Youth Today: Our Team

The Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ) publishes YouthToday.org. CSJ aims to discover innovative ways to produce financially sustainable, high quality and ethically sound journalism via applied research, collaborations and advancing innovative projects, such as Youth Today, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Bokeh Focus and Georgia News Lab.

You may contact any one of us directly via email by clicking on our names below. Contact Chelsey Tabakian Odom with any questions for our interns or about our internship programs.

FOUNDER, Center for Sustainable Journalism: LEONARD WITT

Witt is the founder of the Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ), publisher of Youth Today, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Bokeh Focus and Georgia News Lab. As its executive director from 2010 until his retirement in 2019, Witt was instrumental in developing and fulfilling the mission of the CSJ. He is now a professor emeritus of journalism at Kennesaw State University. Witt has been a journalist for 25-plus years, including being the 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 believes deeply in the need for journalism in a democracy.

Interim Executive Director and Executive Editor, Center for Sustainable Journalism: JOHN FLEMING

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

SENIOR EDITOR: LESLIE LAPIDES

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.

NEW YORK BUREAU CHIEF: DARYL KHAN

Khan serves as New York City bureau chief for Youth Today and Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. 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.

STAFF REPORTER: STELL SIMONTON

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.

BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGER: CHELSEY TABAKIAN ODOM

Odom is the business operations manager for the Center for Sustainable Journalism, publisher of Youth Today, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Bokeh Focus and Georgia News Lab. 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, strategy and much more. Odom has also received a Management Development Certificate from KSU, handles marketing for Cyndy’s Southern Pound Cakes and volunteers as a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA). She also is a member of the BBBSMA Young Leaders Council, Vice Chair and serves as the events committee chair.

ADVERTISING ACCOUNT MANAGER: DAN PARKER

Parker is a dynamic advertising account manager who offers significant expertise in creating and managing marketing solutions on multiple web platforms. Having both a military and legal background, he possesses a wide range of leadership experiences that prove invaluable in this role with CSJ. His understanding of diverse markets allows him to design and lead advertising strategies uniquely structured to reach and make an impact on targeted audiences.

WEB EDITOR: CHRISTOPHER HAYDEN

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

WEB DESIGN & SOCIAL MEDIA: GWENETTE WRITER SINCLAIR

Sinclair designs, develops and optimizes websites for the Center for Sustainable Journalism and manages the CSJ’s website server accounts on WP Engine and Tiger Technology. She also supervises our assistant website interns. Sinclair is CSJ’s social media strategist and supervises our social media intern. Sinclair also designs and develops 3D immersive virtual experiences for universities and corporations (see our journalism in virtual worlds project: VirtualWorld.jjie.org). Her background includes teaching, corporate training, mixed media event production, nonprofit administration, magazine/newspaper publishing and advertising sales/design.

OUR STUDENT STAFF INTERNS

Arianna Lasha, Photography Curator & Editor: Arianna Lasha is a junior at Kennesaw State University pursuing a degree in journalism and emerging media with a minor in psychology. She is the curator and photography editor for CSJ’s Bokeh Focus publication. Her goal is to one day have a successful career in media and travel the world doing mission work. What Arianna likes about CSJ: I like the take-charge nature of my job. It’s taught me how to work more independently and be passionate about my projects.

Ashlynn Lindsey, Marketing & Business Operations Assistant: Lindsey is a sophomore at Kennesaw State University, majoring in public relations with a minor in engagement marketing. She began working at the CSJ as a circulation marketing associate in the fall of 2018. Lindsey aspires to work for a PR agency after graduating. What Lindsey likes about CSJ: I enjoy the people I work with and I love the unique career experience I am gaining!

Kiersten Castleberry, Social Media Manager Assistant: Castleberry is a junior at Kennesaw State University majoring in marketing with a minor in Spanish. Her career goal is to be a marketing manager for a nonprofit organization. What Castleberry likes about CSJ: The new experience I am getting and the motivation/energy that everyone has for CSJ.

Olivia Goss, Fundraising & Grant Writing Apprentice: Olivia Goss is a first-year student at Kennesaw State University majoring in English and pursuing the Accelerated Bachelor’s Master’s Program in Professional Writing. Her ultimate career goal is to become a grant writer for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or other youth advocacy nonprofit. What Olivia likes about CSJ: I love the unique mission of CSJ and the real-world writing experience I’m getting. CSJ has given me the opportunity to pursue a cause that I am passionate about while developing my professional writing.

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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.

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

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.

DONORS & DONOR TRANSPARENCY

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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