Kamille Whittaker Named Cox Institute’s Industry Fellow for 2023

Kamille Whittaker (MFA ’21), the managing editor of Atlanta Magazine and co-founder of the award-winning, community-led journalism project Canopy Atlanta, is the 2023 Industry Fellow with the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the University of Georgia.

Keith Herndon, the executive director of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute, recognized Kamille Whitaker at the leadership dinner on March 2.
Keith Herndon, the executive director of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute, recognized Kamille Whitaker at the leadership dinner on March 2. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman.)

Whittaker will spend her time as Industry Fellow interacting with UGA student journalists through classroom lectures and the Cox Institute’s extracurricular programs. She also delivered the keynote address at the Cox Institute’s Spring Leadership Dinner on March 2.

“UGA students have never disappointed when it comes to how they show up in the world, and that’s just a testament to the great training at Grady as it is right now, so it can only get better,” Whittaker said. “I’m just excited to be able to add to that polish.”

Keith Herndon, executive director of the Cox Institute, said students are excited for the opportunity to work with Whittaker.

“Our students love it when working professionals invest some of their time to be part of our programs,” Herndon said. “We’re thrilled to have Kamille Whittaker as our Industry Fellow this year and we welcome the enthusiasm she is bringing to this role. It’s great to have her back on campus working with our students.”

Whittaker graduated from the Grady College of Journalism Mass Communication’s M.F.A. program in Narrative Nonfiction in 2021. She graduated from Howard University, where she studied political science and journalism, in 2005.

At Atlanta Magazine, Whittaker leads production of the monthly print issues and edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage.

Whittaker is also the training director for Canopy Atlanta, where she teaches Atlanta residents what she described as “Journalism 101” — interviewing, writing, fact-checking and media ethics. This training equips residents to write stories about their communities and the issues they’re facing. Additionally, Whittaker has worked with students at Mercer University since spring 2021 as an instructor for the school’s online writing lab.

“I just think it’s important to constantly be putting back into the pipeline, and investing time and energy and resources, especially with the changing industry,” Whittaker said.

As a journalist who has experienced the news media’s shift from print to digital, Whittaker is eager to mentor students during a time she considers to be another pivotal juncture in the industry. Now is the time for journalists to find new ways to serve the communities they cover, she said.

“It’s a critical time for journalism,” Whittaker said. “It is a public good now more than ever, and I’m just hopeful that students . . . recognize that moment and just dive right into it.”

Whittaker’s journalism career has roots in the Black Press — one of her earliest industry roles was interning for Black Voice News in her hometown of Riverside, California. She later worked as a national correspondent for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). She has carried her dedication to the Black Press throughout her career.

“The historic Black Press is the voice for the voiceless — they often reported on things that mainstream media just did not report,” Whittaker said. “[Black newspapers have] just such a significant presence, and that’s why I will always stay connected to that.”

Whittaker has also held positions with Heldref Publications (now Taylor & Francis), The Washington Post in conjunction with Newsweek (formerly WPNI) and The Liberator Magazine. She worked for the Atlanta Tribune magazine for 12 years before joining Atlanta Magazine in January 2021.

Previous Cox Institute Industry Fellows were Ken Foskett, former investigative reporter and editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Richard Griffiths, former vice president at CNN; Marilyn Geewax, former senior editor with NPR; Amy Glennon, former publisher with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Nick Chiles, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter and best-selling author.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership website. It has been edited lightly for republication.

Grady Journalism students complete 2018 Cox Institute Leaders Program; Institute Scholar Recognized

The Cox Institute Scholar Ryan Kor, with Keith Herndon and Jeff Springston.
The Cox Institute Scholar Ryan Kor, with Keith Herndon and Jeff Springston.

The James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the Grady College presented its Cox Leadership Medal to 15 aspiring student leaders who completed its leadership program and also recognized its first Cox Institute Scholar. The ceremony took place March 8, 2018.

Fifteen students 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. They are: Nicole Adamson, Sabrina Burse, Mary Carol Butterfield, Heather Bryan, Mauli Desai, John Durham, Annie Jorgensen, Noelle Lashley, Tori McElhaney, Garrett Michael, Charlotte Norsworthy, Michaela Patafio, Maddie Ray, Sammy Smith and Maxime Tamsett.

These students, family, faculty and guests gathered at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Library for a dinner ceremony where the students received their Cox Leadership Medal in recognition of their achievements.

Ryan Kor, a master’s student at the Grady College, was recognized as the first Cox Institute Scholar.  Kor, who will receive her graduate degree in May, has served as the Cox Institute’s graduate assistant during the past two academic years and contributed significantly to its programs and research initiatives.

Marilyn Geewax, a contributor to NPR who recently retired as the network’s senior business editor, was the event’s keynote speaker and delivered an emotionally charged message on the importance of journalists and the news media.

“Our job is to serve democracy, period,” she said. “To give our fellow citizens the facts and the context they need to understand our complicated world and make informed decisions about their elected leaders and about public policy.”

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

“These discussion sessions provided a format for serious introspection and contemplation about leadership, and especially about leadership in the context of the news media,” Herndon said. “As these sessions evolved, I became energized and inspired by these emerging leaders. Their passion and commitment to excellence was evident.”

The students participating in the program said they found value in coming together as a cohort to talk about leadership in ways that are not presented in a traditional classroom approach.

“The discussion with my peers was always though-provoking and inspiring,” said Heather Bryan. “I’ve learned so much, not only about leadership, but about myself.” Sabrina Burse said, “Talk about inspirational! I have never been part of a group that left me feeling so refreshed.”

Annie Jorgensen said the program “guided us through meaningful introspection,” adding that “we all walked away from this experience as better leaders, better journalists and overall better people.”

The Cox Institute Leaders program intentionally places the discussion of leadership in the specific context of the news industry and the challenges facing newsroom leaders.

During his welcoming remarks, Grady College Dean Charles Davis, said fostering and recognizing leadership is a cornerstone of the Grady College, “but this is especially true in journalism where we must encourage professionals and those who aspire to become professionals to stay true to their calling as defenders of the First Amendment.”

These sentiments rang true for Tori McElhaney, a Cox Leader, who said the program illustrated a commitment to the truth among her peers. “I leave this semester with hope for what the future could look like and (for) what these people will do to change it for the better,” she said.

Pictures from the event can be viewed on the UGA Grady Flickr page.