Every day, our journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues important to all North Carolinians.
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Carolina Public Press is an independent nonprofit news organization dedicated to nonpartisan, in-depth and investigative news built upon the facts and context North Carolinians need to know. Our award-winning, breakthrough journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues facing our state’s 10.2 million residents.
Carolina Public Press is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization and relies upon the support of individual donors, foundations and sponsors/underwriters to operate.
Carolina Public Press – headquarters
(mailing) PO Box 17595, Asheville, NC 28816
(physical) 4A Herman Avenue Extension, Asheville, NC 28803
Main phone: 828-774-5290
While the organization is headquartered in Asheville, staff and contributors are located across North Carolina.
To call a staff member, dial 828-774-5290 and the appropriate extension.
Staff and Contributors
Ellen Acconcia, Director of Audience and Engagement
Ellen oversees website development, audience growth and engagement for Carolina Public Press. She has served as director of marketing at the Society of Interventional Radiology, a professional membership association for specialty physicians, communications manager for the Fairfax (Va.) County Economic Development Authority, marketed the professional subscription series for the performing arts at George Mason University in Virginia and was a publicist at St. Martin’s Press and Doubleday & Co. in New York. She has a B.A. in communications, has completed graduate courses in communications and nonprofit management and is a member of the Editorial Freelance Association. She lives in Brunswick County.
Tara George, Administrator
Tara George graduated with honors from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in applied design. A desire to be more involved and make a difference in the community brought her to the nonprofit world, where she has worked in development, project and office management for organizations including Land of Sky Regional Council and OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling. Tara lives in Buncombe County and assists with community engagement planning and office and financial systems for Carolina Public Press.
Shelby Harris, Government Reporter, Western North Carolina
Shelby Harris is a reporter covering Western North Carolina. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and strategic media from the University of Memphis and a bachelor’s in English from Mississippi College. She has worked as a reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times where she covered breaking news and education, and The Daily Times in Maryville, Tenn. where she reported on local government. She lives in Buncombe County.
Laura Lee, News Editor
A native of North Carolina, Laura Lee previously worked as an editor for Edutopia, an arm of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. She also worked at NPR producing content for the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. In North Carolina, she served as assistant news director and managing editor of WUNC’s live daily statewide show, The State of Things, and worked as content director and managing editor for EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research. She taught media law as an adjunct professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. As news editor, Laura oversees many aspects of story development and editing, recruitment and supervision of freelancers. She also contributes to larger editorial projects. Laura received her master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland and her bachelor’s degree in political science and J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lisa Lopez, Director of Development
Lisa Lopez has more than 20 years experience in the nonprofit sector. She joins Carolina Public Press after three years at Development by Design, LLC, a development strategy consulting firm she helped found. Prior to launching her own company, Lisa served for 14 years in development at the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked global provider of leadership development. She began her fundraising career at the American Red Cross Cape Fear Chapter and went on to seek and secure major gifts for the UNC Wilmington Center for Marine Science. She also has worked in both production and advertising/sales in TV and radio news organizations. Lisa lives in Guilford County and oversees fundraising development for Carolina Public Press across North Carolina.
Kate Martin, Lead Investigative Reporter
Kate Martin has been a journalist for more than 15 years covering topics including education, government and business. Her passion for data and open records has led her to expose a school district’s misspending of taxpayer funds and pursue records governments wanted to keep hidden. She joined the Carolina Public Press team after five years at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., where she reported on the police department’s use of mass cell phone surveillance equipment without explaining the devices to judges. In 2011, while working with the Skagit Valley Herald, she earned a Rural Computer Assisted Reporting fellowship with Investigative Reporters and Editors. Her work has led to the creation of five state laws and the resignation of four elected officials. She has spoken at Investigative Reporters and Editors, National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting, and is a founding member of Northwest News Nerds. Kate lives in Orange County and is the lead investigative reporter for Carolina Public Press, following and pursuing stories across the entire state.
Angie Newsome, Founder and Executive Director
Angie Newsome founded Carolina Public Press, which launched in March 2011. A North Carolina native with a master’s degree in journalism from UNC Chapel Hill, Angie has more than 15 years of experience in daily, online and magazine journalism. She has won numerous awards, including for reporting on the international banking interests of a North Carolina congressman and for following the closure of the nation’s last Levis sewing plant. After launching Carolina Public Press, she was named one of four New Media Women Entrepreneurs in the country by the McCormick Foundation in 2012. Carolina Public Press has gone on to be a featured media startup by PBS MediaShift and J-Lab and to earn numerous awards, including for its environmental, mental health and investigative reporting and for general excellence among North Carolina’s online news organizations. Angie lives in Buncombe County and oversees efforts to improve and measure the sustainability, reach and impact of Carolina Public Press and its work across North Carolina. Additionally, she now serves as the president of board of directors of the NC Open Government Coalition.
Ben Sessoms, Government Reporter, Eastern North Carolina
Ben Sessoms covers local government in eastern North Carolina, primarily in Cumberland County and the surrounding region. Prior to joining Carolina Public Press, Ben covered housing and the COVID-19 pandemic for The News & Observer in Raleigh. He also covered education in Iredell County for the Statesville Record & Landmark. Ben is a 2019 alum of the News21 reporting fellowship at Arizona State University, where he covered long-term flood recovery in eastern North Carolina. He’s also a 2021 alum of Report for America. Born and raised in Kinston, Ben has deep ties to his coverage area of eastern North Carolina. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2019 with degrees in journalism and communication studies.
Frank Taylor, Managing Editor
Frank Taylor worked in the news industry for more than 20 years before joining Carolina Public Press in October 2015, including as an editorial writer for The Fayetteville Observer and Florida Today and as managing editor of The Lincoln Times-News, The Mecklenburg Times and Tarboro Daily Southerner. He has received numerous awards for investigative reporting and other reporting and editing work throughout his career and is a two-time winner of the N.C. Press Association’s Freedom of Information Award. Frank received his master’s degree in journalism from UNC Chapel Hill and has done additional graduate work in history at Western Carolina University. His academic research has focused on news organization best practices for fact-checking articles on scholarly topics in a digital environment, precedent gaps in U.S. libel law, and the colonial and revolutionary eras in North Carolina. He’s also served as an adjunct professor at Brevard College. Frank lives in Buncombe County and oversees the journalism produced by Carolina Public Press and serving all North Carolinians.
Jordan Wilkie, Staff Reporter and Report for America corps member
Jordan Wilkie is a staff reporter and Report for America corps member with Carolina Public Press. In 2018, Jordan graduated with a master’s in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Previously, he worked as an administrator and instructor of educational programming in prisons and juvenile detentions in Oregon. He lives in Durham and reports on election integrity, open government and civil liberties for Carolina Public Press.
Lindsey Wilson, Rural Engagement Coordinator
Lindsey, who’ll work on our Rural Engagement Project (part of the Google News Initiative) comes to Carolina Public Press with experience in a variety of capacities as a community organizer, research facilitator and environmental educator. Her work on small-scale produce farms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina has given her a deep interest in issues facing rural people. Lindsey has a dual major in anthropology/sociology and creative writing from Kalamazoo College. She lives in Buncombe County.
Calvin L. Adkins, Photographer
Calvin L. Adkins is a photographer who started his career as a photo stringer for The Daily Southerner in 1989. He went on to work as a photographer and cops reporter at the newspaper and was its editor until it closed in 2014. Calvin was born in Princeville, N.C., the oldest town in the United States chartered by African Americans. He still lives in Princeville, in Edgecombe County.
Jennifer Bringle, Reporter
Jennifer Bringle is a Greensboro-based writer who has covered North Carolina for The News & Observer, The News & Record, The Charlotte Observer and The Winston-Salem Journal, among other outlets. Her work also has appeared in The Washington Post, Glamour, Good Housekeeping and Parents. Jennifer lives in Guilford County.
Taylor Buck, Data Visualization
Taylor Buck is a data visualization freelancer and senior at UNC-Chapel Hill pursuing a B.A. in Journalism and a B.A. in the Peace, War, and Defense program. As a student journalist, she covered Silent Sam protests and higher education for The Daily Tar Heel. She is currently interning for National Defense University Press, the publishing arm of National Defense University. Taylor lives in Orange County.
Mark Darrough, Reporter and photographer
Mark Darrough is a Wilmington-based photojournalist and reporter. His award-winning work has been published by Carolina Public Press, The New York Times, BBC, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Associated Press, Denver Post, NBC News, ABC News, San Francisco Chronicle, and Wilmington’s Port City Daily, among others.
Melissa Sue Gerrits, Photographer
Melissa Sue Gerrits is a photographer with a degree in photojournalism from Randolph Community College and has worked in South Dakota, Arkansas and North Carolina. Most recently, she was a photojournalist for The Fayetteville Observer. Melissa lives in Cumberland County.
Jodi Helmer, Reporter
Jodi Helmer writes about food, farming and the environment for Scientific American, Huffington Post, NPR, Modern Farmer and Civil Eats. Jodi lives on a hobby farm in Stanly County.
Jack Igelman, Lead Environment Reporter
Jack Igelman is a reporter with a master’s degree from Montana State University, where he studied natural resource economics. His main interest is in conservation and environmental stories that on the people, places and institutions involved with managing the state’s natural resources. Co-author of Trekking the Southern Appalachians and currently teaching college-level economics, Jack’s reporting has appeared in dozens of local, regional and national publications. Jack lives in Buncombe County.
Colby Rabon, Photographer
Colby Rabon is a freelance photographer with a bachelor’s degree in technical photography from Appalachian State University. Colby currently shoots a range of material from documentary projects to news, sports, portraiture and more and has had work featured in local and national publications. Colby lives in Buncombe County.
Aaron Sánchez-Guerra, Reporter and Translator
Aaron Sánchez-Guerra is a bilingual journalist based in Durham and is a reporter for The News & Observer covering business, real estate and news regarding the Latino immigrant community. He has worked as a freelance journalist for the Spanish-language newspaper Qué Pasa in North Carolina and for WLRN Public Radio in Miami, Florida.
Mariano Santillan, Illustrator
Mariano Santillan is currently the web designer and illustrator for the USASOC History Office on Fort Bragg. Before that position, he spent over a decade as the graphics editor and illustrator for The Fayetteville Observer. Some of his freelance clients include The Washington Post, The U.S. Army and Cricket Magazine. Mariano lives in Cumberland County.
Imari Scarbrough, Reporter
Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist with a bachelor’s degree in communications and minors in English and music from Montreat College. She worked as a staff writer at The Anson Record for five years, earning five awards from the N.C. Press Association and covering crime, politics, education, local government and more. Imari lives in Stanly County.
Carolina Public Press Board of Directors
Scott Barnwell, President
Patrick Doran, Vice President
Victoria Hicks, Secretary
Bob Lewis, Treasurer
Dr. Deitra Williams-Toone
Carolina Public Press is a member of the N.C. Open Government Coalition, the NC Watchdog Reporting Network, Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers and the N.C. Press Association. Certain staff members and contributors are members of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Environmental Journalists.