Meet the Team

Journalistic Learning Initiative was founded by philanthropist Tara Lynda Guber and journalist educators Esther Wojcicki and Ed Madison, Ph. D. It’s governed by a board of directors who volunteer their time because they share the founders’ passion for providing high-quality Journalistic Learning programming, resources, and tools to teachers and students. The dedicated team includes members with deep experience in both journalism and K-12 education.

Our Founders

Esther Wojcicki
Founder/Board Member
Esther Wojcicki, arguably one of the world’s most well-known journalism teachers, taught journalism/English at Palo Alto High School in California for 27 years, retiring in 2020. She is a highly sought speaker on education reform and the power of project-based learning based on her TRICK (Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, Kindness) method of teaching.
Esther began her journalism teaching career at Palo Alto in 1985 with 20 students and one newspaper. Since that time, she has grown the Paly program to more than 500 students, four additional journalism teachers, and five award-winning journalism electives: a newspaper (The Campanile), magazine (Verde), online (www.voice.paly.net), television (InFocus), and Viking, a sports magazine. Esther was selected by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as 2002 California Teacher of the Year. Over the past 20 years, Palo’s publications have won Gold and Silver Crowns from Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the PaceMaker Award and Hall of Fame Award from National Scholastic Press, and best in nation from Time Magazine in 2003. The website was honored with two Webby Awards in 2005. She is board chair of Creative Commons, a nonprofit focused on education and learning; president of the Friends of the Lurdes Mutola Foundation, supporting girls’ education in Mozambique; a consultant for Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Hewlett Foundation; and on the Advisory Board for University of the People. She has authored two books, How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results (2019), and Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom (w/Lance Izumi, 2014).
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Tara Lynda Guber
Founder
A philanthropist, educator, and practitioner of yoga for nearly 40 years, Tara founded Yoga Ed, the nationally recognized yoga-in-schools program. Tara was a founding member of the board of directors of the Accelerated School, an internationally acclaimed K-12 charter public school in South Los Angeles. The Accelerated School housed the pilot program of Yoga Ed’s nationally recognized yoga curriculum for schools, creating a model to export to other public schools.
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Ed Madison, Ph.D.
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Ed Madison is a seasoned media professional with more than 30 years of distinguished work in journalism and entrepreneurship. His notable entree into journalism began as a high school intern at the Washington Post-owned CBS television affiliate in Washington, D.C., during the height of the Watergate scandal.
After graduating from Emerson College at age 22, Madison was recruited as a founding producer by CNN. Subsequent companies Madison founded have provided services for most of the major networks and studios, including CBS, ABC, A&E, Paramount, Disney, and Discovery. As a doctoral student in communications at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in 2010, Madison shared a panel with well-regarded longtime Palo Alto journalism teacher Esther Wojcicki and three of her students at an academic conference at Stanford University. Impressed by Wojcicki’s students, Madison was curious about Wojcicki’s teaching methods and spent time observing her program and the students’ many award-winning publications. Madison then chose as his dissertation topic whether students in less affluent communities could benefit from journalistic teaching practices. In 2011, Madison and Wojcicki founded the Media Arts Institute to deploy journalism projects at the elementary, middle, and high school level in Oregon. Madison received his doctoral degree from University of Oregon in 2012 and joined the faculty in 2013. In 2015, Madison published Newsworthy: Cultivating Critical Thinkers, Readers, and Writers in Language Arts Classrooms (Teachers College Press, Columbia University), which found that students in varying socioeconomic settings who were engaged in journalistic practices reported higher levels of motivational beliefs and learning strategies. With Wojcicki and education philanthropist Tara Guber, Madison changed the name of Media Arts Institute to the Journalistic Learning Initiative to better articulate the nonprofit’s focus, and the JLI formally partnered with UO School of Journalism and Communication and College of Education. Under Madison’s leadership, the JLI has since focused its programming on student voice and academic outcome in underserved communities and their needs. For example, projects specifically focused on students of color pair high school students with mentors who look like them to increase their sense of belonging in school, boost engagement in the skills learned, and expand their network of professionals, with the goal of reducing the achievement and opportunity gap between Black and White students. For his efforts in building a more diverse profession, as well as his research into intercultural dialogue, and digital skills workshops at UO, Madison received in 2020 the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Award from the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. As a tenured associate professor at UO, Madison teaches multimedia journalism, media innovation, and digital publishing. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and an Adobe Education Leader.
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Team

Bo Brusco
Communications Manager
Bo Brusco is an experienced public educator and multimedia journalist. He earned a B.A. in English Education from Brigham Young University Idaho in 2018 and taught 12th-grade English Language Arts at a Title 1 school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Living through the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic and social upheaval in 2020 inspired him to become a journalist. After graduating from Full Sail University with an M.A. in New Media Journalism, he became a multimedia journalist for a Snohomish County-based news outlet in Washington state. His work as a journalist earned him several awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA), including first and second place in the WNPA’s video category in 2022.
Bo couldn’t be more psyched to be part of the JLI team, as it perfectly combines his passions for education and journalism. A true believer in JLI’s vision, he hopes his work will significantly impact teachers and students across the nation.
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Jael Calloway
Director of Student Publications
Jael Calloway graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. During her three years in college, she was Editor-in-Chief of Black Student Magazine, Co-Editor-in-Chief of OR Magazine and The Student Voice, as well as the managing editor for the Daily Emerald newspaper and a Catalyst reporter for the Oregon Capital Chronicle in Salem, Oregon.
Jael is now the Director of Student Publications for JLI and is excited to continue increasing diversity and inspiration with JLI’s publications.
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Auna Colipano
Social Media Manager
Auna Colipano graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) in 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in public relations. Throughout her time as a college student, she worked as the Events and Social Media intern for the SOJC Communications team and as an Account Executive for Allen Hall Public Relations, and was also a Social Media Assistant for the University of Oregon chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. She is truly grateful for the opportunities that the SOJC brought her way. All of these experiences prepared her for her professional career post-college.
Auna moved to Austin, TX in 2022, where she now works remotely for the Journalistic Learning Initiative as its Social Media and Communications Manager. In her free time she enjoys taking care of houseplants and walking her dog, Butters.
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Glenda Gordon
Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships
Glenda Gordon is a seasoned nonprofit fundraising and development professional with more than 20 years’ experience in major gifts, annual funds, planned giving, and stewardship events. Prior to joining Journalistic Learning Initiative, Gordon was philanthropy and events manager for Holt International Children’s Services, leading a team managing annual gala events. She was also major gifts officer and director of the annual fund for Northwest Christian University, cultivating relationships, and helping to launch a signature event for the now well-established Center for Leadership and Ethics.
Additionally, Gordon was development director at the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, and major gifts/planned giving director for the Oregon Pacific Chapter of the American Red Cross. She has extensive experience in collaborating with corporate executives for technology and insurance sales divisions. Gordon is actively involved in Rotary International, currently serving as co-chair of their Foundation, and in 2014, she received their Rotarian of the Year Award. She has also received numerous sales recognitions. Gordon is passionate about cultivating authentic relationships with donors and then connecting them with nonprofits making a difference. Her compassion for the vulnerable and roles as a volunteer mentor make her excited to share JLI’s story in the community, to help young people succeed.
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Maya Lazaro
Interim Operations Manager
Maya graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC)with a bachelors in advertising in 2013. Since graduating she’s served as a project manager/production coordinator at OR Media, an alumni-run video production unit housed within the SOJC that serves the academic community and public agencies while providing project-based training and professional development to students. Since its founding in 2012 OR Media has worked with a growing list of clients and partners that includes numerous university programs and organizations such as Adobe, the City of Eugene Department of Recreation, the Eugene Register-Guard, KLCC, the Oregon Tourism Commission, and Oregon Public Broadcasting, and the Media Arts Institute.
Prior to joining OR Media, Maya was a Communications Associate at the University of Oregon School of Law. In addition to her work at OR Media, she advises Booklandia.tv, a UO student-run website created by and for bibliophiles, now in its second year.
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Hailey O’Donnell
Project Coordinator and Grant Manager
Hailey contributes to a variety of fundraising and development initiatives for JLI. She graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) with a bachelors in Journalism with a minor in Creative Writing in 2023. During her time at the UO, Hailey wrote for a variety of publications including Ethos Magazine, Align Magazine and OR Magazine. She also served as Editor-in-Chief for Ephemera Creative Arts Journal, Managing Editor for Oregon Voice Magazine and Co-Editor of JLI’s The Student Voice. She culminated her undergraduate experience with a thesis project, titled “From Angst to Assurance: Why Young Women Need Creative Community,” about the value of creative work and companionship in strengthening youth confidence.
Hailey joined JLI in Summer 2022. She works closely with the Executive Director and the Director of Philanthropy and Partnership on a range of fundraising and development initiatives, including grant writing, grant procurement and current/prospective grantor relations. She also manages JLI’s customer relationship management (CRM) database. Hailey is passionate about empowering young people to share their stories and advocating for the value of student voice.
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Ellen Austin
Consultant
Ellen Austin is an educational consultant focusing on program innovation, student engagement and equity. Austin retired from the classroom in 2022 after a 25-year career as a nationally recognized educator and journalism adviser. When Austin began her career at a small rural high school in Minnesota, she discovered the school had no student newspaper, so she began an after-school program with her students. The dedication of the students to being a voice for their community led them to be named the best overall small high school newspaper in Minnesota in 2004.
Austin moved to California in 2007 to work with journalism teacher and JLI co-founder Esther Wojicki as part of the Palo Alto High School journalism program, where Austin founded the first all-sports high school feature publication in the country. In 2013, Austin moved to The Harker School in San Jose as Director of Journalism. In 2012, she was named the Dow Jones News Fund High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Other honors include Journalism Education Association’s 2006 Rising Star (in the inaugural year of that award), Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Gold Key and National Scholastic Press Association’s PioneerAward. In 2023, she received JEA’s Lifetime Achievement award. Programs Austin advised consistently won N$PA Pacemakers, SPA Crowns and national and regional honors for writing, photography and design. She is a co-author of “Jouralism: Publishing Across Media” [Goodheart-Willcox, 2nd edition, 2021]. Austin is the founder of Birch Avenue Creative and can often be found in her garden trying to grow heirloom tomatoes and admiring the majesty of old growth oaks.
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Jahlysa Azaret
Black Student Magazine Program Community Outreach Coordinator
Jahlysa Azaret is a former graduate of the masters program at the University of Oregon for Multimedia Journalism. Jahlysa also completed work in Ghana with a local radio station that helped her to learn how to elevate community stories. Presently, Jahlysa is a mentor with the Journalistic Learning Initiative to help students to write and publish articles with Black Student Magazine. When Jahlysa is not working, she enjoys a good book with her cats snuggled beside her or learning a new language.
Rachel Guldin
Educational Consultant
Rachel Guldin is a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. She focuses her research on media literacy education through a critical cultural and economic lens. She has published original research on media literacy and popular culture in nationally and internationally renowned academic journals and has presented research and workshops on critical media literacy education at national and international conferences.
Rachel has taught courses in writing, information literacy, rhetoric and public speaking, and education at the University of Oregon, University of Iowa, and Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified elementary school teacher. She taught elementary and middle school English language arts and social studies in Baltimore City Public Schools and elementary math and science in Prince George’s County Public Schools. These classroom experiences shape, inform, and inspire her research. Rachel also worked as an undergraduate admissions counselor at Penn State University, where she supported prospective first-year and transfer students in the admissions process and welcomed thousands of accepted students to University Park. Rachel has worked with the Journalistic Learning Initiative for five years as a graduate researcher and curriculum consultant.
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Susan Szafranski
Educational Consultant
Susan Szafranski brings 20 years of experience and passion for education, journalism and media literacy to her role as JLI’s Effective Communicators Fellowship Coordinator and Instructional Designer. She taught high school English and journalism in the Chicago suburbs from 2004-2023, developing timely content for journalism and ELA programs. She has also advised high school publications that produced award-winning students
She is devoted to advancing student voices through mentoring new journalism teachers and providing consulting services for curriculum design and lesson development. Her vision to help all students reach their potential has driven her to create engaging, skills-based instructional methods grounded in research. Susan received a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning from DePaul University. She is currently an elected member of her local school board in Palos Park, Ill., where she serves as the policy committee chair. She is a Certified Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and has presented at state and national conferences, including the National Council of Teachers of English, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English, and JEA. Susan is excited to inspire teachers and empower students through student-centered, project-based learning that promotes communication and literacy skills. She believes quality education and immersive learning opportunities not only prepare students for success but give them a platform to impact their communities.
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Board of Directors

Ritch Colbert, Board Chairman
Media Entrepreneur and Founder of PPI Releasing
Ritch Colbert is an established entrepreneur with expertise in series television, digital media, program sales and acquisition, and broad-spectrum business development strategies. He has experience with and understanding of US and international media markets across all platforms, existing and emerging.
He is a principal and founder in PPI Releasing, a full service media distribution company that focuses on the needs of content buyers, licensees and distributors and finding talent and productions to meet those needs effectively and efficiently. To mitigate costs and risk, PPI creates new models for programs, including collaboration with international or multi-platform partners, with creative execution and production processes designed to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders. For example, PPI is considered the largest supplier of Canadian content for over-the-air broadcast in the US, having repurposed more than 1000 hours of episodic television, both scripted and unscripted. PPI has also supported program testing with major over-the-air broadcast groups, to give new series and broadcaster partners an opportunity to gauge performance before real audiences. PPI is currently developing in-house, state of the art, editing, and direct-to-client distribution capabilities taking advantage of technology advances and the availability of increased bandwidth to mid-sized commercial enterprises. Ritch is a dedicated, resourceful, experienced media professional greeting the opportunities and challenges of a fast-moving, ever-changing landscape with curiosity, excitement, and passion. He lives in Los Angeles, and has served on several boards, including as Board Chair for the Van Ness Recovery House.
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Esther Wojcicki, Board Treasurer and Secretary
Author and Journalism Educator
Esther Wojcicki, arguably one of the world’s most well-known journalism teachers, taught journalism/English at Palo Alto High School in California for 27 years, retiring in 2020. She is a highly sought speaker on education reform and the power of project-based learning based on her TRICK (Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, Kindness) method of teaching.
Esther began her journalism teaching career at Palo Alto in 1985 with 20 students and one newspaper. Since that time, she has grown the Paly program to more than 500 students, four additional journalism teachers, and five award-winning journalism electives: a newspaper (The Campanile), magazine (Verde), online (www.voice.paly.net), television (InFocus), and Viking, a sports magazine. Esther was selected by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as 2002 California Teacher of the Year. Over the past 20 years, Palo’s publications have won Gold and Silver Crowns from Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the PaceMaker Award and Hall of Fame Award from National Scholastic Press, and best in nation from Time Magazine in 2003. The website was honored with two Webby Awards in 2005. She is board chair of Creative Commons, a nonprofit focused on education and learning; president of the Friends of the Lurdes Mutola Foundation, supporting girls’ education in Mozambique; a consultant for Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Hewlett Foundation; and on the Advisory Board for University of the People. She has authored two books, How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results (2019), and Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom (w/Lance Izumi, 2014).
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Amira Barger, Board Member
AVP of Health Sector Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Edelman
Amira Barger is Executive Vice President/Health Diversity Equity and Inclusion at Edelman, which is the world’s largest public relations firm with 6,000 employees. Previously, she was with Ogilvy. Amira is a strategy consultant and adjunct professor, and partners with brands to discover and craft their hero’s journey, to reach their most important audiences and shape complex, at-scale public education campaigns critical to the nation’s well-being. Her expertise is in the public, nonprofit and private sector.
Amira has invested 14 years in nonprofits as the kind of collaborative leader necessary to effectively tackle pressing, public issues that impact us all. Her subject matter expertise includes: Human-Centered Design, Brand Narrative, Public Education Campaigns, Storytelling, Strategic Planning & Positioning, Diversity & Equity Building, Team Building & Leading, Media Relations, Internal Communications, Company Spokesperson, Crisis/Issues/Reputation Management, Influencer & Stakeholder Relationships, Strategic Philanthropy, Coalition Building, Event Planning and Positioning, Volunteer Engagement. She has facilitated a variety of courses and is a sought-after speaker and consultant on the topics of strategic planning, IED, marketing, communications, fundraising and volunteerism. In her spare time, Amira and her family collect stamps in their National Park Service Passport Cancellation Book. They plan to visit all 417 national parks in the U.S. #RoadTripWarriors. Amira lives in Benicia, California with Jonathan, her life partner of 16+ years, and their daughter Audrey.
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Susan Castillo, Board Member
Former State Senator and Superintendent of Public Instruction
Susan Castillo recently retired as vice president of the west region for Project Lead The Way, a Eugene nonprofit, where she managed a team helping educators in 12 states gain access to high-quality STEM curricula for their students. Susan was previously Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction (2003 to 2012), and a state senator (1997 to 2002), the first Hispanic woman to serve in the Oregon legislature. Susan also enjoyed a 14-year career in broadcast journalism, working for the CBS affiliate in Eugene, KVAL-TV.
During her career, Susan sat on numerous boards, advisories, and committees. She is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, and the daughter of a mother with only an eight- grade education, so saw firsthand the connection between education and opportunity, which fed her passion to remove barriers to academic success.
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Suzzette Martínez-Malavet, Board Member
Vice President of Earned Media at Edelman
Suzzette Martínez-Malavet is an earned media strategist and vice president at global communications firm Edelman. She brings a diverse background in media, multicultural, DEI, crisis, executive coaching and brand reputation, healthcare, government, and a decade of experience in the communications marketing industry.
Suzzette is a multifaceted communicator with vast experience in driving award-winning media campaigns and leveraging relationships across new and traditional media platforms. She has led a wide-range of U.S. and global media assignments including Mckinsey and LeanIn’s Women in the Workplace report, Dove’s Real Cost of Beauty and Women in Gaming, Starbucks’ Student Loans Offering, The Asian American Foundation STAATUS Index launch, Genentech’s D&I Report and Commitments, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine data and distribution efforts, Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center and misinformation campaigns, signature partnerships for Epic Games with J-Balvin, BALENCIAGA and more. She has strong relationships with top tier press across broadcast, online, print and podcasts, such as Associated Press, Axios, Katie Couric Media, Blavity, El Nuevo Día, Telemundo, NBC, MSNBC, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Bloomberg News, INSIDER, STAT News, POLITICO, among others. Suzzette is also part of Edelman’s Executive Coaching & Media Training team. She is a former reporter with experience working in newsrooms and government in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Suzzette is originally from Puerto Rico, and a native Spanish speaker. When she is not working, Suzzette enjoys world traveling with her husband, hiking, jumping on the trampoline, reading career books and spending time with family and friends. She has a dog named Salsa.
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Berk Nelson, Board Member
Manager at Prosper Portland and Former Policy Analyst
Berk Nelson manages Portland, Oregon’s Events and Film Office, which is a collaboration with Prosper Portland. He was previously a policy analyst with the Oregon Health Authority, and government relations director for Umpqua Bank. Berk attended Colorado College on a partial scholarship, playing Division 1 hockey, a passion from a young age. After college, he was an EMT for American Medical Response for two years, and then enrolled in law school at the University of California, Davis. After earning his doctor of jurisprudence degree, he practiced civil litigation and criminal defense law for nine years in Los Angeles. Prior to moving to the Northwest, he was in-house counsel for Molina Healthcare in Vancouver, Washington, and later did contract work in the commercial litigation department at Perkins Coie in Portland, OR.
In early 2017, he was tapped as senior advisor for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. His focus areas were livability, cannabis regulation reform, and police accountability issues, and he was also the Mayor’s liaison with the Portland Police Bureau during demonstrations and occupy camps, an invaluable experience in understanding how a City works.
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Hank Stern
State Communications Director for Senator Wyden
Hank Stern has been Senator Wyden’s state communications director since August 2014 after a 24-year career in journalism starting with the Associated Press in Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., and including a seven-year stint as a reporter at The Oregonian and six years as the managing news editor at Willamette Week.
He also worked for three years in Multnomah County’s communications office. Hank grew up in the Beaverton area and went on to attend Georgetown University, where he graduated from in 1986 with a degree in government.
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