The Maynard Institute congratulates Community Engagement Manager Ava M. Macha on her new role as Audience Engagement Editor - Underrepresented Communities at The Guardian US. Macha joined the Maynard Institute in December 2019 a few months before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She quickly adapted to the social climate by building the institute’s digital presence and increasing the visibility of the organization during the civil rights protests of 2020. She helped produce the popular Belonging in the News webinar series, which featured guest speakers such as Nikole Hannah-Jones, Maria Hinojosa, Wesley Lowery, Versha Sharma and more.

When sharing the news of her new role, Macha expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the team and to contribute to the history of the Maynard Institute. “This amazing organization will continue to be so special to me, and has truly shaped my career trajectory,” said Macha.

Macha’s career journey since J-school

Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Macha holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California, but she remains loyal to the Northwest and her home state of Idaho. Prior to working with the Maynard Institute, Macha was the Visual Design Fellow for Santa Barbara-based social justice magazine, Pacific Standard. She also worked as the Audience Coordinator for Los Angeles-based data journalism website, Crosstown LA. In her role, she developed relationships with South LA neighborhood council leaders to understand their community’s crime reporting needs and presented them with monthly crime statistics.

When Macha joined the Maynard Institute team in late 2019, no one could have predicted the tumultuous year ahead. The skills and experience Macha gained at the institute helped her realize that what she loved most about journalism was audience engagement work. As a mission-driven organization dedicated to diversifying the media industry and helping journalists of color advance their careers, everyone at the Maynard Institute celebrates the next step in Macha’s journey with the Guardian US, where she will remain committed to bettering coverage and engagement with traditionally underserved communities.

Reinvigorating the Maynard Institute Community

Macha quickly grew her position beyond coordinating individual donors and alumni communications. She took on projects large and small. For her first 2 years at the institute, Macha served as the sole driver of the organization’s online presence. In 2020, she managed a website redesign project while growing our social media presence and establishing a bi-monthly email newsletter.

She continued to manage all the fundraising appeals, successfully growing the institute’s individual and recurring donor community. Macha also used her industry knowledge to leverage larger-scale funder relationships to strategically execute match challenges for greater impact.

Macha also represented the Maynard Institute in key stakeholder relationships such as the Maynard Institute’s partnership with OpenNews and the Online News Association, Vision25: Building Equity in Newsrooms. She was instrumental in creating a series of live webcasts on the topics of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging that featured industry thought leaders. More recently, Macha contributed to the Maynard Institute’s partnership with Politico by participating on the screening committee for the annual Politico Journalism Institute.

Photo: December 2022 Maynard Institute holiday happy hour mixer. Front row left to right: Jess Chou, Ava Macha, Thalía Juárez, Corinne Chin, Beena Raghavendran, Meena Ganesan. Back row left to right: Yasmin Namini, Manuel Smith, Anuz Thapa, Patricia Peart, Neena Satija, Stefanos Chen, Tekendra Parmar.

In 2022, as pandemic restrictions loosened and in-person convenings were re-established, Macha helped the institute produce successful networking receptions at key conventions. The Maynard Institute hosted popular happy hours at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) convention in Los Angeles and the joint National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and National Association of Hispanic Journalists(NAHJ) convention in Las Vegas. Transitioning the Institute from virtual to in-person events was a huge lift, but Macha was up to the task.

What’s next for Macha and the Maynard Institute

In her new role at the Guardian US, Macha will focus on increasing audience diversity, both culturally and geographically, to increase the reach and engagement among underrepresented communities in the US. Her work at the Guardian is in some ways a continuation of her work at the Maynard Institute which supports wider newsroom efforts to create journalism that is more accurately representative of the US.

More about Maynard Institute Programs

Maynard Institute professional development programs have the goal of fueling the pipeline of journalists of color into the newsrooms of America. One of the Maynard Institute’s core programs, the Maynard 200 Fellowship provides advanced training and mentorship to mid-career journalists of color for promoting their career growth and expanded leadership roles.