National Journalism Advisory Board

The Murphy Center’s National Journalism Advisory Board is made up of leading journalists, editors, publishers and educators from across the country. They advise the Murphy Center to ensure that we’re helping students develop the skills and networks needed to produce quality work and succeed in the ever-evolving media landscape.

And unlike many other programs, our students actually get quality face-time with our Board; advisers conduct mock job interviews, provide feedback on student work and mentor students throughout their time at the Murphy Center and beyond. Advisers not only help our students make connections, find quality internships and fellowships, and land their dream jobs; they help them make the most of their talents and develop skills to become leading voices and changemakers in an industry that needs fresh, innovative and bright minds.

Board members

Dan Grech
Dan Grech is the founder and lead instructor of BizHack Academy, which provides digital marketing training to communications professionals, businesses and nonprofits in Miami. He’s the former News Director at WLRN (Miami’s NPR station) and has worked as a reporter at The Miami Herald, The Washington Post, NPR’s Marketplace and PBS’s Nightly Business Report. He’s also worked as the head of digital marketing at two software startups and the nation’s largest Hispanic-owned energy company. Dan has consulted with many of Miami’s top nonprofits, including The Knight Foundation, The Children’s Movement of Florida and the Dan Marino Foundation. His wife is Gretchen Beesing, the CEO of Catalyst Miami. Dan is a graduate of Princeton University and has a Masters degree in storytelling from FIU.

Jennifer Greer, Ph.D.
Jennifer Greer is dean of the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky. She was previously associate provost, interim dean, and department chair at the University of Alabama and also held administrative posts at the University of Nevada. Greer earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, a master’s degree from the University of Kansas and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri. She was a journalist for The Kansas City Star and the Gainesville Sun.  She was president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2017-2018 and serves on the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Rabun Matthews
Former President and General Manager, multiple Hearst Television stations; former Vice President of News, Pulitzer Broadcasting Company.

Doug Mitchell
Consultant/Project Manager, NPR; Adjunct Instructor, Georgetown University

Neil Skene
Neil Skene worked on the creation of the Murphy Center as a consultant and was the first chair of its National Advisory Board. He earlier chaired Mercer’s Law School Board of Visitors. He is the author The Florida Supreme Court, 1972-1987: A Journey Toward Justice (University Press of Florida, 2017). Neil’s career in journalism began at the Macon Telegraph during high school. He attended Vanderbilt University and Mercer Law School, then joined the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), where he was state capital bureau chief and later editor of its afternoon paper. Starting in 1987, he was executive editor and president of Congressional Quarterly Inc. in Washington. In 1999 he co-founded a consulting firm on digital classified ad strategies and later was a shareholder and executive of an alt-weekly newspaper group and taught newsroom management seminars in Africa and the Middle East. Neil coached Florida State’s college mock trial team for 10 years, including its national championship in 2013. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Mark Stencel
Mark Stencel is co-director of the Reporters’ Lab at Duke University, where he teaches journalism and helps deploy tools fact-checkers use around the world to counter political lies and other forms of misinformation. He also is executive director of JournalList, the nonprofit that oversees the trust.txt framework for news media organizations and associations. He previously worked at National Public Radio, Congressional Quarterly, The Washington Post and North Carolina’s News & Observer. He is a former board chair of the Student Press Law Center and has been a member of the Murphy Center’s advisory board at Mercer since the program was formed.

Benét Wilson
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Aviation Queen LLC; Chair of Diversity Committee, Online News Association; Vice President of Education, National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force

Gigi Douban
Gigi Douban is the news director at KUOW in Seattle. Previously she was News Director at WBHM in Birmingham. She was an independent reporter prior to that for NPR and Marketplace.  She was a CPB Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative fellow, an intensive program for public media’s most promising newsroom leaders, and a mentor with Next Generation Radio.

Michael Grant
Teaching Fellow at Google News Lab

Nicole Smith
Nicole D. Smith is the editorial audience director for Harvard Business Review, where she focuses on growing digital readership. Prior to HBR, she worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ESSENCE magazine and CNN. Nicole is also a journalism professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta. She holds degrees from the University of Georgia and The George Washington University.

Katie Konans
Katie Konans is Audio Storytelling Lead at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), where she’s focused on sharing the agency’s most exciting stories through sound. In 2020, she launched the agency’s successful flagship podcast, NASA’s Curious Universe, which received a 2022 Webby award recognition in the “Best Limited Podcast Series: Science” category for coverage of the historic James Webb Space Telescope mission. Katie is a coordinating mentor for the Office of Communication’s internship program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She is an alumna of the Reg Murphy Center for Collaborative Journalism (‘19). During her time at Mercer University, Katie worked at Georgia Public Broadcasting and was the Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning student newspaper, The Cluster.

Amir Vera
Amir Vera is a breaking news editor for CNN’s Live News Team. Vera was previously a writer on CNN Digital’s National News Desk where he reported on some of the biggest breaking news stories. He also wrote in-depth and explanatory features on the topics of race, culture, criminal justice and education. His reporting and commentary earned him a 2021 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Salute to Excellence Award in online features projects.

Prior to CNN, Vera worked at two Virginia newspapers — The Progress-Index in Petersburg and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk — where he won multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association and Society of Professional Journalists.

Vera is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Nicole Carr
Nicole Carr works for ProPublica’s Southern bureau in Atlanta and also teaches journalism courses at Morehouse. She has a background in TV reporting and investigative reporting.

Sara Shahriari 
Sara Shahriari is the director of leadership and talent development at the Institute for Nonprofit News. She supports development of effective and forward-thinking leaders who advance sustainability in their organizations through cohort-based learning and coaching, manages partnerships that bring more than 80 paid interns from diverse backgrounds into INN member newsrooms each year and presents ongoing DEIB-centered workshops. Prior to joining INN, Sara worked in public radio leadership and journalism education. She was managing editor for radio at Georgia Public Broadcasting, taught podcasting and audio production at the University of Georgia, and served on the faculty at the Missouri School of Journalism. At Missouri, she was also assistant news director at the public radio member station housed within the university, KBIA-FM, where she hosted and produced a national award-winning weekly talk show. Before making the transition to leadership and journalism education, Sara worked as a freelance journalist reporting from the Andean region.