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.

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 and serves on their events committee.

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 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

Ashley Ausburn, Assistant Website Curator & Event Organizer: Ausburn is a senior at Kennesaw State University (KSU) majoring in journalism & emerging media. She is also working toward a certificate in multi-platform news reporting and has successfully completed the First-Year Global Fellows Program through KSU’s Division of Global Affairs. Ausburn is the current assistant editor and curator of CSJ’s Bokeh Focus website and our @bokeh_focus Instagram. She also co-organizes and is a contributing photographer for CSJ’s Bokeh Focus photography show and fund-raising event during the month-long annual Atlanta Celebrates Photography. What Ausburn likes about CSJ:  My favorite part of working at the CSJ is definitely the people I work with! Everyone is lovely to be around and makes my job ten times more enjoyable.

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 non-profit organization. What Castleberry likes about CSJ: The new experience I am getting and the motivation/energy that everyone has for CSJ.

Natalie Fuqua, Grant Writing & Fundraising Apprentice: Fuqua is a senior at Kennesaw State University majoring in English. She would like to be a professional writer after graduation. What Fuqua likes about CSJ: The ability to work at an organization that’s dedicated to making a difference by creating a forum for youth justice and child welfare issues.

OUR STUDENT MARKETING INTERNS

Ashlynn Lindsey, Marketing & Business Operations Assistant: Lindsey is a freshman at Kennesaw State University majoring in public relations. Her current career goal is to figure out which specific area of PR she would like to pursue. One of the reasons she is interested in this particular field is that there are multiple paths she can take. What Lindsey likes about CSJ: I enjoy the people I work with and the unique job experience it provides.

Niles Elmore, Circulation Marketing Associate: Elmore is a junior at Kennesaw State University, majoring in marketing. His career goal is to build a big tennis complex and unite tennis players and coaches in Atlanta. What Elmore likes about CSJ: One thing I really like about working at the CSJ is the flexibility and the staff here is amazing!

Samantha DeLuca, Circulation Marketing Associate: DeLuca is a sophomore at Kennesaw State University, majoring in marketing with a minor in finance. She would like to become a marketing director because she is very interested in advertisement and design. What DeLuca likes about CSJ: I am learning communication skills and enjoy the people I work with. 

 

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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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