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 a 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 of 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.
Jay Evans, Community Engagement Coordinator: Jay is the newest addition to the JRNOLA team. She’s a New Orleans native and is dedicated to uplifting marginalized voices and supporting endeavors that create wealth within the black community. Her educational and work experience is as diverse as her passions. She is an expert in everything from wine selection to website coding and brings a well-rounded body of knowledge and fervent advocacy to all that she does. She is the founder of Reciprocity Works, a marketing consulting organization, and Wine Plug, a hub for wine lovers who want to have a glass and an impact. She is currently serving in this role with JRNOLA as a networking specialist, digital marketing guru, and all-around advocate/hype man for the young adults we serve. She has hit the ground running with JRNOLA and loves finding and facilitating more opportunities for the world to get glimpses of our junior journalists’ brilliance and perspective.
Junior Journalists (Fall 2020)
Chris Taylor is the longest-tenured journalist on our crew. He is 17 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 Senior 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 free time, 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.”
Hannah Darcey is a Senior at Mount Carmel Academy. She is seventeen years old, and she enjoys school and is very involved in the MCA community. She is a part of her school theater program, Shinto Tori Kabuki which means God’s Gateway to the Theater. She is also a student ambassador at school and is a part of the school’s news broadcasting program, WMCA. When she grows up she wants to pursue news broadcasting as a career. She likes writing stories about theater in New Orleans, and spends her free time with her family and friends. She joined JRNOLA because she wanted to become a better writer and share her stories with people. Her favorite thing about JRNOLA is the friendly (silly!) and welcoming environment and helpful people.
Jacklyn Leo was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 12, 2003, making her 16 years old and returns for her second year with our program. She currently is a Junior 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 proving to be a great asset for the program.
Lana Lawson is an amazing person, a Korean-pop expert, and stands out from the crowd who believes everyone is special in their own way. She was born on July 19th, 2004 in New Orleans, LA. This creative 16 year old is into D.I.Y. activities such as crocheting, sewing, and anything she can really get her hands onto. She has A’s and B’s at the International High School of New Orleans and her favorite class in Chinese. Lawson’s biggest inspiration in life is her mother because she’s a single parent and does an awesome job raising Lana by herself. Even though her school doesn’t offer many extracurriculars that she is into, besides Chinese classes, she is also learning Korean at a local church. It makes sense because her favorite music group is SEVENTEEN, which is a South-Korean pop band that has a special place in her heart. She even mentions that group member Vernon is her favorite and Lawson also loves K-pop group TWICE. She found out about JRNOLA through her mother who was scrolling through Facebook and jumped right on her application the next morning. She looks forward to writing about any opportunity that comes her way. Who knows? Maybe she’ll get to write about her opinions on K-pop!
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 senior. He is 17 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-working African-American man. In middle school, he was MVP of his school’s basketball team and was the 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 18 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 loves 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.
Samarah Bentley is a Sophomore at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans. She is 15 years old. Bentley enjoys not only tell sci-fi and fiction stories, but she decided to join JRNOLA to tell the non-fiction story of those whose stories aren’t always told. She wants to give a voice to the unspoken. She aspires to write a book before the age of 20. She is very strong on involving God in her life and strives to be successful, in hopes to give back to the less fortunate. She enjoys reading sci-fi, magical books. She also likes to watch movies, one of her favorites being, Black Panther. If she gets to decide on dinner, she would most definitely enjoy a nice plate of pasta. She is even a fan of multiple types of rock music, Pop, R&B, K-Pop, and Dubstep.
Eliza Baquet is a senior at De La Salle High School. She is 18 years old. She is in her school band, and she enjoys theater and dance. She may seem quiet and reserved at first, but once you get to know her, she will be more comfortable expressing herself. She is a huge movie buff. She has seen many movies. In fact, she actually knows facts about movies that she hasn’t even seen. One of her favorite movies is Back to the Future. Her favorite genre of music is EDM and her favorite food is pasta. After high school, she hopes to go to college to study Communications in Journalism and Theater.
Kaisha Jones is a 17 year old senior at McMain High School who is a New Orleans native from Chalmette. She has 9 siblings in total; 4 on her mom’s side and 5 on her Dad’s side and also has a pet dog named Dusty that she loves very dearly. Kaisha is very passionate about poetry and hopes to be a poet one day. A quote that she lives by is “Don’t regret the past and don’t stress over the future”. She is a chocolate and sugar enthusiast and enjoys sprinkling sugar on many of her meals such as spaghetti and grits. In her free time, she enjoys watching Netflix and acting.
Re’kal Hooker is one of our newest members here at JRNOLA. She is 16 years old and is in her sophomore year of high school at Living School. She first discovered JR NOLA this summer when she joined the summer program. During her time here at JRNOLA, she’s hoping to delve into the issues young people face today and possibly even start her own podcast. Re’kal describes herself as logical, hardworking, and blunt. “People like to say I’m mean,” she says. But she is just telling it like it is, which will make her a perfect addition to the JR NOLA team. Re’kal’s hobbies include doing hair and listening to R&B, rap, and gospel music.
Ravien Burns is an Atlanta peach who grew up in New Orleans for most of her life. She is 17 years old and begins her senior year at LW Higgins High School. Her hobbies include singing, dancing, writing, playing video games, and watching tv. She enjoys sunsets and taking care of her family when she can, especially her grandmother. After high school, Ravien sees herself going to college to major in journalism and marketing, starting her own business, or traveling to St. Lucia and other exotic places. Once she’s done exploring the world, she hopes to settle in the broadcasting or acting/music industry, while also securing her family’s domestic stability. She is a music lover that adores all genres and loves to express herself through creativity and other arts. She’s determined to get the job done and if at first she doesn’t succeed, she tries and tries again until she achieves her goal. Even though she doesn’t have a favorite film to cling to, a few of Ravien’s favorite tv genres are anime, romance, action, teen dramas, and supernatural.
Board of Directors
Board Member: Warren Bell, Owner and CEO, Warren Bell & Associates; formerly News Director, WBOK-1230AM; Southern University and A&M College System, Director of the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement
Board Member: Jeanne Foster, Publisher, Gambit Communications Inc.
Board Member: Romalice “Ro” Brown, Asst. Director Athletic Communications, University of New Orleans | Broadcaster, WBOK 1230AM / WGSO 990AM
Board Member: Tania Dall, Senior Marketing + Communications Directors at Camelback Ventures, former Director of Communications, OPSB; formerly of Youth Empowerment Project and WWL TV
Board Member: Jennifer Hale, Founder, Sideline Pass | Reporter, Fox Sports (NFL and NBA Networks)
Board Member: Scott Hutcheson, Director of Planning and Strategic Partnerships, E Pluribus Unum Fund; formerly Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, City of New Orleans
Board Treasurer: Sam Joffray, Vice President, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation
Board Secretary: Allison McCarroll, Chief Operations Officer, New Orleans Junior Journalism Program
Board President: Jim Rapier, Librarian, Business English Teacher, Bonnabel High School; formerly Content Marketing Managing Editor, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune (retired May 2018)