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Meet this year's Inland Fellows

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This year, Inland welcomes four new Inland Fellows. 

The two-year program—for employees identified as having the potential for a successful leadership career in the newspaper industry—pairs Inland Fellows with veteran industry mentors who accompany them to the Inland Annual Meeting and the Key Executives Mega-Conference. In addition, each Fellow will attend a third Inland conference during the year. Fellows are exposed to the operations of all newspaper departments, and consult regularly with their mentors.

Here’s the new class of Inland Fellows and their mentors: 

Alessia Alaimo

Alessia Alaimo became digital media director for Wick Communications in April, supervising the newspaper chain’s digital, mobile and social initiatives from Tucson, Ariz. 

With a bachelor’s degree from Southwest University of Visual Arts in Tucson, she has an extensive background in graphic design. The Inland fellowship, she believes, will add management expertise to her graphics and digital skill set. 

“I’m hoping to expand my knowledge of the newspaper industry and prove myself as a digital manager,” she said. 

Alaimo is paired with mentor Cory Bollinger, advertising director of the Hoosier Times Newspaper Group. 

Rick Kazmer

Rick Kazmer’s resume isn’t limited to communications-related work, the usual reporting, editing and photography. 

It reaches back before his graduation from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown to two years as a landscape laborer. That job taught him a valuable lesson: “If you work harder than anybody else, you’ll succeed.” 

The city editor at the Daily American, Somerset, Penn., compares his job — hitting daily deadline, editing, writing and designing while coordinating the work of the rest of the Daily American team — to that of a baseball closer.

To achieve his goals, which are to enhance his leadership skills at his current job and to help lead the industry into a profitable digital age, his coach will be Marc Wilson, the chairman and CEO of TownNews.com.

Kristen Czaben

Kristen Czaben’s initiatives for the Sheridan Press in Sheridan, Wyo., aren’t limited to the newsroom. In 2013, she helped develop the Press’ FAB (For. About. By) Women’s Conference, and this year she was instrumental in the paper’s “Rock the Vote” voter registration event. The Northwestern University journalism grad serves as managing editor (with copy editing, page design and occasional reporting also among her duties). 

About her fellowship, Czaben says: “I have worked primarily on the editorial side of the building my entire journalism career and I look forward to learning more about other aspects of the building. I’m also looking forward to learning and exploring new ways that small newspapers can innovate and avoid being left behind.” Her mentor will be Joyce McCullough of the NewsTribune in LaSalle, Ill.

Kelli Scott

As digital manager at the Wenatchee World in Wenatchee, Wash., Kelli Scott oversees the team that produces daily print and digital content for the 15,000-circulation paper. 

To expand her paper’s audience, Scott last year launched a website targeting young mothers and there’s a craft beer-themed blog in the works. The World has been owned by the Woods family since 1907, and Scott represents the fourth generation in journalism. 

“This fellowship offers such a wonderful opportunity to meet industry leaders and share ideas with young newspaper professionals from around the country,” Scott says. “My goal is to help this fourth-generation family newspaper find new ways of thriving in the digital age.” Her Inland mentor is J. Tom Shaw of Shaw Media in Downers Grove, Ill.

Maureen Hart is a former Chicago Tribune source editor. She can be reached at maureenmelvinhart@gmail.com.