Meet the Perpignan Project Faculty

Rachele Kanigel is executive director of ieiMedia and an associate professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. She was a newspaper reporter for 15 years, working for The News & Observer, The Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times. After getting the teaching bug, she went to Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism to earn her master's degree. She freelances for magazines and websites, including U.S. News & World Report, TIME, Yoga Journal, Prevention, and At SFSU she advises the award-winning Golden Gate [X]press newspaper and teaches multimedia, magazine, media ethics and reporting courses. In 2010 she was awarded the Beverly Kees Educator of the Year Award by the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists and in 2006 she was named Journalism Educator of the Year by the California Journalism Education Coalition. She is the author of The Student Newspaper Survival Guide (WIley-Blackwell); the second edition of the book will be published in 2011. She taught reporting with ieiMedia in Cagli (2007) and directed the programs in Urbino (2009) and Perpignan (2010). She will direct The Perpignan Project in 2011. You can read her welcome message here.
Anne Medley is a freelance photojournalist, videographer and multimedia producer based in Missoula, Mont. She teaches photojournalism at the University of Montana's School of Journalism as well as intensive multimedia journalism workshops at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute in Nashville, Tenn. She recently spent three months in the Democratic Republic of Congo teaching multimedia journalism to Congolese university students as part of Congo in Focus, an entrepreneurial education project she developed. Her cover story about the project was featured in the July 2010 issue of News Photographer magazine. She will teach videojournalism in Perpignan in 2011.
Laird Harrison is an independent multimedia journalist. Over the past 20 years, he has written for some of the nation's best-known magazines, Web sites and newspapers including TIME, PEOPLE,, MSNBC, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Chicago Tribune. He has produced video for Smithsonian Magazine website, and audio for WUNC radio. He has held editing positions at and He has taught journalism at San Francisco State University, Media Bistro and the University of California Extension. He taught reporting in Perpignan in 2010 and 2011.
Courtney O'Brien-Brown has been working in the film/video industry for the past six years. She has worked across genres, from feature films to animation, in a variety of editing, production and post production positions. She recently edited a short film, which won the "Today Award" at the Berlin International Film Festival. Born in Australia, she migrates for six months every year to Perpignan, in time for the European summer. During her stays, she has immersed herself in the culture & history of the region. She worked with The Perpignan Project in 2010 and returned in 2011.
Brian McDermott joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst full-time in 2009. Since then he has developed and taught new classes in web design, advanced video journalism, and advanced photojournalism. He redesigned and runs the Journalism program's website, and serves as the chair of the National Press Photographer's Association Student Clip Contest. During his time in Montana and later New York City, he reported and produced multimedia pieces for outlets like the New York Daily News and Budget Travel. He has written and photographed stories for the New York Times, Boston Magazine, and New West, and photographed for outlets like the Associated Press, Reuters, and USA Today. He taught in Perpignan in 2011, and built this website.
Avery Sumner volunteered to help the 2011 Perpignan Project as a research assistant. She worked as the only reporter for a tiny bureau office of the Key West Citizen, a small daily newspaper in the Florida Keys. Working this general beat fresh out of college developed her deep appreciation for the stories of everyday people. She's inspired by writers and journalists like Studs Terkel and Howard Zinn. Intermingling the fields of hospitality and journalism, she was the owner of an organic restaurant in the Florida Everglades for seven years where she wrote about cafe life and everglades tales for the Fort Myers News Press. She has also been a high school journalism teacher and student newspaper adviser. She currently lives in a village in the French Pyrenees with a new appreciation for the word journalism, since jour is the French word for day.


Perpignan Project Photos

To see the images full-size, visit our online photo album.

About the Program

Fifteen college students came from North America to Perpignan, France, in June 2011 to produce these videos and stories. To find out more, read a welcome letter from program director Rachele Kanigel, meet the program faculty and explore the 2010 website.