Freedom Forum Institute > Initiatives > Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism > Administrators
Karen Catone is director of the Chips Quinn Scholars program, the largest and most enduring of the Freedom Forum Institute’s diversity initiatives and the Al Neuharth Free Spirit program. Catone began her career with the Freedom Forum in 1974 when it was then known as the Gannett Foundation and was located in Rochester, N.Y. Catone 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, Catone worked on various grants and scholarship programs. She assumed administration of the Chips Quinn Scholars program in 1995 and today is based at the Freedom Forum Institute’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Colleen Fitzpatrick of Simsbury, Conn., has been a career coach for the Chips Quinn Scholars program since 2000. Previously, she was managing editor of Fine Gardening magazine and held 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 1990-91, she worked as a freelance reporter from Poland. She began her career in 1980 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.
Michelle Hedenskoog is a consultant to the Chips Quinn Scholars program. Her primary task is maintaining the program’s website and databases. Before moving to Manhattan Beach, Calif., in 2009, she served as program manager/coordinator/assistant for eight years. Before joining the Freedom Forum, she was an editorial assistant at the University of Michigan’s LSAmagazine and administrative coordinator for the corporate news division of Gannett Co. Inc. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of the Philippines.
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.