Leadership Team

Sue Cross
Executive Director and CEO

Sue Cross leads the Institute for Nonprofit News, a network of more than 300 independent, nonprofit news media organizations in North America. She joined INN in 2015 to build its emerging media network and advance social enterprise models for investigative and other public service journalism.

Sue is a former senior vice president for the Associated Press global news agency, where she created digital news services, expanded Spanish language and Latin American operations, introduced video to more than a thousand online news sites and managed a national news cooperative. She previously served as a regional vice president, AP’s Los Angeles bureau chief and directed news coverage and media operations in Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas. She began her career as a reporter in Alaska and Ohio.

Sue also has worked in nonprofit business development, network-building and social enterprise consulting. She serves on boards including Stanford University’s John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships and EdSource, a California education media and research nonprofit, and on the National Advisory Council for the Emma Bowen Foundation. She is a graduate of Ohio State University. Sue lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Jonathan Kealing
Chief Network Officer

Jonathan Kealing strengthens collaboration among INN’s network of nonprofit newsrooms and develops partnerships and services that help them meet their missions and increase the reach and impact of their journalism.  Jonathan oversees the Amplify News Project among Midwest newsrooms piloting news sharing and distribution models. He is especially interested in ways local and regional news organizations can work together and with national organizations to extend the impact of their journalism.

Before joining INN, Jonathan was part of the executive leadership team at Public Radio International, serving as executive editor for He led a team of 15 journalists covering global issues including immigration, gender equity and international security. He also made four trips to China to teach mid-career Chinese journalists about U.S. digital media trends.

Previously Jonathan worked for The World Company and its Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World. There he helped launch innovative community news sites focused on health and sustainability. He also led efforts to cross-train reporters and photographers for a digital-first, multi-platform environment. He has spoken at many national and regional journalism conferences, including the Online News Conference, and is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. Jonathan lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two kids and their dog.

Management & Staff

Sharene Azimi
Communications Director

Sharene Azimi promotes the work of the INN network to funders, partners and other external audiences while bringing INN members news and resources from the field of public service journalism. She edits the weekly INNovation newsletter and oversees all of INN’s communications channels.

Prior to joining INN in 2020, Sharene spent a decade as founder and principal of Mission Communications, providing organizational strategy, branding, communications planning, and marketing services to non-profits, universities, and foundations. Mission’s clients included The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, Health Federation of Philadelphia, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Rutgers School of Social Work, and the Consensus Building Institute.

Sharene was previously a vice president at Fenton, the country’s leading public-interest communications agency, where her roster of clients included organizations working on women’s rights, global development, urban poverty, and religious tolerance.  Sharene has spoken on cause-oriented communications to audiences at the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Annenberg School for Communications, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Nonprofit New York, and Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia. She received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University and is highly proficient in Spanish. She lives with her family in Central New Jersey.

Lawrence Horne
Development Director

Lawrence Horne works with senior leadership and the Board of Directors to expand major gifts and foundation support for INN and its members.

Larry brings more than 30 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management to the position, including senior positions at the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), The Public Theater, the Trust for Public Land, AIDS Service Center NYC, and the Hedrick-Martin Institute. In addition to his work with the National Coalition Against Censorship, his media involvement has included programming consulting work for KCET, a Los Angeles PBS station, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and producing documentary films.

Larry began his nonprofit and fundraising career as the founder and executive director of Outfest, the Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, which he grew into a leading film festival during his 15-year tenure. Most recently, he was the senior capital campaign director at the Green-Wood Historic Fund, and prior to that position, he was the executive director of the American Friends of Blérancourt supporting the Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt in Picardy, France.

His educational background is in French and cinema studies, having pursued graduate work at UCLA in French film history and the Sorbonne (Paris IV) in French literature, and teaching film history in the French Department at UCLA. Horne has translated articles and books on art, architecture, and film from French into English. He is based in Brooklyn.

Roz Hunter
Grants Officer

Roz Hunter is a development and communications consultant who does grant writing and reporting for INN.  Most recently she served as Deputy Director of Type Media Center (formerly The Nation Institute) and has previously held positions at The Nation magazine and International House Philadelphia. Roz received an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. in Women's History from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in New York City.

Courtney Hurtt
NewsMatch Program Manager

Courtney Hurt leads a collaborative year-end fundraising campaign to increase the operating revenue of INN members. Through NewsMatch, she works closely with newsrooms and funders to advance the business model for nonprofit news.

Previously, she led collaborative initiatives to diversify audience and revenue for WDET, Detroit’s public radio station. As associate director of product strategy and operations, Courtney created “Framed by WDET,” an award-winning series of community exhibitions that have appeared in more than 25 locations. Prior to her time at WDET, she was marketing director at Detroit Bikes, a bicycle manufacturing startup in Detroit.

Courtney graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Cultures in Politics from Michigan State University and has an MBA in Information Systems Management from Wayne State University. In 2017, she was named a German Marshall Fellow and traveled across Europe to explore the role journalism plays in restoring democracy. She recently relocated to Pittsburgh.
Contact:, @candorblue


Michelle Morgante
Member Network Director

Michelle Morgante leads INN’s work to grow the network of nonprofit newsrooms and support members by connecting them both to resources within INN and with one another. She joined INN in 2020 to facilitate connections among members and support new and established members in growth and development.

A veteran of newsrooms across the United States and Latin America, Michelle has nearly 30 years of experience in print, digital and broadcast journalism as a reporter, editor and manager. Her background includes tenure as deputy managing editor for National Public Radio; managing editor of the award-winning McClatchy daily the Merced Sun-Star, and more than two decades with The Associated Press, where Morgante was an editor and bureau chief, as well as a foreign correspondent. She was a co-founder of the AP's Diversity Council and has supported the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists and CCNMA/Latino Journalists of California as a member and chapter officer.

A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Michelle is bicultural and bilingual, with roots in Mexico. She lives in central California with her three sons and two beagles.
Contact:, @mmorgante

Mara Jezior
Membership & Development Coordinator

Mara Jezior manages and helps to build INN’s growing member community.

Prior to joining INN in July 2017, Mara held marketing and development internships at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and MinnPost, two of INN’s earliest members. As the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s first public engagement and marketing intern, she tracked the reach and impact of individual stories, producing reports for funders and created the Center’s first stakeholders report. During her time at MinnPost, she honed her skills using databases and donor prospecting.

Mara graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 with a B.A. in journalism and history, and served as managing editor of UW-Madison’s independent student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal. There, she wrote and received her first grant, which awarded the newspaper $5,000 to support the coverage of under-reported topics on campus during a time when ad revenue was dwindling and the newspaper was seeking new revenue streams. She lives in Minneapolis.
Contact:, @marajezoir

Thomas Khadoo
Marketing & Communications Assistant

Thomas Khadoo supports communication efforts through digital media channels and email newsletters, in order to ensure the INN network is engaged with valuable information and resources regarding the field. He is a senior at NYU Stern studying Finance and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Sociology. Born and raised in New York City, he is currently developing a senior thesis on The Underlying Social and Economic Implications of the Coronavirus in New York City.

Thomas has dedicated much of his undergraduate experience towards diversity and inclusion, serving on his school’s DEI Committee as an undergraduate liaison, paying special attention to increasing the diversity of prospective students. He is also a NYU Stern Ambassador and has worked to write the undergraduate email newsletter each week. His interests include running, reading, and engaging with social issues.

Sharon McGowan
Amplify Collaborations Leader

Sharon McGowan works to enhance the impact of public affairs reporting by creating and managing editorial collaborations among INN members and other selected news organizations.

McGowan was the founding editor of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, an award-winning nonprofit news organization that has covered low-income, minority communities in Milwaukee’s central city since 2011. She started her career as a reporter and then managing editor at The Chicago Reporter, which covers race and poverty. McGowan was assistant news director/managing editor at WBBM-AM Radio and later became Assignment Manager at WBBM-TV, both in Chicago. She was an adjunct faculty member in journalism at Northwestern University for more than 20 years and was most recently on the journalism faculty at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

McGowan earned her bachelor’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis and her master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. McGowan and her husband, Jim, have two adult children and are based in the Chicago area.

Chip Potts
Director, Finance & Operations

Chip Potts supports the growth and financial success of the INN membership network by overseeing INN's fiscal sponsorship program, expanding the portfolio of business services as well as supports INN’s staff to help their work to the benefit of INN members.

Chip has over 35 years of accounting, tax and nonprofit management experience. He was previously the associate director and CFO of the Santa Monica College Foundation and ran his own accounting and tax practice for 12 years in Arlington, Virginia before moving to California and joining the college foundation.

Chip brings INN and network members broad nonprofit experience in volunteer fundraising, board participation and civic leadership. In addition to his CFO position, Chip served as acting director of the college foundation for nearly two years and volunteered for organizations including The Design Industry Foundation for AIDS (DiFFA), Whitman Walker Clinic AIDS Walk, Food and Friends' annual gala "Chef's Best.” He was a 10-year member of the Board of Directors for Florence Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, an organization serving at-risk girls and teenage mothers.

Chip has a B.S.B.A in accounting from Wheeling Jesuit University and in 2012 received his Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Sector Management from the California State University Northridge (CSUN). He has completed CSUN course work for a Master's in Public Administration. He is based at INN's Los Angeles office.

Saman Noor
Staff Accountant

Saman Noor performs key accounting functions including maintaining the general ledger, reconciling bank accounts and processing month-end closings for INN and the nonprofit news organizations it fiscally sponsors. 

Saman has over 10 years of experience as an accountant and has provided accounting services in the various industries including healthcare, banking, telecommunication and the nonprofit sector. Most recently, she worked as a Finance & Grants Manager at The Philia Project. Her past experiences include accounting positions at Bank of New York Mellon and Hospital Corporation of America.

Saman interned at Raymond James and Citigroup during her college years.  She received an undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of South Florida. She is bilingual and loves to cook, read and travel. She lives in Texas with her husband and three children.

Cynthia Ruiz
Office Administrator & Executive Assistant

With more than 15 years of nonprofit administration experience, Cynthia is equal parts admin and equal parts jack of all trades — depending on project and office priority.

Before joining INN, Cynthia worked closely with keratoconus patients for the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute at the University of California Irvine. Cynthia is actively pursuing a B.A. in Sociology and Masters in Social Work, with a concentration on strengthening, empowering and rebuilding under-resourced communities.

Emily Roseman
Research Director & Editor

Emily Roseman leads the INN Index, an annual study of INN members and the most comprehensive source of data about the emerging nonprofit news field. Emily also oversees the production of a rich set of case studies with the goal of speeding field development and amplifying the resources available through INN.

Emily has researched and written for the Membership Puzzle Project, the Public Media Mergers Project, the Solutions Journalism Network and Harvard’s Belfer Center. Previously, she served as the research project manager for a study at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center that analyzed how nonprofit, single-topic newsrooms can engage and grow audiences.

Emily Spranger
Network Philanthropy Prospect Researcher

Emily Spranger provides direct services to INN members by conducting research on potential philanthropic prospects and reporting research results to members. Additionally, she works with members to help them access the philanthropic shared services that INN offers, including wealth screening and software subscriptions.

Previously, she's coordinated fundraising efforts for arts organizations and libraries across Michigan. As a development professional, she specializes in database management, prospect research, and grant writing. Emily received a BA in Public Relations and Nonprofit Leadership from Western Michigan University. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sara Shahriari
Director of Leadership & Talent Development

Sara Shahriari helps nonprofit newsrooms develop effective and forward-thinking leaders who advance the industry in both journalism and financial sustainability. That means supporting emerging leaders through training that strengthens their organizations while also building pathways into the nonprofit news world for diverse groups of talented students and industry professionals in journalism, public administration and business.

Sara’s professional background includes managing a statewide public radio network, hosting and producing an award-winning public affairs program, serving on the faculty at the Missouri School of Journalism and reporting extensively from Bolivia for outlets including the Guardian, Bloomberg News and The Christian Science Monitor.

Sara earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. She wholeheartedly believes in INN’s work to support meaningful and sustainable independent journalism in an age of drastically shrinking local and investigative coverage, and she is committed to working with present and future leaders as they build inclusive, excellent and financially sustainable nonprofit news organizations.


Sarah Vassello
Engagement Specialist

Sarah Vasello connects INN members and the nonprofit news field at large to external audiences through our social media accounts and newsletters, INNovation and member-only INN Notebook. She focuses on sharing industry-wide resources with members, promoting outstanding member work, connecting for-profit and legacy media stakeholders with the nonprofit news world and magnifying trends from the field. 

Before joining INN in February 2018 as part of INN's Amplify News Project, Sarah served as an interactive entertainment intern at The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and as a market engagement intern with Gannett, where she collaborated with publications in more than 100 markets to provide technical, website and newsroom support. She also provided network-wide support on watchdog projects, like a database to track special interest group influence on national and statewide politics, and has experience analyzing engagement data using website metrics, social metrics and data visualization.

A 2017 UNC-Chapel Hill grad with a B.A. in multimedia journalism and political science, she also worked for The Daily Tar Heel, a top-ranked independent student-run newspaper, where she rose from staff writer to launching and directing the entertainment and culture vertical.
Contact:, @sarahvassello

Jeffrey Woolverton
Network Philanthropy Director

Jeffrey Woolverton leads INN’s Major Gifts initiative to transform fundraising capacity and increase major gifts across the INN network of more than 300 nonprofit news organizations. He creates shared resources, built on industry best practices, for INN member newsrooms to increase their skills for major gift fundraising, including identifying and developing relationships with individual donors.

Jeffrey brings nearly 20 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management to INN. With a degree in sociology, he worked as program director and was the first development director of Life House Inc. in Duluth, MN, a program for homeless youth. From there, he moved to senior roles at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where he grew new revenue across a national network of more than 600 nonprofit organizations. At Boys & Girls Clubs, Jeffrey led a team that doubled major gift contributions over two years by raising more than $214 million in 2019.