AIIJ Announces New Executive Director, Board Members

Photo of AIIJ executive director André Natta wearing a white dress shirt and grey sweater vest in a coworking space setting.
André Natta, Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism executive director. (Credit: Kriston Jae Bethel)

The Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism has hired André Natta as executive director, marking a new investment in the nonprofit news organization that has published BirminghamWatch since 2015.

Natta comes to AIIJ from the MuckRock Foundation, where he most recently served as product outreach manager for DocumentCloud. A 2018 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, he has held editorial and product management roles at news organizations in Alabama and Pennsylvania, including the Lenfest Local Lab at the Lenfest Institute for Journalism in Philadelphia and Birmingham’s NPR member station WBHM. Natta also launched and maintained an independent local news site in Birmingham, The Terminal, for ten years.

“André brings a deep commitment to local news and Birmingham,” said Emily Rushing, AIIJ board president. “His national and local connections will help us build on the work we are already doing.”

AIIJ also welcomes new members to its board: Victoria Coman-Jackson, Olivia Barton Ferriter and Samuetta Nesbitt. Continuing on the board are Rushing and Brant Houston. 

“We ended 2023 with an important grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and a successful NewsMatch campaign, supported by individual donors,” Rushing said. “Local support has been vital since the beginning and was a key part of the vision of Carol Nunnelley, our founding executive director.”

“I am keenly aware of the legacy left by Carol Nunnelley,” Natta said. “We talked years ago about her dreams for this organization, and I look forward to taking it into its second decade.”

Natta will lead an effort to identify BirminghamWatch’s place in the region’s journalism landscape and find ways to expand its impact. 

“It’s important to me to continue to identify and help fill information gaps in Birmingham and North Central Alabama. We must ensure the ability to carry out the act of journalism remains accessible and viable,” Natta said.

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