Family Dinner with Katherine Lewis and Chandra Thomas Whitfield

Event Recaps
Oct 12, 2021

by Elizabeth Savin ’25

On Wednesday, October 6, Residents gathered together for the first time in 5 quarters to acknowledge successes, celebrate failures, and hear from two incredible speakers. Returning and new Residents were excited to spend time together, share their progress, and learn from our Medill fellows.

The Garage/Medill fellowship began at the start of the 2020/2021 academic year to support diversity among entrepreneurs in the media industry. This year’s Fellows Katherine Lewis and Chandra Thomas Whitfield are each longtime journalists. They plan to use the fellowship to continue developing The Center for Independent Journalists (CIJ), an education, professional development, support, and advocacy organization for independent journalists from minority groups. They launched their website in October 2021 and look forward to using the resources Medill and The Garage have to offer in order to further their outreach.

During Family Dinner, Katherine and Chandra took the time to speak with Residents about the importance of connecting with journalists as entrepreneurs. Chandra stressed the benefits of building a relationship with the media. In order to have pieces about your business published, it is critical to have positive connections with journalists who work at different news sources. Her advice to student founders was to “do the traditional things but also think outside the box.” She encouraged students to call editors and speak to them over the phone in addition to sending introductions over email. The women continued by explaining how when something relevant to your business arises in the news, journalists will be more likely to remember your company if you had previously taken the time to build a relationship.

After hearing Katherine and Chandra speak, students were curious about the best way to connect to and communicate with journalists. Katherine and Chandra were able to share tips from the perspective of writers. Our Residents learned about when to connect with editors as well as how using bullet points is ideal as it allows for a quick understanding of the topic. Katherine advised students to “be clear about what is different or unique about your pitch” and spoke about the importance of honing in on what makes your business special.

Katherine and Chandra’s talk left students with new knowledge of important skills and excitement to move forward with their projects.

Elizabeth Savin ’25 is a Manufacturing and Design Engineering major from Wilmette, IL. She is a student aide at The Garage and is excited to become involved in the programs The Garage offers students. Her favorite thing about The Garage is that students have the opportunity to receive hands-on experience with entrepreneurship.

About the Author