Board of Directors

As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, The Red & Black Publishing Company, Inc. is governed by the following volunteer board of directors:

Executive Officers

Lance Helms | President and Chair

A former editor in chief of The Red & Black, Lance Helms earned an ABJ in Newspaper Management from UGA's Grady College. He served in various editorial roles at the Portsmouth (NH) Herald before moving into advertising sales there and at the Gwinnett (GA) Daily Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he won the Cox Media Group President's Cup in 2013. Currently the General Manager of Digital Solutions for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Lance lives in Fort Lauderdale and serves on the board of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association.

Jamar Laster | Vice-President and Vice-Chair

A former associate news editor and copy editor with The Red & Black, Jamar Laster has held various lead editorial roles with multiple B2B and consumer magazines since graduating from the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Having been in magazine journalism for almost two decades, he currently is an executive editor with Emerald Expositions, the leading B2B trade-show organizer in the United States. Laster lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife and fellow UGA alumna, Carmen, and their two daughters, Audrey and Sarah. 

Jaime Sarrio | Secretary  

As Director of Revenue Content at Cox Media Group, which includes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sarrio's role is focused on growing digital revenue for Cox’s newspapers through native advertising and innovative digital tactics and products. She is a veteran reporter who spent more than 10 years in newsrooms covering education, politics and local government.


Regular Board Members

Tamara Best

A former Red & Black managing editor, Tamara Best is a graduate of the Grady College at UGA. A digital media executive, she resides in New York City and serves as a senior editor, arts and culture writer, moderator and editorial strategist. 

Mark Bixler

Bixler oversees content strategy and external communication for Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, a leading provider of medicines for pets, horses and livestock. His journalism career included 10 years at CNN Digital, where he served as a supervising and senior editor, and 10 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he reported and edited. Bixler earned an MBA in 2018 from the University of Georgia. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UGA, and is the author of "The Lost Boys of Sudan," a work of narrative nonfiction published by the University of Georgia Press. He reported and edited for The Red & Black as an undergraduate.

Ali Gant

Gant is the chief development officer for Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga. Her career spans 20 years in nonprofit fundraising, alumni relations, programming and volunteer management. Gant holds a Bachelor of Arts in English (2001) and Master of Public Administration (2011) from UGA. Gant and her husband, Chris, met as Orientation Leaders at UGA in 1999 and have three sons.

Theresa Giarusso

A Grady College grad and twice editor in chief of The Red & Black, Theresa Walsh Giarrusso has worked as an editor for newspapers, magazines and digital media across the U.S. She specializes in content for families and children, having worked as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's News for Kids editor and later as its parenting blogger and columnist. She also ran social media for two major parenting magazines. She has worked with K-12 students on writing for publication and spent many hours teaching about journalism in classrooms. She taught digital media at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. She currently is a freelance editor and is teaching a media literacy workshop that she created to teachers, parents and students in New Jersey. She is married to a fellow Grady and R&B alum, Michael Giarrusso. She has three kids.  

R. Lee Guarnella

Guarnella is a senior vice president in Business Development for Capital One Business Banking in New York. Before joining Capital One, he spent 12 years at JP Morgan Chase in Business Banking as a senior relationship manager. He graduated with an M.A. from Columbia University in 2007 with a focus on financial markets of the Arabian Gulf and Arabic and from UGA in 2000 with a B.A. in journalism. He has two daughters.

Samira Jafari

Jafari currently serves as executive editor of CNN's editorial oversight team, which is responsible for script and story approval across all platforms worldwide. She has been at CNN since 2008, previously serving as a supervising news editor and news editor. Jafari is also a former Associated Press correspondent. She graduated from the University of Georgia's Grady College in 2002. While at UGA, she worked at The Red & Black, serving as editor-in-chief among other roles. 

Tom Lee

Tom Lee worked at the Red & Black from 1979 to 1981, serving as news editor, editorial page editor, and entertainment editor, as well as writing more than 200 bylined stories. After the R&B, he spent 11 years as a newspaper and television reporter in Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee, winning numerous awards, including two Emmys. Now an attorney, Tom is the managing partner of the Nashville office of Frost Brown Todd LLC, where he is a principal in the firm’s government relations practice. 

Tracie Powell

Most recently, Powell was program officer for the Racial Equity in Journalism (REJ) Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. She is the founder of, which focuses on the media and its impact on diverse communities. She was a senior fellow with the Democracy Fund, where she worked on the Public Square initiative that seeks to support informed dialogue through nonprofit journalism investments. Powell was also a 2016 JSK (Knight) Fellow at Stanford University and has written regularly for the Columbia Journalism Review and Poynter Online. Her work has been highlighted by countless journalism and academic institutions, including Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and The University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Kristi Ramsay

Ramsay is an associate with Alston & Bird's Litigation and Trial Practice Group, where she represents clients in complex commercial litigation. Her practice includes class actions, TCPA litigation, media, and higher education. Ramsay previously spent more than a decade at CNN, where she focused on digital news. Ramsay also serves as the chair of Dress for Success Atlanta. Ramsay majored in journalism and Spanish at the University of North Carolina and obtained her law degree from Georgia State University. 

Bill Smith

A former reporter and editorial columnist for The Red & Black in the 1980s, Bill has worked as a public relations and communications professional for The Coca-Cola Co., UPS and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for the past 20 years. During more than 10 years in journalism, he wrote about business, economics and art for the Chicago Sun-Times and other media outlets. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Amy Bonesteel Smith, and they have three children.



Ex-Officio Members

Rebecca Burns

Now executive director of The Red & Black, Burns originally joined The Red & Black as editorial adviser in 2015 following more than two decades experience in journalism and media management. She is the former editor in chief of Atlanta magazine and previously served as director of digital strategy for Emmis Publishing. The author of three history books, she teaches part-time at the University of Georgia and previously taught at Emory University.

Shelby Israel

Editor in chief of The Red & Black for summer 2021, Israel is a journalism major with minors in Korean and English. She previously worked as campus news editor. Originally from Wisconsin, Israel lives in Athens.

Mark E. Johnson

The senior lecturer of photojournalism and chief technology officer at the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Mark Johnson worked as a photojournalist and director of photography for publications up and down the east coast prior to joining Grady in 2005.  

Sherry Liang

Liang has worked as a reporter, assistant news editor, enterprise editor, managing editor and editor in chief since starting at The Red & Black as a freshman. As managing editor over summer 2020, she helped to lead the newsroom through its first fully virtual semester. She has been an advocate for diversity in our coverage and within our newsroom. A UGA Honors student, Liang is a double major in Entertainment Media Studies (Grady) and International Affairs (SPIA), with a Chinese minor and New Media Certificate.
Cameron Reamer
A rising senior in the Grady College, Reamer is the 2021-2022 student ad manager for The Red & Black. He previously served as senior account executive and account executive. He also has completed the entrepreneurship certificate program in the Terry College of Business. Reamer is actively involved at Athens Church and in community service, as well as being a member of Beta Upsilon Chi.
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