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Staff

Dana Amihere
Founder / Executive Director

Dana Amihere (she/her) is a designer, developer and data journalist. She left conventional newsrooms in 2021 to start Code Black Media, a digital media consultancy that lives at the intersection of data, design and equity. She previously worked in data reporting, interactive design and news apps development for Southern California Public Radio/KPCC + LAist, The Dallas Morning News, Pew Research Center and The Baltimore Sun.

Her pivot to full-time freelance work has included production of an audio documentary for the First Amendment Coalition; data and graphics work on investigative reporting with The Detroit Free PressDallas Morning News and Black Voice News; and leading a research study on diversity in Philadelphia’s news ecosystem with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Amihere has taught data journalism and interaction design across the country at conferences and colleges including University of Southern California and UC Berkeley.


Steven Smith
Director of Operations

Steven Smith (he/him) is an independent media consultant who specializes in developing audience and operational strategies for multiplatform local news products and organizations. He worked as production coordinator and project manager at The Long Beach Post. He was integral in providing development and operational support to the launch of Long Beach Post Español and the Post’s audience engagement team and agency services.


Shady Grove Oliver
Projects Editor

Shady Grove Oliver (she/her) grew up in Southern California and has been involved in journalism spaces for the last 20 years. Her early love of photography led to projects in photojournalism and ethics. She later spent several years as a public radio reporter, news host and news director (and DJ) in Alaska and five years as the sole reporter at the only local newspaper in the U.S. Arctic. There, she covered everything from oil and gas to whaling, climate change, and MMIWGT2S.

Shady Grove has received multiple science journalism grants and was part of the team to win the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of rural law enforcement in Alaska’s villages. She has a background in narrative medicine, which seeks to make healthcare more ethical and compassionate through storytelling and narrative practice. In her spare time, she hangs out with her dogs and is trying to write a dystopian sci fi murder mystery novel.


J. Brian Charles
Editor-at-Large

J. Brian Charles (he/him) is a journalist who writes about urban affairs, education, criminal justice, race and inequality. His work has appeared in The Trace, Vox, Governing, Playboy, Wired and the Baltimore Beat.


Justin Allen
Technology Manager

Justin Allen (he/him) has spent over a decade at the crossroads of content, engagement and technology. He’s won awards for news design and visual storytelling, built digital infrastructure from scratch, dug deep into data pursuing stories and been a resource for teammates on both strategy and implementation. Justin believes in a human-centered approach to design and technology and putting that in service of work that advances social justice. Currently based in Chicago, he’s California born-and-raised and knows (and loves) the state from Crescent City to San Ysidro.


Shwetha Ganesh
Newsletter Producer

Shwetha Ganesh (she/her) is a mission-driven creative at heart, positioning her many homes (India, Memphis and Los Angeles) at the center of all her professional endeavors. She’s always been a history and politics buff, and loves engaging with these topics through journalism and cinema.


Eric Devontae Russell
Senior Social Media Producer

Eric Devontae Russell (he/him) is a host, comedian, musician, journalist and all-around entertainer. From Queens, New York, Eric is passionate about storytelling. His favorite stories to tell are stories of triumph. Eric enjoys covering artists and influential figures in an effort to share their stories and give his audience steps and insight to achieve their own dreams.

As the creator of The World According to Eric, an entertainment and lifestyle brand, Eric has interviewed Raven-Symoné, Loretta Devine, Rev. Jesse Jackson and countless others.


Henry L. Davis III
Social Media Producer

Henry L. Davis III (he/him) is a writer and researcher from San Francisco. Born into a family of preachers, musicians, teachers and librarians, he grew up with an innate love for the arts. As he came into his own, Henry declared his own artistic passion to be storytelling. His years growing up in the Bay Area taught him how crucial organized efforts of self-reporting have been for people in his community. In turn, he places a heavy emphasis on different dimensions of Pan-Africanism, environmentalism and class struggle in his works. While studying at the University of Southern California, Henry developed a drive to communicate his voice across mediums. This shines through his love of film photography, fashion, teaching, archival work and his ventures as a DJ.

When reporting, Henry aims to highlight communities who have been stripped of their voice, namely blue collar laborers, the unhoused, incarcerated people and migrants.


Astrid Kaymebe
BuyBlackLA Producer

Astrid Kayembe (she/her) is an award-winning culture reporter from South Central Los Angeles. She was a reporting fellow at Los Angeles Times. She’s also covered local communities and contributed national and regional stories for the USA Today Network a Report for America fellow at the Memphis Commercial Appeal. She previously served as a COVID-19 reporting intern at the Los Angeles Times, as a Truth Told fellow at Refinery29 through the Google News Initiative and social media associate at L.A. Taco. Outside of work, you can find Astrid binge watching TV series and trying new restaurants.



Contributors

Presently, AfroLA’s content is primarily produced by freelance contributors. Some people write with us once, others on a continual basis. The following list includes everyone who has contributed to published content with AfroLA since January 2023.

EDITING

Gerardo Gerome Chagolla

ILLUSTRATION & PHOTOGRAPHY

MULTIMEDIA & VIDEO

MUSIC

REPORTING & WRITING


Board of Directors

AfroLA’s board is a diverse group of talented professionals whose backgrounds include marketing and communications, design, journalism, storytelling and theater. They’re not all based in Los Angeles, but the breadth and depth of their experience—both professional and personal—makes them each a perfect fit. They are allies who are excited to support and serve AfroLA’s mission.

Meredith D. Clark
Chair of the Board

Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D. (she/hers) is an associate professor in Journalism and Communication Studies at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, media, and power. Her first book, We Tried to Tell Y’all: Black Twitter and Digital Counternarratives is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

My work, in all respects, is informed by my commitment to Black liberation. Independent Black media has always been central to the struggle, and being part of this effort makes me feel connected to a glorious history.”

Twitter: @MeredithDClark

Sarah Beck
Secretary/Treasurer

Sarah (Schmalbach) Beck (she/hers) is the director of Cobalt, an in-house digital platform that makes mental health resources more accessible to Penn Medicine employees. Launched in the wake of the pandemic, the platform is intended to address the additional strain and trauma experienced by health care workers during COVID-19. Its existence highlights the need for more integrated and equitable health care for all.Previously, she founded and directed the Lenfest Local Lab, a Philadelphia-based local news product and UX innovation team that worked in collaboration with The Philadelphia Inquirer with support from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.A trained journalist, she brings deep curiosity and empathy to her news product development and innovation work, and grounds her work in human-centered community and user needs research.

“I support AfroLA because I believe in the team’s mission and vision to unapologetically celebrate, educate and inform Black Angelenos. In stark contrast to legacy news organizations providing news coverage ‘about’, and often not ‘for’ metro area residents, AfroLA seeks to build and build-up community through its journalism practice, focusing on elevating community voices and providing long-needed context, impact and care for individual readers. This passionate team sets out to fix so many broken parts of our current information ecosystem, and I am excited to see what they learn and what they collaboratively build with its audience.”

Twitter: @schmalie


Hélène Biandudi Hofer

Hélène Biandudi Hofer (she/hers) is a broadcast journalist, documentary filmmaker, media entrepreneur and conflict coach. She co-founded Good Conflict with fellow journalist, Amanda Ripley, to help communities and companies get more thoughtful about how they fight. Through her work in conflict, Hélène has trained over a thousand journalists across 150 newsrooms worldwide on how to transform their coverage of controversial and divisive issues.Previously, she led an award-winning news magazine program in western New York for nearly a decade, exploring remedies to societal challenges. Hélène’s work spans investigating police reform in Camden, New Jersey, to examining education opportunities in South Sudan. She has worked with CBS, NPR, and PBS and collaborated with reporters, filmmakers and journalist-serving organizations around the globe. Hélène credits her passion for journalism and storytelling to her Nkoko [great-grandmother], the oral historian of the Biandudi family in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“I am energized by the mission and vision of AfroLA. Nuanced, solutions-oriented news stories focused on Black LA, written by Black LA. We need these stories that illuminate issues, celebrate community, and generate hope. What AfroLA is doing is a recipe for something extraordinary. It’s also a blueprint to inspire residents in other US cities and towns lacking robust, inclusive coverage of our communities to change the narrative.”

Twitter: @HeleneBiandudi


Uyiosa Elegon

Uyiosa Elegon (he/him) is a co-founder and Marketing and Development Director of Shift Press. He and his team help young people move power through story sharing and media education programs for youth and adults. Uyiosa’s prior experience includes working on electoral and issue-based campaigns, producing African cultural events and facilitating various youth civic education projects and initiatives across the U.S. All of his published writings center around the material realities of youth power, pleasure and pain. Uyiosa is an Edo person residing on the homeland of the Karankawa, Coahuiltecan, Atakapa-Ishak and the Sana people of Texas’s Gulf Coast region (now referred to as Houston).

“The information ecosystem hasn’t met the needs of the many beautiful Black folks in L.A. AfroLA is the media organization that’ll change the status quo of news for and about Black L.A. residents. I’m excited to see everyone, young and old, experience diverse and dignified Black news.”

Twitter: @uyive_


Bruce A. Lemon, Jr.

Bruce Lemon (he/him) is a storyteller born and raised in Watts, California. As a child, his father made him write stories and read them aloud in the hallway as punishment for lies and mischief. He’s still in trouble.

Recent credits:

  • Actor in the short film HALLELUJAH, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Prix at the Oscar qualifying HollyShorts Festival
  • Director of THE ANONYMOUS LOVER at the LA Opera
  • Associate Artistic Director/Ensemble with Cornerstone Theater Company
  • Co-Artistic Director of Watts Village
  • Company member of Illyrian Players and Collaborative Artists Bloc
  • Host of UnHeard LA from KPCC In Person

“I had the pleasure of working with Dana Amihere at KPCC, and I believe in her voice, instincts and skill. This work excites me because I love to know what is happening in my community and prefer it to be reported with a sensitivity and specificity to my community. We need more Black voices in media and journalism, and I hope the existence of AfroLA gives new voices a place to speak and be heard. We’re listening.”

Twitter: @BALemonJr

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