As the local media industry continues to evolve, women are taking the lead in finding new ways to connect with communities and grow businesses. These 10 trailblazing leaders in local media are innovating across the country in digital, radio, television and print.

Caroline Beasley, Beasley Media Group


Caroline Beasley is the chief executive officer of Beasley Media Group, a multiplatform media group that owns 62 radio stations across the country. Since joining the company in 1983, she has played a key role in diversifying her family’s company, expanding beyond broadcast radio into digital streaming, live events and e-sports. She is also a member of the FCC Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

In her own words:

On broadcasting: “We believe in the future of radio. Radio has been around for almost 100 years and it’s been able to adapt and change in order to remain relevant. We expect that it will continue to do so. There is a lot more competition in the marketplace today than there was even 10-15 years ago, but radio is different today than it was 10-15 years ago. We’re not just over the air, we’re online, we’re on mobile. As long as we are able to continue to adapt and change, then radio will have a place as an entertainment and content delivery medium.”

On the benefits of local radio: “Our talent are local and involved in the community. They have a special connection with their listener. That’s the opportunity on the content side. In terms of our advertisers, our goal, as with everyone else in radio, is to help our advertisers grow their revenue. We’re not just selling spots, we want to provide solutions to our advertisers.”

Eboné F. Bell, Tagg Magazine


Eboné F. Bell is the editor-in-chief of Tagg Magazine, a Washington, D.C.-based publication that serves “everything lesbian, queer and under the rainbow” and is part of the Local Media Association’s LGBTQ+ collaborative, News is Out. She launched Tagg in 2012 when she noticed a lack of coverage of queer women in local news. In 2018, she founded the Tagg Scholarship Fund, a scholarship for young queer women of color.

In her own words:

What’s one key lesson that you’ve learned about leadership in this role?

“One lesson I’ve learned is that delegation and empowerment is your best friend.”

What’s one way that women in media can support other women?

“By uplifting women’s voices and stories with intentionality. It’s important we’re included in all conversations and stories—instead of left out.”

What’s one thing you’re excited about in local media in 2022?

“Tagg Magazine is celebrating 10 years. With being one of two LGBTQ women’s print publications left in the country, we are not only excited to celebrate ten years, but we’re determined to keep queer women’s media thriving.”

Rana Cash, The Charlotte Observer


Rana Cash is the executive editor of The Charlotte Observer. When she joined in 2021, she became the paper’s first Black editor in its 135-year history. Soon after, she introduced a “reimagined” news outlet focused on accountability and investigative reporting as well as the culture of the city and service journalism.

In her own words:

On returning to Charlotte: “I found a city growing and grappling. The duality of Charlotte drew me to The Charlotte Observer, with a chance to lead dynamic news coverage that the city wants and needs. It is as critical now as ever that The Charlotte Observer be relevant in helping our newcomers and life-long residents navigate the familiar and the unknown.”

On community-oriented journalism: “My career has taken me to multiple newsrooms and cities across the country, and each stop has brought new opportunities to grow, lead and make an impact on my community with accountability and solutions-oriented journalism.”

On expanding coverage: “All our communities need to be reflected in our coverage, not just people of influence. Everyday people should be able to pick up our paper or come to our website and see themselves, their lives, and the stories that matter to them.”

Kathleen Choal, KSHB-TV


Kathleen Choal is the vice president and general manager of KSHB-TV, a Scripps station in Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked in local television news for more than 15 years, after a two-year stint as a police officer in Arizona. During the pandemic, she arranged to broadcast school lessons from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. to help reach children who were learning remotely.

In her own words:

On diversity and new challenges: “Many of the best moments of my career have come from working with news teams to inform and empower their increasingly diverse audiences.”

On broadcasting school lessons during the pandemic: “What we’re trying to do is bridge the divide between the kids that have internet access and the kids who don’t. We think it’s a good service to our community.”

On management: “‘Train your staff so that they can do the job without you. Then trust them to do it.”

Angel Ellis, Mvskoke Media


Angel Ellis is the director of Mvskoke Media, a multimedia organization that “aims to be the voice of the Mvskoke people” in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. In 2021, she successfully advocated for a change in the Muscogee Nation’s constitution that enshrined press freedom protections, the first tribe to do so through a citizen ballot referendum. Mvskoke Media is a founding member of LMA’s Oklahoma Media Center, for which Ellis serves as board treasurer.

In her own words:

What’s one key lesson that you’ve learned about leadership in this role?

“In my position today, I’m learning the value of recognizing the role personal and professional culture plays in the foundation and building support for the future of an industry. Any industry has generations of contributions; we stand on the shoulders and reach out to the future, and it’s important to recognize that we are a cog in that wheel of time. If we aren’t recognizing where we come from and where we are going with clarity, we are shackled into inefficacy.

“The most pivotal lesson for me was when I came to realize that nothing about me — neither the fact that I am a woman, an Indigenous person, nor my higher learning institution credentials — disqualified me from having all that I needed to lead. My breakthrough moment was when I finally truly embraced the concept that I had strengths as a woman, an Indigenous person, a person who hard-earned a lackluster degree from the only place I could afford. The characteristics I possessed are just as valuable to leading an organization as any other tools. Rather than a shiny impressive tool, I focused on building a trusted and versatile tool belt.”

What’s one way that women in media can support other women?

“I think the most important way women in media can support other women is by being a good mirror to each other. None of the success that I have experienced happened without the support of other incredible women who reached back to me and invited me through a door. The moment I plugged into a network of great women who would honestly reflect back to me, women who became a mirror to me, that is when my trajectory changed. I saw my strengths and weaknesses in those mirrors and it allowed me to adjust. I think it is the most important thing any human can do for another human being.”

What’s one thing you’re excited about in local media in 2022?

“When I sit back and I see our major industry players embracing new strategies to improve, make the industry inclusive, and doing it from a perspective of healing the industry and profession, I get really excited. Those things are happening and it has kept me energized. I’m also looking forward to seeing people in person more.”

Maritza L. Félix, Conecta Arizona


Maritza L. Félix is the founder and publisher of Conecta Arizona, a Spanish-language news service that provides vital information via social media. Originally from Mexico, Félix launched the organization to help Spanish speakers in Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora keep up with COVID-19 updates and help fight misinformation that was spreading on WhatsApp and other platforms. Conecta Arizona is a member of the Local Media Foundation’s Lab for Journalism Funding, an ongoing workshop dedicated to helping local news outlets develop new revenue strategies.

In her own words:

What’s one key lesson that you’ve learned about leadership in this role?

“Through Conecta Arizona I rediscovered my journalism, one that is based on listening and not on assumptions or expectations. I also made amends with my impostor syndrome — I shook it off and became a leader who, with my community, builds a journalistic project that reflects everything we are: diverse, with an accent and colors, with different desires and with an almost insatiable thirst to see ourselves represented in politics, business and the media.

“I am building the newsroom of my dreams. I do it hand-in-hand with great mentors who have paved the way and who believe, like me, in resilience as a form of power, not submission.”

What’s one way that women in media can support other women?

“When I see my mom, I feel proud and I cannot hide it. A widow who faced financial hardship, she raised my brother and me with the enormous gift of letting us dream and helping us achieve everything we imagined we could be. She believed in me from my first breath and still does. This sorority concept I learned by example. Now I see my daughter and I want to help her to find her way, to fly and to live, and to know that no matter what happens I will be here. This is my family.

“But there are also ties that are not blood but fill me with inspiration. I have colleagues whom I admire from the soul who have become comadres and accomplices, others who are mentors and friends. We see each other through a look of respect, admiration, and empowerment. We don’t fight each other; we fight together against the world, stereotypes, gaps and inequality. We support each other because we believe in ourselves, and that is the strongest power: believe in oneself and believe in others.

“Magic is born when we realize that we are not in competition, that we are human and vulnerable, but that despite everything, we can create a path together, accompany each other, applaud each other, stand up and support each other.

“How do we do it? By making a path, sharing experience, by dignifying our own work and by sharing the work of others. The most impactful story that we have to tell is ours.”

What’s one thing you’re excited about in local media in 2022?

“For a long time, I thought that professional success was related to getting my byline in a well-known and respected big traditional media outlet, and the bigger the better. Not anymore. I stopped chasing other people’s definitions of success to find a meaning of my own. For me, it is local, community, real and dialogue journalism. In the small, I found greatness. I am excited this year to have the opportunity to redefine journalism through Conecta Arizona, listening to the community, telling their (our) stories, investigating the problems that concern them, uncovering irregularities that they have suffered and no one else has wanted to investigate.

“I am excited to prove that local journalism matters and can generate change, that human bridges can be built through dialogue, and I am excited to take back the narrative of my border, with our perspectives, accents, realities, stories, and challenges. Stop doing journalism for and do journalism with. And that what we are doing in a small way can be replicated on a large scale and show that local, migrant and community journalism can flourish as we do in the desert.”

S. Mitra Kalita, Epicenter NYC


S. Mitra Kalita is the founder and publisher of Epicenter NYC, a community journalism project that started as a pandemic newsletter in Queens, New York. Kalita, a former executive at CNN, is also a co-founder of URL Media, a network of Black and Brown media organizations; URL stands for Uplift, Respect and Love. She launched Epicenter with the goal of helping connect her neighbors with resources; in the spring of 2021, her team coordinated thousands of vaccine appointments for locals in need.

In her own words:

What’s one key lesson that you’ve learned about leadership in your role?

“I have run really large teams in my career and by that comparison, our team at Epicenter is tiny. But – I have learned more from remote management, entrepreneurship and workplace-building in these last two years than any other period of my life. The pandemic is a part of the reason why: People want to work in purposeful organizations. I have had to learn to center purpose and mission in everything we do. It’s easy for news outlets to take this for granted but that is such a mistake. Keeping up levels of energy, enthusiasm and the meaning of (gestures all around) this is paramount.

“I’ve also learned a lot about what it means to center Black and Brown communities, and am still learning. It requires us to redefine the rules of journalism as taught in graduate school and ethical case studies. It means that scouting about for the “right answer” in order to cover a certain story or best serve a community might be an empty endeavor, and you are just going to have to forge a path forward and rely on a mix of good intent and instincts on doing the right thing.”

What’s one way that women in media can support other women?

“I feel like I spend a lot of time supporting other women, whether it’s reviewing their galleries to write a blurb or doing their podcast interviews or listening to their pitch for a new media company. I don’t share this to complain but to ask for grace if it takes me a while to get back to you. I sometimes wonder if I get these requests because I’m a sucker who answers email and tries to find a way to get to yes. If that’s the case, I would love if the women — who think they’ve somehow magically “made it” and that means they don’t have to help lift up other people — would rethink their stance and realize, actually, they owe the universe even more. I’m drowning and I’d really love if we could share the burden a bit.”

What’s one thing you’re excited about in local media in 2022?

“I am excited to test and pilot new metrics around the frequency of our audiences and community members seeking us out, whether that’s a click on a newsletter or a call to our hotline or a text message to one of our volunteers. After decades of trying to get to higher CPMs and measuring unique visitors, I am excited that there seems agreement that we were doing it all wrong.

I” also am so excited by the community trusting us and staying in touch. It’s not something I take for granted at all.”

Kate Morris, TEGNA

Kate Morris is president and general manager for local TEGNA television stations KPNX Phoenix, KNAZ Flagstaff and KMSB/KTTU Tucson. Previously, she held the same role for the KTVB News Group in Boise, Idaho, where she expanded the local broadcasting offerings while transitioning the newsroom into Idaho’s most-visited local news website.

In her own words:

On experimenting with drones in local news coverage: “I think we’re in a rapidly changing environment for newsgathering and presentation. … What we’ve tried to do is be super transparent and overly communicative on air but then also in person. … Our goal is not to invade privacy. We operate under the same journalistic standards of integrity that we do with our regular cameras. So for me, ultimately, it’s about building trust through transparency.”

On engaging with viewers online: “For us, we are very loyal to our brand, and we know our audience, so things that work in other markets don’t necessarily engage or do well here, and I think our team really knows our audience. We study metrics and look at what does well on a regular basis, so we feel we are in tune with our hyperlocal audience; we don’t over-post throughout the day; we focus on quality content.”

Sonali Verma, The Globe and Mail


Sonali Verma is the director of business development at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, and serves on the board of directors for LMA. In the past, she worked as the director for customer success, senior product manager for analytics and deputy head of audience. Now, she’s focused on helping media organizations build revenue through automation and technology while staying engaged with readers.

In her own words:

What’s one key lesson that you’ve learned about leadership in this role?

“Always keep learning. Listen carefully and speak up if you have an idea – it could be something obvious to you but something that nobody else has noticed, because we all bring different knowledge, skills and backgrounds to the table. Be comfortable with making mistakes; it’s OK to be wrong, just keep learning from your mistakes.”

What’s one way that women in media can support other women?

“When we meet at media conferences, I find women are incredibly open to talking to other women, sharing resources and making introductions, and then following up afterwards and offering each other opportunities. The LMA’s CEO Nancy Lane is a real role model for this and for fostering a powerful spirit of collaboration.”

What’s one thing you’re excited about in local media in 2022?

“I have spent years reading about media companies shuttering and the creation of news deserts. How exciting, then, to repeatedly see local news organizations springing up with innovative business models and plans to reach underserved audiences. Also exciting is the potential for intelligent technology to help build sustainable journalism businesses. There’s a real appetite for transformative, data-informed change in newsrooms. The moment is now.”

Jessica Washington, Dallas Weekly


Jessica Washington is the chief operating officer and director of finance at Dallas Weekly, “most trusted voice of the African diaspora in north Texas.” A founding publication of LMA’s Word In Black collaborative, Dallas Weekly was also the winner of the Best Contest or Promotion in the 2020 Local Media Digital Innovation Awards. With a background in accounting and customer service, she’s focused on transitioning The Dallas Weekly into a community-oriented, multimedia brand.

In her own words:

What’s one key lesson that you’ve learned about leadership in this role?

“The one key lesson that I’ve learned about being a leader at Dallas Weekly is living in our purpose and foundation. As for me, I eat, sleep and breathe DW, and everything it stands for. I am confident that my team sees it. And I impart to my team that in order to see success, you truly have to believe in DW as well.”

What’s one way that women in media can support other women?

“While it’s OK to be a fan of the ‘shiny ball’ … go out of your way to support the lesser known ones doing the good work and the real work. You’d be surprised what you find when you step outside your box.”

What’s one thing you’re excited about in local media in 2022?

“I’m excited to see a resurgence in support for local-community based newsrooms. So often the underserved feel invisible, and it is our job as local media outlets to reach out to our neighbors and ensure that they have a voice.”