Stan Alost


Stan Alost is an Associate Professor in the Ohio University School of Visual Communication. Alost joined the faculty in 2000 and teaches a wide range of courses including freshmen-level introduction to visual communication, photojournalism senior capstone, graduate photographic essay, as well as research and management courses.

He leads the annual student-produced and award-winning Soul of Athens project. Alost has helped guide seven students to Fulbright scholarships and two students to recognition by the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Other students have been awarded the College Photographer of the Year as well as Hearst, Society of News Design, and Adobe Interactive awards. Alost’s work with students earned him a University Professor award in 2010 as well as selection for the Bruning Teaching Academy for outstanding teaching at Ohio University in 2017.

Outside of academia, Alost began his career in the visual communication field in 1977 and has held positions in management, as a photo editor, photojournalist, and as a designer. His employers include: The St. Petersburg Times, The Morning Advocate, State-Times, Shreveport Journal, and the Natchitoches Times. He has served as a freelance picture editor and photojournalist for the Associated Press and United Press International. Beyond newspapers, Alost’s work has been published in books and magazines including Life, Ohio 24/7, Newsphotographer, and Stern. Additionally, he has co-authored research published in the Newspaper Research Journal as well as papers presented to AEJMC. Alost has also served as the contest co-coordinator and moderator for the annual National Press Photography Association Best of Photojournalism Contests since 2001.

Alost also served as photo editor for Alysia Burton Steele’s book Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom and Josh Birnbaum’s bool Dream Shot: The Journey to a Wheelchair Basketball National Championship. Currently he is editing Arnold Sports Expo 2017, the annual for the Arnold Schwarzenegger sponsored sports festival.

Most important of all Alost is a father, husband, and grandfather.

John Baker


Baker, an instructor of journalism and integrated marketing communications, teaches basic and advanced writing courses, and news and depth reporting. In pursuit of a doctorate in Communication and Information from the University of Tennessee with a concentration in law and public policy, his research interests focus on the First Amendment and other policy issues, as well as the intersection of religion and media.

While earning a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Baker taught or co-taught courses in news reporting, ethics and internet journalism. He was also a juror for the CINE Golden Eagle documentary competition. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from McNeese State University, where he also worked in television and radio production.

Josh Birnbaum


Josh Birnbaum is a photographer and educator based in southeast Ohio. He teaches with Ohio University’'s School of Visual Communication, and also works with the Athens Photographic Project and Circle Round the Square, two community arts programs. He takes pride in helping others tell stories through photography and express themselves through art. He has worked for the Oakland Tribune, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Omaha World-Herald, The Peoria Journal Star, and The Dallas Morning News. In addition, for a brief time, he interned at James Nachtwey's studio.

In the past, he produced photography and multimedia for the National Network of Forest Practitioners, a leading forestry nonprofit based in Athens, Ohio. He also worked as a photographer for Project LAUNCH — a federal grant that benefits community organizations to improve childhood wellness — through OU's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Josh holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois, and an M.A. from Ohio University is Visual Communication. He plans to get a Ph.D. sometime soon. He is a visiting professional in VisCom, teaching photography, picture editing, digital imaging, and audio/video storytelling courses. His first book, Dream Shot: The Journey to a Wheelchair Basketball National Championship, will be released in Fall of 2017 with the University of Illinois Press.

Cheryl Hatch


Cheryl Hatch is a journalist and documentary photographer with extensive international experience. She is currently a professor at Guilford College.

Hatch has focused her camera and reporting on war, its aftermath and its effects on soldiers, their families and those caught in the crossfire, especially women and children. She has worked independently in Liberia, Somalia, Iraq and Eritrea. In the winter of 2011-2012, she an embedded with the 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan. In the winter of 2014-2015, she traveled to Liberia to cover the Ebola outbreak in a project funded in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Hatch is also a recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

As the founder and president of Isis Initiative, Inc., Hatch leads a nonprofit that offers scholarships to women overseas who have the desire but not the resources to pursue a college education.

She also founded a photography project entitled ``Brave New Vision`` for teenage victims of abuse at a residential treatment center in Oregon.

Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, including at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the Sony Gallery in Cairo, Egypt and the Leica Gallery in Solms, Germany. Her work has also been published in newspapers and magazines, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Paris Match.

Ji Hoon Heo


Ji Hoon Heo is a multimedia instructor at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, teaching journalism innovation, web development, and social media. He is also a graduate of the school, earning a Masters in Professional Journalism. He is a FAA certified drone pilot and regularly utilizes new technology such as drones, VR, and data journalism in his courses. He has published work in TED, Huffington Post, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting to name a few. He is an Adobe Certified Associate in Video Communications and a member of National Press Photographers Association.

Jerry Holt


Jerry Holt a native of the Boyle, MS 1978 graduated of East Side High School and a graduated of the University of Southern Mississippi. A staff photographer at the Shreveport Times, Clarion Ledger, and the Commercial Appeal before moving to Minneapolis, MN with his wife Shirley, daughters Kellie, and Kendall.

A staff photographer at the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis, MN since 1990. Most of his work is daily assignments, but over years as a photographer he has photographed many events national and international for the Star Tribune. When Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa he spent 5 weeks providing daily photographic coverage for the newspaper. Worked with a reporter on stories about the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, spent some time in Cuba covering a local college baseball team travels and competitions.

A simple man who loves making photographs of everyday people and spending time with his wife and daughters, has been fortunate to be able to spend a good amount of time working on personal projects, traveling and collaborating with a team of talented journalist.

In his spare time, Jerry spends many hours practicing and teaching Okinawan traditional karate and Kobudo in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Will Jacks


After a short-lived tenure as a middle school English teacher and athletic coach, Millsaps College graduate Will Jacks finally settled into a career as a photographer. After finishing Journalism graduate studies at the University of Mississippi in 1996, he returned to his hometown of Cleveland, MS and opened a photography studio. Eventually that grew to also serve as a regional photo gallery, and in September 2013 Time Magazine recognized its Eudora Welty exhibit as one of the top thirty ways in the world to experience photography offline.

His first monograph documents the juke-joint Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, and has been selected by University Press of Mississippi to be published in 2017.

Currently Will lives in Cleveland and New Orleans with his wife, Jamie, and their two dogs, while working as a freelance photographer / multimedia storyteller. He works very closely with the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, which involves development of the International Delta Blues Project and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. He teaches documentary-based photography classes in the art department at Delta State University and photojournalism / multimedia courses in the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi.

Leena Jayaswal


Leena Jayaswal is a documentary filmmaker, award-winning photographer with deep expertise and interest in issues that intersect race, representation and identity. Her photography has been nationally recognized in galleries around the country, including solo shows at the Gandhi Memorial Center, and International Visions Gallery. Group shows include Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Washington Project for the Arts/ Corcoran Gallery of Art, Arlington Arts Center, Photoworks, Hilyer Art Space, Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Lexington Art League and the Studio Gallery. Jayaswal’s images are in collections at Center for Photography, En Foco, Light Work, Photo Center Northwest through Society for Photographic Education and the Asian American Arts Centre. Her award winning films have been screened in various film festivals around the country. “Crossing Lines” was picked up for national distribution by NETA and has been broadcast on over 100 PBS affiliates across the country. The film has won numerous international and national awards and is currently being distributed by New Day Films.

Her current documentary, “Mixed” examines what it means to be mixed race in America, 50 years after the Supreme Court made interracial marriages legal. Previously she has worked for famed photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, and with the Sandra Berler Gallery. Currently she is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at American University. She received her MFA in Photography (summa cum laude) from the Maryland Institute College of Art and two BA’s in Visual Media and Anthropology from American University.

Mary Fay McFarland


Mary Kay McFarland joined the WVU Reed College of Media in the summer of 2009. She teaches visual and multimedia journalism. Before coming to WVU, McFarland worked at The Charleston Gazette as a staff photographer and multimedia editor

McFarland received her bachelor’s degree in English from Bethany College and her master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Smiley Pool


When Smiley Pool began his career in news photography, journalists were being laid off everywhere you looked, newspapers were folding left and right, and disruptive technology was radically changing the face of photojournalism.

It was the 1980’s. Many two-newspaper towns in America had become, or would soon become, one-newspaper towns. Four-color printing on newsprint was still a novelty and cellular telephones were a new-fangled gadget only the rich could afford. One of the most important decisions a photographer had to make on assignment wasn’t, “should I shoot stills or video,” it was “should I shoot color or black and white?”

Since then, he has witnessed his fair share of history. Some of it will be in the history books, but he’s found the family scrapbook variety more rewarding.

He’s garnered his fair share of awards -- most notably for contributing the aerial photography in The Dallas Morning News’ coverage of Hurricane Katrina that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. At a recent Texas APME awards dinner he was teased about not being able to remember how many times he had been recognized as Star Photojournalist of the Year. Turns out it was five times. If you care about awards, there is a list of all his POYi, Best of Photojournalism, NPPA-type awards here.

Pool admits he “pretty much fell into a career” as a news photographer (he was hired at the Austin American Statesman after his internship following his freshman year of college). He attributes this to being able to follow-focus a telephoto lens, “which was a marketable skill back in the early 1980’s.” Thankfully, for him, his skill set evolved a bit before clever Japanese engineers rendered manual focus an obsolete skill.

He guesses he’s covered, “at least 1,000 football games, probably way more, even double that.” Despite so much time on the sidelines, he doesn’t pull for any particular team. “I’m rooting for whichever team I have better photos of that day.”

Now a card-carrying AARP member who requires reading glasses simply to read the setting on his cameras, all those ball games have become a bit of a blur. What has left an indelible impression are the 10 Olympic games he has covered; along with at least a dozen hurricanes; a half-dozen space launches; and more than a couple of presidents, popes, kings and queens.

But his favorite assignments are still the cancer survivors, military widows, AIDS patients, street preachers, and countless other everyday people who welcome him into their lives and allow him to help tell their stories.

Pool is currently on his second stint as a staff photographer at The Dallas Morning News, which follows two separate tours at the Houston Chronicle (preceded by the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, Austin American Statesman and St. Louis Suburban Journals).

This back-and-forth between Dallas and Houston often confuses his friends, colleagues and casual observers. But, since he attended three high schools, in three years, in three different cities, picking up and moving to another city doesn’t seem like that big a deal to him.

When not on assignment for The Dallas Morning News, he is likely to be found volunteering at a summer camp for HIV+ youth, flying around South Sudan with missionary pilots he has befriended, or vacationing with his wife Jessica someplace like Laos or Haiti, because, let’s face it, those places are interesting.

And, yes, his name really is Smiley. It’s a long story.

Akili Ramsess


Akili Ramsess became the current Executive Director of NPPA in April 2016. Akili had returned to the Atlanta area in 2011 to pursue work as an independent photographer following her tenure as director of photography with the Orlando Sentinel. Prior to the Sentinel, Akili worked eight years with the San Jose Mercury News in a variety photo editing roles before eventually becoming their Deputy Director of Photography/Print. During that period she won numerous picture editing and multimedia awards with the Society for News Design, POYi and NPPA’s Best of Photography competitions.

Before the Mercury News, Akili built a portfolio of photo editing experiences, from, features photo editor for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, which included coverage of the 1996 Olympics; The Los Angeles Times, sharing staff honors for the Pulitzer for coverage of the 1994 Northridge earthquake; and the Associated Press, sharing team honors for the 1993 Pulitzer in Feature Photography for their portfolio of the 1992 presidential campaign.

She’s on the advisory board and former chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Visual Task Force. Her passion for photojournalism is only second to her passion for her family, and riding Harley motorcycles.

Alysia Burton Steele


Alysia Steele is a multimedia journalist and author of the book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a finalist in the 2015 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards for nonfiction. The book was accepted into the Library of Congress and she was named the ``2016 Preserver of Mississippi Culture`` award from the Mississippi Humanities Council. Her book has been featured in The New York Times,, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Essence, (owned by The Washington Post), Free Lance-Star, The Clarion-Ledger and Southern Living. NYT bestselling author Bishop T.D. Jake’s featured her story in his Docu-Series. She received her bachelor of arts in journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in photography from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. Steele has worked as a staff photographer/multimedia producer at The Columbus Dispatch, a picture editor at The Dallas Morning News and deputy director of photography/picture editor at The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Steele spent five weeks documenting life in South Africa, Uganda and Ivory Coast, where her images were featured in Habitat for Humanity’s 25th anniversary coffee table book. While a photographer at The Columbus Dispatch, she won the 2004 James Gordon Understanding Award for photographic excellence for her month-long assignment inside the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

In 2006, she was part of the photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage where she served as a picture editor. For three consecutive years, she did the picture editing and layout/design for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Classic coffee table book. She also did picture editing for the National Urban League and designed their 100th commemorative poem booklet written by Maya Angelou. She’s won numerous awards for her photography and picture editing.

Her motto is ``Everyone has a story worth sharing.``

Special Thanks

Emily Bowen-Moore

Lens Collective Graphic Designer, Instructor at University of Mississippi

Emily Bowen‐Moore joined the faculty in spring of 2015. She earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic design and journalism at Ole Miss in 1997, and after several years of teaching, she earned her master’s in illustration. She has been a freelance illustrator and designer for the last 20 years, and her work has appeared in various printed media, including music CDs, children’s books, and large printed murals. In 2004 and 2006, she was awarded Earthwatch Institute S. A. Rosenbaum Fellowships through the Phil Hardin Foundation. In recent years, she has been illustrating, designing, and publishing her own children’s books.

Rolando Herts, Ph.D.

Director of Delta Center for Culture and Learning, Delta State University

Dr. Herts is a native of the Arkansas Delta region. He was recently selected as an Executive Academy Fellow with the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute after his first year directing The Delta Center and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Previously, he served as Associate Director with the Office of University-Community Partnerships at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. As a Leadership Newark Fellow, he was presented the Berkowitz Distinguished Service Award for his commitment to the Greater Newark community. He also is a former Teach For America Mississippi Delta corps member and a former Emerging Engagement Scholar with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium. Dr. Herts holds a Ph.D. in planning and public policy from Rutgers Graduate School-New Brunswick. He also holds a M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in English from Morehouse College. His interest areas include university-community engagement and partnership development, community-based tourism planning, place branding/marketing, and regional development.

Charles Mitchell, J.D.

Associate Dean Meek School of Journalism and New Media

Charlie Mitchell is associate dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and an associate professor. He is a 1975 graduate of Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a 1986 graduate of The University of Mississippi School of Law with a juris doctorate. He worked for The Vicksburg Post from 1975 until 1983 as a reporter and photographer and then as managing editor and executive editor from 1986 until August 2010. He was on the journalism faculty at the University of Mississippi from 1983 until 1986. He is a past president of the Mississippi Press Association and is a past president of the Mississippi-Louisiana Associated Press Managing Editors Association. His weekly column, Conversation, has won state and regional awards and also appears in more than 20 newspapers statewide. He also won awards for his reporting from Iraq and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is a member of the Warren County and Mississippi bar associations and is admitted to practice in state and federal court.

Will Norton, Jr., Ph.D.

Dean, Meek School of Journalism and New Media University of Mississippi

Will Norton Jr. is dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He has been a visiting lecturer at Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He was a board member of the eosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication, Pristina, Kosovo.

He served as president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (2000–01) and as president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications (1989–90). He was vice president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and is chair of the Accrediting Committee of ACEJMC. He has made more than 90 campus visits as a consultant, a member or chair of site teams of ACEJMC or as a state board program evaluator.

Norton is a partner in ownership of The South Reporter, Inc., Holly Springs, Miss., a corporation that publishes two newspapers and a total market publication. He was publisher of The Daily Iowan. He previously was on the staff of the Chicago Tribune and was sports editor of The Daily Journal, Wheaton, Ill. Norton is a trustee of the Freedom Forum, the Diversity Institute and the Newseum.

He was dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1990–2009) and interim chair and chair of the Department of Journalism at The University of Mississippi (1977–1990). He was awarded a B.A. with honors in history from Wheaton College, a M.A. in mass communications from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Iowa.