By Emma Carew Grovum
One of the things I will remember most about Tiffany Shackelford is how she broke down barriers for folks like me, especially in the earliest stages of our careers. When I was no one – just a dumb kid with a big mouth who wanted to save journalism –Tiffany saw more. And she invested in what she saw.
It is no understatement to say that I wouldn’t be who I am today as a woman and a leader without Tiffany’s guiding hand and influence. Every pep talk, every piece of feedback, every chance to soar. She boosted me when I didn’t know how to do so for myself.
Tiffany was more than a mentor, really, she was my first sponsor. But we didn’t have a word for it back then, or, at least I didn't. But I knew that I loved and appreciated her immensely. I’m not sure she ever knew just how much.
Whether it was covering the cost of a flight and hotel room to attend a conference, or adding me as a paid speaker to an event she had planned, Tiffany raised my star and my profile at a time when I didn’t have the resources or sophistication to do it myself. She helped me level up and build skills I didn’t even know I had or needed.
She never told me I couldn’t achieve something I wanted. She never encouraged me to walk away from this wretched and beloved industry. Tiffany believed I could help other journalists do their jobs better and gave me opportunities to do that and to shine.
It is in this spirit that I join the Tiffany Shackelford Foundation today in announcing a new program: a scholarship fund to help folks from marginalized backgrounds get to conferences and take unpaid speaking opportunities. I’m throwing down first and will match the first $2,500 raised. Please donate now.
When you’re building your brand, any opportunity can feel like a lifeline – even if it’s unpaid or travel isn’t covered. But that’s a huge burden for some, especially early in a career.
I’m excited to help fund this effort because I know what a difference that kind of support made. I wanted to become a speaker and expert, and Tiffany’s emotional and financial support helped me achieve it. Now we want to help others take that next step too.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Tiffany Shackelford Foundation’s new scholarship fund. I’m excited to send folks to conferences and trainings that their newsrooms aren't supporting. I’m excited to give people a chance to rise in the industry without having to do it on their own dime.
Emma Carew Grovum
Emma Carew Grovum is the director of careers and culture for The Marshall Project. In addition to holding several past editorial and technology roles in news organizations large and small, she also trains and coaches journalists on leadership skills, product thinking and building diverse and equitable workplaces.
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