Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program | Columbia Journalism School

Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program

The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program is a hands-on, innovation-focused course that provides tools news industry leaders need to solve strategic challenges in a rapidly changing landscape. It builds on a ten-year track record. The refreshed curriculum and redesigned program allow fellows to maximize classroom instruction while minimizing time away from their news organizations, and to rapidly design, iterate, win support for and implement plans for new projects and products.

The Program

The Sulzberger Program is sixteen weeks: full-time during the three weeks Fellows spend on Columbia University’s campus in the heart of New York City and part-time during 13 weeks they spent in their workplace. 

The program focuses on:

  • Leadership and Team Building
  • Skills Assessment and Development
  • Design Thinking Innovation Process
  • Audience and Trends
  • Product and Marketing
  • Business Models and Strategy
  • Managing Through Change
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Each fellow is required to bring to the program an individual project of strategic importance to their news organization and of critical importance to their own role.

How It Works

Week One: The program begins with a five-day immersive project-based Design Thinking Bootcamp at the New York City campus. The bootcamp is rooted in the program that was taught to hundreds of entrepreneurs and media executives at Matter Ventures, an early-stage media startup accelerator. In small teams, fellows are tasked with launching a new venture from scratch. Over the course of the week, fellows will focus on different facets of the venture’s design, from the end consumer to the requisite technology to the revenue model, before they close out the group work and turn the lessons learned to their own individual projects. 

Week Two: Also held on the Columbia campus, the program moves from the bootcamp model into a series of lectures, case studies, workshops and guest speakers that dives deeper into concepts introduced in the first week. Instruction during this period includes self-assessment exercises and lessons devoted to managing change and leading innovation within their organizations. Topics covered this week include: Leadership, Team, Trends, Audience, Product, Business Model, Marketing, Strategy and Storytelling.

Weeks Three-Fifteen: After two intensive weeks in New York, fellows return to their newsrooms and begin to apply the lessons learned. Working individually and with their cohort from week one, the fellows will complete two-week sprints, in which they interrogate, test and apply learnings to their own projects, using the same set of variables that they used in their group work in week one. Fellows will work collectively to offer feedback and assessments, led by the program director.

Week Sixteen: The final week is back in New York City for reinforcement of the tools and approaches learned; dress rehearsal presentations of the project the fellows will propose implementing, on which they receive feedback; and an exploration of new topics they can begin to fold into their leadership style, such as how to support diversity through intentional hiring and mentoring, and how to build successful teams of individuals with varied skills and backgrounds.

Core Faculty

Headshot: Corey Ford on blue background

Corey Ford, Director

Corey Ford is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Matter, a start-up accelerator for entrepreneurs building scalable media ventures that create a more informed, empathetic, and inclusive society. Matter invests seed capital and provides intensive support through a human-centered, prototype-driven start-up accelerator in San Francisco and New York City. Prior to Matter, Corey built Runway, a pre-team, pre-idea incubator for entrepreneurs at Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. He also taught design thinking innovation at the Institute of Design at Stanford University, also known as “the”

Ford began his career in public broadcasting managing the production of 17 films for the PBS/WGBH series FRONTLINE for films that won an Emmy and a duPont-Columbia Gold Baton Award. He earned an MBA at Stanford and was a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Who Should Attend

The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program is designed for senior and rising newsroom and business-of-news practitioners who are poised to take on more significant leadership challenges in their current organization and across the industry. Fellows come from a wide variety of news organizations, from the U.S. and internationally and from large national media to those that are small, local or nonprofit. Fellows are expected to have from 7-15 years of relevant experience, including some people management skills or past roles where working across teams was key to organizational success.

Program Timeline & Commitment

Participants in this four-month low residency program spend three weeks at Columbia Journalism School in New York City, starting with a 10-day residency. Fellows then work remotely on assignments, either independently or in small groups, and return for one week, just over three months from the program's start.

As a result of Covid-19, this year's program will not start in January with a second session in April. The program will begin in spring 2021 and conclude in fall 2021.

Application and Financial Requirements

News organizations may nominate leaders and rising leaders whom they will support in the program. Once nominated, prospective fellows should complete the program application, which requires a short statement of purpose, a short project statement and a complete CV. After applications are received and reviewed, all applicants will be invited for a phone/in-person interview with Director Corey Ford.

Tuition is $20,000 for the complete program. Fees include course training, daily breakfast and lunches and several case study dinners during the residency weeks. All other expenses, including travel and lodging, are the responsibility of participants and their news organizations. Participants can take advantage of Columbia discounts at area hotels.

Apply Now

Gordon Gray Jr. Fellowships

Columbia Journalism School is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for three fellowships, made possible by Gordon Gray Jr., to the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program in 2020. These three fellowships are available to media executives and managers from US news organizations that focus on covering news in one geographic region in the United States, more than national or international stories. News organizations may be commercial or non-profit, and work may be published in any medium, on any platform. The fellowships fully cover tuition and fees to the course; fellowship winners and their news organizations will be responsible for all other expenses associated with course participation, including airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals outside of program sessions

Applications for the Gordon Gray Jr. Fellowships to the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program are now open. The application will close at 23:59 EST on Monday, December 2, 2019. Winners will be selected by Sulzberger Program directors and will be notified by Monday, December 9, 2019.

For more information on eligibility to the Fellowship, please contact Columbia Journalism School Professional Programs Assistant Director, Kate Kennedy at To apply, please begin your application here.

Maria Moors Cabot Endowment Fellowships

Columbia Journalism School is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for four fellowships to the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program in 2020. The fellowships, made possible by the Maria Moors Cabot Endowment, fully cover tuition, fees, airfare, hotel accommodations, and most meals during sessions. These four fellowships are available to media executives and managers working in newsrooms in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Applications for the Cabot Fellowships to the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program are now open. The application will close at 23:59 EST on Monday, November 4, 2019. Winners will be selected by Sulzberger Program directors and will be notified by Monday, November 18, 2019.

The Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, also funded by the endowment alongside of other programs, were founded in 1938 by Godfrey Lowell Cabot as a memorial to his wife. The Prizes, the oldest international awards in journalism, recognize journalists and news organizations with a distinguished body of work that has contributed to Inter­-American understanding.

For more information on eligibility to the Fellowship, please contact Columbia Journalism School Professional Programs Assistant Director, Kate Kennedy at To apply, please begin your application here.

What Sets the Program Apart

Concentrated timeline
News executives no longer have the luxury of a full year to work on a project. The Sulzberger Program delivers its lessons in a focused, concentrated sixteen-week timeframe, without scrimping on classroom, face-to-face interactions.

Flexible Curriculum
The program is oriented around key tenets that are critical for every news organization to confront, but just as technology changes and new challenges emerge, our curriculum adjusts and shifts. The program's roster of guest lecturers includes case studies from those who are developing new markets, overcoming practical challenges and growing their businesses.

Clear Results
Participants create measurable outcomes throughout the term by working on regular assignments and checking in with faculty, ensuring that what they learn in the classroom translates to their newsroom.

Alumni Network
Over two hundred media and news executives, in both editorial and business-side roles, have been through the Sulzberger Program and, given the program’s global reach, are working throughout the world.



Please expand for answers for commonly asked questions.

When should I plan to be in New York?
Classes at Columbia are held in January (ten class days) and April (five class days). The 2020 dates are January 6-17 and April 20-24. 
Do I have to attend all the sessions at Columbia? Is there an online component?
All the sessions at Columbia are essential. There is no substitute for the in-class experience. Between the January and April sessions, Sulzberger Fellows complete assignments and have consultations with faculty. 
I am concerned about privacy surrounding my work and my news organization. How do you address this?
We understand that the topics that this course takes on—revenue models, product development, resource allocation, teams building—speak directly to news organizations’ most serious concerns, and we respect a desire to keep this private. We have found that one of the most fruitful and rewarding elements of the program is what Fellows learn from their peers, and so we have an expectation of respect, discretion, and confidentiality within the group. 
How much time will the program directors be able to devote to my work?
The directors are deeply experienced in the internal structures and cultures of media companies and understand the pressures that modern executives face. The directors’ roles are to provide guidance and regular neutral feedback, but their time is limited. It is critical that all participants take the best possible advantage of the small group and individual work during the weeks not spent on campus.
Are there scholarships?
In program year 2020, we are pleased to offer four fellowships to news executives working in newsrooms in Latin America and the Caribbean, funded by the Maria Moors Cabot Endowment. To learn more about these fellowships, please read more here
Where will I stay when in New York? Is there housing?
There is no housing associated with the course. Columbia University has relationships with many area hotels, many of which offer a preferential rate to those studying at the Journalism School. You can download a list of some of these options here. This list is not an endorsement. 
I have food allergies and/or sensitivities. How will you handle this?
Breakfast and lunch are both catered daily, and there is one group dinner each session week. If you have dietary restrictions or sensitivities, please notify Assistant Director Kate Kennedy regarding their nature before the program start date.
What type of diploma will I receive?
This is a non-degree program. You will receive a statement of attendance upon completion of the program.
Why is this called the Sulzberger Program?
In 2005, the sisters of the legendary New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs (“Punch”) Sulzberger honored their brother by investing in a program they hoped would encourage innovation and sustainability in the news business. In collaboration with Columbia Journalism School, they envisioned a program that would focus on solutions and would provide the leaders of the industry with the tools they need for sustained success. The Sulzberger Program launched its first class of Fellows in 2007.
Whom may I speak with about the logistics of the program?
Please contact Kate Kennedy, Assistant Director, Professional Programs, at or 212.854.0260.

Former Fellows

Our fellows are executives from all media platforms and business models, including for‐ and not‐for‐profit journalism.

Year First Name Last Name Company
2018 Jennifer Brandel Hearken
2018 Jacqueline  Cheng Wirecutter
2018 Matt DeRienzo LION Publishers
2018 Vicente Argudo Esteve Prisa
2018 Lisa Gibbs AP
2018 Mark Hansen Columbia Journalism School
2018 Jaime Holguin AP
2018 Therese Hurlbutt ABC News
2018 Milind Kamlakar Khandekar ABP News Network
2018 Marc Lacey The New York Times
2018 George Lansbury Fusion TV
2018 Ximena Leon de Campo Grupo RPP
2018 Sophie Lyon TVNZ
2018 Kristen Muller Southern California Public Radio
2018 Jonathan Munro BBC
2018 Manuel Delgado Nachtigall Grupo RPP
2018 Sitara Nieves Marketplace
2018 John Pullman Reuters
2018 Michael Reilly MIT Technology Review
2018 Heidi Robdrup Danish Broadcasting Corporation
2018 Mona Sarantakos Facebook
2018 Kevin Sullivan Reveal, Center for Investigative Reporting
2018 Alan Whiston BBC
2017 Jane Barrett Reuters
2017 Amanda Barrett AP
2017 Steve Beatty The Lens
2017 LaSharah Bunting The New York Times
2017 Fiona Campbell BBC
2017 Deborah Clark Marketplace
2017 Max  Da Silva The New York Times
2017 Frida Delgado Nachtigall Gruppo RPP
2017 Bill Elward
2017 Sam Feist CNN
2017 Laura Frank Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting
2017 Jim Giles Timeline
2017 Jabari Gray Youth Radio
2017 Aine Kerr Facebook
2017 Teri Lamitie WBGH
2017 Robin Pembrooke BBC
2017 Betsy Reed The Intercept
2017 Fernando Rodriguez-Vila Fusion
2017 Joy  Russo ESPN
2017 Jag Sanger AHG Pty, LTD
2017 Dan Silver ABC News
2017 Rachel Smolkin CNN Politics
2017 Michelle  Srbinovich WDET Radio
2017 Denise Vance  AP
2016 Hugo Balta ESPN
2016 Samantha  Barry CNN 
2016 Paul  Cheung Associated Press
2016 Subrata De ABC News
2016 Matt Ericson The New York Times
2016 Erin Grau The New York Times
2016 Zheng  Huang Viewfind, Inc.
2016 Clara Jeffery Mother Jones
2016 Mike Melia PBS Newshour
2016 John  Mooney NJ Spotlight
2016 Julie  Moos McClatchy
2016 Katie Nelson Huffington Post
2016 Ellin O'Leary Youth Radio
2016 Ian Phillips Associated Press
2016 Sara  Pratley CNN
2016 Marianne  Raphael NBC News
2016 Dax Tejera Fusion
2016 Michelle  Vince Magnet Media
2016 Mary  Walter-Brown Voice of San Diego
2016 Vickie Walton-James NPR
2016 Irving  Washington Online News Association 
2016 Adrian  Zurbriggen Tamedia
2015 Meredith Artley CNN
2015 Monika  Bauerlein Mother Jones
2015 Andrea Bleicher Tamedia
2015 Terence Burke CNN
2015 Shannon Connolly Viacom
2015 Sam Dolnick The New York Times
2015 Michael Freeman The Orlando Sentinel and Forum Publishing Group
2015 Heather Geisler MSNBC
2015 Dana  Haller  MSNBC
2015 Lynda  Hammes Foreign Affairs
2015 Alex  Hardiman The New York Times
2015 Cathy  Hogan PBS
2015 Jena  Janovy ESPN
2015 Caro  Kriel  Associated Press
2015 Derl  McCrudden Associated Press
2015 Camille  McDuffie Columbia Global Reports
2015 Claudia  Milne Bloomberg TV
2015 Scott  Montgomery NPR
2015 Will  Pry The Dallas Morning News
2015 Jon Sawyer Pullitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 
2015 Charles  Sennott The Ground Truth
2015 Kerry  Smith ABC News
2015 Susan  Smith Richardson The Chicago Reporter
2014 Simon Matthias Bärtschi  Sonntagszeitung
2014 Andrew  Braddel Associated Press
2014 Brenda  Breslauer New York Public Media
2014 Stephen  Dunbar-Johnson The New York Times Company 
2014 Scott  Finn West Virginia Public Broadcasting
2014 Andrew  Hawken Sky News
2014 Kerri  Hoffman PRX
2014 Gemma  Hooley NPR
2014 David  Kraft ESPN
2014 Susan  Mercandetti Salt Point Strategies
2014 Marjorie  Miller Associated Press
2014 Nicki  Purcell The Dallas Morning News
2014 Adrian  Russell
2014 Christa  Scharfenberg Center for Investigative Reporting
2014 Michael  Slackman The New York Times
2014 Christine  Souders Columbia Journalism School
2014 Cheryl  Sullivan The Christian Science Monitor
2014 Benjamin  Wagner  Facebook 
2013 Peter Barthel Vertical Media GmbH
2013 Rick  Berke The New York Times
2013 Darren  Burden Mizzen Group
2013 Susan  Daly
2013 Tamer  Fakahany Associated Press
2013 Elizabeth  Fishman Sesame Workshop
2013 Anya  Grundmann NPR
2013 Tom  Huang The Dallas Morning News
2013 Mark Katches Oregonian Media Group
2013 Stacy  Kennedy Bloomberg LIVE
2013 Meredith  Kokos Boston Globe Media
2013 Christopher  Ladd The New York Times
2013 Lora  LeSage NBC
2013 Nunzio  Michael Lupo The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2013 Patricia  Mays ESPN
2013 Bjarke  Moller Taenketanken EUROPA
2013 Amelia  Newcomb The Christian Science Monitor
2013 David  Reiter ABC News
2013 Madeleine  Rey-von Holzen Mediacom
2013 David  Sikorjak NBC
2013 Eric  Ulken The Philadelphia Inquirer
2012 Adrian  Acosta Journal Media Group
2012 David  Albright ESPN Digital and Print Media
2012 Leona  Allen The Dallas Morning News
2012 Jeff  Bergin Hearst Newspapers
2012 Glenn Burkins
2012 Clayton Collins The Christian Science Monitor
2012 Brian  Fallon Distilled Media Group
2012 Dan Grech OfferCraft
2012 Doris Hart Gala Digital
2012 Sara  Just ABC News
2012 Baadur  Koplatadze The Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management
2012 Santiago  Lyon Associated Press
2012 Michael  Manning The Boston Globe
2012 Ellen  McDonnell Ellen McDonnell Consulting
2012 Torrey  Oberfest Hachette Book Group
2012 Chris  Peña MSNBC
2012 Jim Roberts
2012 Jean-Paul  Schwindt Tamedia
2012 Blake  Sell PSG
2012 Michael  Shapiro Columbia Journalism School
2012 Amy  Singer Columbia Journalism School
2012 Achilles  Tsaltas The New York Times
2011 Molly  Bingham ORBmedia
2011 Karen  Bordeleau The Providence Journal
2011 Neill  Borowski Central New York Media Group
2011 Sue  Brooks Associated Press
2011 Andrew  DeVigal University of Oregon
2011 Peter  Doucette The Boston Globe
2011 Brian  Hamman The New York Times
2011 Rita  Hibbard Companis
2011 Marc  Lemcke Jule Holding, LLC
2011 Sandy  MacIntyre Associated Press
2011 Mark  Medici Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2011 Benjamin  Monnie The New York Times
2011 David  Scott The Christian Science Monitor 
2011 Robin  Sproul ABC News
2011 Patrick  Stiegman ESPN
2011 Peter  Waelty 20 Minuten AG
2011 Abi  Wright Columbia Journalism School
2011 Diego  Zorrilla ESPN
2010 Johannes Vitus  Boege Axel Springer
2010 Marco  Boselli 20 Minutes
2010 Jim  Baltzelle Associated Press
2010 Sally  Buzbee Associated Press
2010 Carlos  Cabán ESPN
2010 Brian  Carovillano Associated Press
2010 Thomas  Cavallaro The New York Times
2010 Megan  Cunningham Magnet Media
2010 David Keith Dahl The Boston Globe and Freelance Contributor for BBC
2010 Soraya  Gage NBC
2010 Kerrie  Gillis The New York Times
2010 Timothy  Griggs The Texas Tribune
2010 Susan  Hackney The Christian Science Monitor
2010 Nicole  Hollway Because Really, LLC
2010 Marshall  Ingwerson The Christian Science Monitor
2010 Steve  Jones ABC News Radio
2010 Robert  Kempf NPR
2010 Lisa Kresl The Dallas Morning News
2010 Richard  Levine HWL, LLC
2010 Lauren  McCullough Facebook
2010 Susan  Neisloss Big Bite, Inc.
2010 Jennifer  Preston John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
2010 Lynda  Sachs The New York Times
2010 Ernest  Sotomayor Columbia Journalism School
2009 Linda  Austin APME's NewsTrain and Fullbright Scholar 
2009 Paul  Caluori Associated Press
2009 John  Cantarella Facebook
2009 Alfredo  Carbajal The Dallas Morning News
2009 John  DeAugustine The Daily Gazette
2009 Jane  Eisner The Forward
2009 David  Kellogg Columbia Journalism School
2009 Jason  Kissell The Boston Globe
2009 Shawna  Leigh Richer The Globe and Mail
2009 Andrew  Morse CNN
2009 Jean  Nadeau Brunswick News, Inc.
2009 Shazna  Nessa John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
2009 Sarah  Nordgren Associated Press
2009 Raymond  Pearce The New York Times
2009 Richard  Porter BBC 
2009 Brian  Scanlon Associated Press
2009 Fiona  Spruill Meetup
2009 Peter  Vandermeersch NRC Media
2009 Jonathan  Wells The Christian Science Monitor
2008 Kenn  Altine Southern Oregon Humane Society
2008 John  Daniszewski Associated Press
2008 Jane  Folpe Ropes and Gray LLP
2008 Michael  Giarrusso Associated Press
2008 Dennis  Giza Columbia Journalism Review
2008 Rosemary  Goudreau Sun Sentinel
2008 Gene  Haddock, Jr. The Houston Chronicle
2008 Cheryl  Hampton Freelance
2008 Fran  Hauser Rothenberg Ventures
2008 Mike  Hoyt The Big Round Table
2008 Nels  Jensen San Diego Business Journal
2008 Joseph  Kolb Western New Mexico University 
2008 Eliot  Pierce The New Republic
2008 Jason  Samuels New York University 
2008 James  Schachter WNYC
2008 Michael  Stoll San Francisco Public Press
2008 John  Yemma The Christian Science Monitor
2007 Aaron  Barlow NYC College of Technology
2007 Randolph  Brandt The Journal Times
2007 Louis  Ferrera Associated Press
2007 Thomas  Heslin The Providence Journal
2007 Robert  Larson Bloomberg LP
2007 Chopeta  Lyons Chopeta Lyons Consulting
2007 Daniele  Manca Corriere della Sera
2007 Jeffrey  Price PGA of America
2007 Sergio  Salinas El Paso Times
2007 Caleb  Solomon Bloomberg News
2007 Marcus  Wilford ABC
2007 Stephen  Weis The Houston Chronicle