Youth Journalism International is registered and recognized formally by the U.S. International Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) public educational charity within the United States. We operate globally.
The Board of Youth Journalism International oversees the strategy and operations of the organization, in line with its vision, mission and values, and principles of good governance. The board is made up of seven individuals from around the world. Alongside the founders of the organization, the board includes longtime advisors to the organization, alumni and a current student. The board currently has two committees: the Finance and Oversight Committee and the Events Committee, and one board member serves as a liaison to the YJI Action Team of students and alumni.
Current board members
Steve Collins, Board Member and President. Finance and Oversight Committee, Events Committee.
Arooj Khalid, Board Member. Liaison to YJI Action Team.
Cassie Lloyd Perrin, Board Member. Finance and Oversight Committee.
Regina López, Board Member. Events Committee.
Jackie Majerus, Board Member and Executive Director. Finance and Oversight Committee, Events Committee.
Mike Soltys, Board Member. Finance and Oversight Committee.
Shaina Zurlin, Board Member. Finance and Oversight Committee.
Board member biographies
Shaina Zurlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Doctor of Clinical Psychology who has dedicated her career to community behavioral health and wellness for the Medicaid population through collaborative leadership, dynamic problem-solving and trauma-informed approaches. She is also an alumna of YJI, having participated as a student from 1997 to 1999 and won first and second place awards from the Society of Professional Journalism for work completed during that time.
A Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and graduate of the California Health Care Foundation Health Care Leadership Program, Dr. Zurlin has held leadership positions with the California Department of Health Care Services, the County of Santa Cruz, the Central California Alliance for Health and Health RIGHT 360.
A trusted educator and academic, Dr. Zurlin has served as a research partner with the University of California San Francisco and brought vibrant, engaging presentations to a variety of venues including the Calciano Symposium and San Diego State University.
In addition to her seat on the YJI Board of Directors, Dr. Zurlin currently serves on the California Health Care Foundation Alumni Board, is a member of the State of California Health and Human Services Agency Behavioral Health Task Force, and is pursuing a Masters in Business Administration.
Mike Soltys was hired in the summer of 1980 as a college intern by ESPN’s founder, Bill Rasmussen, and served 43 years in ESPN’s corporate communications department, the last 20 as a vice president. Soltys was responsible for strategic planning for publicity and issue management for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN on ABC, ESPN’s college networks, ESPNEWS, ESPN Radio and its news and social operations. He was instrumental in building ESPNPR’s content creation including its social media fees, corporate blog ESPNFrontRow and media website ESPNPressRoom.
Soltys also managed Connecticut issues, including serving as a registered lobbyist in the state. He served on ESPN’s Editorial Board for 20 years, longer than anyone.
After graduating from the University of Connecticut magna cum laude in 1981 with a Bachelor’s Degree in communications, Soltys joined ESPN’s communications department full time.
Soltys oversaw ESPN’s comprehensive 25th anniversary publicity campaign in 2004 that received 12 public relations awards, more than any other project in ESPN history. And was then named Media Relations Professional of the Year by PR News. In 2008, The US Basketball Writers Association honored Soltys with the Katha Quinn Award for service to college basketball media.
Soltys resides in Southington, Connecticut, where his community involvement includes, since 2016, serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bread for Life during a transformative period for the food organization. After advising Youth Journalism International for years, he joined its board in 2023.
In 2011, the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Gail DePaolo Community Spirit Award for his “belief in giving back and helping others.” In 2013, he and wife Teresa received the Compass Award from the Southington YMCA for their “focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” In 2015, the Knights of Columbus honored him with a “Catholic Citizens Award.” In 2021, in recognition of his community contributions, Soltys received the Gold Medal Award from the Southington chapter of UNICO International.
He received a Master of Arts degree in communications from the University of Hartford in 1994. Soltys gave the Distinguished Alumnus Address to UConn’s 2017 Communications class and he, his wife and their four children, all UConn grads, were honored as a family at the 2016 UConn Alumni Legacy Breakfast. Soltys and his sisters sponsor an annual scholarship at UConn, in honor of their parents, for an undergraduate who is working toward a career in athletic communications. He also frequently speaks at the University and has served as a mentor
Previously, Soltys has served on the Board of Directors of the Bristol Family Center, the Southington Chamber of Commerce and on a sports information/marketing Advisory Board for the University of Hartford. He helped open the Imagine Nation Children’s Museum in Bristol and served them for 10 years as an advisor. He also coached several youth sports, including 11 seasons of basketball, and for many years was a lector and confirmation mentor at his church.
Arooj Khalid is a climate and girls’ education activist from Lahore, Pakistan.
She is currently pursuing a masters of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a Fulbright Scholar in Education Policy. She is an Acumen and Malala Fund Girl Activist Fellow.
Previously she has worked to design programs and learning experiences related to climate change, digital skills, and teacher training. She has also advocated for research backed policies with Malala Fund and advised them as an activist.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Sociology from Forman Christian College (FCCU). She completed the American Semester Program at Michigan State University through the UGRAD program where she served as a cultural ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S. Department of State.
Cassie Lloyd Perrin
Cassie Lloyd Perrin is a Youth Journalism International alum (c.2002-2007) and Cambridge University graduate who lives in London, UK. She leads industry change strategy, research, advocacy and outreach for Level 20, a primarily European non-profit focused on diversity and inclusion in financial services – specifically gender equity in private equity and venture capital firms.
Before Level 20, she started her career in government and startups HR (via archaeology, theatre, and lifeguarding), before spending a decade in finance working on the people-related issues arising in mergers and acquisitions.
Additionally, Cassie chairs a school board, with oversight roles around safeguarding and inclusive education for pupils with disabilities and other learning barriers. Through this role, she sits as a representative on the local government financing body for schools in her London borough.
She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and active with the Industrial Law Society, of which she was previously a Trustee, and the National Governance Association, with whom she has qualified in board governance. Outside her professional interests, she enjoys hiking, reading and theater, and is learning Hungarian.
Regina López is a communications major in Iberoamericana University in Mexico City.
She is specializing in film and journalism. She has been part of Youth Journalism International for three years as a reporter and photographer and is a Senior Correspondent.
She has also collaborated with other publications in Mexico such as Ibero 90.9 and el Heraldo. She has also been part of film and documentary projects.
In the future she hopes to be a journalist, a film and documentary creative director and producer.
Working with student reporters, artists and photographers, Jackie Majerus guides young journalists as they tackle serious societal issues such as teen suicide, school violence, politics, war and terrorism through gripping newswriting, gut-wrenching personal commentary and artwork. She also works with students writing about popular culture, entertainment and everyday teenage life.
Under Jackie’s guidance, YJI provides a platform for the voices of students from many nations and all seven continents.
Before dedicating her professional work completely to YJI in 2011, Jackie enjoyed a successful career as a newspaper reporter at daily papers in Connecticut, New York and Illinois.
She also worked as a freelance reporter for The National Law Journal and United Press International.
A co-founder of Youth Journalism International, Jackie has regularly been selected for prestigious teaching posts and as keynote speaker, and has also served as a judge in high school journalism contests put on by the National Scholastic Press Association, Baruch College in New York City and the Florida Scholastic Press Association. Jackie has also won her own awards, most recently the gold laureate Global Youth & News Media Prize for news/media literacy, from Global Youth and News Media. She is a member of the Journalism Educators Association.
Majerus is a graduate of The University of Iowa. She grew up in Iowa and Wisconsin, and also lived in Illinois, New York and Connecticut before moving to Auburn, Maine. She and her husband Steve Collins, a YJI co-founder and journalist, are the parents of a grown son and daughter.
A journalist since 1987, Steve Collins has worked for daily newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Maine.
He has served as the State House reporter for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine since 2016. He was the Maine Press Association’s Journalist of the Year in 2022. Among his awards are the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award and its history-writing prize in 2022 and 2023, the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2016 Ethics in Journalism Award, the I.F. Stone Whistle-Blower Award in 2015 and scores of state awards in Maine, Connecticut and New York.
Collins is a founder and board president of Youth Journalism International, a charity that teaches students around the globe about news writing, media literacy and issues of the day.
Born in Massachusetts, he grew up in a military family that took him to Norway, Ohio and Virginia, where he earned a degree in history from the University of Virginia.