Read on to learn more about the journalists leading breakout sessions on the second day of the TNG Student Media Conference. Click here to read bios for our first-day session leaders. Read more about the event and find links to register here.
TUESDAY, JUNE 22
Jason Davis is the small and emerging business reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business.
He is a 20-year journalism veteran who has worked at multiple media outlets covering sports, news and more while also helping mentor interns.
Davis has spent several semesters teaching journalism classes.
He earned a BA in journalism from Michigan State University and an MA in education from Eastern Michigan University.
Kalea Hall has been a professional reporter for eight years. She’s worked as an automotive reporter at The Detroit News for nearly two years covering General Motors, industry trends and the UAW.
Kalea has wanted to be a reporter since she was eight years old and started her career at her hometown paper, The Vindicator.
She worked at the Youngstown, Ohio daily newspaper for five years covering business before moving to Michigan to get her master’s at Michigan State while working full time as a reporter for The Battle Creek Enquirer.
Her dream was to cover autos in the Motor City and she achieved that in July 2019.
Kalea is a founding member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for the Detroit News Guild.
She served as a communications lead for the TNG Student Media Conference.
Benita Mehta is chief editor of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, a business to business publication focused on workplace safety, where she plans, edits and writes content, and manages both the website and the monthly digital magazine as well as social media for the brand.
Previously, she’s been a copy editor at The Detroit News and The Port Huron Times Herald.
She has a journalism degree from Michigan State University and has also worked as a reporter at The Lansing State Journal and The Buffalo News in New York.
Julie Walker is a multimedia journalist with 16 years of experience. Most recently at The Detroit News, Walker copy edited, worked as the lead sports designer and wrote stories for all sections of the paper.
Previous stops include The Oakland Press, The Dearborn Press & Guide, The Downriver News-Herald and The Belleville Current. She has written freelance stories for those publications and more, including Hour Detroit and Model D Detroit.
Walker, sometimes known as Altesleben, is a two-time graduate from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications/print journalism in 2007, and her master’s degree in Liberal Studies in 2018 based off a years-long thesis project about Detroit’s hip-hop community.
Walker joined the Newspaper Guild of Detroit in 2015, serving as a newsroom representative and on the bargaining and equal pay committees. She was elected to three terms as secretary of the Guild’s executive board and served until a buyout meant she had to step down. Walker co-founded the Guild’s Diversity Committee and serves as chairwoman. She is the event director for the TNG Student Media Conference.
Jennifer Chambers is the K-12 education reporter for The Detroit News.
A 28-year newspaper veteran, Chambers has been with the News since 2000, reporting on public schools, philanthropy, federal court, the Justice Department and Detroit’s business development. In 2017, she returned to covering Michigan’s 1.4 million school children on the K-12 beat.
Chambers was the lead reporter on the literacy case for The Detroit News and traveled to Cincinnati to hear oral arguments by the Court of Appeals in the case.
She has been interviewed on CNN, NPR and WDET about her reporting coverage on crime, elections and education for The Detroit News.
Prior to joining The Detroit News, Chambers was a reporter for The Oakland Press.
Chambers is an award-winning journalist, storyteller, writer, and editor serving the metro Detroit area.
Chambers received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University.
Chastity Pratt is The Wall Street Journal’s first-ever Education Bureau Chief for U.S. News which is a fancy way of saying she’s the education editor.
She joined the Journal after spending the 2019-20 school year as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and will be teaching journalism at Harvard next school year.
Chastity previously was the urban affairs reporter at Bridge Magazine and is often a guest on local Detroit TV and radio shows.
Her work has also appeared in USA Today and Essence Magazine.
Chastity calls herself an “urban education know-it-all” after having spent 15 years covering education at the Detroit Free Press, Newsday and The Oregonian.
She’s a native Detroiter and a graduate of Cass Technical High and the University of Michigan.
Chad Livengood is the senior editor at Crain’s Detroit Business, writing about public policy, politics and state government.
He leads the business publication’s monthly Crain’s Forum section focused on public policy issues that intersect business and the economy.
Chad is a regular guest on radio programs across Michigan and WKAR-TV’s “Off The Record.”
He previously was a Capitol reporter for The Detroit News and a political reporter in Wilmington, Del. and Springfield, Mo.
Chad is a 2005 graduate of the journalism program at Central Michigan University and a proud Michiganian.
Darren A. Nichols
Darren A. Nichols is an award-winning journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in the industry. The majority of his career was as a longtime reporter at The Detroit News, extensively chronicling issues in city hall covering five mayoral administrations. Among his major issues included outlining Detroit’s financial crisis that led to Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings.
His deep knowledge of Detroit and the surrounding areas has led Nichols to his work now as a contributing columnist at the Detroit Free Press. In April 2020, Nichols’ column in the New York Times highlighted Detroit’s massive problems dealing with Covid-19.
Nichols launched DNICK Media, his multimedia company that provides a variety of services in 2018. They include freelance writing, Op-Ed writing, copywriting, press releases and media consulting/training. Media relations clients include the state of Delaware’s Department of Labor, Kresge Foundation, Microsoft, Cadence LLC, Focus: HOPE and consulting political candidates. Freelance journalism pieces have appeared in several media outlets locally and nationally, including The New York Times, Revolt magazine and the Detroit Athletic Club.
Nichols is a product of the Journalism Institute for Minorities at Wayne State University, a nationally-recognized program designed to increase the low number of people of color in newsrooms. That brought Nichols to newsrooms primarily as a sports writing intern in Cincinnati, Roanoke, Va., Indianapolis and within the Detroit-area.
Nichols also has covered sporting events, including: The 1989 NBA finals, hydroplane racing, World Cycling, AAU basketball and Golden Gloves Championships. He also secondarily covered the Detroit Pistons, Lions and Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.
Legendary sports interviews included boxer Aaron Pryor, Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Tom Izzo, Jerome Bettis, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Magic Johnson. His biggest thrill was meeting and covering the legendary Muhammad Ali.
After suffering a major stroke in Sept. 2014, Nichols shares his story as an ambassador for the American Heart/Stroke Association. It includes media appearances and public speaking engagements.
A member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Nichols is the former Detroit Chapter president and deputy regional director.
Karen Dybis is a Metro Detroit journalist with more than 25 years of experience.
She has been a freelance reporter for 15 years with clients including U.S. News & World Report, Time magazine, The Architect’s Newspaper, The Detroit Free Press and Crain’s Detroit.
She has written four local history books, including “Better Made in Michigan” and “The Witch of Delray.”
Dorothy Hernandez is Digital Editor for 101.9 WDET, creating and adapting content for digital platforms.
Prior to joining WDET, she was managing editor of Model D and editorial director for Issue Media Group and has worked as a copy editor for The Detroit News and the Chicago Tribune.
In her spare time, she is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food, covering culture, business and social justice. You can find her online at dorothylynnhernandez.com and @dorothy_lynn_h on Twitter.
Nina Misuraca Ignaczak is an award-winning Detroit-based freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker.
She writes and produces stories about the environment, place, and identity.
Her recent work has been published by the Huffington Post, Detroit Free Press, Crains Detroit Business, Business Insider, Belt Magazine, Curbed, Detour Detroit, and Model D.
She is the founder, publisher, and editor of Planet Detroit, a digital media startup that tells Detroit’s environmental stories while building a community of engaged readers who are informed and empowered to act personally and publicly.
Prior to her career in journalism, she worked in urban planning in local government and nonprofit sectors.
She has a Master of Science in Natural Resource Ecology and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Darcie Moran is an award-winning reporter for the Detroit Free Press, where she handles breaking news, investigations and audio story development.
Moran has been recognized for her work covering the criminal justice system, including judicial misconduct, and has most recently covered police protests, wildfires, and sexual assaults at Eastern Michigan University.
Her reporting has led to developments in a 25-year-old cold case and a manslaughter conviction for a prison guard.
Two separate podcasts co-founded by Moran have also received the Best Podcast award from the Michigan Press Association.
Ariana is a digital content producer for 12 News in Phoenix. Ariana spent the last 15 months as a breaking news reporter with The Detroit News.
At The News, Ariana covered everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to presidential and local elections to social justice issues in the city.
Ariana is a proud Spartan and graduated from Michigan State University in December of 2019.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press, covering the Detroit Tigers. He graduated from Central Michigan University in December 2020 with a journalism degree.
He was an intern at the Free Press before graduating and joining as a full-time reporter.
He also interned at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., and spent three and a half years at Central Michigan Life, the student newspaper at CMU.
Omari Sankofa II is a Detroit native who covers the Pistons for the Detroit Free Press.
He previously covered the Memphis Grizzlies for The Athletic and Robert Morris basketball and sports general assignments for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sankofa attended Renaissance High School and Michigan State University.
Antone Amye started his career in journalism by chance.
A native Detroiter, Antone was raised in the Rosedale Park area of northwest Detroit. Later moving with family to Farmington Hills, MI.
Throughout high school he took fine arts courses, learned calligraphy, silk-screening/t-shirt design, and took a two-year course in Commercial Art at a vocational school — all part of Detroit Public Schools. As a graduate of the Center for Creative Studies – College of Art and Design, now College for Creative Studies, his career path was more aligned with his major in Art Direction, now Advertising Design.
As a teen, Antone had a love for newspapers and would often be amazed by the design of the pages. When seeing the newspaper laying around at home or at his grandparents’, he was drawn to the comics pages and columns written by Betty DeRamus and Susan Watson. Not only because they wrote about interesting topics, but because their skin looked like his. When thinking about a future career, he knew he wanted to be a graphic designer, but thought … how cool it would be to design the newspaper.
His career path sort of changed — but what seemed “cool” as a youth, ended up leading to a job as an adult.
Antone was hired in August 1995 as a page makeup compositor in the Pre-Press Composing department at the Detroit Newspaper Agency. He ‘made up’ each page of The Detroit News and Free Press on a grid, with glossy film that contained the story, X-Acto knife, pica pole, roller and wax machine.
The page makeup department changed with technology. At this point, the company was known as Detroit Newspapers. Page design was no longer done by hand and paginated. Instead, directly done by designers in each individual newsroom on the computer. That led to Antone becoming a Mac Operator, designing retail and auto ads for advertisers of The Detroit News and Free Press. He was later promoted to the six-person Special Sections team, who designed color spec-ads for sales reps to pitch to advertisers, posters, glossy special section inserts such as holiday gift guides, auto show guides and more. He also assisted the Work-director in managing the workflow of the team.
In February 2002, he was hired as page designer at The Detroit News, where he brought his talents directly to the newsroom. What started as a page designer for the Neighborhood News section, led to Metro designer. As he gained more skills and trust from his editors, he began designing the front page, and then to features. He designed the feel and look of the GO! Entertainment section, which he still oversees.
In 2016, he was promoted to manager, where he serves as Senior Design Editor at The Detroit News.
He continues to design award winning pages, where he has won several Society of Professional Journalists – Detroit Chapter, first-place awards. He assists the Presentation Editor in managing the design desk. He schedules designers, compiles and submits design staff pages for industry award competitions. He is judge of the Visual Arts portion of the Detroit News Outstanding Grads and has judged the design and graphics portion of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors contest. He is the point person for the Rosa Parks scholars’ section, as well as Goodfellows section. He also supervises, mentors, and coordinates work for high school student interns.
Antone is currently Vice-President of the College for Creative Studies Alumni Council, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists – Detroit Chapter, and Advisory board member of the Graphics and Printing Technology program at Golightly Career and Technical Center in Detroit.
Diana McNary has been a designer for The Detroit News for many years, producing the print edition. She takes the news, photos and graphics of the day and arranges them on pages with headlines and captions to make it as interesting and easy-to-read as possible.
She grew up in Indiana but is now a proud Detroiter.
Diana also plays keyboards and sings with a party band and loves karaoke and trivia nights. She lives on the east side of Detroit with her sweet oddball cat, Harriett.
Joe Grimm teaches reporting, editing and career branding at Michigan State University. His passion projects are a series of more than 20 student-produced Bias Busters guides and the Fair Chance Sourcing project.
Grimm helped hire hundreds of staffers and interns at the Detroit Free Press, where he worked for more than 25 years. The best 18 were as the Free Press’ recruiter.
Jewel Gopwani is senior editor for engagement and events at the Detroit Free Press. She works with reporters who cover economic mobility and returning citizens, both engagement-focused beats intended to serve readers with useful, actionable information and shine a light on the challenges faced by some of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents.
Jewel is the engagement director at the Free Press and at the Freep Film Festival, the Detroit Free Press’ annual celebration of documentary film.
Jewel also assists the Free Press Opinion team on guest columns and is a member of the Free Press’ editorial board.
Previously, Jewel was the Opinion section’s engagement director, a business reporter, covering airlines and auto suppliers.
She started at the Free Press in 2003 as a suburban reporter in Oakland County.
Nolan Bianchi has freelanced for The Detroit News since 2017.
Bianchi now works regular weekly freelance shifts as a web producer for The News.
His reporting coverage has included high school sports, Michigan and Michigan State athletics, the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, Pistons, UFC and pay-per-view boxing matches.
Bianchi hosts a daily Red Wings podcast for the Locked On Podcast Network, while also handling the network’s social media initiatives, including video and graphic design work.
He also hosts the Sports Media School podcast, a weekly interview show with sports media professionals.
Bianchi has written a 105-page screenplay, done two failed stand-up comedy acts, made a short film, and finished as a runner-up in the 2017 Hour Media 7th Annual Cornhole Tournament.
A 2018 graduate of Oakland University, Bianchi earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and screenwriting.
Matt Schoch is a reporter for PlayMichigan.com of Catena Media, an affiliate for the online gambling industry.
A Royal Oak native and Detroit resident, Matt attended Central Michigan University and then worked four years at the Port Huron (Mich.) Times Herald as a sports reporter, assistant sports editor and night city editor.
He then worked four years as prep sports editor at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, then three years as sports editor at the Virgin Islands Daily News where he covered the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Matt then freelanced for four years for The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News and Cox Media Group and also hosted the daily Locked On Pistons Podcast.
Terry Foster is an American sports columnist and radio personality in Detroit. He co-hosted Valenti & Foster on WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket, a sports radio station, with Mike Valenti for 13 years until his retirement.
Bob Wojnowski is a Michigan native who grew up in Ann Arbor, went to high school in Battle Creek and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1983.
He has been at The Detroit News since 1989, a columnist since 1992.
Wojo has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the Olympics to the World Series to the Final Four to the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals, and more college football bowl games than he can recount