MICHELLE LYNN HOLMES • CURRICULUM VITAE
I support explorers of human connection through emerging forms of digital media, as well as the development of individual and collective post-patriarchal liberation practices.
Founder, Heart’s Ease Love and Freedom Center (2020-present)
Heart’s Ease exists as an independent “feel tank” for collaboration with aligned artists, healers and media creators, as well as home to online community events designed to help people heal from cultural, family and individual trauma. Allied practitioners and artists include journalists, social entrepreneurs, somatic healing practitioners and other committed to liberation and transformation practice.
Ongoing initiatives include:
Free Women Free World collective: This ongoing community of practice, held by Lucy Wairimu Mukuria, Salaam Green and myself, is dedicated to supporting women engaged in healing patriarchal wounds of separation, colonialism and racism through the medicine of connection and belonging. Through FWFW we create support for our own work as well as produce events that serve as refuge to other teachers and leaders.
Heart’s Ease Hypnosis and Breathwork: As an Integrative Health Coach, Breathworker and Ericksonian Hypnotherapist, I serve people in their healing journey (including two days a week to a community healing space in my Indiana town in which I guide people through somatic healing practices.)
Other Heart’s Ease events and collaborations include:
Free Women Free World Heart Healing Workshop (2022)
Collectivizing our Voices: Humming Circle for Global Peace (2022)
Conscious Connection: Thanksgiving Day Edition (2021)
Heart’s Ease Compassion Clinic (2021)
Poetry of Private Places (2020)
Breathwork for Love and Freedom (2020)
Host, Northwest Indiana Connection and Meditation Group (ongoing)
Community member of the Global Dance Meditation for Black Liberation, 2020
MAJOR PROJECTS INCLUDE:
Strategic Advisor and former Executive Producer: Whitman, Alabama (ongoing)
This experimental digital media project is a collective portrait of America in 52 parts, embodying Walt Whitman’s “broad fluid language of Democracy.” This project, conceived and directed by filmmaker Jennifer Chang Crandall, has been celebrated as a new form of narrative, and exhibited a cultural institutions such as The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The New York Public Library, and continues to attract attention from scholars from around the world. The work received major funding from The Ford Foundation and earned a News and Documentary Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding New Approaches in Documentary.
“A wonderful project…a lyrical exploration of America's multitudinal identity.” — Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
“Riveting.” — Ted Genoways, New York Times Book Review
My role: I made space for this project’s emergence while Vice President of Content for Alabama Media Group by establishing a first of its kind digital Artist-in-Residence program in an American newsroom, and continue as a hands-on strategic advisor and coach through my work at Heart’s Ease Love and Freedom Center.
Producer: What Black Women Want You to Know and Circle Up for Change (2022)
This global event series, led by Salaam Green, noted Southern storyteller, poet and racial healer, kicked off with more than 100 participants as a celebration of the National Day of Racial Healing, then led into a multi-week online community healing circle informed by the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth Racial Healing & Transformation process. The program featured distinguished Kenyan psychologist and Acumen fellow Lucy Wairimu Mukuria, the American Psychological Association’s 2022 recipient of the International Humanitarian Award for her distinguished work as a mental health reformer.
My role: I served as digital producer, media consultant and sponsor through my organization, Heart’s Ease Love and Freedom Center, which hosted the event on behalf of the Free Women Free World collective.
Producer: Guns, an American Conversation (2018)
This months-long immersive project included a two-day in-person facilitated gathering for 21 Americans selected from 1,000 applications, with a goal of deeper civil dialogue and human connection around the issue of gun ownership. The project launched in the Newseum in Washington DC as the March for our Lives streamed down the streets below. Over the next month, the project moved online where another 100 people joined a private, facilitated digital conversation led by Spaceship Media in collaboration with my newsrooms. The project led to a long form narrative project by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, a book published by Simon and Schuster, as well as ongoing academic research. My role: As Vice President and Head of Partnerships for Alabama Media Group, I co-conceptualized and led this collaboration with TIME, the Newseum, Essential Partners and Spaceship Media.
Vice President, Head of Partnerships , Alabama Media Group (2017-2019 )
Led strategic content development for national brands and collaborations under the Advance Local umbrella (Advance Local is owned by Advance, owners of Conde’ Nast; and major shareholders in Reddit, Warner Bros. Discovery and Charter Communications) including:
Advance Originals: Led creative team to develop this new TV and film production company, led by veteran Hollywood producer Marsha Oglesby, to mine and develop IP from Advance Local’s national news holdings. . Current work in progress includes an Advance Originals initiated partnership and development deal for premium unscripted true-crime content with Octavia Spencer as executive producer. Advance Originals is represented by Hollywood management team Circle of Confusion. Red Clay Media: Responsible for development and oversight of this national media division and lifestyle company with a mission to use comedy as a tool for connection. It’s a Southern Thing, a Red Clay brand, has been internationally recognized for its digital engagement and viral video production.
Vice President, Content, Alabama Media Group (2013-2017 )
In my role as VP and Editor in Chief, I served as a digital media innovator at Alabama Media Group, a media company that operates AL.com, and publishes Alabama's most prominent newspapers: The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and Mobile's Press-Register.
Under my leadership the organization received a Pulitzer Prize for commentary by John Archibald, and several other top industry awards, becoming quickly known for national excellence and digital leadership, as well as a deeply collaborative approach drawing in innovators around the nation. Collaborators included MIT’s Cortico, Center for Investigative Reporting, the Marshall Project, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, faculty from the Stanford D. School and Spaceship Media among many others.
Reckon launched from my newsroom in 2017 as a home base for a new human rights reporting team in Alabama with a mandate for social, community-based storytelling, funded with a grant from Stanford’s Jim Bettinger News Innovation Fund. With further funding from a Google News initiative grant to dive more deeply into audience data, the org has expanded and grown into a national news organization with a focus on climate justice, reproductive rights, faith and purity culture, trans rights, Blackness, racial justice, movements, queer issues and more.
Ustream, Director Business Development (2012-2013)
In this Silicon Valley based role, I worked to bring live streaming capacity with news and information sources around the world, including top news organizations and U.S. Congress members. My work at Ustream included direct support of citizen journalists and an emerging livestreaming community during Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook.
John S. Knight Fellowship Stanford (2011-2012)
In this yearlong fellowship at Stanford, I prototyped a collaborative video news gathering app with partners Deepa Fernandes (now co-host of NPR’s Here and Now) and Justin Ferrell, ( the founder of the professional fellowship program at the Institute of Design) through immersion in the selective Launchpad accelerator at the Stanford d. School. This fellowship also allowed me space to connect with think tanks and work with performance artists to create ideas of collective art practice that would inspire my future work with Heart’s Ease Love and Freedom Center.
Sun Times News Group (2001-2011)
Editor in Chief at SouthtownStar, Tinley Park Illinois
Editor in Chief Joliet Herald News, Joliet, Illinois
Managing Editor at Post-Tribune, Merrillville, Indiana
Other journalism work:
National Journalism Advisory Board at the Center for Collaborative Journalism
Advisor, Journalism That Matters
Board of Visitors at the University of Alabama's School of Communications and Information Sciences.
Purdue University 1987-1990 (part time, no degree)
Indiana University Northwest 1990 (part time, no degree)
Duke Integrative Medicine-certified coach (2018)
Master Practitioner, Compassionate Ericksonian Hypnotherapy (2022)
Facilitator, Project on Civic Reflection (2010)
DISTINCTIONS & AWARDS (selected)
50 Women Who Can Change the World in Journalism, 2018
MediaShift20, recognizing the top innovators in digital media, 2018
Change Maker Prize, Center for Collaborative Journalism, 2017
Poetry Fellowship: Kimmel Harding Nelson 2013
Kettering Foundation’s Deliberative Democracy Exchange 2021
Zócalo/Getty event titled “Is Journalism About Social Justice?” Getty Center in Los Angeles, 2019
International News Media Association Global Media Conference, Washington DC, 2018
European News Impact Academy on Newsroom Leadership, 2018
Red Mountain Theater Company’s Human Rights New Works Festival, 2018
Media in Transition Conference, MIT “Guns, An American Conversation: Listening To, and Trying to Learn from, People with Vastly Different Perspectives” 2018
Keynote Panel: Trust, Truth and Questions for the Media: Online News Association 2017
Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar, Miami 2017
COS Conference; Noordwijk, the Netherlands 2017
The Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, 2012
PUBLICATION AND MEDIA COVERAGE (selected)
Forthcoming, contributing author to Kettering Foundation book, est. publication 2023
News for US: Citizen-Centered Journalism Paperback, Ellis, 2021
Tiller Press: Guns, an American Conversation Publisher: (October 13, 2020)
European Journalism Centre: How to lead a newsroom through digital transformation? Ingrid Cobben, 2019
Cronkite News Lab: Alabama Media Group is Chasing Corruption — And Also Your Viewers Andrew Heyward, 2019
Poynter, An experimental Facebook Watch show reports on journalism while trying to reinvent it, Edmonds, 2019
Kottke.org, Best of 2017, Tim Carmody and Jason Kottke, January 2018
Editor and Publisher: Newspapers Find Creative and Imaginative Pathways to Discover New Revenue, 2018
PN Review and Carcanet Blog, Whitman, Alabama , Michelle Holmes 2017
Toronto Star, Alabama Newspapers say No to Roy Moore, Michelle Holmes 2017
Poetry Foundation, Making the Words Ours, Kathleen Rooney, February 2017
Annual Journal of the Kettering Foundation, Recasting the Narratives That Shape Our Public Life, Ellis, 2017
Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia's Graduate School: “Guide To Journalism and Design” Chaplin 2016
Hyperallergic, A Collaborative Reading of Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’ All Across Alabama, Christian N. Kerr, April 2017 The New Yorker, Reciting Walt Whitman At a Drug Court in Alabama, Jia Tolentino, March 2017
NPR’s Here and Now, Filmmaker Uses Whitman Poetry to Explore American Identity, Eric Westervelt, March 2017 Huck Magazine The Journalist Smashing Your Stereotypes of the American South, Marta Bausells, March 2017 The Poetry Foundation, Making the Words Ours, Kathleen Rooney, February 2017
Harvard University’s NiemanLab Alabama Media Group’s First Artist-in-Residence Goes Beyond Text to Explore the Culture of the South Laura Hazard Owen June 2015
Poynter 3 Smart Ideas to Steal from Alabama Media Group, Melody Kramer April 2015
American Press Institute: Creating a culture around engagement and reporting: 9 good questions with Michelle Holmes of the Alabama Media Group, Millie Tran, 2014
Media Shift: Want to Innovate in an Established Newsroom? Get Used to Messy, 2014