Karen Catone is executive director of diversity for the Freedom Forum Institute and provides oversight to the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, the largest and most enduring of the Institute’s diversity initiatives, and the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, an annual event for 51 high school journalists. She began her career with the Freedom Forum in 1974, when it was then known as the Gannett Foundation and located in Rochester, N.Y. She spent 10 years as grants coordinator and moved with the foundation to Arlington, Va., in 1989. When the Freedom Forum was established in 1991 as successor to the Gannett Foundation, she worked on various grants and scholarship programs. She assumed administration of the Chips Quinn Scholars program in 1995 and is based at the Freedom Forum Institute’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Colleen Fitzpatrick of Simsbury, Conn., is a full-time Freedom Forum Institute Fellow who assists with managing the Chips Quinn Scholars program. She has been a career coach since 2000. She spent 20 years in a variety of editing and reporting positions at newspapers nationwide. She was an assistant news editor with Knight Ridder in Washington, D.C., and city editor at the Times Union in Albany, N.Y. She was a reporter at The Detroit News, The Providence (R.I.) Journal, The Fresno (Calif.) Bee and the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Mass. In 1990 and 1991, she worked as a freelance reporter from Poland. She began her career as a science-reporting intern at the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. She is a graduate of Stanford University and has a master’s degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan University.
Val Hoeppner is a digital journalist, teacher, trainer and media strategist. Hoeppner spent 20 years in newsrooms as a photojournalist, newsroom leader and multimedia director at The Indianapolis Star. She also spent five years working with journalism professionals, educators and students in her role as director of education for the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. Hoeppner travels to newsrooms, universities and media conferences to train journalists in mobile, social, video and multiplatform storytelling. She is also Director for the Center for Innovation in Media at Middle Tennessee State University.
Gene Policinski is chief operating officer of Freedom Forum Institute, and senior vice president of the First Amendment Center, one of the initiatives of the Institute.