Board of Directors

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

Executive Officers

Samira Jafari,  President and Chair

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. 

Jaime Sarrio, Vice-President and Vice-Chair

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.

Theresa Giarusso, Secretary

Grady 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 through 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 grad and R&B alum, Michael Giarrusso. She has three kids.  

Regular Board Members

Tamara Best

A former Red & Black managing editor, Tamara Best is a 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. 

Danay Faulkner

Senior Director of Sales & Affiliate Relations at CNN Newsource, Danay Faulkner is responsible for building local news partnerships and developing revenue opportunities for TV stations, pure play digitals and print publications. Prior to joining CNN, Faulkner was Partnership Manager at Inform (formerly NDN) where she was responsible for growing video audience and increasing revenue by presenting digital insights and streamlined automation technology to organizations including Cox Media Group, McClatchy Interactive, The Seattle Times Group and Lee Enterprises. A graduate of The Grady College of Journalism and The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta with her husband, Chad, and son, Chad Jr.

Lance Helms

A former Editor in Chief of The Red & Black, Lance Helms earned an ABJ in Newspaper Management from Grady. 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

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. 

Tyler Leach

Director of Distribution for Fox Networks, Tyler Leach negotiates agreements with independent cable television providers for networks that include FX, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports 1, Big Ten Network and National Geographic Channel. A former account director with Discovery Communications, Leach graduated from UGA with a degree in communications management and served as advertising manager at The Red & Black.

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. 

Dave Nelson

A former Red & Black editor in chief, Dave Nelson is a Double Dawg with an ABJ from Grady and an MBA from Terry. After a 30-year career with Acuity Brands, he now consults with businesses and institutions on process improvement and data analysis. Dave and his wife Benita met at the Red & Black in 1982, and moved back to the Athens area in 2007.

Eric NeSmith

Community Newspapers Inc is a family-owned company that publishes newspapers and publications in 28 markets across Georgia, Northeast Florida and Western North Carolina. As vice president, Eric NeSmith develops and implements strategies to guide the growth of CNI’s publications in the digital age – never wavering in his belief that strong newspapers build strong communities. In 2016, he formed a new division of CNI — Community New Media LLC — and invested in The Bitter Southerner, an award-winning digital publication that covers the American South. In addition to his duties at CNI, NeSmith serves as publisher of The Bitter Southerner.

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.

Jim Zachary

Regional editor of Community Newspapers Holdings, Inc. for its Georgia and Florida newspapers, Zachary is also the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times, director of the Transparency Project of Georgia and a member of the board of directors of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. He holds the prestigious David E. Hudson Open Government Award and is one of only three journalists to have received the honor. Zachary conducts journalism workshops and training events for the Georgia Press Association, the Georgia College Press Association and the Georgia Press Institute.


Ex-Officio Members

Rebecca Burns

Named publisher of The Red & Black in August 2016, Burns has 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.

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.

Darby Jones

Senior Darby Jones joined The Red & Black in fall 2018 and promptly brought in multiple new accounts. She is a HOPE scholarship recipient and a consumer journalism major with dual emphases in advertising and fashion merchandising. Darby spent the summer as an account and strategy intern at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York. Her professional experience also includes working as a fashion model in New York, London, Milan, Paris, and Singapore. 

Hunter Riggall

Before being named Editor in Chief of The Red & Black for the Spring 2020 semester, Hunter served as managing editor, news editor, city editor and assistant news editor. Hunter is enrolled in the School of Public and International Affairs and is majoring in international affairs and minoring in history. He has studied abroad through UGA at Oxford and in a four-week course at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He is a Zell Miller Scholar.




Special Edition

Read the full content of this special issue that explores the impact of COVID-19 on the UGA and Athens communities.