After having her first-ever meeting in the 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator cohort, Dana Amihere decided to quit her job with no true backup plan. Two days later, she turned a vision into reality, creating the brand logo for her new digital media consultancy Code Black Media.
The courage to take such a jump is directly attributed to her participation in the Accelerator, said Amihere.
“The program was an opportunity for me to take a step back and think about the things that I have been wrestling and grappling with for a while,” Amihere said. “But it forced me to do it in a way that was very thoughtful and in a way that was very supported at the same time.”
Created in 2015, the program each year accepts 26 leaders who identify as women for a year-long program dedicated to providing coaching, leadership and management skills to further excel in their careers. The program specifically looks for leaders seeking to push innovation in the digital media world.
While applying to the 2021 cohort — which was all online due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Amihere had professional goals in mind related to media diversity that didn’t seem attainable to her until she was able to outline those ideas through the application process. Taking pieces from her initial project plan, she transformed those intangible ideas into the work she does now for Code Black Media and her upcoming newsroom, AfroLA, expected in 2023.
“For AfroLA, we’re unapologetically Black Los Angeles. We are who we are, we know who we are, and we’re going to give you the best information and serve you in the best way that we know how. And to me that’s true diversity and inclusion in practice,” Amihere said.
Besides providing valuable mentoring and leadership training, the Women’s Leadership Accelerator also gives each member a new support system that goes beyond just the one-year program, participants said.
“It’s like a sisterhood,” said Martina Ibanez-Baldor, a member of the 2022 cohort. “It’s really important to make connections in this career, which is something this program provides, and also make friendships and bonds with people. Not only for accelerating your career but also your personal well-being.”
Liriel Higa learned first-hand how valuable this support system is during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. After only having one week in person with her cohort before the shutdown in March 2020, the support from the other women and coaches got her where she wanted to be in her career despite being online for the remainder of the program.
“Having that group of women even though we never met again in person but we got to meet online was really helpful,” Higa said. “I’m super grateful that it continues to be a great resource to this day.”
The program also emphasizes the importance of resilience and provides feedback from some of the top female leaders in the digital media industry. Amihere thinks this is more important in journalism now more than ever.
“I think that the journalism industry — as much as we are trying to be tech focused, innovative, and focused on the audience — we’re very focused outward,” Amihere said. “And I feel like that’s where the program comes in. It’s not just about the news product. It’s an opportunity to kind of step back and see what your place in the bigger picture is.”
Even outside the cohort, the Online News Association and the Accelerator program are dedicated to fostering the growth of female-identifying journalists and innovators in the field. Over the past few years, ONA held free workshops designed for women who want to grow their leadership and management skills in places around the country including Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Detroit. The Accelerator also allows women to network through online coaching sessions at digitalwomenleaders.com.
For a young female journalist wanting to take the next step in her career, Amihere simply advises her to fail.
“Try, experiment and fail,” she said. “And fail better the next time.”
Resources for Women in Media
- Take The Lead
- Alliance for Women in Media
- International Women’s Media Foundation
- Women In Media
- The Association for Women in Communications
- Women’s Media Group
- Association of Media Women in Kenya
- Women in Media Global
- Empower Women Media
- African Women in Media
- Public Media Women in Leadership
- Uganda Media Women’s Association