Who We Are

Headquarters and Regional Leaders


KATIE ORENSTEIN, Founder and CEO of The OpEd Project, writes and speaks frequently about the intersection of media and mythology – that is, what we think is fact or fiction and how that shapes our ideas about politics, culture and history. She has contributed to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald. She has lectured at Stanford and appeared on ABC TV World News, Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN and NPR. A graduate of Harvard (BA) and Columbia (MA) universities, she is the author of "Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale." Orenstein has worked around the world and particularly in Haiti, where she reported, consulted with the United Nations, and worked with a team of human rights lawyers to assist victims of military and paramilitary violence in seeking justice. She is a recipient of The Diana P Scott Integrity in Action Award, and a fellowship from Echoing Green, which selected The OpEd Project as one of the most innovative social enterprises worldwide, out of 1500 applicants. Click here for more.


COURTNEY BAXTER is is the Chief of Staff at The OpEd Project, based in OpEd Project's New York City headquarters. She wakes up in the morning to spend time with people solving the world's problems which is why she is thrilled to be at The OpEd Project. Outside of the office, she runs a crowd-sourced street photography project, Queer in Public, works on community strategy at Feministing, and sings karaoke. To find out more about her path to The OpEd Project, read her piece in The New York Times.


ALYSSA BEST is the Senior Program Manager for The OpEd Project. As a career coach, trainer, and speaker, she offers guidance and skills on topics related to career and professional development to build leadership for social change. She has mentored and worked with emerging leaders at Wider Opportunities for Women, the Center for Progressive Leadership, and the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University. Her writing has appeared in scholarly and mainstream media, including The Huffington Post. She contributes to a group blog on career issues: LYJ: Love Your Job, Love Your Life.


CHELSEA CARMONA work has appeared in a wide range of print and online publications including Time, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, The Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She’s currently working on her first book, tentatively titled Escape Artists, about the closing gender gap in addiction. Chelsea serves as The OpEd Project’s Program Manager, running ambitious training and mentoring programs with top scholars and activists all over the nation.


ALEX RAPSON is an Associate Program Manager at The OpEd Project, serving as the manager of New York City and Chicago Public Seminars, and multiple Public Voices Fellowships. As the newest addition to the New York City Headquarters office, she is thrilled to be a part of the synergy of OEP. Alex is passionate about story telling in all forms, but particularly through stage performance. Currently, she is producing her first play in New York City, Jean Anouilh’s BECKET. Alex is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan.


FOUZIA BENCHEIKH is driven by the need to advance cross-cultural understanding and social justice. She has lent her expertise to organizations like The Management Center, Women’s Campaign Fund, National Endowment for Democracy, National Association for Latino Elected Officials Education Fund, and the Public Leadership Education Network. Fouzia is currently a Program Associate at The OpEd Project, where she is working towards strengthening operations in existing cities and successfully launching new programs. Outside of The OpEd Project, Fouzia is a Fellow at Empowering Women International, an organization that enables women to pursue their passion and creativity through entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise development. Fouzia has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an LL.M. in International Law with International Relations from the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies.

CATHERINE BAXTER joined the OpEd Project in late 2015 and is thrilled to be part of such an inspiring, innovative, and world-changing community. As a Program Associate, she helps coordinate the community of OpEd Project alumni, supporters, and volunteers and also manages public programs in Seattle, Denver, and Detroit. Inside and outside of the OpEd Project, she loves to see the power and magic that is created when a group of people come together to be challenged, learn, and grow.  Catherine is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is relishing in the beauty of the California coasts, mountains, and forests


Fellowship Leaders and Teachers  

ROSE AGUILAR hosts Your Call, a daily call-in radio show focusing on politics, social issues, the environment, and the arts. It airs from 10-11am PST on KALW in San Francisco and KUSP in Santa Cruz. Listen online at yourcallradio.org. She's also an op-ed contributor for Al Jazeera English and provides a weekly commentary about undercovered activism for KPFK's Uprising. She is the author of "Red Highways: A Liberal's Journey into the Heartland." Aguilar has appeared on the BBC and GritTV with Laura Flanders. She speaks on panels about women's issues, the media, and current events. Find her on Twitter: @roseaguila


CHLOE ANGYAL is a writer and commentator from Sydney, Australia, based in New York City. She co-leads the PVFs at Columbia and Yale and teaches the Core Seminar. Chloe is a Senior Columnist at Feministing and an opinion contributor at Reuters. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The LA Times, The Guardian, Jezebel, Slate, and Salon. She is a regular guest on MSNBC and Al Jazeera English. Chloe as a PhD in Arts and Media from The University of New South Wales; her academic work focuses on depictions of gender, sex, and power in Hollywood romantic comedies. Photo credit: Clayton Raithel.

JENNIFER BLOCK is a journalist who writes frequently about women, health, sustainability, and social justice. She co-leads the PVF in Tucson and has led PVF at Emory. Her work has been published in Time, Newsweek/Daily Beast, Pacific Standard, Babble, ELLE, ReadyMade, and Walrus, among others. She is the author of "Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care," which was named a "Best Book of 2007" by Kirkus Reviews and a Best Consumer Health Book by Library Journal. She continues to speak frequently on maternity care issues and has written commentary for the Los Angeles Times, The UK Guardian, and Slate. A former editor at Ms. magazine, Block was also a senior editor at the magazine Plenty.

MARY C. CURTIS is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Charlotte, N.C., who has co-led the PVF at Yale and Ford Foundation. Her work centers on politics, culture and race. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, TheRoot.com, NPR, Women's Media Center, and she is political commentator for WCCB Charlotte. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, the Charlotte Observer, the Baltimore Sun, Associated Press and as national correspondent for AOL's PoliticsDaily.com. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and a Kiplinger Fellow, in social media, at Ohio State. Her honors include Clarion Awards from the Association for Women in Communications, three first-place awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Thomas Wolfe Award for an examination of Confederate heritage groups. Read more at http://www.maryccurtis.com/

DEBORAH DOUGLAS is a senior leader with The OpEd Project, currently leading our Public Voices Fellowship initiative at UT-Austin for the second year.  Previously, Deborah has led OpEd Project initiatives at Dartmouth, Columbia University, and our "Closing the Race Wealth Gap" Greenhouse program in partnership with Global Policy Solutions. She is a freelance writer/editor and adjunct lecturer at The Medill School at Northwestern University. During two decades of practice, Douglas has been a newsroom leader, including for the Chicago Sun-Times. Her boldness has led to many appearances, including CNN and WTTW Channel 11, Chicago's PBS affiliate. Her work has also appeared in publications such as The Guardian, (Canada's) National Post, Chicago Tribune, The Crisis magazine, Chicago Reporter, Huffington Post and The Root. Douglas’ award-winning special projects include The New Downtown and The Baby Ceiling (which led to an appearance on “Oprah”.) Douglas is an NABJ/Kaiser Family Foundation fellow.

E.J. GRAFF’s award-winning reporting and commentary have appeared in early gay and lesbian publications,  The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and Slate. Her book, "What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution" (Beacon Press) was called “the bible” of the same-sex marriage movement. Her work on "Getting Even: Why Women Still Don’t Get Paid Like Men–and What To Do So We Will" (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone) launched lead author Evelyn F. Murphy’s campaign to end the gendered wage gap. She is a contributing editor at The American Prospect and The Advocate, and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

AMY GUTMAN's work has appeared in a wide range of print and online publications including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Salon, Psychology Today, and The New York Law Journal, and she is the author of two suspense novels — "Equivocal Death" and "The Anniversary" — both published by Little, Brown. An honors graduate of Harvard Law School, Gutman spent four years in private practice in Manhattan before serving as Special Assistant for Communications to then-Harvard Law School Dean (now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Elena Kagan. Before law school, Gutman was founding director of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, and worked as a daily newspaper reporter in Tennessee and Mississippi. Recently, she was a Senior Writer at Harvard School of Public Health.

HOLLY KEARL co-leads the Northwestern University PVF and previously co-led the PVF in Tucson. After attending the OpEd Project public seminar program in 2010 before the release of her book "Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women" (Praeger), she wrote a number of op-eds on street harassment. After working for eight years at non-profit organizations, Kearl's public voice on gender-based violence led to her current work with the UN, Aspen Institute, and George Mason University. She is also the founder of the non-profit Stop Street Harassment. She has written for outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Forbes.com, Christian Science Monitor, and Ms. magazine.

ZEBA KHAN is a writer and commentator focused on how Islam intersects with race, politics, and identity within the U.S. Her commentary has appeared in numerous outlets including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, CNN, Al Jazeera America andThe Root. A community activist in a past life, Zeba founded Muslim-Americans for Obama in 2008, to mobilize Muslim voters around the country in support of the Obama campaign. She has been recognized as a leading figure in the Muslim American diaspora by the White House and is a 2016 Security Fellow with the Truman Project. A senior facilitator with The Op-Ed Project, Zeba has trained thousands of women and historically underrepresented voices on how to own their expertise and develop their public voice. Read an interview with her.

JOE LOYA is an author, essayist, playwright, and contributing editor at the Pacific News Service. His op-eds have appeared in many national newspapers, he has done commentary on television and radio, and he has lectured at numerous colleges. While serving seven years in prison for violent crimes, he began to re-write his life story, figuratively and literally. With the prize-winning writer Richard Rodriguez as a pen pal, Loya eventually left prison and became a writer. His memoir, "The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell" received high acclaim. Loya has worked with Walden House to help former prisoners re-enter society. He has received a Sundance Writing Fellowship, a Sun Valley Writer's Conference Fellowship and a Soros Justice Fellowship.

  CHRISTINE LARSON is an award-winning journalist and author who writes on business, technology, gender and the media. Her work has frequently appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report and many other publications. She is co-author of "Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better" (Hyperion, May 2010), which Publisher’s Weekly called “a riveting exploration of women’s economic emancipation in the 21st century.”  Larson was a John S. Knight Fellow in Journalism at Stanford in 2009-2010, where she created a national conference for freelance journalists.  She is pursuing her doctorate in communication at Stanford, where she studies the impact of technology and the digital economy on media workers and institutions.In her role as the Department of Communication’s Rebele First Amendment Fellow, she coordinates an annual symposium on the future of journalism.

COURTNEY E. MARTIN is an author, blogger, and speaker. She is also the author of five books, including "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women." She is Editor Emeritus at Feministing.com, Founding Director of the Solutions Journalism Network, and Partner at Valenti Martin Media, a social media strategy firm. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and MORE Magazine, among other publications. Courtney has appeared on the TODAY Show, MSNBC, and The O’Reilly Factor. She is the recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics and a residency from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre. She has led PVF Programs at Princeton and Yale. Read more at www.courtneyemartin.com.

LAURA MAZER is a veteran Op-Ed editor, book editor, and publishing consultant. In the 1990s, she was the managing editor of Creators Syndicate, the international agency that represents people like Molly Ivins, Arianna Huffington, Hillary Clinton, Tony Snow, Robert Novak, and Susan Estrich. The columns she has edited have appeared in close to every daily newspaper in the country, and many international papers as well. Mazer is also a book editor, having worked with publishing houses such as Avalon Publishing Group, Perseus Books Group, and Random House. She has served as the columns editor at the award-winning literary magazine Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, and as the special sections editor at the Los Angeles Times.

KELLY NUXOLL is a freelance writer and writing teacher. Her essays and articles have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, and the Huffington Post, and she co-authored "Work on Purpose," a nonfiction book about social entrepreneurs. She's taught writing for over ten years, including the Logic and Rhetoric course at Columbia University. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia and a BA from Yale. 


TERESA PUENTE is an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She also is the editor and publisher of Latina Voices and writes an independent news and opinion blog for Chicago Now (Chicago Tribune Publishing Co.) called Chicanísima. Puente was previously a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and also was a member of the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board and wrote a column for the op-ed section. Puente has also worked for dailies in southern California and for Hispanic Link News Service in Washington, D.C. She also is the recipient of the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop. Puente has been published in  The Guardian, the Daily Beast, the Miami Herald, Newsday, In These Times and in Fox News Latino. 

LAUREN SANDLER has written on issues of gender, culture, religion, and equality for many publications including The Atlantic, Slate, The New York Times, The Nation, BusinessWeek, and Time, where she has published two cover stories to date. She is the bestselling author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One, and of Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement. Sandler is a former producer at NPR, the former Life Editor of Salon, and has taught courses in writing social commentary at NYU's graduate journalism program. She lives in Brooklyn.

DEBORAH SIEGEL, PhD, is an author, TEDx speaker, and thought leadership coach. A Senior Facilitator with The OpEd Project, she piloted PVF programs at Fordham and Princeton and has directed the PVF at DePaul University. She is the author of two books (Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild and Only Child) and runs the group blog Girl w/Pen, housed at The Society Pages. She is also the co-founder of both Barnard’s web journal The Scholar & Feminist Online and the popular website She Writes. Her essays and op-eds have appeared in national outlets and she has been featured on television and radio. She is the recipient of multiple writing residencies and a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University. Visit her at http://www.deborahsiegelphd.com


MARTHA SOUTHGATE, an OpEd Project Fellowship Leader, is the author of four award-winning novels; her newest is "The Taste of Salt," published by Algonquin Books. Her previous novel, "Third Girl from the Left," won the Best Novel of the Year award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was shortlisted for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy award. She received a 2002 New York Foundation for the Arts grant and has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Previous non-fiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, and Essence.


MICHELE WELDON is a senior leader with The OpEd Project, directing our Public Voices Fellowship initiative at Northwestern University. Previously, she led OpEd Project initiatives at Stanford and Princeton Universities, and our "Closing the Race Wealth Gap" Greenhouse program in partnership with Global Policy Solutions. From 2012-2014 she also directed The OpEd Project's Youth Narrating Our World mentorship program of high school students through The McCormick Foundation.  She is an award-winning journalist and author with more than three decades of experience and assistant professor emerita in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School. She was co-director of TEDxNorthwesternU 2014. She is the author of five nonfiction books including Escape Points: A Memoir (2015) and chapters in seven other books; has delivered more than 200 keynotes and appeared on scores of TV and radio outlets. A frequent contributor on issues of gender, media and popular culture, her work appears in hundreds of sites including New York Times, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, Guardian, Slate, Chicago Tribune, TIME, Medium and more. A frequent live storyteller, she competed in The Moth Grandslam in 2012. She serves on the advisory boards of Life Matters Media, Global Girl Media and Between Friends. She is a former member of the board of directors of Journalism & Women Symposium.


ALLISON YARROW is an award-winning journalist covering the intersection of health and politics, gender, culture, life and religion. She co-leads The OpEd Project's PVF at Northwestern University. She is a documentary producer for the Emmy Award nominated Vice on HBO and writes regularly for Time, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and more. Her bestselling Amazon Kindle e-book, "The Devil of Williamsburg," was named a Top Five Nonfiction pick of 2013. She's been on The Today Show, MSNBC, NPR and more. She was an assignment editor and staff writer at Newsweek and The Daily Beast, a deputy editor of Forward.com, and an associate producer at NBC News. Learn more at allisonyarrow.com and follow her on Twitter.


TOM ZOELLNER is the author of four nonfiction books, "The Heartless Stone," "Uranium," "A Safeway in Arizona" and "Train." He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NPR’s All Thing Considered and Talk of the Nation, PRI’s Marketplace, Fox and Friends, CNN, Bloomberg TV and C Span’s Book TV. His work has been translated into thirteen languages, and his journalism has appeared in Harper's, Time, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Oxford American, Men's Health, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other places. He is an Associate Professor of English at Chapman University and lives in Los Angeles.