Meet the MNN Team

Joel Babbit

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder
Joel Babbit

Joel Babbit is the CEO of MNN and its parent company -- NARRATIVE CONTENT GROUP.

Prior to launching NARRATIVE, Joel spent over 30 years in the advertising and public relations industry. He began his career at McCann-Erickson, where he worked on The Coca-Cola Company account, and was a co-founder of Babbit & Reiman Advertising (acquired by Gold Greenlees Trott) and 360 (acquired by WPP's Grey Global Group). He also previously served as President of WPP’s GCI Group and Executive Vice President of Chiat/Day. Following Atlanta’s selection as host for the 1996 Olympic Games, Joel took a leave of absence from the private sector and was appointed as the City’s first Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and a member of Mayor Maynard Jackson’s cabinet.

He has been active in numerous civic and non-profit organizations including Young Presidents Organization, The CDC Foundation Board of Visitors, Management Executive Society, GCAPP, The Atlanta History Center, and The Anti-Defamation League. He is a Director of Primerica (NYSE: PRI), GreenSky Credit, and The National Health Museum. In 1992, Joel received the John Drewry Award for Distinguished Achievement in Journalism and was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 1997. In 2015, he was awarded The John Holliman Lifetime Achievement Award by his alma mater – The University of Georgia’s Henry Grady School Of Journalism.

Chuck Leavell

Director of Environmental Affairs and co-founder

In addition to his musical career, Chuck is one of the nation’s most respected voices for land conservation and the environment. He has been a board member of several important and influential organizations including the American Forest Foundation and The U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities. Well known on Capitol Hill, his testimony to the U.S. Congress played a critical role in forming the past two U.S. farm bills. In 1999, Chuck and his wife Rose Lane were named National Tree Farmers of the Year for the management of Charlane Plantation, their 2,500-acre farm near Macon. In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service appointed him an Honorary Forester, only the second person to ever receive that honor. He is the author of four books – "Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest," "Between Rock and a Home Place," "Growing a Better America," and "The Tree Farmer," which received the American Farm Bureau’s Book of the Year award.
In 2009, Chuck co-founded Mother Nature Network.

Emily Murphy

President

Emily is the President of Narrative Content Group. She was the Managing Editor of MNN.com when the site launched in 2009. Prior to MNN, she was an award-winning multimedia producer at USATODAY.com and nationageographic.com, where she helped launch National Geographic for Kids magazine and the accompanying web site in 2000. She started her career at CNN, where she was an Emmy Award-winning producer. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and a Ted Scripps Fellow of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. Emily is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Online News Association.

Hope Dlugozima

Vice President and Director of Community and Social Networking
Hope Dlugozima

Before coming to MNN, Hope was Vice President of Community & Social Networking at WebMD, where she launched the Web’s largest health message board community, blogging initiative, and live chats along with WebMD’s Facebook and Twitter presence. Hope's more than 20 years of editorial experiences includes serving as community leader at iVillage, producer at Time Warner, creative director at Creative Multimedia in Portland, OR and features editor of the Prague Post in the Czech Republic. She was also named one of the top 100 Multimedia Producers in the U.S. by Multimedia Magazine.

Michael Jacobson

Chief Financial Officer

Michael Jacobson has over twenty-five years of experience assisting numerous companies in strategic planning, financial procedures, financial statement preparation, business and marketing plan creation; and operation analysis and implementation. He previously held management positions with the international accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwick. Michael is a member of the Georgia Society of CPA’s and the American Institute of CPA’s. He holds an MBA from Georgia State University and a BS/BA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Editorial

Sarah Hicks

Managing Editor

Sarah was part of the team that launched MNN.com. Before MNN, she worked in a wide variety of roles at ajc.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, including planning, design and management roles. In her 11 years in the AJC newsroom, she managed the online entertainment site, accessAtlanta.com, served as the newsroom planning editor and designed the front page of the newspaper.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Senior Writer / Editor

For more than 17 years, Mary Jo covered health, education and family for Atlanta magazine where she contributed to the award-winning pets, education and hospital issues. She spent four years writing and editing for WebMD and has contributed to CNN.com, Ladies Home Journal, Parents and Family Fun magazines. She wrote a family travel book for Random House and worked with Donald Trump on his daily radio commentary.

Lisa Agostoni

SEO and Social Editor
lagostoni2

Before joining MNN, Lisa was Senior Manager of Organic Search at The Home Depot. She’s been an online marketing and communications professional for more than a decade in industries from nonprofit to retail to telecommunications. Lisa has a degree in Psychology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She’s a dog lover, blog writer and certified yoga instructor.

Russell McLendon

Science Editor

In addition to being an Earth Matters blogger, Russell creates infographics, special projects, and features for Translating Uncle Sam. Prior to working at MNN, he was the copy editor for Creative Loafing in Atlanta, where he edited the alternative newsweekly and wrote for its news blog. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2005 with degrees in magazine journalism and environmental anthropology. While at UGA he spent four years working for The Red & Black independent student newspaper as a writer, editor and editorial cartoonist.

Jaymi Heimbuch

Senior Writer / Photographer

Jaymi Heimbuch received her degree in English and creative writing from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and married her loves of writing and green technology while working as managing editor of EcoGeek.org. She spent five years as an editor and writer for TreeHugger.com where she covered technology, ocean and water, and wildlife conservation issues, and where she gained experience as a wildlife photographer. Jaymi's writing has appeared on TreeHugger.com, Discovery.com, PlanetGreen.com, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Alternet, Gizmodo and more. She also wrote the text for "The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction," published by Lobelia Press in 2013.

Noel Kirkpatrick

Associate Editor

Noel edits freelancer content for MNN. He is an advocate of standing desks, works as a freelance television critic in his spare time, and is a recovering would-have-been academic. He is a graduate of Georgia State University with a B.A. in film & video with a minor in journalism.

Deegan Mundy

Editorial Assistant

Deegan is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Magazine Journalism. In addition to contributing editorial content as well as some design at MNN, she is a freelance writer for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Sponsor Relations

Travis Bright

Vice President of Sponsor Relations

Travis joined MNN after a successful stint as the Director of Marketing for the Shop At Home television network, where he was responsible for all on-air, direct, and online marketing for the network. Prior to Shop At Home, Travis was the Director of Channel Operations at WebMD where he led the development of new publishing tools and oversaw the creation of dozens of sponsor programs for Fortune 1000 Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and CPG companies.

Aimee Durham

Senior Account Director
Aimee Durham

Aimee brings over 17 years of experience in the marketing industry to MNN. She started her career at an integrated advertising agency, handling advertising and interactive projects from strategic planning through project implementation. While there, she focused on accounts in the residential real estate, building product and utility sectors. Most recently, Aimee was with WebMD where she managed sponsor relations for CPG clients such as Bausch+Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart and Procter & Gamble.

Lauren Gracco

Senior Account Director

Lauren is excited to bring her love of marketing, branding and strategy to Narrative. She kicked off her career at CNN.com writing and producing multimedia content before joining WebMD for over 8 years. Lauren’s initial role had her partnering with clients such as AstraZeneca, EMD Serono and Pfizer to produce consumer-facing sponsor programs. She then spent several years in product operations at the company before taking on a role leading the Brand Integrity team. Most recently, Lauren spent time as a marketing and brand strategy consultant.

Product & Engineering

Justin Caratzas

Director of Technology

Justin works on the CMS that powers MNN. He comes to MNN from Cox Media Group and previously worked at Lockheed Martin. When Justin is not preparing for the upcoming Singularity, he enjoys hanging out with his family.

Darryl Tharpe

Senior Developer

Darryl has worked on a broad array of technologies on a variety of development projects - from a nutrition research platform housed at the University of Georgia for scientists that spanned the globe to being published at Emory University’s Dept. of Biomedical Informatics for Cancer Research to building web apps for the Rollins School of Public Health and various other projects such as NBA.com. The most important thing in the world to Darryl is his family and hanging out with them as much as possible, but he still finds time to sneak away on the weekends for mountain biking in various places.

Creative

Bill Worley

Director of Branded Content

Bill joined the MNN video team after previously working on projects ranging from documentaries in Haiti and Peru to shoots for TruTV, Comedy Central, and Vh1 reality TV series. He’s created, produced, edited, and directed award winning comedy short films, sketches, and pilots. Starting at the age of ten, Bill worked with his brother on videos such as “Robbers” (a parody of the show COPS). He was a program manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta for 5 years, and then took to the highs seas as a project manager for the musical festival cruise company Sixthman. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Bill has degrees in Communication and Psychology. In his extra time, he performs and records sketches with Automatic Improv, a comedy troupe he helped found in 2008.

Nick Bilz

Director of Branded Content

Top 5 weird things you don't know about Nick Bilz:
5.) He is 6’4”, though he often wears boots, which puts him more in the 6’5” range.
4.) He grew up overseas living in Taiwan, Abu Dhabi, a sailboat, Costa Rica and New Zealand.
3.) He plays the piano, drums and bass guitar well along with the trumpet and saxophone not well
2.) He is a TV production machine. He’s been a sound guy for the Atlanta Falcons; a camera guy for documentaries ranging from Chinese tea (in China!) to historic US roads; and a stage manager for all kinds of awards shows
And the number 1 thing is: Remember how he’s worked award shows? He’s also WON an Emmy for his lighting work on Dean Rusk: At the Heartbeat of History.

Todd Anderson

Interactive Designer / Animator

Todd has over 15 years of experience in the creative industry. He has worked within and contributed to award-winning teams, who have created sites for such clients as Coca-Cola, Full Sail University, LA Film, Denon, Spectracide, Roche, Storyville Coffee Company. He holds a BFA with a Concentration in Graphic Design from Georgia State University.

Media Relations

Dan Beeson

Director of Media Relations

Dan Beeson was formerly Senior Vice President and Director of Media Relations for the worldwide public relations firm Porter Novelli and served in a similar role with GCI Group. He specializes in creating high impact media communications programs and has counseled blue-chip clients including Dell, Coca-Cola, Sony Ericsson, Holiday Inn, Safeco, Equifax, Hewlett Packard, AT&T, Aflac and IBM.

Social Media

Hanna Welch

Social Media Editor

Hanna spent more than five years at Grist in Seattle, where she was Head of Social Media and Community and a Projects Coordinator. Before that, she was a Washington Field Director for Youth for Understanding and a Project Coordinator for Americorps in New Orleans. Hanna is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC.

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