In 2011, I got the chance to participate in a small startup competition in D.C. to talk about Stry.us. The next day, I got an email from a woman named Tiffany Shackelford, then the Executive Director of Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in speaking at the annual AAN conference.
I hadn’t met Tiffany at the event, but she saw something the night before that piqued her interest.
At first, I didn’t know what to make of her offer. I was 24, and I’d never spoken at a journalism conference before. Still, Tiffany thought there might be a place for me on the AAN stage.
I couldn’t make the event that year, but Tiffany promised she’d be in touch again. Sure enough, the next year, I got another note from Tiffany: Would I be interested in pitching a talk for that year’s event?
That’s how in June 2012, at the AAN conference in Detroit, I led a talk about responsive design for newsrooms.
Since, I’ve been lucky to speak at events all over the world. But Tiffany was the very first to give me a shot, and for that, I’ve always been grateful.
Tiffany died this week — she’s one of the more than 300,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19. Reading remembrances from other journalists about her, it became clear: What Tiffany did for me, she also did for countless other journalists. There are a lot of us in the journalism world who are better off because Tiffany was in it.
Thanks for everything you’ve done, Tiffany. I’ll do my best to use my platform to give others that first shot, just like the chance you gave me.