Wendi C. Thomas, Editor & Publisher: Wendi C. Thomas founded MLK50: Justice Through Journalism in 2017 as a one-year project that grew into a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on poverty, power and public policy in Memphis. She is a member of ProPublica’s 2020 Local Reporting Network and was in its 2019 LRN cohort.
Previously, Thomas was metro columnist and assistant managing editor at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. She has also worked for The Charlotte Observer, The (Nashville) Tennessean and The Indianapolis Star. Thomas was a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
Thomas is the 2020 Selden Ring Award winner for investigative reporting and won first place in the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2019 awards for business reporting. Her “Profiting from the Poor” investigation tied for first place in the Investigative Reporters & Editors 2019 awards in the print/online division 1.
In 2019, Thomas received the National Association of Black Journalists’ Best Practices award. In 2018, she was named Journalist of the Year by Journalism and Women Symposium. She was inducted into the Scripps Hall of Fame for commentary in 2008. She’s a graduate of Butler University and a proud product of public schools.
Peggy McKenzie, Interim Managing Editor: Peggy McKenzie, interim managing editor, has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She is a former assistant managing editor for features / arts and entertainment and later suburban news at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal newspaper. She began her career there as a reporter and covered a variety of beats, including county government, social services, schools, and neighborhoods.
A native Memphian, McKenzie was raised in the Douglass community, a proud Black neighborhood founded by a former enslaved person. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis (then Memphis State University) with a degree in broadcast journalism.
McKenzie spends her downtime catching up on the latest antics of her 10 grandchildren, and hunting down cool antiques and collectibles. Email her at email@example.com.
Andrea Morales, Visuals Director: Andrea Morales, visuals director, is Peruvian-born, Miami-bred and Memphis-based: After years of existing in spaces heavy with the constructs of socioeconomic binaries, her work moves with the hope of observing the things in between.
A decade in community newspapers taught Morales to value both the ceremonial and the mundane while a graduate education in visual storytelling at Ohio University helped her think about giving that life off the printed page.
Shiraz Ahmed, Editorial Operations Manager: Shiraz Ahmed is a journalist and visual artist. Ahmed tells stories about community, identity and the unending attempt to better our world. He has covered activism, urban renewal and community-based healthcare in his home state of Texas and in Detroit.
He is a New York Foundation for the Arts Immigrant Artist Fellow (2019), Documenting DETROIT fellow (2018) and graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University (2013). Ahmed also enjoys gardening, music and salsa-making.
Email him at Shiraz.Ahmed@mlk50.com
Stephanie Wilson, Web Developer: Stephanie Wilson, web developer, has been working in journalism for almost 20 years. She spent 14 years working at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal covering a variety of roles, most recently as senior producer of digital content. She also spent a number of years as a community editor, copy editor, assistant night news editor, and team editor for crime, courts and general assignments.
Wilson was born in Ohio and spent her early years living all over the United States as her father pursued his career in commercial construction. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in journalism.
When she’s not working, and sometimes while she is, Wilson spends her time trying to keep up with her 3-year-old daughter and her Corgi, Jax. She also enjoys reading, crocheting, and trying out new recipes. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah Grabenstein, Reporter: Hannah Grabenstein is a Report for America corps member. She was previously a reporter for the Associated Press in Little Rock, Arkansas, where her reporting on truancy in Arkansas schools won second place for investigative reporting at the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter Diamond Awards in 2019.
Carrington J. Tatum, Reporter: A Report for America corps member, Carrington believes news should serve the most vulnerable people first.
He has worked for The Dallas Morning News, specializing in the historically under-resourced southern side of Dallas. Prior to that, he worked with The Texas Tribune to cover homelessness and higher education.
A first-generation student from Garland, Texas, he cut his reporting teeth at Texas State University where he was the first Black editor-in-chief of The University Star, the university’s student-run newspaper.
Andrea Faye Hart, Operations and Organizational Development Specialist: Andrea Faye Hart is an award-winning media-based organizer and interdisciplinary educator who co-founded the Chicago-based civic journalism lab City Bureau. She is currently supporting MLK50 as a part-time organizational development consultant. She is invested in helping local news nonprofits push for good trouble across the country and in bringing her Chicago approach to organizing further south while pursuing a master’s of divinity at Vanderbilt University as a Dean’s Scholar.
Hart also serves as the Board Co-Chair for Scalawag, a journalism and storytelling nonprofit that pursues justice and liberation while standing in solidarity with marginalized people and communities in the American South.
In 2019 she was honored as a catalyst by Northwestern University for their “150 Years of Women” celebration. She’s a proud queer femme dog mama to a pitbull named Studs (as in Terkel) and shares her ramblings on Twitter at @lenifaye. Email her at email@example.com.