American Journalism Project announces board changes

Current Board Members Joe Natoli and Irving Washington Appointed Board Chair and Vice-Chair

Washington, D.C. — The American Journalism Project (AJP) today announced former Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Chairman and Publisher Joe Natoli as its new Board Chair, and Executive Director/CEO for the Online News Association (ONA) Irving Washington as Vice-Chair.

Natoli has extensive experience working in the business of local news and is a seasoned leader in nonprofit management. Prior to joining the Inquirer and Daily News, he served as president and publisher of San Jose Mercury News and president of The Miami Herald Publishing Company. Natoli is currently executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Baptist Health South Florida, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in the region, where his responsibilities include technology and digital, innovation, fundraising, human resources and other administrative functions.

“I am honored to succeed co-founders Elizabeth Green and John Thornton as AJP Board Chair,” said Natoli. “They have laid the foundation for an effort that is critical to our democracy, that is, to support experimentation that leads to sustainable business models for providing high-quality local news and information at scale, while at the same time, inspiring a national movement around those objectives.”

Irving Washington is an industry leader and a dedicated advocate of diversity in media. He is currently Executive Director/CEO for the Online News Association (ONA), the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists.

In October, Washington led the formation of Vision25: Building Racial Equity in Newsrooms, an initiative that seeks to build inclusive journalistic institutions where newsrooms are actively anti-racist and collaborative. Washington has led diversity programming and fundraising initiatives for journalists, media professionals, and students worldwide.

Before joining ONA, Washington worked for the National Association of Black Journalists and the Radio-Television Digital News Association. Washington is an American Society of Association Executives Fellow, Columbia University Punch Sulzberger Executive Leadership Fellow, and ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) Scholar.

“John Thornton and Elizabeth Green have laid an extraordinary vision for a more equitable and inclusive local news media that reflects and engages the diversity of this country,” said Washington. “It has been my honor to work with the organization over the past two years, and I am excited to step into this leadership role on the board to continue stewarding the American Journalism Project into the future.”

Co-founded in 2018 by Elizabeth Green and John Thornton, the American Journalism Project is dedicated to rebuilding local news as a public good and creating sustainable models to preserve its future. The American Journalism Project has raised over $40M toward a Fund 1 target of $50M and $10M towards a future fund. The organization has an expanding portfolio that currently has 16 leading nonprofit news organizations.

Green is one of our nation’s leading entrepreneurs working to ensure that journalism is equitable and accessible to the publics it serves. In 2013 she co-founded Chalkbeat, an award-winning nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. In 2019, she co-founded American Journalism Project to play a catalytic role in advancing the future of local news. Chalkbeat expanded their local news vision in 2020 with the launch of Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access.
Green is stepping down from the board to focus fully on growing Chalkbeat, which was established to “inform the decisions and actions that lead to better outcomes for children and families by providing deep, local coverage of education policy and practice.”

“I am stepping off the AJP board with total confidence in the organization’s future,” Green says. “I also leave more confident than ever that we can and will make local news more representative, more in service, and more durable, with the speed democracy demands.”

Co-founder John Thornton will step down as co-chair, but will remain an active board member. Thornton is a respected and enthusiastic nonprofit newsroom pioneer and venture capitalist. He co-founded the Texas Tribune and Elsewhere Partners, a boutique software investment firm focused on bootstrapped companies in non-coastal markets.

”Elizabeth is an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word, and it has been an amazing journey to build the American Journalism Project with her,” said Thornton. “The organization has far exceeded the ‘back of the napkin’ idea that Elizabeth and I first conceived. We could not be more thrilled for Joe and Irving to step into these leadership roles and to see where they and Sarabeth take us next.”

Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the American Journalism Project, says: “John and Elizabeth have not only pioneered two of America’s most celebrated nonprofit news organizations, they have given us an entirely new way of thinking about sustaining this critical piece of democracy. As Elizabeth turns to the expansion of Chalkbeat, we continue to learn from her vision and her achievements.”

  • Beginning March 19, governance of the American Journalism Project is reflected as follows:
  • Chair: Joe Natoli
  • Vice Chair: Irving Washington
  • Members of the Board:
    • Rosental Alves, Founder and Director, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas at Austin
    • Jeff Cohen, Executive Vice President of Communications, Arnold Ventures
    • Teresa Gorman, Senior Program Associate for Local News, Democracy Fund
    • Peter Lattman, Managing Director of Media, Emerson Collective
    • John Thornton, Co-Founder, American Journalism Project, Co-Founder and Partner, Elsewhere Partners, General Partner, Austin Ventures
    • Maria Thomas, Startup Advisor/Investor, Former Etsy CEO, and former SVP Digital at NPR

“Joe Natoli and Irving Washington are the perfect pair to bring the American Journalism Project into the future. Their experience gives us the best lessons of success and their perspective.”