Tiffany Shackelford’s life and work: Convener, connector and ‘a force’

December 14, 2021

Tiffany Shackelford died on December 27, 2020, from complications resulting from a positive case of Covid-19.

Tiffany, at the time of her death, was Head of Outreach and Partnerships ​for the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy’s Election Cybersecurity Initiative and Director of CCLP’s Voter Communications Task Force. She also was the Executive Director of the Society for News Design.

As usual, she was doing it all. All the time.

Tiffany was simply a force of nature.

Her sharp intellect was often revealed with a sly smile, wrapped in a bawdy sense of humor.

She was a connector — one possessing a generous spirit — who took pleasure in making introductions between those in her broad and varied network.

Many of her numerous accomplishments occurred when she combined her sharp strategic abilities with her enthusiastic delivery and potent convening abilities.

“Anyone who has been in the same room as Tiffany was instantly intoxicated with her boisterous love, laughter and occasional F-bombs. Tiffany was a tornado of goodness. She spun the world and moved us all.” - Yuri Victor, Senior Editor, The Atlantic
Kurt, Tiffany and Yuri
Kurt Cunningham, Tiffany Shackelford and Yuri Victor. With Tiffany in usual comedic form.

Tiffany touched many lives and made a remarkable number of connections across her rich professional history — from Capitol Beat to the Pew Center’s to the National Governors Association to Phase2 Technology and as a consultant for MG Strategy + Design.

Perhaps where she had the most widespread impact was in her roles with three media-related organizations: Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the Online News Association and the Society for News Design.

“Tiffany had this rare ability to see you – like really, really see you. She’d somehow fully realize your strengths and skills within your first few interactions together, even – and especially – if you didn’t. My favorite thing about her was that she’d find a way to compliment, drop knowledge and make you laugh all in the same breath of air. I will be forever grateful for the time I had learning from her and all the moments of laughter we shared.” — Aly Morris, Senior Designer, Chicago Tribune and SND President when Tiffany died.

The strength of a volunteer organization is determined by the enthusiasm of its organizers. Like those of SND, members of ONA (Online News Association) in Washington, D.C. benefited greatly from the energy of Tiffany. The chapter sprung from a small gathering she organized and was propelled by her efforts — and those of a dedicated core of volunteers — to become a group of more than 1,000 digital journalists within just a few years.

“Without Tiffany, the local network of ONA wouldn’t exist. That isn’t an exaggeration — it was only through her dedication and execution that ONADC and the framework that followed came to be. We are all the better for it.”  — Jessica Estepa, ONADC Organizer and Senior Campaign Editor at

Tributes & Memories

Tiffany Shackelford
Tiffany Shackelford laughing it up with the U.S. Capitol behind her in Washington. D.C.

Journalism leader, one-of-kind community builder who helped launch the ONA Local network
Online News Association

Remembering Tiffany Shackelford
Society for News Design

Tiffany Shackelford, 46, was known as a unique, fun ‘force’ to friends, family
The Washington Post

Remembering Tiffany Shackelford

Remembering Tiffany Shackelford
It's All Journalism

Tribute to Tiffany Shackelford and four other people who lost their lives to the pandemic
PBS NewsHour

Tiffany Shackelford's Official Obituary
Dignity Memorial

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