We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization consisting of passionate educators, media professionals, voracious consumers of media, and defenders of youth voices, creating rare opportunities to embed local high school youth into the media and communications field. We feel that our students are the vanguard, leading the way forward into the changing and challenging media landscape. We are working tirelessly to prepare them for that landscape.
Sam Joffray, Co-Founder, CEO: For the past 20 years, Sam Joffray, in his capacity as an executive with the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, has implemented a Junior Journalism program within the events New Orleans has hosted, including the most recent NBA All Star Games, WrestleMania, College Bowl Games and Final Fours. Providing aspiring high school journalists with the press box seats, sideline and courtside photo positions and access to professional media mentors, the program proved so successful that the NCAA adopted the program in 2003, as an annual requirement of all host cities for the Women’s Final Four. In 2017, Joffray launched the New Orleans Junior Journalism Program, a 501(c)(3) organization that now affords opportunities for local youth to earn media credentials to cover major and local events by participating in a yearlong program, as opposed to single events, geared to their specific interests. In our inaugural year, operating out of temporary after school newsroom, we trained and embedded students from around the city to cover not only sporting events, but also created opportunities for them to cover theatre, news, and cultural events, under the tutelage of professional media and college journalism interns.
Allison McCarroll, Co-Founder, COO: Allison McCarroll has instrumental experience working with underserved youth aged 5-18 through her years of volunteer service with Big Class (now 826 New Orleans) in New Orleans and The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in North Carolina. She has a passion for literacy and community improvement, showcased through her and her husband’s volunteer work building and installing Little Free Libraries in Central City, providing free access to books to youth and adults in that neighborhood. She brings over 15 years experience in project management, administrative leadership, and community service advocacy and commitment to JRNOLA. As a strong advocate for youth literacy, she has embedded herself in countless hours of volunteer work with multiple non-profit organizations, both in her hometown of New Orleans, and in North Carolina, where she attended high school and earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. When Sam approached her in 2017 to help get JRNOLA off the ground, she thought all her dreams had come true, having finally been given the opportunity to work full time to amplify youth voices, rather than just in her spare time.
Liam Pierce, Newsroom Editor: Liam endeared himself to JRNOLA first as a favorite speaker, drawing our young journalists in with his quirky storytelling, and drew them in with ease and respect. He enjoyed meeting us and was asked to stay on and help us build our first summer program. Liam was born and raised in Oakland, California and loves his hometown as much as he loves his new town, New Orleans. He attended Sarah Lawrence College and Brown University for undergrad (transfer student) and Syracuse for journalism school. His first real writing experience happened in the most peculiar way. Pierce lost an internship at a prestigious publication (The New Yorker) because of budget cuts. He then became a gondola boat driver and then managed to publish a breakout piece about his experiences. From there he became a freelance journalist, writing theater reviews, and then doing sports journalism at Vice. He lived in New York for about 3 years and then mosied right on down to New Orleans. Journalism is a passion for him; one of the building blocks of his very existence. He fell in love with journalism because he loves telling stories but got tired of telling them about himself. Pierce decided to join us at JRNOLA because he loves enriching the minds of young journalists, and showing them that they can change the world.
Nick Boulet, Senior Photographic Intern: Nick is a Senior at Loyola University New Orleans, finishing up a degree in journalism. Before moving to New Orleans for college, he grew up in Berkeley, California. He is a photographer and photojournalist and loves every second of what he does. Seeing progress in both himself and the student journalists at JRNOLA is what he works for. Nick has a passion for photography telling stories through pictures. Aside from photography, Nick enjoys outdoor activities like fishing and hiking. He also enjoys sports like skateboarding, snowboarding and plays pick up basketball with his friends. Through Loyola, Nick became an FAA certified drone pilot and spends time flying around taking aerial photos and video. When he’s not using his DSLR, Nick is honing his craft by practicing analog photography using a 35mm camera. Nick has had his work published on NOLA.com and his school’s newspaper, The Maroon.
Rob Noelke is a Junior at Loyola University New Orleans majoring in mass communication with a focus in journalism. Rob is originally from Austin, Texas, though New Orleans is his new home. He has been a photographer for over three years with a wide variety of experience within the field. Rob has covered Superbowl LIII, NFL and NBA games, as well as, New Orleans Jazz Fest and other events. He is our newest mentor and will be following in the footsteps of our senior mentor Nick Boulet.
Junior Journalists (Fall 2018/Spring 2019)
Ava Josephine “AJ” Nicol, was born on a sunny, magnificent day on January 14, 2003 to her amazing mother Elizabeth. She is 15 years old and goes to Riverdale High school, and she is a freshman and is an all A student. Ava is an only child and is “your everyday princess Moana”. She loves the ocean and scuba diving is one of her many passions. Her greatest escapes from her everyday troubles would be a trip to the beach; she loves being free and sailing boats. Don’t let her free spirit fool you though, she is also interested in teaching kids how to swim and is in a group called Eco Crew. In Eco Crew she gets to enjoy her dream by teaching kids about marine animals and even some land animals. Ava is a huge advocate for Feminism, and she believes everyone should be given the opportunity to be equal. She also thinks that everyone should be a feminist and should appreciate each other.
Chris Joseph Taylor is the longest tenured journalist on our crew. He is 15 years old, born on July 27, 2003. He was adamant in saying that he would not be here without his parents Terri, and Enoch Frazier. He is currently a Sophomore at St. John the Baptist Parish STEM Magnet High program. When asked why he joined the program he said, “because I love sports, and expressing my opinion with others.” His favorite sport of course is basketball with football as a close second. In his freetime he does just that, plays basketball and works on his craft. When asked what his dream job is, he replied with, “Stephen A. Smith’s job.” Another dream of his is attending TCU, or Texas Christian University. When asked about why he prefers to leave the state he said that, “people in Louisiana are stuck in a box, and I want to see things outside of the state.”
Senior Darreonna Davis, joining us from the International High School, has a positive spirit and tries her best to be involved in extracurricular activities such as, being a flag twirler for Carmouche Performing Arts Academy (CPAA), being on the Superintendent’s student advisory board, in an group called Project Butterfly where she learns to build her self esteem and become a better person. She choose to join JRNOLA because she knew that it would help her develop her true passion for writing and being able to express her focus on becoming the best writer she can be. We look forward to her passionate coverage and writing on subjects such injustice in the African-American community and Teen Life.
Derek Dunbar is a 17 year old junior at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Derek enjoys shooting photographs at a wide variety of events such as sports, weddings, baby showers, cultural and fashion events and different things that are going on around the city of New Orleans. When asked why he joined the program, Derek said “I want to sharpen my writing skills because they are really important, and I figured that if you write well and speak well now you’ll be able to use it later on in life”. He is also looking forward to meeting peers that have similar interests as him. Derek found out about the program from a former mentor, Tyler Kaufman, who assisted us at this year’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Derek hopes to be able to cover a variety of sports because he says,“all of them bring something different and you learn different things about each sport while covering them”. During his free time Derek enjoys playing with his twin brother, as well as cutting grass and taking pictures for him while he works as a barber.
Isabella Brown is a 16 year old junior at Lusher Charter school. She was born on November 24th, 2002 and has a deep passion for writing. Out of her many hobbies, including dancing at Lusher, all she talks about is writing. She explained how she loves the endless possibilities that come with journalism and is super excited to be joining us. Her favorite topics to write about are politics, social issues, environmental crises, restoration, and stories from the LGBTQ+ community. She aspires to attend a school in NYC like The New School or NYU because she loves being in a city environment. Talking about cities, she added the fact that her favorite part about New Orleans is, like almost every other resident, the food. However she does want to move away for college to experience new and exciting things. She listed a few more of her favorite things like: Ariana Grande, Black Mirror, and how Halloween is her favorite holiday. She’s a city girl with an amazing personality who has her heart set on writing!
Jacklyn Leo was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 12, 2003 making her 15 years old and is one of the newest members of our program. She currently is a Freshman at Lusher Charter High School where she is a great student getting mostly A’s and B’s. When asked why she joined the program she said, “I love to write at school, so I wanted to write for a purpose. I love writing about pop culture, movies and video games are my favorite. My favorite video game is Fallout 4, it’s awesome.” Although she doesn’t have a favorite movie it is clear that she loves watching them. When asked what she wants to be when she gets older she said that she would love to be anything, and is sure to be a great asset for the program.
Phillip Petty III was born on March 22, 2003. He was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and attends St. Augustine High School as a sophomore. He is 15 years old and has mostly As and Bs. He has two siblings, named Isaiah and Patricia who he enjoys spending time with. Two of the most important people in his life would be his mother, Kisha Petty and his father, Phillip Petty Jr. because they inspire him to be an ambitious and hard work African-American man. In middle school, he was MVP of his school’s basketball team and was Altar Server of the year. Phillip found the program JRNOLA at a preseason Saints game when his father pointed out the advertisement on the Jumbotron. He is very open and willing to try new things. Some of his hobbies include playing video games and training with his basketball program ELEVATE. A few words he uses to describe himself would be smart, funny, ambitious, and fun. His dream career would be to play in the NBA but he would much rather have a quieter life as a future film director.
Taylor Pittman was born on December 14, 2002. She is 15 years old and has four siblings; 3 brothers and 1 sister (Leslie, Eian, David and Barry). Taylor attends McDonogh 35 High School and she maintains a 4.0 GPA. She participates in many things such as choir, student council (as president), and softball. She also love to travel and her favorite place she ever traveled to was Tennessee because she loved to see the outdoors and she also slept in a cabin. Her role model is her older sister because she encourages her to be the best person she can be. In the future she wants to be a famous director. Some words to describe her are intelligent, beautiful, goofy and ambitious.
Tiren Antony Causey, a senior at Warren Easton Charter High School, in New Orleans was born on November 6, 1999. Tiren was introduced to the program through one of his coaches because he was very interested in photography as well as writing. He took an interest in football in the 6th grade which turned into a love of writing and talking about football. He had an accident and broke his knee seasons ago, but retained his passion for the game. He has already started his own photography business, TirenAntonyStudios, in his sophomore year. Besides photography and football, Tiren has an interest in engineering and plans to graduate from college with a major in that field.
Wyatt William Vaughn was born on May 23, 2001 in Metairie, LA. His parents are Billy and Becca Vaughn. Seventeen year old Wyatt is a senior at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans, LA. Wyatt will begin his first year of JRNOLA working alongside Chris Taylor and Phillip Petty III, to bring you coverage on the multiple sporting events across the city of New Orleans. When asked what motivated him to join JRNOLA Wyatt said, “I love sports. If I could write about it for a job, it would be sick.” Wyatt enjoys to write about football and basketball and said that his favorite sport usually depends on the season. “Ask me during football season and its football, ask me during basketball season and it’s basketball. Wyatt is an A-B student who aspires to attend LSU, in the hopes that he will one day be a college football analyst. He dreams to follow in the footsteps of Kirk Herbstreit, who’s known for starring on ESPN’s College GameDay. He enjoys spending his spare time watching old and new football highlights to expand his knowledge of the game. Wyatt dedicates his success and the person who he is today to his parents and his grandfather JD.