HADAR HARRIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Hadar Harris, a human rights attorney and non-profit leader with a passion for working with and on behalf of students, joined the SPLC on Sept. 6, 2017. She previously served as the executive director of the Northern California Innocence Project. For 13 years, Harris was executive director of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law. Earlier in her career, Harris served as executive director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a bipartisan legislative service organization of the US House of Representatives, under the leadership of the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). Following her graduation from law school, she worked in private practice at the law firm Littler Mendelson. Harris holds a BA in Political Science from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles. Read more about Hadar.
DIANA MITSU KLOS, DIRECTOR OF ENGAGEMENT
(Best person to contact with if you’re a journalist seeking an interview with a member of our legal team, or if you’re with an organization that wants to invite a speaker/panelist for your event.) Diana Mitsu Klos, who has deep roots in journalism associations and newsrooms, has been a long-time SPLC ally and joined the SPLC in 2017. Klos was executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press, and senior project director of the American Society of News Editors, where her portfolio included development of and grant writing for ASNE’s journalism-education programming. While at NSPA/ACP from 2013-16, Klos oversaw eight national collegiate and high school journalism conventions annually, plus training and recognition programs. At ASNE from 1996-2012, Klos launched the High School Journalism Initiative. With support from the Knight and Reynolds foundations, the initiative included a two-week training program for more than 2,300 media advisers; the first, free national website hosting service for student publications; an educational website and a national online advertising network. She also oversaw ASNE’s journalism ethics and international journalism programs, which involved coalition building. In addition, Klos researched and wrote “The Status of Women in U.S. Medis 2013” for the Women’s Media Center, which the template for subsequent annual updates. Klos graduated from the City College of New York, and worked as a reporter, city editor and managing editor for daily news organizations in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.
MIKE HIESTAND, SENIOR LEGAL COUNSEL
Mike Hiestand has been integral to SPLC’s success since 1989. He was an SPLC intern, its first legal fellow and then served as full-time staff attorney from from 1991-2003. Over the years, he has assisted about 16,000 student journalists and advisers. He currently works from the west coast on the SPLC hotline and related projects. In 2013-14, Hiestand traveled around the country with Mary Beth Tinker, teaching and speaking out on behalf of student press rights and free expression. “Tinker Tour USA” kicked off on Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The bus logged 15,595 miles across the American east coast, midwest and southeast speaking to more than 20,000 students and teachers at 58 stops, including schools, colleges, churches, a youth detention facility, courts and several national conventions. In the spring of 2014, The Tinker Tour moved on to schools and events in the American west, midwest and southwest, as well as a stop in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Vancouver, Canada. Hiestand, who grew up in Alaska, graduated from Bartlett High School in Anchorage and went on to Marquette University’s College of Journalism and Cornell Law School.
SOMMER INGRAM DEAN, STAFF ATTORNEY
Sommer Ingram Dean, who joined the staff in 2018, is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. She previously served as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Sommer was a student journalist at the Tiger Times at Texas High School and The Baylor Lariat. After graduating from Baylor University, Dean worked as a legislative and legal reporter for The Associated Press and Dallas Morning News. She is also a former SPLC intern (2010) and legal fellow (2015-16). During law school, Dean interned for NPR’s legal affairs correspondent and for The Washington Post.
DANIELLE DIETERICH, COMMUNICATIONS FELLOW
Danielle Dieterich graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Convergence Journalism in 2016. While in college, she interned for the Student Press Law Center, helping to grow its social media and online presence and working on the Active Voice program launch. After going back to school and graduating, Dieterich spent a year working as an engagement editor for digital news company Newsy before being hired back to the SPLC as a journalism fellow.
ALEXIS MASON, OUTREACH AND OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE
Alexis Mason joined the SPLC staff in April 2019 from the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County in Fayetteville, N.C. Mason interned at Action for Children, where she designed and developed a newsletter for the AFC’s community engagement initiative in North Carolina, and lobbied to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18. Mason has a paralegal certificate from Meredith College, and volunteered for Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Lawyer on the Line program. A journalism graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Mason was the wires editor of the A&T Register and has written for Carolina Peacemaker, Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles and Care Guide, and the Urban Call.
FRANK LOMONTE, SENIOR LEGAL FELLOW
Frank D. LoMonte served as executive director of the Student Press Law Center from 2008-17 and currently heads a First Amendment think-tank in Florida. He has worked in every sector as a lawyer — government, private practice, nonprofit, education — after a career as an investigative reporter and political columnist. LoMonte’s work combines a lifelong dedication to informed citizenship and transparent, accountable government, and developing public-policy solutions to the obstacles that get between the public and prompt access to the information essential for informed, participatory citizenship.
NATALIE MAIER, LEGAL INTERN
Natalie Maier is a rising 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. Natalie spent the past year working as a legal research assistant at the Tully Center for Free Speech at SU’s Newhouse School. During this time, Maier helped coordinate events welcoming renowned journalists, including Nina Totenberg and Maria Ressa. Maier quickly developed a passion for First Amendment law and hopes to pursue a career in press advocacy after graduation. Her article, Customary International Law as a Check on Press Freedom’s Strongmen, was recently chosen for publication in Syracuse Law’s Journal of International Law and Commerce. Maier serves as the current Executive Director of News for Impunity Watch, an outlet that focuses exclusively on the current jurisprudence of the regional human rights courts.
GINNY BIXBY, JOURNALISM INTERN
Ginny Bixby is a senior at the University of Mary Washington studying journalism, English, and American Studies. She is currently the Associate Editor of The Blue & Gray Press, the University of Mary Washington’s student newspaper, and previously served as the Viewpoints Editor. Bixby has been a writer for RVA Magazine, where she has written about Virginia politics, arts, and culture, and GayRVA, where she has covered LGBTQ issues and interests in Virginia. She has also written for FXBG Magazine, a student magazine based out of the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
Nick Ferentinos New Voices Fellow
Read more about the Nick Ferentinos New Voices Fellows Program to support students to advocate for state-based student press freedom here.
Neha Madhira is 17 years old and a senior at Prosper High School in Texas. She was accidentally moved into Journalism I two years ago and started competing in UIL Academic competitions because of the passion her former adviser, Lori Oglesbee, showed for writing. She has won over 25 journalism awards, achieving All-State journalism both years and a National Quill and Scroll Gold Key last year.
She served as editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and started working with the SPLC after her principal censored her paper, banned editorials and fired Oglesbee during the 2017-18 school year.
Their story received an outpouring of national support and coverage from over 30 media publications. Madhira continued on the journey to student press freedom by becoming a student leader of the New Voices movement in Texas. By communicating with legislators and First Amendment advocates as well as educating others on their student press rights, she is fighting to make Texas the next state with the free press law. Eventually, Madhira hopes to help the other 35 states without New Voices pass it as well.