Pauline Arrillaga has been named executive director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism. Nicole Macias will oversee the NCDJ’s international journalism awards programs.

National Center on Disability and Journalism names new executive director

Thursday, May 4, 2023


Pauline Arrillaga has been named executive director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Arriillaga, executive editor of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program at the Cronkite School, will take over for Kristin Gilger, who has led the NCDJ since 2008 and is retiring this summer. 

Cronkite Professor Nicole Macias will oversee the NCDJ’s international journalism awards programs, which recognize excellence in disability reporting.

The NCDJ is a non-profit, educational organization that provides support and training for journalists and other communications professionals around the world with the goal of improving representation of disability in the media.

The center conducts training sessions, panels and workshops for journalists and communications professionals around the world, focusing on both the importance of including disabled people and issues in media coverage and how to do it better. The center also offers a widely used Disability Language Style Guide that is available in English, Spanish, Italian and Romanian. 

Arrillaga joined the Cronkite School in 2019 as a professor of practice to launch and direct the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Southwest Health Reporting Initiative. She moved to News21 in December to lead the award-winning program, which brings top journalism students from across the country to report and produce in-depth, multimedia projects for major media outlets.

Prior to arriving at the Cronkite School, Arrillaga spent 27 years at The Associated Press – most recently as U.S. enterprise editor.

“I’m honored to succeed Kristin as head of the NCDJ. The work we do to improve coverage of disability issues – and to increase representation of disabled people in newsrooms – is absolutely vital, and I look forward to carrying on and further expanding our efforts,” Arrillaga said.

Macias is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Professor of Practice at Cronkite. She works within the Cronkite Agency, an integrated communications agency in which students provide public relations and digital marketing services for clients. Her students will be involved in promoting and marketing the NCDJ contests.

Macias joined the Cronkite School in December after spending the previous seven years as director of multicultural strategy for AARP’s Office of Community Engagement.

Gilger is the Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Cronkite School. She joined Cronkite in 2007 as assistant dean and subsequently served as associate dean and senior associate dean before leading the school as interim dean in 2020-2021.

“For more than a decade, the NCDJ has been working  to help journalists do a better job covering disability. We’ve seen a notable improvement, but there’s still much work to be done,” Gilger said. “With Pauline and Nicole at the helm, that important work is in good hands.”