2020 New Voices Student Leaders Institute

(July 6-9, 2020. Online)

Jump to Summer 2020 Participants

Do you know a high school student who wants to see student press freedom signed into law in your state? Are they ready to take on an increased role in the New Voices movement? 

SPLC is proud to launch the first-ever NEW VOICES STUDENT LEADERS INSTITUTE, a free, four-day program for students to develop their leadership and organizing skills, expand their role as leaders within the New Voices movement, and develop an outreach strategy that could be instrumental in your state’s New Voices efforts. 

Participants in the all-online program will be joined by SPLC staff, New Voices advocates, and special guests to learn their unique capacity as change agents, deepen their understanding of civics, advocacy and press freedom, and expand their ability to act as organizers and messengers for causes that matter to them. By the end of the Institute, Student Leaders will have a student outreach strategy for the 2020-2021 year, including a completed social media campaign ready for release. Student leaders will also receive a certificate of participation, and ongoing training throughout the year.

The Institute will run from July 6-9, and participants should expect to work (but not necessarily sit in front of a computer) from 1pm-5pm Eastern/10am-2pm Pacific time.

Participation in the Institute is free, but students will commit to serve as student leaders in the New Voices movement during the 2020-2021 advocacy year. Student leaders will:

  • Create and carry out a student outreach and organizing plan within their state;
  • Attend regular (no more than monthly) Zoom strategy sessions with New Voices staff and leaders;
  • Work with other student leaders to conduct one New Voices-related training, either for advocates within their state or nationwide; and
  • Engage with key New Voices advocates in their state on the overall advocacy plan.

To attend, students must be a rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior student in a state with an active New Voices campaign, who has demonstrated previous interest in the New Voices movement. Prior participation in organizing, lobby days or testimony is not required, but may be helpful. Attendance is limited, with no more than three students from each state, and recommendation from an adviser or active New Voices advocate is required.

Applications will be accepted until June 5. Participant decisions will be made by June 10.

Questions? Contact Hillary at hdavis@splc.org.

Meet the 2020 Participants


Matthew Brown — Junior, Sparkman High School

My name is Matthew Brown. I’m from Huntsville Alabama and I feel very strongly about what you all are doing at New Voices. I love that you are trying to help bring about change in states for student journalists who don’t have the same freedoms as other adult journalists have. I also like you help train students in leading and making change happen for themselves.

Madison Duboise — Senior, Sparkman High School

I am a rising high school senior at Sparkman High School in Harvest AL where I am the upcoming editor-in-chief and a design member for our newsmagazine, The Crimson Crier. I really love all things journalism and hope to use my ability to tell others stories in my writing to inspire others. I write for a local media site, All Things Madison, as well as a minority focused media company, Courageous Curls Media and am the 2020 Alabama Representative for the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism conference. While my school’s newsmagazine is under prior review, I love expressing my ability to use my 1st Amendment Rights and advocating for student journalist rights.


Mia Maguire — Junior, Bullitt East High School

My name is Mia Maguire, I am 16 years old, and though I was born in Kentucky I have lived in three different states. I am currently living in Mt. Washington and going to Bullitt East high school. I feel strongly about New Voices because I believe that People in leadership shouldn’t be able to silence others to make their organization have a better image. Everyone should have a voice and everyone should be able to express their opinions.

Lily Wobbe — Junior, duPont Manual High School

Lily Wobbe is a high school junior from Louisville, Kentucky. She covers politics and social issues for her school’s newsmagazine and she’s passionate about press and first amendment freedom. In the future, she hopes to study journalism in Chicago and travel the world telling untold stories.

Emma Wright — Junior, Bullitt East High School

My name is Emma Wright and I’m a junior from Mt. Washington, Kentucky. I am deeply involved within my church as well school community. I’m the Endeavor yearbook editor-in-chief for the next couple years, play on a few different sports teams, and lead in many clubs. I have a passion for writing and photography and am excited to get to work!


Bennie Goldfarb — Senior, Hopkins High School

I’m Bennie Goldfarb and I’ll be a senior next year at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota. I’ve been interested in journalism since I enrolled in the school’s newspaper course during my sophomore year. Besides writing, I’m also president of the environmental club at my school and was elected to Student Government last year. Outside of school I enjoy cycling, playing video games, and following the latest fashion and design trends.

Talia Lissauer — Senior, St. Louis Park High School

Hi! My name is Talia and I will be a senior at St. Louis Park High School. I have been writing for my school newspaper for two years and will be the editor-in-chief next year. I love to cover politics, breaking news and sporting events. When I’m not covering an event for Echo you can find me on the soccer field or making a mess in the kitchen.

New Jersey

Sarah Buttikofer — Sophomore, Pascack Valley High School

I am Sarah Buttikofer, and I am from River Vale, NJ and currently attend Pascack Valley High School. We are an online publication called The Smoke Signal. I am a freshman who was new to journalism this year. I fell in love with it, and I have been selected as an editor for next year. I feel strongly about New Voices for countless reasons, the main one being my belief in student First Amendment rights. Nobody should ever be denied the right to use their voice, no matter their age.

Alison Cedarbaum — Senior, Hunterdon Central High School

My name is Alison Cedarbaum, I am a rising senior at Hunterdon Central Regional High School! New Voices was first introduced to me not as the organization itself, but as a broader movement. When my older sister was the editor-in-chief for her school newspaper, the school administration instituted strict prior review policies that she fought desperately against in order to preserve the integrity of the editorial. But 8 years later, when I am now in the same grade as her, our school newspaper has only continued to be broken down, a debilitated relic of the thriving newspaper of the past. Similar policies exist, unnoticed, throughout the entire state; it is simply wrong to sit idly by and allow unbeknownst students to have their free speech rights violated. And so, I am now incredibly excited to be a part of the New Voices movement, in order to help preserve the freedom of the press for all students across the state.

Sarah Fajardo — Senior, Governor Livingston High School

My name is Sara Fajardo and I am a student at Governor Livingston High School. Within my school journalism department, I am a social media manager, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper and an advocate for the New Voices bill. I have worked for my school newspaper since my freshman year, and it is truly my number one passion so I am incredibly excited to be apart of the institute this year!

New York

Alivia Jiang — Junior, Corning Painted Post High School

My name is Alivia Jiang and I’m a rising junior at Corning Painted Post High School in Corning, New York. My New Voices journey started freshman year after my yearbook advisor told me about the bill, and I’m excited to continue our work fighting for student press rights. In my school district, we are incredibly fortunate to have a superintendent that fully supports us and does not censor our journalism, and I think that this support was central for our coverage of important stories such as mental health, gun control, climate change, etc. I am passionate about New Voices because I think that all stories should be told, and that schools should not look at student journalism as a “PR” source for their school, because it is so much more than that. Outside of New Voices, I love to work on my school’s yearbook, as well as golf and dance!

Cooper Lyon — Senior, Corning Painted Post High School

My name is Cooper Lyon and I am from the Tesserae Yearbook at Corning Painted Post Highs school in Corning New York. I am going into my junior year and have been involved with New Voices for two years now. I am the Business Editor for my yearbook staff and I am also involved in theater and marching band. In April 2019, my team from the Tesserae Staff gathered over 100 students from all over New York state to inform legislators at our state capital about the NY New Voices Bill. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for New Voices New York.

North Carolina

Katie Clark — Senior, East Chapel High School

My name is Katie Clark, and I’m a rising high school senior in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Next year I’ll be the co-editor-in-chief of our school paper, which I’m super excited about. I’ve always admired student newspapers because it felt like a place where students could openly cover the things affecting them. The idea of censoring that is something that I want to actively combat through New Voices, because student journalism is also an important vessel for change in a community. Students deserve the right of freedom of the press, even in school, and I believe it’s possible through New Voices legislation.

Kaitlyn Meehan — Junior, East Mecklenburg High School

Hi! I’m Kaitlyn Meehan, I’m sixteen, my passions include: writing, politics, and Tik Tok. Over the past two years my incredible high school has provided me with opportunities I am grateful for everyday. I am involved in newspaper, technical theatre, and student government. The people I have met through my time in those programs have influenced me to become a supportive and enthusiastic leader. This upcoming year I will serve as the Co-Editor in Chief for my newspaper. If given the opportunity I am very excited to work with other student journalists from all across the U.S.

Sarah Monoson — Senior, West Henderson High School

I am Sarah Monoson, a Rising Senior living in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I love to read, write, and spend time outdoors. I have written for my school newspaper for three years, serving as the Opinion Editor in my Junior year. I want to work with New Voices to help protect student journalists because I strongly believe in the importance of journalism, as I feel it is an essential facet of democracy and freedom.


Marissa Lammie — Senior, Freedom Area High School

I am Marissa Lammie. I am from Pennsylvania. I feel strongly about new voices because journalists should be able to write what they want without having to get it approved through administration. This would also allow for journalists to have more freedom to write on matters that they would not have been able to do before.

Sarah Levenson — Junior, Freedom Area High School

My name is Sarah Levenson and I am a 16 year old rising junior at Freedom Area High School. I’m from a small town in Beaver County, which is near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’ve always been interested in law, and as a student journalist myself, I feel that student journalists are just as credible as adult journalists and should not have their work censored in any way.


Katlynn Fox — Senior, Hebron High School

I am Katlynn Fox, a high school journalist and Editor-In-Chief of a student led publication from Plano, Texas. I feel strongly about New Voices because while being involved in a high school newspaper publication I have heard stories and seen first hand the inexcusable censorship imposed upon young journalists. I hope that through being an advocate for those without a platform, I can help work towards total press freedom for students to ensure that no voice is silenced.

Mia Nguyen — Senior, Hebron High School

I am involved in New Voices because writing without barriers is key to providing truthful news and sharing what is important. I hope to use this organization as a platform that encourages other student journalists to use writing to express themselves, and others’ stories, and strive for a truly free scholastic press.

Caedon Spencer — Senior, James Bowie High School Newspaper

Hello! My name is Cade Spencer, and I am a rising senior and student journalist for The Dispatch publication at James Bowie High School in Austin, Texas. Throughout my five years as a student journalist, I have grown to understand how important a student journalist is in a school community. During the unprecedented era of COVID-19, our publication was able to keep our student body informed about important decisions such as the implementation of a pass, incomplete grading policy and the indefinite closure of our school facilities. Because student journalists play such important roles in their communities, I believe they should be guaranteed free press rights and freedom from censorship. Therefore, I am eager to support the New Voices campaign. On a side note, when I am not working as a journalist, I enjoy swimming, eating Tex-Mex with friends, and reading.


Marissa Hamlett — Junior, Colonial Forge High School

Hello, my name is Marissa Hamlett. I am 15 years old and a rising junior at Colonial Forge High School. I currently live in Stafford, Virginia but I have moved around quite a bit being a military brat. I feel strongly about New Voices because censoring student journalists would be leaving so many students uneducated on important issues. I believe that with all of the injustice going on in this country it is important now more than ever to stay informed and shed light on these issues.

Sonia Kanchan — Senior, Thomas Jefferson High School

Hi! My name is Sonia Kanchan and I’m a rising senior in Virginia. I’d always considered myself a writer, and it never occurred to me that my pages filled with eraser smudges and faded re-writes could be censored. When I realized I could call myself a journalist, I was suddenly subject to a variety of judgments, rules, and possible disciplinary measures. Thankfully, I attended a school that wholeheartedly supported my efforts. The label, ‘journalist,’ has proved to be one of the most controversial of our time- constantly being questioned and undermined. As a student ‘journalist,’ I know I have a responsibility to other students and advisers, to ensure that their journalism is respected and valued, the same way mine is.

Pratika Katiyar — Senior, Thomas Jefferson High School

My name is Pratika Katiyar and I am a rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), located in Alexandria, VA. I am the Editor-in-chief of tjTODAY, TJHSST’s student-run publication, and I have been on staff since my freshman year. Outside of journalism, I enjoy singing, playing golf, and being involved with local politics. This past year, I testified and lobbied for HB 36. Though at Jefferson we are fortunate that our administration doesn’t review our content prior to publication, New Voices is still important to me because it would allow us to tell stories that we might be otherwise hesitant to tell.