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[WEBINAR] Elections & Emotions: Voter Trust in Georgia & the South

Join PEN America and the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy for a live panel with reliable sources from Georgia and the South in which we will explore the role of trusted voices this election season.

We’re honored to feature a panel committed to broad civic engagement across communities in the South, leaders who will all be ready to discuss strategies for navigating heightened emotions around the election and how to engage with Black and Latino voters in the lead-up to an unprecedented election season. We will discuss the electoral process, disinformation, community empowerment, and what to expect on Election Day and as the nation awaits results.

We are very excited to offer an interactive component to this virtual panel: Though the first half of this event will be structured as a moderated panel discussion, the second half will address pre-submitted questions from community members before moving into live Q&A. We want to hear from you: What are the issues that you would like to discuss regarding information integrity and voter trust in the South? We invite you to join us in mapping out the conversation by submitting a question or conversation topic that you would like to address. You may return to submit as many times as you wish, and please note that the submission deadline will close on October 14 at 4pm ET.

This virtual conversation is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by The Atlanta Voice and the Georgia NAACP.

Please confirm your registration at the Zoom link below. For more information, contact Hannah Waltz, Media Literacy Training Coordinator, at [email protected].


Racial Equity in Journalism Fund logo

Atlanta Voice Logo

Georgia NAACP logo


Jamal Bryant headshotPastor Dr. Jamal H. Bryant is senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia. A third generation pastor, Dr. Bryant is not only known as a riveting speaker but has earned a reputation as a social justice activist. Prior to pastoring, he served as the national youth and college director of the NAACP for six years, leading about 70,000 young people worldwide on non-violent campaigns. Dr. Bryant earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Morehouse College and a Masters of Divinity from Duke University. He studied at Oxford University in Great Britain and earned a doctorate from The Graduate Theological Foundation.

Rashad Richey headshotRashad Richey was voted “Best Talk Radio Personality in Atlanta” by readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for his weekly morning show on News & Talk 1380-WAOK (7am-10am) and named “Most Trusted Voice in Atlanta Radio” by readers of the Atlanta Business Journal. Rashad is also the Political/Social Commentator for The People’s Station V-103, the nations’ largest urban station. When Rashad is not on radio, he’s on television as the Political Analyst for CBS 46 News and Peachtree TV Atlanta, where he provides insightful commentary, special reporting and breakdowns of local and national news. Nationally, Rashad is a regular commentator on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel, providing insightful commentary on social justice and political matters. Beyond broadcasting, Rashad serves as the Chief Editor-At-Large and Sr. Writer for Rolling Out Magazine, which has a national millennial readership of 2.2 million and is the largest free print urban publication in America. Rolling Out is also home of the popular podcast, Sucka Free with Rashad Richey and Friends. Rashad is also a university professor who holds multiple degrees, including a BA, MBA, PhD from Scofield Graduate School and Doctor of Education from Clark Atlanta University. He is currently matriculating at John Marshall Law School completing his law degree.

Mariela Romero headshotMariela Romero is Univision Communications Regional Community Empowerment Director. She implements the corporate responsibility platforms of Univision under the Social Corporate Responsibility property “Contigo.” Romero also develops content for special programs and is the anchor, writer, and producer of the award-winning regional news magazine Conexión Fin de Semana in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and North Carolina. Mariela has received 23 Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts – South East region. The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named her one of the most influential Latinos in the state three years in a row. The Latin American Association recognized her with the prestigious Olga C. de Goizueta award in 2019. In 2020 Mariela Romero joined the boards of the National Juvenile Defender Center and the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. Romero is an Emeritus board member of the Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia. She serves on the boards of the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education, The Boys Scouts of America – Metro Atlanta, The New Media Education Foundation of Georgia, Corners Outreach, and was the first Latina to serve as President of the League of Women Voters of Gwinnett County. Mariela Romero holds a degree in Journalism from Universidad Católica Argentina and a degree in Social Communications from Universidad de Belgrano. She also studied TV Broadcasting and Production at Buenos Aires “Centro de Estudios de la Comunicación.” Before joining Univision, she worked for CNN en español radio and Georgia Public Broadcasting. In 2019 she obtained The Cultural Mastery ™ Certification for Diversity & Inclusion leaders. She is a native of Caracas, Venezuela. Her son, Mateo, is a sound engineer graduate from Full Sail University.

James Woodall headshotJames Woodall is a native of Riverdale, Georgia and an alumnus of Georgia Southern University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Religious Studies. He also is an 8-year veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, having served as an Intelligence Analyst. He ran for State Representative in 2016 and also served on the State Committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia and State Vice President of the Georgia Clients Council. He also served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Francys Johnson for Congress [GA12] and has served as the legislative aide to State Representative Miriam Paris [HD142-Macon] for three years in the Georgia General Assembly. Major is a Silver-Life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has served as its State President of the Georgia Youth & College Division, Vice President of its Bulloch County Branch and State Chairman of the Young Adults Committee. He graduated in December 2018 as an inaugural member of the Next Gen Program, a national NAACP leadership co-hort. He currently serves as the State President of the Georgia NAACP. Woodall is a minister of the gospel. He is currently enrolled at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) pursuing a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) through the Morehouse School of Religion. He is an Associate Minister at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia where Rev. Sammie J. Dow is the Pastor. Rev. James Woodall is a public theologian, an activist, a student, but most importantly, a prisoner of hope. He is guided by the words of the prophet in Zechariah 9:12, “Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope. Today I declare that I will restore double to you.” And in these days of challenge and adversity, he believes in the beauty of this moment to make America a better nation.


Sharon Reed headshotSharon Reed is an Emmy Award winning broadcaster who is known for her quick wit, conversational approach and thought-provoking questioning. She has worked in top 10 television markets, including Atlanta and Miami and began her on-air career on national television soon after graduating Georgetown University. She also earned a Master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Sharon has experience in a range of roles, serving as a prime time host, news anchor, moderator, interviewer, NFL and NBA sideline reporter. She is perhaps best known for tackling controversial subjects with directness and clarity, such as her work within town-hall style specials on Domestic Violence, Gun Violence and Race relations. A risk taker by nature, her tell-it-like-it is approach has scored several viral moments. Her “clap back” to a racist viewer became the focus of national attention, including on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “The Wendy Williams” show. She has also played herself on OWN’s scripted drama “Ambitions.” Sharon is mother to a precocious daughter – Ava. She loves to share her parenting discoveries with candor and humor on her social media platforms.

This event is part of PEN America’s #WhatToExpect2020 initiative which we launched this fall to empower voters to understand the uniqueness of the 2020 election, inoculate the public from the threats of disinformation, and build awareness of the electoral process.

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On left: Headshots of Nikole Hannah-Jones, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Imbolo Mbue, and Maria Hinojosa. On right: “Power to the People” and list of participant names on top of assorted colorful shapes

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