Photo of a video chat call on a computer
The 2021 cohort of Civic Media Fellows via Zoom.
Photo courtesy of: Annenberg Innovation Lab

Annenberg Innovation Lab announces 2021 Civic Media Fellows

The USC Annenberg Innovation Lab (AnnLab) is welcoming its third cohort of fellows for the Civic Media Fellowship. These 16 remarkable individuals represent some of the most distinctive media practitioners in the country, hailing from a diverse range of practices, interests, networks, career stages, geographies, and lived experiences.

The Civic Media Fellowship, supported by a three-year, $3.5 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, empowers people who use media and technology to inform, inspire, and engage communities in participation, reimagination, and recreation of the civic lives they seek. Whatever their primary professional identity — artist, journalist, organizer, technologist, author, creator, or otherwise — they defy categories and find ways to collaboratively leverage culture for change within and beyond communities that have been historically marginalized.

The previous cohorts remain connected to the program as Senior Fellows, whose leadership supports and enriches the journeys of current fellows. With the 2021 Civic Media Fellows conducting their fellowships virtually because of the pandemic, the mentorship of the Senior Fellows will be particularly valuable. The 2021 fellows will be exploring what civic media means, where their work connects, and how to chart their path ahead — all while sharing, problem-solving and learning with each other.

“Five years ago, when we expanded our Journalism and Media program to include participatory civic media, we could not have imagined how timely and prescient that decision would be,” said John Palfrey, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Our support for the USC Fellows is a reflection of our commitment to supporting all forms of media that enable individuals and communities historically marginalized from full participation in our democracy to have a voice in public debate and influence over the culture, policies, and the institutions that govern them. The inequities laid bare by the pandemic, and the fight against anti-Blackness and systemic racism makes the important work of these innovative media makers more essential than ever.”

“Inspired by the ways our Senior Fellows are blazing trails and using diverse media forms to drive change on the most pressing social issues, we have boundless enthusiasm for the creativity, vision and commitment exemplified by our incoming fellows,” said Colin Maclay, AnnLab Executive Director and Research Professor. “We are honored to join together to co-create this young tradition and further engage the amazing participatory civic media community MacArthur has assembled.”

Top (L-R) Marya Bangee, Tyree A Boyd-Pates, D’Lo, Arianne Edmonds, Essence Harden, Mary Jirmanus Saba, Daniel Alejandro Leon-Davis, Erik Loyer. Bottom (L-R) Terry Marshall, Jamel Mims, Doris Muñoz, Diana Nucera, Jenn Roberts, Paisley Smith, Megan Stielstra, Magalis Videaux

The 2021 Civic Media Fellows are:

Arianne Edmonds: An archivist, curator, creative producer working at the intersection of civics, art, and history, the director of Nous Tous Community Gallery and founder of the J.L. Edmonds Project. 

D'Lo: An actor, writer, comedian, and self-described “Curious Queer who Loves to Make Folks Laugh, and Think — in no particular order — with the intention of connecting people to each other.”

Daniel Alejandro Leon-Davis: An artist and cultural architect who is working to use the power of design to effect social change through streetwear, he also currently leads creative design and strategy for the #IStandWithImmigrants Initiative. 

Diana Nucera: Motivated by a vision of the future where the greatest possibilities for collective liberation, art and technology merge.

Doris Muñoz: A first-generation Xicana artist manager, event producer, organizer, and community builder. She is the founder of mija mgmt and Solidarity for Sanctuary, a management company that launched first-gen artists’ careers while creating a concert series to raise funds and amplify awareness of immigrant focused non-profits. 

Erik Loyer: A digital artist and maker of creative tools, his work combines comics, motion graphics, and musical performance to address social justice issues in collaboration with leading scholars, artists, and organizations including the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Essence Harden: An independent curator, arts writer and PhD candidate living in Los Angeles.

Jamel Mims / MC Tingbudong: An African American bilingual Chinese rapper, multimedia storyteller, and revolutionary. 

Jenn Roberts: An equity strategist, facilitator and Black mother working at the intersections of systems change, equity, innovation and design; she is CEO of Versed Education Group.

Magalis Videaux: An artist and maker whose art and social practice lives at the intersection of experience design, immersive storytelling, and experiential learning.

Mary Jirmanus Saba: A geographer, filmmaker, and feminist labor organizer.

Marya Bangee: A cultural strategist, writer, and organizer; she is the Executive Director of Harness, which centers the stories of underrepresented communities in popular culture, and the CEO of SILA Consulting, which advises on film and television projects.

Megan Stielstra: A writer and educator focused on personal narrative as a contribution to a wider cultural and political dialogue that centers human beings.

Paisley Smith: A virtual reality creator, worldbuilder, and teacher who believes in the power of imagination to make real-world change. 

Terry Marshall: An artist, activist, cultural producer, trickster and creative entrepreneur whose creative practice involves using world-building and Pan-Afrofuturism to create transformative experiences of liberation.

Tyree A. Boyd-Pates: A Los Angeles-based museum curator and public historian.

About the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab

The Annenberg Innovation Lab is a curious, creative and committed think and do tank at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. AnnLab practices innovation as a collaborative exploration involving artists, scientists, humanists and industry professionals working together on problems and opportunities at the dynamic intersections of media, technology, culture and society. The lab combines rigorous scholarship and human-focused implementation to help understand and shape the interactions of emergent technologies and media with community, business, learning, making, governance and more. Their research is integrated with convening, building and teaching, and creates a tight and meaningful connection between theory and practice. AnnLab endeavors to work in the open to invite others into the process to test and build upon our insights.

About MacArthur’s Journalism and Media Program

MacArthur’s Journalism and Media Enduring Commitment aims strengthen U.S. democracy by supporting just and inclusive news and narratives that inform, engage, and activate Americans to build a more equitable future. The program does this by investing in the creation, dissemination, and amplification of just and inclusive news and narratives across three areas of media: Professional Nonprofit Reporting, Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling, and Participatory Civic Media. More information at