Retiring Founder Entrusts Non-Profit to Media Industry Veteran
YR Media, an award-winning, youth-driven national media non-profit is thrilled to announce that Kyra Kyles has been appointed the new CEO, effective Feb. 1, 2020. This marks the end of a rigorous and extensive year-long search by YR Media to identify new leadership for the Oakland-based organization whose national reach and impact has garnered recognition such as the esteemed Alfred I. duPont-Columbia, George Foster Peabody and Edward R. Murrow awards.
YR Media was founded 25 years ago as Youth Radio by acclaimed journalist and visionary leader President & Chief Content Creator Ellin O’Leary who is retiring, but will remain an advisor to the organization. O’Leary, alongside a team of dedicated, mission-focused employees, grew the nonprofit from a small storefront operation in Berkeley, California to a youth-driven digital media facility in the heart of downtown Oakland, with a distinct focus on young people from under-represented and under-resourced communities. From music production to investigative journalism to AI-development to podcasts and documentary filmmaking, participants between the ages of 18 and 24 learn marketable career skills and lead the way in providing content for this generation, all while being compensated for their work.
This unique media model makes YR Media a natural fit for Kyles who has spent more than 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 inaugural Program Officer of Media and Storytelling, she managed a groundbreaking racial equity-focused journalism and documentary filmmaking fund. Before joining Field, Kyra served as Editor-in-Chief and Senior Vice President of Digital Editorial at EBONY Media Operations (formerly Johnson Publishing Company), where she expanded audiences, created new revenue streams, and scaled up operations, including establishing a Los Angeles satellite office and an in-house production studio that developed docuseries, documentaries, talk shows and branded content. Prior to working at the historic African American publication, Kyles worked at the Chicago Tribune for six years, where she was recruited for the RedEye brand specifically to attract and energize young multicultural audiences.
“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,” Kyles said. “Ellin and her very driven, inspirational team created and grew 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, diverse content creators in our Oakland headquarters and across the nation.”
“The Board led an extensive search with active participation from the staff and students,” said YR Media Board President Luc Bellet, who helmed the recruiting effort. “Kyra’s skills, experience and vision for the organization’s future stood out along with her extensive knowledge of the digital media field. We also want to take this moment to express our deepest gratitude to Ellin for her incredible talent, vision and leadership in taking YR Media to this pivotal point, transforming a learning opportunity for youth into a world-class multimedia operation.”