Congratulations to the 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows!
They were chosen on the basis of experience, multimedia and writing skills and what they could learn and give back to SFJ.
Sofiya Ballin is a features reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She began her writing career at 17, crafting personal stories about growing up natural for natural hair website, The Coil Review, which ended after 7 years.
An award-winning journalist at Temple University, she also reported and edited for JUMP Philly music magazine, contributed pieces to Ebony.com, became a blogger for Huffington Post, interned at the Philadelphia Daily News, and freelanced for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ballin joined the Inquirer’s features staff in 2014 after graduation. During her short tenure, she has interviewed mainstream artists and introduced readers to up-and-coming talents, written about trends such as cuffing season and the emergence of Black Twitter, covered major news events such as local Ferguson and Baltimore protests, photographed and produced digital fashion features, and contributed opinion pieces that speak to the millennial soul. Ballin aims to humanize all walks of life through mentorship and her work.
Ada Tseng is a writer and editor based in Southern California, and for the last decade, she’s covered pan-Asian arts and entertainment for Asia Pacific Arts, Audrey Magazine, XFINITY Asia, KoreAm Journal, LA Weekly and more. She hosts a podcast called Bullet Train where she turns silly episodes (about Japanese romance simulation games and “American Ninja Warrior,” for example) into serious explorations (of love and remakes, respectively). She has a series called “Haikus with Hotties.” She studied at UCLA and received her MFA in Writing and Literature at the Bennington Writings Seminars. And she loves writing long feature stories on topics that aren’t being covered in the mainstream media.
Diversity fellows learn what’s happening in features departments nationwide while networking with outstanding journalists specializing in lifestyle coverage. Fellowships cover SFJ conference registration, airfare and hotel. Fellows will also receive a $300 stipend to be used toward conference-related expenses such as baggage and transportation fees and meals not covered by the conference. The fellowship is named in honor of the late Penny Bender Fuchs, a former executive director of SFJ who was a strong advocate of the fellows program.
Fellows are asked to contribute to the conference by completing a project and presenting a short report to the group at the conclusion of the event.
SFJ’s conference was inspiring, uplifting and all those sappy words that features writers are told not to overuse in their stories. It gave me a refresher course in mobile video, narrative writing and metrics, but it reminded me that there is still a reason to do journalism – and more importantly, features journalism. — Mariecar Mendoza, 2014 fellow