The board is the policy-making and oversight body of AIIJ. Current members are Charles Ball, Brant Houston, Andre Natta and Emily Jones Rushing.
Charles Ball is executive director of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, coordinating regional and community-level planning and economic development activities for the six counties and more than 1 million residents who make up Alabama’s largest metropolitan area.
A graduate of Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama, he has served on a number of local boards, including as chair of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and Main Street Alabama and president of The Dance Foundation and Focus on Recovery boards. He is a member of Rising Star Baptist Church, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Greater Alabama Council-BSA/Birmingham District.
He was born and grew up in Birmingham, gaining his undergraduate degree at Birmingham-Southern College and his masters in community planning at Auburn University.
Brant Houston is John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting in the department of journalism at the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming the Knight Chair in 2007, he served for more than a decade as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers. Houston was part of the newsroom staff of The Kansas City Star that won a Pulitzer Prize for its work on the 1981 walkway collapse at the city’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Houston is Board Chair Emeritus of Institute for Nonprofit News, a coalition of nonprofit journalism centers he helped found. He is author of “Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide” and “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook.”
Houston’s grandparents lived in Birmingham’s College Hills neighborhood, and he was a visitor to the city during his growing-up years.
André Natta serves as product outreach manager for DocumentCloud at the MuckRock Foundation. In this role, he looks at how we can use public records to change how we deliver information to communities. He leans heavily on his experiences in hospitality and economic development in his work and research on place and its impact on access to information. Natta launched The Terminal, a Birmingham-focused independent news site, in 2007, maintaining it for 10 years. He was a 2018 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.
The Bronx, New York, native is a past president of the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists and the former founding board president for the Tiny News Collective, an organization helping bring equity into the news and information ecosystem. He has also served on the Jefferson County Historical Commission and the board of the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center.
Emily Jones Rushing
Emily Jones Rushing combines a background in journalism with experience in nonprofit work, having retired from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham as Director of Communications and Marketing in 2013.
Her work at the Community Foundation included leadership in developing national guidelines for disaster recovery and in creating national standards for community foundation marketing materials and communications. During her time at The Birmingham News, she was deeply involved in developing neighborhood coverage and served as the first Metro Editor in 1978. She was part of a team of reporters recognized by Associated Press for coverage of the effects of an extreme heat wave in 1981. In the late 1980s, she edited 100-year anniversary books for The Birmingham News and her alma mater, Converse University.
A long-time Birmingham resident, she is currently a member of the board of trustees of Converse University.