Who We Are

100 Days in Appalachia is an independent, nonprofit news outlet incubated at the Media Innovation Center of West Virginia University Reed College of Media in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) and The Daily Yonder of the Center for Rural Strategies in Kentucky. We have an open-source, co-publishing model and share content from Appalachia’s diverse communities with regional, national and international media organizations. Read more about 100 Days in Appalachia’s mission, funding and collaborating partners here.

MEET OUR STAFF

Dana Coester (@poetabook) is editor in chief for 100 Days in Appalachia. Dana also serves as creative director for the West Virginia University Media Innovation Center where she leads the Center’s Innovators-in-Residence program. She is passionate about community media, women in technology and privacy and social equity in emerging technology. Dana is currently directing the documentary film Raised by Wolves about youth and online hate in the region, as well as the documentary film Muslim in Appalachia.

Ashton Marra (@ashtonmarra) is the digital managing editor of 100 Days in Appalachia, helping guide the work of our team of editor, contributors and reporters, as well as producing originally reported content. Ashton is a teaching assistant professor in the West Virginia University Reed College of Media. She spent nearly a decade working as a professional journalist in West Virginia, Ohio and New York City for both public and commercial news outlets. Her work, covering stories like the 2012 Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting, West Virginia’s 2014 chemical spill and the 2015 trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, has appeared on both national and international airwaves on radio and television.

Gina Dahlia (@ginadahlia) is the general manager for 100 Days in Appalachia. She is also the executive producer of WVU News, a National Emmy-award-winning student newscast at West Virginia University. Gina also serves as managing director for the WVU Media Innovation Center, and is an award-winning filmmaker. Her documentary, “The Monongah Heroine,” aired on PBS in December 2007, receiving worldwide press. The film focuses on the widows left behind from the December 6, 1907, Monongah, West Virginia, mine disaster. Gina’s journalism career spans 20 years, where she has held many roles in the filed. She has worked as a TV news anchor and reporter at a CBS affiliate and later as a weekly newspaper columnist, feature and business writer and restaurant critic. She also spearheaded the campaign of current U.S. Senator Joe Manchin when he ran and won the office of West Virginia Secretary of State in 2001.

Joel Beeson (@bluzdoctor) is a recovering photojournalist and special correspondent for 100 Days in Appalachia. He is also a professor at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media and co-directs StoryBridge, a Democracy Fund-funded reporting collaboration with Morgan State University’s School of Global Communication and Journalism. Joel has M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and received his doctorate in American Studies at the Union Institute and University. Joel brings years of experience in community organizing to social documentary projects and community engagement.

Lexi Browning is the assistant editor for community engagement for 100 Days in Appalachia, who assists in bridging gaps between journalists covering Appalachia and the communities they cover. Lexi is a full-time photojournalist currently interning with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She contributes to The Washington Post, Reuters and ProPublica as an Appalachian-based correspondent.

Lexi leads 100 Days in Appalachia’s Appalachian Advisors Network. Learn more about the project.

Tyler Channell (@tylerchannell) is the web developer and a multimedia producer for 100 Days in Appalachia. He is a lecturer at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media teaching video editing, visual journalism and serves as a multimedia specialist for the College’s Media Innovation Center. In 2015, he won multiple awards for his social justice film For Good, which was featured in the Accolade Global Film Competition. Before coming to WVU, Tyler worked in reality TV production for History Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning” and “Billion Dollar Wreck,” Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0,” and MTV’s “Teen Mom 2.” He spends the majority of his time creating new videos and breaking code for 100 Days in Appalachia. He recently founded the start-up PaywallProject designed to make it more affordable for local news publishers to create digital membership platforms.

Kayla Gagnon (@kayla__gagnon) is a student editor for 100 Days in Appalachia. She is a senior journalism student at West Virginia University, where she served as the first video editor at WVU’s student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum. She most recently completed a digital internship with WBOY-12 in Clarksburg, WV this summer. Kayla is also the host and producer of the podcast, “Queer Mountaineers,” which features the stories of the LGBTQ+ community in Appalachia.

Chris Jones is a Reporter for America corps member leading investigative coverage at 100 Days in Appalachia. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran, who served four years in the infantry and as a machine gun squad leader in Afghanistan, Jones was also an EMT in Pittsburgh. A freelance photojournalist most recently based in Brooklyn, New York, since 2015 he’s covered the war in Afghanistan as well as political and breaking news coverage in the U.S. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and The Village Voice. In 2019 he worked as a monthly contributor for Pacific Standard magazine.

Diana Riojas is the Assistant Editor for Social Media at 100 Days in Appalachia. She works at creating series and visual content for the 100 Days in Appalachia Instagram account. Currently, she is studying magazine and online journalism at Syracuse University where worked at The Daily Orange, an independent student newspaper, and managed the feature section and reported on race, culture and entertainment. Recently, she was the digital intern at TheWeek.com.

David Smith (@dvdmthdvd) is a multimedia producer and helps lead the audience development for 100 Days in Appalachia. He is a senior lecturer at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media teaching visual journalism and multimedia storytelling. Before coming to WVU, David was a visual journalist for 10 years in North Carolina, Alabama, Ohio and West Virginia. He is passionate about teaching and modeling curiosity and experimentation in students at the College of Media. Smith is co-producing a documentary film on Muslim identity in Appalachia with Dana Coester as well as the 360° video series “Muslim in Appalachia” excerpted in 100 Days in Appalachia.

Taylor Sisk is a health care journalist specializing in rural health issues and has served as contributing, associate, managing and executive editor of several newspapers and online publications. He frequently focuses on how health care trends and policies affect people’s lives. Recent projects have included ongoing reportage on migrant health issues, the opioid epidemic, recovery-oriented behavioral health care and a series of profiles of health care professionals. He divides his time between Nashville, Tennessee and Carrboro, North Carolina.

Rainesford Stauffer (@rainesford) is a Kentuckian, freelance writer and author of the forthcoming book, An Ordinary Age, for Harper Perennial. Her writing and reporting have appeared in The New York Times, Vox, Teen Vogue, WSJ. Magazine, The Atlantic and GEN, among others. She’s appeared on CNN, NPR’s On Point and Weekend Edition, and Foreign Policy’s Don’t Touch Your Face podcast. She speaks frequently to student groups, and is passionate about issues impacting young people.

Rainesford is serving as contributing editor of 100 Days in Appalachia’s Appalachian Youth Creators project. View the project here.

Black and white headshot of girl with long hair, white shirt and cardigan.

Kristen Uppercue (@KrisUpp) is the editorial assistant for 100 Days in Appalachia. Kristen is a graduate student at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media studying integrated marketing communications. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the College of Media in May 2019. Kristen curates content for the publication from its publishing partners and affiliates as well as assisting in editorial projects, including the StoryBridge collaboration with Joel Beeson and Morgan State University’s School of Global Communication and Journalism. Kristen is also a freelance writer and assists local businesses in running their marketing and communications.

Madison Urse is a student editor for 100 Days in Appalachia. Madison assists the 100 Days team in researching, publishing and curating content from the publication’s publishing partners and affiliates. She is a senior at West Virginia University pursuing dual degrees in English and journalism with minors in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies and globalization geography.

Jesse Wright (@JWrightWV) is Mellon Practitioner in Residence at 100 Days in Appalachia, helping to lead visual and documentary storytelling work for the publication. Jesse is the former news director for West Virginia Public Broadcasting where, in his first year, he led the station to win six regional Murrow Awards. Wright also has several years experience as an editor at The Dominion-Post in Morgantown, West Virginia. He holds a B.S. in journalism from WVU.

Tim Marema (@tmarema) serves as editor and co-publisher for 100 Days in Appalachia as vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies and editor of The Daily Yonder. At The Daily Yonder, Tim has created innovative ways to automate the localization of national news stories for rural and small-town community media (a project supported by a Knight Foundation Innovation Fund). His localized stories have reached more than three million rural residents through weekly newspapers and small radio stations, covering such topics as the economic impact of Social Security in rural counties, the increase in food-stamp participation during the Great Recession and the county-level impact of Medicaid expansion in Kentucky. Tim grew up in Eastern Kentucky and now lives in East Tennessee.

CONTRIBUTORS

Nancy Andrews (@nancyandrews), a contributing reporter and photographer for 100 Days in Appalachia, is a 2018 Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow studying natural gas pipelines in Appalachia. Previously West Virginia University’s Ogden Professor of Media Innovation, Nancy was part of the 100 Days in Appalachia founding leadership team and created a series of 100 portraits from across Appalachia called ‘100 Voices.’ In the industry, Nancy ran the digital operations of the Detroit Free Press winning four national Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow Awards. She led explanatory projects such as the SABEW award-winning project, “How Detroit Went Broke.” As a Washington Post staff photographer, Nancy earned Photographer of the Year awards from the White House news Photographers Association and the Pictures of the Year International from University of Missouri, National Press Photographers Association. She’s published two monographs, “Family: A Portrait of Gay and Lesbian America” and “Partial View: An Alzheimer’s Journey.”

Bob Britten (@TheBobThe) leads the PolitiFact collaboration with 100 Days in Appalachia. He has worked, studied and taught in journalism for 16 years, beginning as a reporter for the Greenville (Pa.) Record-Argus and working as an editor, designer, art director and infographics reporter. He has been a faculty member at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media since 2008, where he teaches courses in visual communication, social media and media law and ethics. Most recently, he designed and taught the College’s new course in sensor journalism. He makes beer and reads comic books.

Crystal Lewis Brown (@c_lewisbrown) is a founding Democracy Fund contributing editor who led a reporting series on Religion in Appalachia as well as helped develop the content strategy for the project. A freelance journalist, editor and digital content strategist with more than 14 years of writing and editing experience, she has previously worked as Director of Editorial Operations for SheKnows Media, and held positions with Gannett and the U.S. Army. She has bylines in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mommy Nearest, Doorsteps.com and Health.com, among others. She has also led and produced branded content projects for brands like Red Lobster, Discover Personal Loans, Natural Balance, Starbucks, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co., and more. Crystal is an alumna of the Poynter-NABJ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media at the Poynter Institute and the New York Times Student Journalism Institute. Crystal has an M.S. in journalism from Florida A&M University and received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of South Alabama.

Lovey Cooper (@loveycooper) is a founding contributing editor, who reported on the intersection of politics and culture in Appalachia. Born and raised in rural North Carolina, Lovey is a graduate of the school of journalism at Appalachian State University. In recent years, she has contributed to award-winning projects and reports tackling issues of poverty and equity in America’s K-12 education system, and worked to increase the ease of access to federal and state policy experts and public information for journalists at small and large outlets nationwide. Her work appears in The Atlantic, Vice, Rewire News and Education Week. She currently serves as the managing editor of Scalawag Magazine, and is the voice behind the This Week in the South newsletter.

Mike Costello (@costellowv) is a founding contributing editor and a chef, farmer and storyteller from Harrison County, West Virginia. A lifelong West Virginian, Mike operates Lost Creek Farm, a historic 180-acre farm and traveling kitchen, with his partner Amy Dawson. Through his work, Mike utilizes food as a vehicle to share stories about the depth, complexity and diversity of a region that’s often misrepresented and drastically misunderstood. Mike graduated with a degree from the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism in 2007, where he began exploring Appalachian foodways and was part of multiple award-winning student projects.

Annemarie Dooling (@TravelingAnna) is a founding contributing editor and Knight Foundation Innovator-in-Residence leading students and faculty in experiments in audience development and social distribution for 100 Days in Appalachia. Annemarie currently leads audience growth and retention for the Wall Street Journal. Previously she was at Vox Media, and managed audience growth and development for both Vocativ and Yahoo. A self-proclaimed online communities expert who has worked at the Huffington Post and AOL, Annemarie previously served as a community advisor at Salon where she consulted on expanding user participation.

Contributing photographer Roger May (@walkyourcamera) is an Appalachian American photographer and writer based in Charleston, West Virginia. He was born in the Tug River Valley, located on the West Virginia and Kentucky state line, in the heart of Hatfield and McCoy country. His photographs, essays and interviews have been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, National Geographic, The Oxford American, Le Monde diplomatique, Photo District News and others. In February 2014, he started the crowdsourced Looking at Appalachia project.

Thomas McBee is a consulting editor for 100 Days in Appalachia. Thomas is the editorial director for growth at Quartz, where he and the team have quadrupled Quartz’ traffic in the last two and a half years through editorial initiatives promoting growth. He is also a freelance writer whose work can be found in the New York Times, Playboy, The Atlantic, The Rumpus and more. Thomas is the author of the award-winning memoir, Man Alive and is currently working on his second book, Amateur. Additionally, he is a professor in the social journalism graduate program at the City University of New York.

Jan Pytalski is a founding special correspondent with 100 Days in Appalachia, covering policies from Congress and the White House that impact the region. He currently works as an associate editor with The Daily Yonder. Jan is a transplant to the United States from Poland, where he began his journalism career working for Reuters in Warsaw. Prior to his work as a reporter, he spent over a decade working as a translator.

Keith Reed (@K_dot_RE) is a Democracy Fund founding contributing editor and in addition to editing and reporting with 100 Days in Appalachia, has helped guide student reporting in the College’s capstone and reporting initiative with Morgan State University. He has been a journalist for 17 years, having served as a senior editor at ESPN the Magazine, a staff writer at The Boston Globe and a contributing writer for Vibe, Essence, Ebony and numerous other publications. He has also lent commentary on the economy, culture and sports to CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR and many other outlets. A past board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, he was selected for three terms, including two as the organization’s national treasurer.