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Women Media Entrepreneurs Summit – Speakers

Women Media Entrepreneurs – Making New Ideas Happen
Thursday, September 12, 2012 – National Press Club

Funded by the Gannett Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation


Nicole HollwayNicole Hollway, general manager of the St. Louis Beacon, spearheads creative sponsorships, events and promotions for the online news site.  In the process, she has coined the term “spadvertising” to describe some of the Beacon’s engagement/sponsorship opportunities. She has spent her career working on digital products and communications for industries ranging from Broadway to finance.  A Northwestern University theater grad, she managed online brands for shows like Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera. She worked on web, ticketing, calendar conversion and ad network development with such clients as the Boston Symphony Orchestra and tackled branding for companies like Goldman Sachs.  She oversaw digital campaigns and marketing products for AT&T.  As Creative Services Manager for The Roberts Companies, she managed all production for TV, radio stations, hotels and real estate.

diane-alverioDiane Alverio is founder of in Connecticut and its umbrella Latino News Network, which is now expanding to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A Puerto Rican-born, Connecticut-raised journalist, she has 20 years of experience in print, television and radio as a writer and reporter in Connecticut and California. She served as producer for a late 1970’s national PBS bilingual show for Latino teens and as a visiting member of the Hartford Courant’s Editorial Board.  In 1995, Diane left the newsroom to start her own public relations and marketing firm, Diane Alverio & Co., which handles public policy issues, such as tobacco prevention, universal health care and sewer infrastructure programs. Diane is a J-Lab New Media Women Entrepreneur awardee for the Latino News Network.

Melinda WittstockMelinda Wittstock is founder and CEO of NewsIT, a mobile crowd-reporting platform that is now in its second round of venture funding. A serial entrepreneur, she is a social media evangelist and award-winning TV, radio and print journalist with 25 years of experience in New York, Washington and London. Her career spans BBC Radio and TV News, ABC News, National Public Radio, MSNBC/CNBC as well as London’s Times, Guardian, and Observer newspapers. Previously, she was founder of the award-winning Capitol News Connection, which supplied public radio stations with localized news from Congress. In two years, Wittstock built CNC from a staff of three serving 10 stations to a staff of 12 serving 230 stations.

Michele KayalMichele Kayal is a co-founder, with a team of three other women, of American Food Roots, which delves into the roots of American food and why we eat what we eat.  She grew up in a Syrian-Irish family but all she ever learned in Arabic were the food words. She has covered politics, business, and the FAA. She has lived and traveled the world from Japan to Jordan and Seoul to Singapore. A regular contributor to Associated Press and, Michele’s pieces also have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler and The Huffington Post. Her work has been recognized by the International Association of Culinary Professionals and by the Association of Food Journalists. Michele is a J-Lab New Media Women Entrepreneur awardee for AFR.

Jeanne PinderJeanne Pinder founded after a 23-year career as a New York Times editor and reporter.  She created the startup to bring transparency to the healthcare marketplace. The site helps consumers compare significant variations in local prices for the identical medical procedures.  She has received startup grants from J-Lab, the International Women’s Media Foundation and CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. At The Times she was a ranking editor on the foreign desk, a reporter on the business desk and deputy founding editor of the Circuits technology section, among other posts.

Laura FraserLaura Fraser is a best-selling author and founder of SheBooks, an e-marketplace for long-form stories by women. She and her associates, former Readers Digest Global Editor-in-Chief Peggy Northrop and Media consultant Rachel Greenfield, are J-Lab New Media Women Entrepreneur awardees. Her travel memoir, An Italian Affair (Pantheon, 2001), was a New York Times best-seller. Her sequel, All Over the Map (Harmony Books, 2010), is a memoir about what happens in midlife when things don’t go as planned and you take a few trips to figure it out. Her previous book , Losing It: America’s Obsession with Weight and the Industry that Feeds on It (Dutton, 1995), was an award-winning exposé of the diet industry.  Laura has been a freelance writer since she graduated from Wesleyan University. 

Rachel GreenfieldRachel Greenfield, President and Founder of RGA LLC and a member of the SheBooks team, has spent 15 years consulting with media and other companies focused on understanding and marketing to their customers. Prior to that, she spent 20 years as a top manager for leading publishing companies, including as Executive Vice President in charge of the Publishing Division of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Greenfield’s consulting practice specializes in helping companies develop financial strategies that will enable their business to grow. She now focuses on working with entrepreneurs, audience analysis of digital traffic and print circulation, subscription and other direct marketing strategies, consumer and advertising positioning and financial modeling.

Vanessa Fox Vanessa Fox is the author of Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy (April 2012).  She is the founder and CEO of Nine By Blue, which provides software, training, and strategic consulting to help companies better integrate search engine optimization (SEO) throughout their organizations – from product design and web development to audience engagement and conversion. Vanessa previously created Google’s Webmaster Central, which provides both tools and community support to help website owners improve their sites with an eye towards gaining more customers from organic search. She was instrumental in the alliance of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Live Search. Fox has also been an entrepreneur-in-residence with Ignition Partners and served as an advisor for several startups.

Mandy JenkinsMandy Jenkins is the Interactives Editor for Digital First Media, where she manages the national curation, data and video efforts for Project Thunderdome, working in conjunction with the 75 daily newspapers of Journal Register Co. and Media News Group.  She was previously Social News Editor for The Huffington Post, where she managed social media efforts for the politics channel and coordinated the company’s citizen journalism program, OfftheBus. Mandy was formerly the social media editor for Washington, D.C. local news startup TBD and the Cincinnati Enquirer. She is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and blogs about news and social media at Zombie Journalism.

Jody BrannonJody Brannon is the editor for Next America at the National Journal where she is exploring the impact of demographic change on politics and policy. Previously she was the national director of the Carnegie-Knight News21 journalism initiative. She entered the world of digital media in its infancy, starting as a copy editor for The Washington Post’s first online initiative, Digital Ink, in April 1995. She rose to become manager of news and production and later managing editor of She also served as executive producer at Washington Post and Newsweek Interactive before joining as executive producer.  Prior to her work in digital media, Brannon worked in magazines and newspapers, primarily as a reporter and editor at the Tacoma News Tribune and Seattle Times.

Ju-Don RobertsJu-Don Roberts, media entrepreneur and former Editor-in-Chief of News and Social Media at  Roberts was also senior vice president of programming and product at News Corporation’s Beliefnet property, where she managed the video, product, editorial, social media and community teams. Roberts spent 17 years at The Washington Post. Ten of those, she spent at, where she managed various departments, eventually running the Web site before her departure in 2009. Roberts graduated magna cum laude from Howard University and spent a year studying at Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow.

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