with the planet

Description: In this session, National Geographic photographer, researcher and explorer Pete Muller will share stories around the concept of solastalgia, a sense of emotional distress people feel when they lose their home environment. Building on that premise, we’ll then turn to a conversation with climate activists and storytellers Michael Premo and Vic Barrett, on the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy and how it ignited their activism. Lastly, Kaitlin Yarnall, National Geographic’s Chief Storytelling Officer, and Tim Isgitt Managing Director of Humanity United—both members of the Board of Directors of Media Impact Funders—will talk with investigative journalist Ian Urbina about his book Outlaw Ocean and the multi-platform media strategies associated with the book. The Outlaw Ocean project is a journalistic exploration of lawlessness at sea around the world, a part of the environment that has been greatly disrupted by the impacts of climate change.


Kaitlin Yarnall, Chief Storytelling Officer, National Geographic Society, Media Impact Funders Board Member (moderator)

As senior vice president and chief storytelling officer at the National Geographic Society, Kaitlin Yarnall is responsible for expanding the organization’s impact through all forms of storytelling. Yarnall oversees a creative team that produces impact-driven media and identifies key partnership, grantmaking, and fellowship opportunities. Yarnall began her career at the Society in 2005 as a cartographer. She has assumed a variety of management roles including deputy director of National Geographic Labs, executive director at National Geographic magazine, and director of cartography. Yarnall has an M.A. in geography from The George Washington University. She specializes in storytelling, data visualization, information graphics, cartography, and visual narratives.

Pete Muller, Photographer, National Geographic Society

Pete Muller is an American photographer and researcher based between the United States and Amman, Jordan. His work focuses on masculinities, conflict and human ecology. His ongoing project, A Tale of Two Wolves: A Study of Men and Behavior, examines the interplay between notions of masculinity, male experience and violence. He has worked in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and elsewhere. He is a contributing photographer to National Geographic MagazineTIME Magazine, and the Washington Post and has received awards from World Press Photo, the Overseas Press Club, TIME Magazine, Magnum Photos, Pictures of the Year International and others. He is currently the National Geographic Photography Fellow on Men, Masculinity and Behavior and formerly served as the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor of International Relations at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Michael Premo, Executive Producer, Storyline

Michael Premo is a journalist and artist whose film, radio, theater, and photo-based work has been exhibited and broadcast in the United States and abroad. He is co-founder and executive producer of Storyline, an organization dedicated to building power with story and strategy. Recent projects include the co-writing the performance Sanctuary, commissioned by the Working Theatre; the award-winning short film Water Warriors (POV); the multi-platform project 28th Amendment: Housing is a Human Right (Project Row Houses); and the participatory documentary Sandy Storyline (Tribeca Film Festival’s 2013 inaugural StoryScapes Award). He consults on participatory documentary, impact strategy, and civic engagement through Storyline and the Interaction Institute for Social Change. He has participated in civic artist-in-residencies with The Laundromat Project and the National Resource Defense Council. Michael is on the Board of Trustees of A Blade of Grass and The Center for Story Based Strategy. He is the recipient of a Creative Capital Award, A Blade of Grass Artist Files Fellowship, and a NYSCA Individual Artist Award.

Vic Barrett, Democracy Organizer, Alliance for Climate Education

Vic is a Democracy Organizer for ACE in the state of Wisconsin. Based in Madison, he is proud to get the opportunity to encourage young people to exercise their right to vote and educate them on the reality of climate change.

Barrett witnessed the reality of climate change firsthand, as he was among the many impacted by the climate change fueled superstorm, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which left his family and school without power. Barrett became involved in activism in high school by becoming a member of Global Kids, an organization that focuses on developing leadership skills for youth. Barrett then became a Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education and spoke at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris in 2015, at the age of 15.

Barrett is among 21 youth activists between the ages of 10 and 21 who are actively suing the government to take action on climate change in Juliana Vs. United States. The suit states that the government violated youth rights by allowing activities that harmed the climate, and are asking for progressive changes to current carbon dioxide emissions. Most recently Vic spoke at the NYC Climate Strike and told a crowd of at least 100,000 why climate justice needs to be highlighted and black, brown, and indigenous voices centered. Vic is ecstatic he gets to join the team of organizers and educators that developed him into the activist he is today.

Tim Isgitt, Managing Director, Humanity United, Media Impact Funders Board Member

Tim Isgitt is the Managing Director at Humanity United, overseeing the Independent Journalism and Media, Communications, and Policy and Government Relations teams. HU is a foundation dedicated to cultivating the conditions for enduring peace and freedom in the world.

Prior to joining HU, Tim was the Senior Vice President for Communications and Government Affairs at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Previously, he served in the U.S. State Department as special advisor to the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Tim was a manager of public affairs at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in New York, and an associate with the D.C.-based lobbying firm Meyers & Associates.

Tim began his career as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University.

Ian Urbina, Investigative Reporter

Ian Urbina is an investigative reporter who writes most often for The New York Times, but is also a contributing writer for The Atlantic, and a regular contributor to National Geographic. Ian is the author of The New York Times bestseller, “The Outlaw Ocean,” which is based on five years of reporting, much of it offshore, exploring lawlessness on the high seas. The book chronicles a diversity of crimes offshore, including the killing of stowaways, sea slavery, intentional dumping, illegal fishing, the stealing of ships, gun running, stranding of crews, and murder with impunity. As a journalist, his investigations typically focus on worker safety and the environment, and he has received a Pulitzer, a Polk, and has been nominated for an Emmy. Ian has also recently launched The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, which involves a collaboration of more than 200 artists from over 50 countries, making music from journalism.

Date: Thursday, June 25 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Session: Civic Science: Lessons from research and implications for our learning agenda

Description:We’ll hear about the importance of supporting evidence-based media to illuminate the impact of climate change and the ways in which a science-informed public can help to make better policy choices. We’ll hear from three academic researchers on effective communication strategies that can move the public to take action. And the award-winning film production team at Exposure Labs will share details on a collaborative initiative called Climate Story Lab, which works with storytellers to share climate action stories rooted in effective communications strategies.


Elizabeth Christopherson, President, Rita Allen Foundation, Media Impact Forum Board Member

Elizabeth Christopherson is president and CEO of the Rita Allen Foundation, an organization investing in transformative ideas in their earliest stages to promote breakthrough solutions to significant problems in science and society. The foundation supports early-career biomedical scholars doing pioneering research, seeds innovative approaches to fostering informed civic engagement, and develops knowledge and networks to build the effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. She is guiding the foundation through a period of rapid expansion, including building new investments and coalitions to strengthen the role of science and evidence in civic dialogue and decision-making. A respected advocate for improving how the philanthropic sector listens to and learns from the communities they aim to serve, she recently was a judge for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change initiative, which awarded $100 million to a single project to make a measurable impact on a significant problem in the world.

Karen Andrade, Ph.D, Civic Science Fellow, Science Philanthropy Alliance

An interdisciplinary environmental health scientist by training, Karen Andrade has expertise in community-based participatory research and a robust track record of engaging diverse communities in science. The breadth and depth of her scientific knowledge is coupled with a firm conviction in the essential role of basic sciences, the benefit of cross-disciplinary approaches, and an enduring interest in exploring the role of science in society. Karen recently completed postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford and the University of California, Davis, where she led biomedical and environmental health research to benefit marginalized and vulnerable communities. Her interest in exploring new paths to inspire support of, and engagement with, science led her to found and direct the UC Berkeley Science Shop. This student-led organization facilitated research collaborations between students and San Francisco Bay Area communities. Karen earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy & Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kishore Hari, Community Engagement Strategist, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Kishore Hari is a long time science communicator. Currently, he’s the community engagement strategist at the Chan Zuckerberg initiative. He’s formerly the director of the Bay Area Science Festival, which is based out of the University of California, San Francisco. Hari hosted Mother Jones’ weekly science podcast Inquiring Minds and was the science correspondent for Adam Savage’s Tested.com. Kishore is a former chemist who previously founded an environmental services company that specialized in treatment and removal of mercury.


Annie Neimand, Director of Research, Ph.D, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida (moderator)

Annie Neimand, Ph.D., works with social change organizations, scientists, storytellers and activists to apply the science of how people think and act to communication strategy. She translates insights from behavioral, cognitive and social science for social impact
campaigns. Organizations include YouTube’s Creators for Change, Participant Media, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United States Defense Department, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and public interest communications agencies. Annie’s work is regularly featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Gordon Kraft-Todd, Postdoctoral fellow, Boston College

Gordon Kraft-Todd is interested in how to encourage prosocial behavior using the cognitive mechanisms underlying the colloquial wisdom of “actions speak louder than words”, “practice what you preach”, and “lead by example.” Specifically, he investigates how the interaction of actor speech and behavior affects observer belief transmission and behavioral contagion using behavioral research and computational modelling. He is a co-founder of the Applied Cooperation Team at MIT which fosters relationships with firms in the non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors on a range of problems (including charitable donations, volunteering, energy conservation, compliance with smoking bans, and antibiotic adherence) to test the ecological validity of our laboratory findings in the real world. He received his BA with a self-designed major in Leadership from Harvard College in 2007, and his PhD in Psychology from Yale University in 2019. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Morality Lab at Boston College.

Katherine Dale, Assistant professor, Florida State University

Katherine R. Dale (Ph.D., The Ohio State University) is an assistant professor at Florida State University. Her main research interests include positive media psychology and intergroup interaction. She is particularly interested in how media affect the way we see and experience the world.



Davin Phoenix, Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine

Davin Phoenix is an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine. A first generation college graduate, Davin researches how race interacts with various spheres of U.S. politics to shape the attitudes, emotions and behavior of both everyday people and elites. Past and current work explores how race influences the emergence of anger, pride and hope in response to politics, how protests and media narratives on policing have influenced state legislative activity post-Ferguson, and how religious views shape the policy preferences and political behavior of people of color. His book The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotions in Politics was published by Cambridge in December 2019. Davin is a recipient of the 2016-17 UC Hellman Fellowship, the 2017-18 Dean’s Honoree for Teaching Excellence Award, and a 2019 UROP Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research.

Megha Agrawal-Sood, Program Director, Exposure Labs

Megha believes in the power of sharing stories and building unexpected collaborations to inspire action. She is the Director of Programs at Exposure Labs, the film and impact production company behind the films Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral, and The Social Dilemma. Megha is constantly experimenting with creative storytelling approaches to reach and activate new audiences. She has led film impact campaigns that have helped to pass landmark solar legislation, and increase voter turnout in the U.S. Recently, in collaboration with Doc Society, Megha is co-leading The Climate Story Lab, an initiative to bring together storytellers and practitioners to accelerate local climate action.

Prior to joining Exposure Labs, Megha worked at the global innovation firm, IDEO, where she helped purpose-driven organizations grow through human-centered design. She holds a B.S. in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University.



Email Courtney Eshleman, MIF’s director of development & member engagement, at courtney@mediafunders.org.


If you have questions about accessibility, email MIF Program Consultant Roshni Melia at roshni@mediafunders.org.


We’ve been hosting the Media Impact Forum since 2013 with the purpose of bringing funders together to network, deepen learning and spark collaboration. This is special because funders of journalism, documentary and other media seldom cross paths in their everyday work. The Forum provides a wonderful opportunity to come together for a day of inspiring media presentations and to stay up to date on current trends, issues and opportunities facing the field.

For example, last year’s Forum paid special attention to philanthropy’s role in creating and sustaining crucial connections with communities through new and innovative radio and audio projects. And in 2018, we focused funders’ attention to the special role of science in our national debates, the importance of sharpening the communication of science, and broader issues about understanding how and when communications and storytelling make a difference.