The ACES Education Fund, in partnership with the Dow Jones News Fund, announced the Richard S. Holden Diversity Fellowship in the summer of 2020. The program is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion by advancing early- and mid-career professionals in their work as editors and aspiring industry leaders. The fellowship recognizes the work of the late Rich Holden, who championed diversity in editing as the longtime managing director of the Dow Jones News Fund.
The first three recipients to be selected as Holden Fellows were announced in late 2020: Ruksana Hussain, Erich Lagasse, and Vee White.
In late 2021 six additional recipients were awarded: Juliet M. Beverly, Amarachukwu Chimeka, KaToya Ellis Fleming, Sydney Jarrard, Emily Shi Lee, and Seth McBride.
At ACES Accelerate in 2022, the third cohort of fellows were announced: Ambreia Meadows-Fernandez, Eryka Parker, and CaTyra Polland
Ruksana Hussain works as a journalist, writer, and editor for print and digital media. Since arriving in the U.S. after growing up in India and Oman, she has built a career as a versatile freelancer dedicated to amplifying the voices of women and people of color. The Holden Fellowship judges were impressed by the range of Ruksana’s work and her championing of inclusive language and imagery for whatever audience she serves. Ruksana publishes Traveler and Tourist, an online magazine, and serves as managing editor for Diversity Professional magazine. She has been active in associations for business and travel writers and local press clubs in Atlanta and her current base of Los Angeles. Ruksana, who is fluent in Hindi, Tamil, and Urdu, has volunteered for the Global Girl Project and other projects serving young people. She hopes to use her Holden Fellowship funds to enroll in an advanced publishing course and leadership training dedicated to women or people of color.
Erich Lagasse is a freelance editor and translator who works in Spanish and English. Erich, who was immersed in both languages while growing up in Lima, Peru, seeks to build bridges between speakers of Spanish and English, with a goal of helping Hispanic authors express themselves in either language. The Holden Fellowship judges cited Erich’s devotion to advancing cultural understanding and his versatility as an editor, translator, and advocate for greater understanding. In his Houston-based freelance business, Erich edits and translates texts and develops bilingual websites. He is currently creating a bilingual guide to help native English speakers develop their Spanish writing skills and native Spanish speakers develop their English writing skills. In addition, he manages a Hispanic professionals LinkedIn group. Erich hopes to apply his Holden Fellowship to training with organizations such as Real Academia Española, with the goal of further developing his editing and offering a wider array of services to his clients.
Vee White is a developmental, content, and line editor who specializes in healthcare communications and educational material. As the owner of Write Vision Services in Philadelphia and in previous roles in medical publishing, they have edited books, conducted market research, and created reports and e-learning materials, with a focus on subjects including nursing, health professions, psychology, literacy, business, and self-help. They have worked with publishers, nonprofits, and businesses, and directly with authors. The Holden Fellowship judges were impressed by Vee’s efforts to counteract biases in publishing about gender and sexuality, as well as their devotion to advancing the cause of queer, non-binary, and disabled editors and writers. Vee has co-created a paid summer internship that to date has graduated three entry-level editors. Vee hopes to use their Holden Fellowship to pursue an advanced editing certificate and other training. Among their long-term aspirations is to launch an LGBTQ+ editors’ group and work to improve LGBTQ+-specific style guides for medical content.
Juliet M. Beverly of Arlington, Virginia. As senior editor with the Society for Neuroscience’s BrainFacts.org, she has worked to bring new voices to the organization’s mission of communicating to a lay audience. Juliet helped inspire the creation of the staff-led diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.
She is active in the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, including mentoring high school students in the Urban Journalism Institute. She hopes to use her fellowship to enroll in a science immersion workshop and other training.
Amarachukwu Chimeka of Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. Amara is a book editor, publisher, and advocate for young readers. She founded Purple Shelves Ltd. in 2018 to publish works by emerging authors and fill gaps she had identified as a freelance editor. To date, the company has published some 20 books.
Amara has established book clubs for young readers, raised money to buy books for children in rural Nigeria, and created a series of children’s storybooks. She plans to enroll in advanced courses in editing and publishing.
KaToya Ellis Fleming of Wilmington, North Carolina. KaToya serves as the editor of Lookout Books and as an assistant professor of publishing at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. In her work at Lookout, and before that as a fellow at Oxford American magazine, KaToya has committed to presenting work by writers of color, LGBTQ+ authors, and other often marginalized voices.
As an early-career editor, she hopes to elevate her craft through advanced training in editing, leadership, and publishing, as well as conference travel.
Sydney Jarrard of Hudson, New York. Sydney worked for eight years at the American Booksellers Association, rising to the position of content director. There, she led efforts to incorporate inclusive language in the organization’s publications, on its website, and in social media.
Sydney recently left the association to establish a new business as a consultant in conscious editing. She plans to apply her fellowship funds to coursework in advanced editing, web accessibility, and digital marketing.
Emily Shi Lee of Honolulu, Hawaii. Emily, an editor and content designer, is multilingual in Mandarin, French, and Spanish in addition to English. Before establishing her business, she worked as a quality assurance specialist, English language teacher, and language programs coordinator.
Emily seeks to raise the visibility of bilingual and multilingual editors; she set up a mastermind group with other ACES members with similar interests. Emily hopes to expand her business offerings through training in conversation design, search engine optimization, and working with data sets.
Seth McBride of Portland, Oregon. Seth copyedits all content for print and manages the website for New Mobility magazine, a publication of the United Spinal Association. He has worked with colleagues to diversify the magazine’s coverage and its roster of freelancers.
Seth, a medalist with Team USA in wheelchair rugby in three Paralympics, writes frequently about wheelchair sports and adaptive travel. As his work role expands to include cultivating writers, he plans to enroll in certificate programs in advanced editing, storytelling, and content strategy.
Ambreia Meadows-Fernandez of Cheyenne, Wyoming. As a health and parenting writer for publications and brands, she has focused her work and activism on the history of medical discrimination, highlighting the maternal morbidity crisis and Black women’s reproductive experience. She is also associate editor of the digital community Kindred, which provides resources for Black families to raise thriving children.
Ambreia won a Salute to Excellence Award in 2018 from the National Association of Black Journalists. She hopes to use her fellowship to highlight stories of Black people across their reproductive life spans and empower Black writers to tell their stories.
Eryka Parker of Cleveland, Ohio. As owner and operator of a literary agency, she offers affordable editing services for aspiring authors and serves as a writing coach, book coach, and consultant to independent publishing companies. She has ghostwritten or co-written almost a dozen books to help visually impaired, juvenile, and disadvantaged BIPOC writers become published authors.
Eryka has also partnered with libraries to provide free community writing events. Eryka was nominated and honored by Who’s Who in Black Cleveland for her community work with aspiring authors. She hopes to use her fellowship to gain access to industry tools and help her build critical relationships with literary agents and industry pros who can open doors for minority writers.
CaTyra Polland of Rochester, New York. An independent author and freelance manuscript editor, copywriter, and professional speaker, she also launched a podcast that highlights editing and writing topics, created a writer forum, and founded a scholarship for urban high school students to pursue education related to writing. In addition, she is a Bilingual Jr. Speechwriter with the City of Rochester.
CaTyra seeks to use her fellowship to work toward guaranteeing that Black authors’ stories have dignity, pride, truth, and respect and that those authors have access to professionals committed to fair and accessible services and treatment.