Youth Today: Our Team

You may contact any one of us directly via email by clicking on our names.


Lapides is the senior editor of Youth Today and managing editor of Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. She has been senior news editor and business editor for the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service in Washington and edited for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the CNN wire service.


Pecot-Hébert has been teaching on the college level for 15-plus years at the University of Southern California at Annenberg, DePaul University in Chicago and Xavier University in New Orleans. She has been a staff writer at the Dallas Morning News and The New Orleans Tribune. She is also a former American Society of Newspaper Editors fellow, a former George Foster Peabody Assistantship recipient and the advisor to the USC Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Khan serves as New York City bureau chief for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and Youth Today. He writes stories and also produces data visualization projects and videos in collaboration with students and recent graduates of the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He has also written for the New York Times, Newsday and Boston Globe.


Simonton is Youth Today’s staff reporter covering out-of-school time (OST), focusing on innovative work with youth outside of school. Previously a digital editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she also has written for the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post and Al Jazeera America.

PUBLISHER and EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, Center for Sustainable Journalism: LEONARD WITT

Witt is the executive director of the Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ) and publisher of Youth Today and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. He has been a journalist for 25-plus years, including being editor of Sunday Magazine at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Minnesota Monthly magazine and executive director of the Minnesota Public Radio Civic Journalism Initiative. He deeply believes in the need for journalism in a democracy and in fulfilling the mission of CSJ. Witt is a professor of journalism at Kennesaw State University.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR, Center for Sustainable Journalism: JOHN FLEMING

Fleming is the executive editor for Center for Sustainable Journalism, publisher of Youth Today and Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. He worked as a correspondent in Africa for several news agencies including Reuters, was editorial page editor of The Anniston (Alabama) Star. Fleming is also the co-founder of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project.


Odom is the business operations manager for the Center for Sustainable Journalism, publisher of Youth Today and Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. She started at the CSJ as an intern in 2015; after graduating from Kennesaw State University with a BBA in marketing, she began her full-time role, now overseeing subscriptions, marketing, advertising, financials and much more. Odom has also received a Management Development Certificate from KSU, volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta and does marketing for Cyndy’s Southern Pound Cakes.


Hayden maintains the editorial and advertising content for our main websites,  and He also assists web developers and contributors with our special project sites and ongoing photoblog. Hayden, a Kennesaw State University alumnus, graduated in 2015 with a BS in communication and a minor in information systems.


Sinclair designs, develops and optimizes websites for the Center for Sustainable Journalism, manages the Center’s WP Engine server accounts and is our social media strategist. She also creates 3D immersive virtual experiences ( for universities and corporations. Sinclair’s background includes teaching, nonprofit administration, magazine/newspaper publishing and advertising.


Ali Sardar, BokehFocus Assistant Website Developer and Editor: Sardar is a senior at Kennesaw State University majoring in applied computer science with a minor in engagement marketing. He is the app/web developer, photographer and curator for BokehFocus. Sardar also produces videos and photographs events for CSJ.

Gabe Valeanu, Grants Associate: Valeanu is a senior at Kennesaw State University majoring in economics. His career goal is to go into either civil law or contract law. What Valeanu likes about CSJ: What I enjoy about working here is the independence and responsibility given to me and having the ability to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world.

Melody McLaurin, Assistant Social Media Manager and Videographer: McLaurin is a sophomore at Kennesaw State University majoring in communications with a concentration in media studies. Her career goal is to be working behind a camera, writing, editing or all three. What McLaurin likes about CSJ: It is warm and inviting. The people here are very kind and driven to promote the betterment of youth through Youth Today.


Zori Perkins, Marketing Manager Assistant: Perkins is a freshman at Kennesaw State University, majoring in business. Her career goal is to be a marketing manager for a well-known makeup or fashion brand. What Perkins likes about CSJ: We are always interacting and if someone is struggling with a task we all come together to help. This experience is shaping me as a marketer and helping me reach my career goals.

Christopher Nix, Circulation Marketing Associate: Nix is a senior at Kennesaw State University majoring in marketing. His favorite subject is digital marketing. His career goal is to be a marketing research analyst. What Nix likes about CSJ: I can interact with business professionals, use creative selling tactics and create a business to business relationship with clients.

Hannah Martin, Circulation Marketing Associate: Martin is a junior at Kennesaw State University majoring in marketing. Her career goal is to work in marketing or public relations at corporate Chick-fil-A.

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Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

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