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A veteran Arizona journalist has been named founding director of an innovative business reporting program at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Christina Leonard, a reporter and editor at The Arizona Republic for the past 17 years, is leading the Cronkite School’s Reynolds Business Bureau, an immersive professional program in which students produce daily coverage of business and economics for regional and national media outlets. The bureau was established through a $1 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
“The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is pleased that the Reynolds Business Bureau will provide real world experience for business journalism students at the Cronkite School,” Reynolds Foundation President Steve Anderson said. “This program compliments and expands upon the already excellent educational opportunities for journalism students interested in focusing on business reporting and economic topics.”
Leonard, who started last month, has held a number of leadership roles at the Republic and azcentral.com, including assistant business editor and editor-in-chief of two business magazines, Arizona Woman and bizAZ. Most recently, she was the Republic’s Phoenix-West Valley regional editor and also has served as Phoenix editor, state politics and government editor and night city editor.
At the Republic, Leonard played an integral role in a number of initiatives, including the paper’s technology guide and AZ Fact Check, a service that examines the accuracy of statements by politicians, partisan groups and government agencies. She was the lead editor on the recent coverage of Phoenix’s pension-reform measure and helped lead the Republic’s efforts to transition to a mobile newsroom.
“I'm thrilled to join the talented faculty at the Cronkite School, and I'm excited to work with the outstanding students there,” Leonard said. “These students are the future of journalism, and I'm already impressed by their passion, drive and forward-thinking. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work at this innovative university.”
Leonard is the recipient of a number of journalism awards, including the Gannett Chairman’s Award, the John Kolbe Politics and Government Reporting Award and several Arizona Press Club awards. She is the former president, vice president and treasurer of the Arizona chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and was founder and former chairwoman of the Republic’s Diversity Committee. She has twice participated in AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program and was a Western Knight fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg’s Institute for Justice and Journalism.
Leonard earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and following graduation was named a Pulliam Fellow at The Arizona Republic.
“Christina has long been a tremendous leader at The Arizona Republic, producing remarkable state and business coverage for Arizonans,” Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said. “We are thrilled to welcome her on as the founding director of the Reynolds Business Bureau and are excited for our students.”
Announced in July 2014, the Reynolds Business Bureau is the 10th professional immersion program to be established at the Cronkite School. The other programs include a nightly television news broadcast that airs on Arizona PBS, digital news bureaus in Washington and Phoenix, sports bureaus in Los Angeles and Phoenix, a strategic public relations agency, an entrepreneurial digital innovation lab, a digital production bureau and a newsgathering and civic journalism bureau.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $115 million nationwide through its Journalism Program.