Letter from YR Media’s Board Chair Luc Bellet:
Dear YR Media Community,
I’m announcing that YR Media’s founder and CCO, Ellin O’Leary, is retiring after leading the development of Youth Radio, and more recently its evolution into YR Media. Youth Radio was established as a non-profit independent media enterprise in 1993, long before the media industry talked in those terms. Ellin’s work has always been about equity and diversity, using media entrepreneurship to combat America’s poverty. Under Ellin’s exceptional leadership, a team of passionate youth, staff, and board members helped build and grow YR Media into an internationally known, award-winning organization by and for young people.
To identify YR’s new CEO, we invested in a year-long rigorous and extensive search that involved the active participation and input of YR staff, board members, students, and content creators. We are all thrilled to have found someone amazing to lead YR Media in this next phase of growth and impact.
Kyra Kyles will come on board as YR Media’s new CEO effective February 1st.
Kyles has spent over 20 years in the media industry, with a consistent emphasis on equity and representation and an impressive track record of expanding young audiences and leading sustainable organizational growth. In her most recent role as the Field Foundation’s Program Officer of Media and Storytelling, she managed a groundbreaking equity-focused journalism and documentary filmmaking fund, the first of its kind in the organization’s history.
Before joining the Field Foundation, she was with EBONY Media Operations, most recently as Editor-in-Chief and Senior Vice President of Digital Editorial, where she expanded audiences, created new revenue streams, and scaled up operations, including establishing a Los Angeles office and an in-house branded and original content studio. Kyles also worked at the Chicago Tribune for six years, where she was recruited specifically to attract and energize young audiences via its millennial-focused RedEye brand.
In addition to achieving this, she increased the Tribune’s multicultural coverage and gained recognition as a digital pioneer, print reporter, blogger, on-air personality, and well-known pundit. Kyles continues to demonstrate her commitment to youth empowerment as a volunteer member of the Board of Advisors for Dream on Education, a Chicago-based youth development organization and, previously, as two-time President of the award-winning National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago where she built a mentorship program connecting students and working members of the media. Kyles also has served as a tutor and mentor for high school students at the Mercy Home for Girls.
Kyles’ skills, experience, vision for our future, and her extensive knowledge of our field will all be tremendous assets to YR Media. We’re very excited to see her step into this leadership role.
Upon acceptance of the position, Kyles noted:
“I am deeply honored and excited to have been selected to lead YR Media, and aim to build upon the incredible legacy established by Ellin O’Leary. She has created and grown this organization into what it is today, a powerful platform for youth at the intersection of media, technology, and music. YR Media will continue to learn, grow, and innovate — always centering the voices and creative vision of our young content creators in our Oakland headquarters and across the nation.”
Chair, YR Media Board of Directors