The American Press Institute is pleased to announce the addition of three new full-time staff members: Emily Ristow, Larry Graham and Tricia Cantor. In their respective roles, Emily, Larry and Tricia will direct and support the expansion of the Local News Transformation Program, more commonly known as Table Stakes.

The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund awarded API a $3.3 million grant in September 2019 to expand and manage the Table Stakes program’s core activities. The fund was created in 2018 by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism to build a sustainable, equitable future for local journalism.

Since it began in 2015, Table Stakes has advanced innovations in local newsrooms across the United States through hands-on coaching and intensive change-management training. In different iterations, from this version of the program to versions at the University of North Carolina, the Poynter Institute and Arizona State University, about 75 news organizations and more than 350 individuals have learned change management skills and applied them to specific performance challenges. The program was developed from work designed by Douglas K. Smith on change management, now taught in the Media Transformation Challenge program, which is housed at Poynter.

In its new role, API will scale the program by making its core lessons more widely accessible, developing new coaches, and creating a stronger peer network of alumni. Emily, Larry and Tricia will play a critical part in leading this work.

“We spent months designing the changes and improvements that are planned to take this program to another level and interviewing people for a team that could do that. We feel we found the ideal group of people to make that happen,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of API. “We’re tremendously excited to take this next step.”

As Director of Local News Transformation, Emily Ristow will help manage the core elements of the Table Stakes program, including helping participating news organizations and leaders succeed, working with partners and stakeholders such as the Maynard Institute, and overseeing communication strategies that spread the lessons of this program across the news industry.

Emily comes to API from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where she was the loyalty and engagement news director. She oversaw the newsroom’s engagement strategy across its digital platforms and was responsible for growing its loyal audience and increasing digital subscriptions. She was a member of the Journal Sentinel’s core team in the 2017 Table Stakes cohort and later became a coach in the Table Stakes program.

As Deputy Director of Local News Transformation, Larry Graham will oversee the creation of a website for Table Stakes and the various branches of the program. It will offer resources for Table Stakes alumni, current and prospective participants, and others who are looking to benefit from the valuable lessons learned from the program. Larry will also introduce new methods of measuring the success of program participants and the overall impact of Table Stakes, and help manage BetterNews.org, a curated repository of the best journalism advice across the web.

Larry joins API from The Blade (Toledo, Ohio), where he was assistant managing editor in charge of digital strategies. Larry has worked in sports journalism for most of his career, including roles at ESPN.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and The Kansas City Star. He also serves as chairman of the Diversity Committee for the Associated Press Sports Editors and co-chairs its flagship program, the Diversity Fellowship. He’s also on the board of directors for the APSE Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering diversity in sports departments.

As Program Associate, Tricia Cantor will coordinate logistics for Table Stakes, including registration, travel, lodging and on-site event management. Tricia has more than three years of experience in event operations. She has managed logistics for corporate events such as conferences, staff retreats and executive meetings, as well as weddings and other social events. She has also provided marketing support for events companies.

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