Meet the 2014-2015 ONA Mizzou student leaders

President: Katy Mersmann

I'm Katy Mersmann and I'm a current junior and international convergence journalism major. My first love is the written word (I came to Mizzou to be a print reporter) but quickly discovered the flexibility and excitement of working with different platforms to get the story out. I'm passionate about the potential for social media crowdsourcing to provide richer narratives and different perspectives on the news we see everyday.

I'm originally from Olathe, Kan. (although I've never liked the Jayhawks!), and I just spent a semester in Washington, D.C., interning in the medical unit at CNN. After graduation, I dream of taking my skills on the road as a "backpack reporter" and covering stories that don't get much traction.

Outside of the j-school, I like to eat, run, watch Mizzou football and talk about Harry Potter with anyone who will listen.

Vice President: Kara Tabor

Hello everyone! My name is Kara Tabor and I'm excited to serve on the ONA Mizzou executive board this year. As vice president, I really hope to expand the reach of our organization and help to further equip fellow journalists with the tools needed to succeed in digital newsrooms. Online journalism is no longer a niche—it's an overwhelming reality. With this said, I believe students entering the industry need every bit of preparation that they can get, and that ONA Mizzou can help to facilitate the learning process.

I'm an entrepreneurial journalism major with a minor in business. Helping news outlets adapt and thrive in the digital landscape is the path that I hope to follow. Ideally, I would like to be involved in building a media startup or working strategically to guide legacy media through the digital transition. 

Two years ago, I exchanged the hustle and bustle of the Northeast for the homespun quirkiness of Columbia, Mo., and I couldn't love it more. In addition to ONA Mizzou, I serve on the executive board of the Mizzou Society of Professional Journalists and contribute to Silicon Prairie News. My love for leadership and mentoring has also led me to serve as the Honors Journalism Peer Advisor in Schurz Hall. Over the summer, I will be interning for Missouri Business Alert, a business news startup changing the coverage of business and financial news throughout the state. 

When I'm not geeking out over the future of news or reading some of my favorite sites like Quartz or The Verge, I can be found writing, listening to an eclectic array of music, adventuring, and consuming capsaicin-laden foods (I like it hot).

Social Media Coordinator (Fall 2014): Ryan Levi 

Hello, friends! I'm excited to join the ONA Mizzou team as the Fall 2014 social media coordinator. I am a junior majoring in convergence journalism and Spanish and also minoring in history. I came to Mizzou thinking I would be a magazine writer, but I fell hard for multimedia journalism as a sophomore, which led me to the wonderful world of convergence. I love being able to start with a story idea and then figure out the best platform to tell it on. Before moving into convergence, I wrote columns for ColumbiaFAVS. I am fascinated by religion.

I hail from the Great White North of Minnesota, and I have the (mis)fortune of being a diehard Twins, Timberwolves and Vikings fan. In addition to sports, I enjoy running, reading and watching TV and movies (shameless plug for my blog where you can follow along with my pursuit of watching all of the original AFI 100 films).

Follow me at @ryan_levi for random musings and @ryanblevi for journalistic musings.

Social Media Coordinator (Spring 2015): Sarah Darby 

Hello, online journalism enthusiasts! My name is Sarah Darby, and I am excited to be social media coordinator for ONA Mizzou in the spring. 

I am currently a sophomore entrepreneurial journalism and international studies major with a minor in entrepreneurship. Last summer, I was a social media intern for Maker Faire KC, a tech festival in Kansas City. Last fall, I also contributed to Silicon Prairie News, an online publication that covers technology and entrepreneurship in the Midwest. This summer, I will be working at another online publication called Missouri Business Alert

After I return from a semester abroad in Buenos Aires in the fall, I will start my semester as social media coordinator. I am very interested in the intersection of technology and journalism, and I hope to someday work for a digital media company or nonprofit with a social entrepreneurship focus. I hope to build the online presence of ONA Mizzou next year to help spread the word about the awesomeness of online journalism.

In my free time you can find me hanging out in Rocheport, reading about nonprofits and watching “Game of Thrones.”

Treasurer (Fall 2014): AJ Feather

I'm a junior at the University of Missouri, seeking a dual degree in journalism and economics with a minor in computer science. I've worked as a producer, writer and anchor at Newsy for nearly two years and will be a production intern at Fox News during summer of 2014.

Treasurer (spring 2015): Madison Feller

Hi, everyone! My name is Madison Feller, and I will be serving as ONA Mizzou's treasurer during spring 2015. I'm so excited to be a part of this organization and to help all MU students better navigate the wild wonderful world of digital media.

I am originally from Philadelphia and made my way to Mizzou to study magazine journalism, business and computer science. In the future, I'd love to work at a media outlet or nonprofit organization, working with creative people to tell stories in fresh, innovative ways.

Previously, I worked as a reporter at the Columbia Missourian, and I will be bringing those reporting skills to an internship in Belgium this fall.

When I'm not in a newsroom, I can usually be found reading in the park or eating zucchini bread downtown. I'm also always on the hunt for a good sundress, a beautiful hike or friends to go to yoga with me.

Secretary (Fall 2014): Maria Davison 

I am a sophomore majoring in convergence journalism and art history and minoring in Spanish. I'm interested in multimedia and art and especially in bringing those two things together to tell the stories behind great works of art.

I'll be serving as the secretary for ONA Mizzou next fall. Two of my most prominent talents include taking notes and sending emails, so I'll be here for all your most basic secretarial needs.

I'll be working as a public relations intern at Tria Health in Overland Park, Kan., this summer. Next spring, I plan to study abroad, maybe in Italy, maybe in Spain, maybe in Chile. We'll see where the wind blows. While I'm not here, the lovely Emerald O'Brien (she's not that Irish) will continue to haunt the Futures Lab for all your secretarial needs.

I am excited to serve on the ONA Mizzou executive board for the fall semester, and I look forward to learning more about online news!

Secretary (Spring 2015): Emerald O'Brien

My name is Emerald O'Brien and, no, I'm not that Irish. I am finishing my sophomore year as a convergence journalism major with an emphasis in emerging media. I'm also getting a minor in women and gender studies.​ I have been doing journalism since my freshman year of high school, when I started my personal tradition of living in whatever newsroom I was a part of. (I was recently called the specter of the J-School.)

Sleeping is very important to me. I like cheese. A lot. I do accept bribes, but only in the form of food.

I will be spending the summer back in my hometown of Denver, working as an editorial intern at the Denver Westword, climbing very large mountains and watching lots of Netflix.

I will be studying abroad in Aarhus, Denmark, during Fall 2014, but I will be back in the spring to assume my post as ONA Mizzou secretary. Until then, you can look to my fearless cohort, Maria Davison, for all of your note-taking needs.

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