Who Is Donna Ladd? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Who Is Donna Ladd?

Donna Ladd is an award-winning journalist and editor from Philadelphia, Miss., who started two newspapers in Manhattan, then helped launch the first alternative newspaper in Colorado Springs. She returned home to Mississippi after 18 years and is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Jackson Free Press, the state's only alternative newspaper and a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. She has written for many magazines, Web sites and alternative newspapers, including the Village Voice in New York.

Ladd received her B.A. in political science from Mississippi State University in 1983, where she was a John C. Stennis scholar in political science. She was one of the first members of her family to attend college and the first to earn a master's degree, in 2001 from Columbia University, where she studied journalism with a social justice focus. Over two years, she studied in the Columbia Law School, Teacher's College and the Institute for African American Studies, in addition to the journalism school, where she was a teaching assistant for Professor LynNell Hancock, a specialist in journalism about children. In June 2001, Ladd was awarded a six-month Packard Future of Children Fellowship through the University of Maryland School of Journalism to study the discriminatory effects of school discipline.

In the first three years of the Jackson Free Press, Ladd has won five national writing awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for feature writing, investigative reporting, columns, political columns and music criticism. Her first-place feature about a Jackson family victimized by priest abuse, "Alleged Victims," , is republished in the book, "Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2005 (AAN Press, $19.95).

In 2005, Ladd led a team of young native Mississippians to both cover and blog about the Edgar Ray Killen trial and, working with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to revisit the 1964 Klan murders of Charles Moore and Henry Dee. Ladd's story about the Dee-Moore case led to a series of national stories on the case and helped move the cold case to a national stage. She also reported for the first time that the a primary suspect in the case is not dead as had been erroneously reported by The Clarion Ledger and the Los Angeles Times. The package of stories won second place in AAN's 2006 investigative reporting contest.

In 2005, Ladd was named one of Mississippi's 50 Leading Businesswomen by the Mississippi Business Journal, and she is the recipient of the 2006 Friendship Award, along with Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson, from Jackson 2000, a racial-reconciliation organization. Her work on race and youth issues has been featured in many publications, from Glamour magazine to a CQ Press textbook on juvenile justice. In 2006, she was elected to the national board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and to the state board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. In 2006, she was appointed to the Jackson State University Mass Communications Advisory Board. She is an adviser to The Hoofbeat newspaper at Murrah High School in Jackson, and will lead diversity workshops for Youth Leadership Jackson in 2007. She also teaches writing workshops at the Academy for Alternative Journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Ladd is very active in the Jackson community and hosts regular social gatherings of The Lounge, a salon for Jackson creatives and progressive thinkers. She regularly speaks about community and journalism to schools, nonprofits, and to local and national media, and is an active member of the board of the Jackson Arts Council. She teaches a weekly seminar in creative non-fiction writing. She lives in Jackson with her long-time partner Todd Stauffer, the publisher of the Jackson Free Press, a filmmaker, and the author of dozens of books on technology, the Internet and blogging.

Read an interview with Ladd here. Visit Donna Ladd's blog here.

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