ADVISORY

COUNCIL

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Tiffany Hightower

Seasoned public servant, coalition builder, and strategist, Tiffany currently serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. She has connected more than 500 educational/research institutions, law enforcement, grassroots organizers, media, churches, CBOs, government/elected officials, and state/city agencies, to change the landscape of community investment and collaboration for Chicago's Far South Side, the state of Illinois, and throughout the Midwest. She is the former Director of Operations for the Treasurer of the City of Chicago, and past Executive Director for Developing Communities Project, Inc. (where President Barack Obama was the first to serve in this role). Her background includes fundraising, grant writing, key relationship building, research, public relations, brand development and management.

Dr. Toni Rockis

Founder of Granted, a service company for educational professionals. Dr. Rockis’ primary interest is helping schools and other nonprofits bring money and resources into their organizations for expanded programs and services.  Her grant writing and professional teaching career has spanned more than three decades.  Dr. Rockis has authored, co-authored, and administered more than $70 million in grants for schools and professional organizations.  She has partnered with hundreds of educational professionals to help them acquire the money and resources they needed to start and grow a multitude of programs and services.  She has secondary, postsecondary, and higher education teaching experience, serving 23 years as a Professor of Education and teacher educator at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal.  

Dr. Jeff Share

Jeff Share spent 10 years as a photojournalist before beginning his career in education. He has worked as an elementary school teacher, curriculum designer and trainer. He is currently a Faculty Advisor in the Teacher Education Program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he continues his research and practice focusing on the teaching of critical media literacy in K-12 education. He created a highly successful course in Critical Media Literacy (ED466) that has become mandatory for all new teacher candidates in the Teacher Education Program at UCLA. He is the author of Media Literacy is Elementary: Teaching Youth to Critically Read and Create Media, and co-author of Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference.

Sherida Morrison

Founder of Demoiselle 2 Femme, a not-for-profit organization that provides holistic services, education, instruction, and training to assist adolescent females in a successful transition to womanhood. D2F has provided prevention and education programs to more than 3,000 girls ages 13-19 in the Chicagoland community for more than 20 years.

Dr. Dave Pritchard

David Pritchard is a professor of journalism, advertising, and media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to UWM, he was a tenured faculty member at Indiana University. He has also been a visiting professor at the Institut français de presse and the Institut d’études politiques de Lyon, both in France, as well as Université Laval in Canada. Before moving into the academic world, Pritchard was a journalist for seven years. He has published two books, numerous scholarly articles and essays. He has done research and consulting for major media corporations, law firms, and government agencies in both Canada and the United States. His major research interests are freedom of expression and issues of identity in the media.

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Julia Bower

Julia Bower leads iSpeakMedia’s efforts with collegiate athletics. She is a senior at the University of Missouri studying business and economic journalism, with an emphasis in multimedia. She is simultaneously pursuing a master's degree in strategic communication. Julia is a passionate multimedia storyteller who engages audiences through conversation and understanding. She is captain of the women's golf team at the University of Missouri.  

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Isabella Paxton

Isabella is passionate about podcasts, cross-cultural journalism, and now…media literacy education! As our Global Ambassador, she produces and hosts iSpeakMedia’s podcast (Make it Make Sense) all about media literacy around the world. She is a senior at the University of Missouri where she is specializing in convergence media and radio journalism, with a minor in Japanese Studies. When she’s not reporting or studying or working or serving as a cultural ambassador for Mizzou’s Asian Affairs Center, she can be found in one of two places: the top of a mountain or under the world’s heaviest weighted blanket. In non-pandemic times, Isabella loves to travel and has visited almost every continent. Up next for her? An expedition to Antarctica.

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Tori Horton

Tori Horton is a Product Manager and UX researcher with areas of expertise in technology, customer experience management, and fintech. Currently, Tori works at PayPal as a Sr. Manager for Products and Social Innovation to make digital products that foster financial health and product engagement. Tori has a passion for digital media literacy and youth education. She served on the executive board of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Tori has also worked on various grants research for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation, exploring opportunities for social good in a network society. She has also taught media literacy as an adjunct professor helping students develop their online research capabilities. Tori has a Master’s Degree in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities from Brigham Young University.

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Dr. Denise Chapman

Dr. Denise Chapman is a counternarrative storyteller, spoken word poet, and critical autoethnographer who lectures in children’s literature and early literacy at Monash University.  She’s served as a literacy specialist focused on critical media literacy in Australia, Fiji, and the United States.  Her research involves exploring the lack of diverse transmedia stories for children of the African diaspora in Australia and how teachers and parents see its impact on children’s imagined possibilities. Denise uses oral stories, children’s literature, poetry, and digital images as counternarrative windows for social disruption and liberation.

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Björgvin Sævarsson

Founder and CEO of Yorth Group, Björgvin Sævarsson is an expert in regenerative designs and circular economy. He has developed pioneering circular economic benchmarks, metrics, and design tools that have been used to assess cities and regions for restorative and circular economic development; initiated programs that match utility companies, developers, communities, and industries with the full restorative and circular potential; assembled teams of global engineering, construction, and development partners for large circular infrastructure development projects. He also teaches circular economy to a global community of sustainability leaders and executives, including the members of Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy Master Class, as a part of the circular economy team from University of Exeter in the UK. Together with U.S. government agencies and global organizations, Björgvin leads a long-term program on restorative economics for government and industry leaders in the US and Europe. This groundbreaking program is aimed to strengthen transatlantic relations at the city and regional level while building technical and financial capacity for large-scale implementation of circular economic infrastructure, strategies, and governance. Björgvin has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Expert Network and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 Program (CE100). Prior to his work at Yorth, Björgvin developed local, sustainable and free-range agricultural programs in Minnesota, the nation’s first to tell the whole story from farm to table. In his younger days, he spent over one thousand days at sea on Icelandic and Russian fishing vessels, where he invented and inspired new sustainable ways to harvest species that were considered waste, resulting in immediate value of over $1 million in the first year alone. 

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Tina “Talentina” Tan

A recent graduate of Northwestern University Medill's Master's program in Media Innovation and Content Strategy, Tina’s experience has been centered around media, business, technology and everything in-between that pertains to content and entrepreneurship.

Her areas of emphasis are media innovation and multimedia production. She specializes in cross-functional teamwork, user research, business reporting, video and audio editing, and digital media. In the fall of 2021, Tina served as iSpeakMedia’s Director of Social Media Strategies for the 7th annual National Media Literacy Week.

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Rimga Viskanta 

Rimga Viskanta graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Environmental Sciences and later received a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.  In 1998, she served as Assistant Director of the Just Think Foundation, where she helped establish its administrative operations to advance the Foundation’s mission to promote media literacy so that young people, especially those in lower-income communities, could understand, evaluate, and ultimately create their own media content. She has over 20 years of experience in various public sector organizations from non-profits to federal, state and local governments.  With her three children in grade school, she was intimately cognizant of their media habits and served as PTA President when their school district implemented a 1:1 digital learning model and supplied every student with an iPad.  Subsequently, she was elected to the Encinitas Union School District Board where she served as Board President during the tumultuous pandemic years when the district adapted its technology to ensure equal access by all students to the curriculum while learning remotely. She also supported the establishment of an equity taskforce within the District designed to identify ways to adjust both curriculum and teaching practices to allow for equal representation of diverse voices and stories. She is determined to continue to support individuals and organizations who elevate marginalized voices and promote media literacy amongst all groups. 

Samantha Stanley
Samantha Stanley 

Samantha Stanley is an educator and communication professional whose mission is to improve journalism and media literacy education around the world. Her communications work spans fundraising event management, social marketing, and digital communications for organizations that advocate for women on LA's Skid Row, North American temperate rainforests and indigenous land, and media literacy education. Samantha is a trained journalist and has taught news media literacy at universities in the United States and in Hong Kong. She loves brainstorming about media literacy and non-profit strategy and is excited to bring this experience to iSpeakMedia as a member of its advisory council.