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Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Report for America corps member, covering poverty

Amelia Ferrell Knisely, a native of Rand in Kanawha County, started her career in her home state then served as editor of The Contributor in Nashville, a nonprofit street paper sold by men and women experiencing homelessness. She later covered education for The Tennessean. Most recently, as a Report for America corps member at the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Amelia documented the state’s thousands of homeless students, forcing political leaders to start looking for solutions to the problem. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Shepherd University and a master’s degree from Marshall University.

Douglas Soule

Report for America corps member covering business and economic development

Born and raised in West Virginia, Douglas Soule has been with Mountain State Spotlight since its operations began in June 2020. He previously served for two years as editor-in-chief of the Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University’s independent student newspaper. He has interned at the Charleston Gazette-Mail and The Globe Post, and participated in the 2019 POLITICO Journalism Institute.

Ellen Allen

Executive Director

A native of Princeton, West Virginia, Ellen Allen joined Mountain State Spotlight as the organization’s first executive director in February 2022, overseeing the business operations. She brings over 30 years of management and leadership experience, most recently as the director of Covenant House, a Charleston-based nonprofit. Ellen is a graduate of Concord University and holds a MBA from Averett University. She has a 27-year daughter, Sarah, and is married to Sue Julian.

Erica Peterson

Managing Editor

Erica Peterson has more than a decade of experience as a reporter, editor and newsroom manager in both West Virginia and Kentucky. She started her career as a reporter with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, then covered energy and the environment for years as a reporter at Louisville Public Media where her reporting took her into rivers, coal mines and World War II-era bunkers.

Most recently, Erica oversaw the large local and regional newsroom at Louisville Public Media as the director of news and programming. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carleton College and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Greg Moore


Greg Moore is a co-founder. Greg grew up in Morgantown and graduated from West Virginia University. He spent nearly 25 years as an editor and reporter at the Charleston Gazette and Charleston Gazette-Mail. He began his career there in 1996 as a copy editor, then covered beats including business, education, health and the city of Charleston as a reporter. He joined the Gazette’s city desk as an assistant city editor, then rose to become city editor and managing editor, and spent his last two years there as the Gazette-Mail’s executive editor.

Ian Karbal

Report for America corps member and state government watchdog reporter

Before joining the Mountain State Spotlight team, Ian Karbal was a Delacorte Magazine fellow at the Columbia Journalism Review, covering mis/disinformation and the media industry. His work has also appeared in The Trace, OpenSecrets, and the Gateway Journalism Review. Ian, from Chicago, began his career reporting on local government for the Pinckneyville Press in southern Illinois. His investigative work uncovering biased and for-profit policing practices earned him a Freedom of Information Award from the National Newspaper Association, and made him a finalist for the 2018 Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Awards.

Jane Siers Wright

Development Manager

A native of Milton, West Virginia, Jane brings over thirty years of experience in nonprofit fundraising to the position of development manager with Mountain State Spotlight, most recently with West Virginia Public Broadcasting. She holds BA and MA degrees from Marshall University. She lives in Charleston’s East End with her husband, Dr. Kenneth Wright, and three rescue dogs.

Ken Ward Jr.

Co-founder and Senior Editor

Ken Ward Jr. is senior editor and co-founder. He is also a distinguished reporting fellow with our partner, the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica. Ken spent nearly three decades reporting for The Charleston Gazette on the impacts of coal mining, chemical manufacturing and natural gas drilling on his home state of West Virginia. In 2018, he received a MacArthur Fellowship – the so-called “Genius Grant” — for “revealing the human and environmental toll of natural resource extraction in West Virginia and spurring greater accountability among public and private stakeholders.” He grew up in Mineral County and graduated from West Virginia University. He lives in Charleston with his wife, Legal Aid Attorney Elizabeth Wehner, their son, Thomas, and their cat Henry.

Trey Garlow

Operations Manager

A lifelong West Virginian, Trey Garlow has spent most of his life in Kanawha and Putnam counties. With nearly ten years of experience in Office Administration from Garlow Insurance, Trey brings a blend of knowledge and expertise to help Mountain State Spotlight’s newsroom function efficiently and effectively. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Geneva College and a minor in graphic design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Our Board of Directors

Ben Bailey, Chairman

Steve Canterbury, Treasurer

Suzanne Weise, Secretary