Cox Institute Recognizes 2020 Levin Leaders, Awards Scholarships at Spring Leadership Dinner

Cox Institute Recognizes 2020 Levin Leaders, Awards Scholarships at Spring Leadership Dinner

March 05, 2020
(l-rt.) Nick Chiles, 2020 Industry fellow; Sofia Gratas, Megan Wahn, Nicole Shearin, Danielle Harvey, Yash Bhika, Anila Yoganathan, Henry Queen, Cameren Rogers, Mikaela Cohen, Ryan Cameron, Taejah Harper, Amy Scott, Savannah Sicurella, Keith Herndon, Cox Institute Director. Photo: Dayne Young

The James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the Grady College recognized its 2020 class of Levin Leaders Wednesday, presenting 13 aspiring media leaders with the Cox Institute’s Leadership Medal.

The Cox Institute’s Industry Fellow Award and four departmental scholarships were presented, while three graduate students and key industry contributor were recognized with Institute fellowships.

The Levin Leaders were selected for the leadership program from a pool of faculty nominations based on their commitment to professional development through work in student media, internships and other student activities. The 2020 Levin Leaders were: Yash Bhika, Ryan Cameron, Mikaela Cohen, Sofia Gratas, Taejah Harper, Danielle Harvey, Henry Queen, Cameren Rogers, Amy Scott, Savannah Sicurella, Nicole Shearin, Megan Wahn and Anila Yoganathan.

These students, family, faculty, staff and guests gathered at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Library for a dinner ceremony where they heard from Nick Chiles, Grady’s writing lab coach, who is this year’s Cox Institute Industry Fellow.

Chiles encouraged the students to embrace storytelling as a part of the human experience, and to work diligently to nurture the listening skills needed to truly connect with the people who are their subjects. “Make storytelling your journalistic superpower,” said Chiles, who is a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize recipient as part of a reporting team at New York Newsday.

During the scholarship presentations, Sofia Gratas and Henry Queen were awarded Conrad C. Fink Scholarships; Amy Scott received the Todd M. Bauer Memorial Award and Anila Yoganathan received the Barry Hollander Award.

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Charlotte Norsworthy, who is a Morris Masters Fellow this year, was awarded a new research fellowship to fund her last semester of studies in Fall 2020. The research fellowship was made possible by a gift of the TrueFiduciary Institute. Caroline Windham, also a Cox Institute graduate assistant, and Kendall Lake, a master’s student who was a Morris Media Fellow, were both recognized as Leadership Fellows for their contributions to the Cox Institute.

Bob Sullivan, a Peabody Award winning journalist, best-selling author and popular podcaster, was also recognized as a Leadership Fellow for his work on the Cox Institute’s advisory board. For the past five years, Sullivan has been deeply engaged with fundraising and student training and mentoring.

“These are challenging times for the news media industry, but it is energizing to come here and work with these exceptional students,” Sullivan said.

The dinner opened this year by featuring a new promotional video explaining the programs and history of the Cox Institute, which is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year. Kala Horvat filmed and produced the video as part of her Cox Institute Innovation Fellowship this semester and was recognized for her work during the dinner ceremony. Please watch the promotional video here.

The students participating in the leadership program met weekly during January and February with Dr. Keith Herndon, professor of practice in journalism and director of the Cox Institute. The sessions featured student discussions about leadership principles drawn from the “Your Leadership Edge” book published by the Kansas Leadership Center.

The students said they drew inspiration from their peers and discovered more about themselves as they prepare for challenging media careers.

Taejah Harper said she drew from the experiences of her Levin Leader peers, which gave her new insights into what leadership means. “It’s about realizing who you are as a person and evaluating the things that you value,” she said.

Savannah Sicurella said she previously understood leadership to be about innate qualities that you either have or don’t. “I didn’t realize that it was something that could be cultivated, developed, improved and strengthened,” she said in explaining insights gleaned from the program.

The program’s holistic approach to leadership education resonated with this year’s participants. “This program opened my eyes to the varying aspects of a strong leader and how to fill that role,” said Nicole Shearin. “I am ready to take that leap and be a leader in every aspect of my life.”

Since its inception eight years ago, the Cox Institute’s leadership training program has taught 113 of Grady’s best journalism students about leadership principles. The program was renamed the Levin Leaders Initiative last year to reflect the generous support provided by Adam Levin, his wife Heather McDowell, and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation. The Levin family’s support provides for curriculum development, training materials, speaker expenses, experiential learning opportunities and the annual awards banquet. Levin is a nationally recognized expert on cyber security, privacy, identity theft, fraud, and personal finance. He is chairman and founder of CyberScout and was co-founder of He authored the critically acclaimed book, “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.”

Check out more pictures from the banquet here.

To watch the Cox Institute’s 30th Anniversary video, see here.