The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking is pleased to announce community media pioneer Jesikah Maria Ross as a 2016 – 2017 Taylor Senior Fellow. Ross will visit Taylor throughout the academic year to give lectures, participate in Taylor Center activities, and collaborate with Professors Vicki Mayer and Rebecca Mark to design a new socially engaged media course that amplifies student creativity and community voice. Together, they will explore how to weave together empathy building, community storytelling, digital production, and cultural preservation in a way that is mutually rewarding for everyone involved. Ross is a documentary artist who is changing the way communities collect, tell, and share their stories. She’s an interdisciplinary thinker, leading the kind of hybrid projects needed to solve the problems of the 21st century. She leads participatory documentary projects around the globe to ensure that the most relevant stories are being told with integrity and reciprocity. Working from the ground up, she produces layered, collaborative, multi-platform projects that can sustain both individual and social change. Ross mobilizes stakeholders, groups, and those on the sidelines around a shared interest- creating spaces and processes that lead to personal and social transformation. She has developed her expertise over 25 years of working with large institutions, community organizations and independent media makers around the world.
Ross has directed several multi-platform documentaries including the award winning Saving the Sierra, which includes a public radio special that has aired on over 200 NPR stations. She directed the community engagement campaign for the PBS documentary Maquilapolis (city of factories) which was co-created with female workers in Tijuana’s assembly factories. The campaign included community voice workshops and public dialogue events throughout the US and Mexico. She has spearheaded participatory media training initiatives in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, South Africa, and Ireland in collaboration with UNICEF, WarChild, Radio Netherlands, Free Press Unlimited, and the European Union funded Community Media Network.
Ross is currently the Senior Community Engagement Strategist at Capital Public Radio, Sacramento’s NPR affiliate, where she is inventing new models for community engaged journalism. Previously, she was the founding director of the UC Davis Art of Regional Change, a community documentary program that brought students, scholars, and area residents together to co-create digital stories. She also co-founded KDRT 90.7 LPFM, launched the Bioneers Reel Change Youth Media Program, co-created the National Association of Media Arts and Culture’s Leadership Institute, and consulted with community media organizations around the world.
Ross earned her Master of Science in Community Development degree from UC Davis and her Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Art degree at Goddard College.