The Diversity Pledge Institute will solve the diversity pipeline problem by improving retention rates associated with diversity, equity and inclusion; and supporting journalists’ career growth.
The events of 2020 have heightened awareness and created real opportunities for every organization to focus on how it can better support diverse employees, stakeholders and communities in a wide variety of markets. The Diversity Pledge Institute was established in 2021 to help organizations do just that. DPI will create inclusive environments while diversifying the global workforce and providing journalists with the skills they need to elevate their careers.
The Diversity Pledge Institute’s mission is to revolutionize the journalism workforce by connecting vetted, diverse candidates to potential employers and supporting the candidates’ career growth. At a time when there are major metropolitan newspapers without a single Black person in the newsroom, the Diversity Pledge Institute is first and foremost a pledge. Our pledge eliminates the excuse of “We don’t know where to find diverse candidates” by identifying qualified diverse applicants for every open position.
We will also maintain a proprietary database of problematic incidents related to diversity, equity and inclusion in news media organizations and how they were handled, and produce an annual report on diversity in news media organizations.
DPI is composed of experienced leaders from diverse backgrounds, many of whom have broken boundaries in their sectors. The DPI team consists of high performers committed to supporting individuals and organizations who are ready for real change when it comes to diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility.
Not only does the DPI team bring extensive experience in a variety of sectors — including management, market expansion and operations — but they will bring that expertise to the organizations they work with in order to identify and provide feedback on processes that can hinder progress when it comes to DEIA efforts.
Founder and Executive Director
Larry Graham is the founder and executive director of The Diversity Pledge Institute. He spent the majority of his career leading sports journalists in newsrooms across the country. He’s worked at ESPN.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and The Kansas City Star, to name a few. Most recently, he served as deputy director of local news transformation at the American Press Institute where he built the Table Stakes website. Larry is on the board of directors for the APSE Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering diversity in sports departments. He’s also a NewStart fellowship recipient studying Media Solutions and Innovation at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media.
Rebecca Lisi, Ph. D.
As a 14-year local elected official (Holyoke, MA 2008-2022) Rebecca is a scholar-practitioner with expertise in the fields of urban politics, state and local politics, and race and ethnicity in politics. Her dissertation, Latino Race Cards: Negative Racial Appeals in Contemporary Political Campaigns and the Bounds of Racial Priming Theory, explores the different discursive norms surrounding negative Black and Latinx campaign appeals aimed at mobilizing white voters. Rebecca was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG) to fund the nationally representative survey experiment used in her study. Rebecca brings to DPI more than a decade of experience teaching in higher education and with online instructional design and course management.
Gaby Martinez-Stevenson, A.B.D.
Director of Institutional Research
Gaby has over 10 years of mixed-methods research experience with a strong focus on research and survey design and implementation, data analysis and collection, and evaluation. Prior to joining DPI, Gaby worked as a senior research analyst where she assisted in the design, management, and implementation of applied research and program evaluation for higher education, public health, and human services evaluations. Her academic work centers on race, immigration, citizenship, and soccer. She also has taught several college-level courses including intro to statistics, race and ethnicity and social inequality. Gaby is active in her community — she was a member of her city government’s Community Relations Committee, has advocated for accessibility to resources, and is a founding member of a local community organization that seeks racial and social justice within her community. Ms. Martinez-Stevenson is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned her master’s in applied sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Jane is a longtime journalist who has worked in newsrooms including The Washington Post, The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette and The Virginian-Pilot; and most recently was managing editor of The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer and The (Durham, N.C.) Herald-Sun. She also was director of accountability journalism at The American Press Institute. Board memberships include The Freedom Forum’s Power Shift Project, Radford University’s College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, and The North Carolina Press Association. She holds a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a former Knight-Nieman visiting fellow at Harvard University.
Gabrielle is a New York naive with a unique background. Gabrielle attended John Jay college of Criminal Justice in Manhattan , where she was a double major in Judicial Studies and Government. After college Gabrielle worked in compliance for an importer and distributor. She worked closely with the TTB and other government agencies. In 2013, Gabrielle started her Law Career at Touro Law Center. While in law school interned for a NY federal judge and NY Supreme Court Judge, worked for Abuse against Domestic Violence coalition, and was president of the Black Law Student Association. In 2016, Gabrielle went to work for the Nassau District Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted cases from domestic abuse to drug trafficking. After working in the District Attorney’s office, Gabrielle pursued a career in Academic Advancement and communications. She became the Director of Advancement at Touro Law where she would raise over million dollars in major gifts. Gabrielle love working in advancement as she feels she is able to make an impact. In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with her family. Gabrielle sits on many boards including the National diversity council, Diversity in the law, and the National Black Compliance professionals. Gabrielle is married and has two beautiful children.
Douglas K. Smith
Doug Smith created the principles and methods for performance-driven change that have been used to foster results and new capabilities in enterprises across more than 60 industries. Doug is the architect of the Media Transformation Challenge, the premier news transformation program in the world as well as the Table Stakes programs that have helped hundreds of local journalism groups find sturdier paths toward 21st century journalistic and economic sustainability in the US and Europe.
Digital Media Director
Alicia Ramirez is a veteran of the news industry with more than 10 years of experience in newsrooms across the nation. Most recently, she was a faculty fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism where she guided student journalists as they covered both the school and the greater South Los Angeles area. Prior to that she was a web producer for CBS Los Angeles, a designer/editor for the Chicago Tribune and a news editor for a trio of publications in rural South Central Texas. She is also a NewStart fellowship recipient studying Media Solutions and Innovation at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media and is working to open her own nonprofit newsroom in Riverside County, California.