Raina Kelley, managing editor of The Undefeated since November 2015, has been promoted to Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of the ESPN multimedia initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. Kelley will be responsible for the editorial direction and oversight for The Undefeated. She succeeds Kevin Merida who launched the project five years ago, and will report to Mark Walker, Senior Vice President, Content Business Development and Innovation.
As Merida’s first hire for The Undefeated’s senior management team, Kelley has been instrumental in the platform’s growth and helped steer The Undefeated’s content expansion across The Walt Disney Company units via the “Music For The Movement” series, a collaboration with Disney Music Group’s Hollywood Records. She leads ESPN’s Black History Always, a companywide content initiative powered by The Undefeated that highlights the contributions of African Americans through long- and short-form storytelling across media platforms beyond the traditional 28-day Black history month in February.
“Raina is a committed, collaborative and creative presence who has been part of the visionary leadership for this platform from the start,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “We know The Undefeated will continue to thrive with Raina in this role.”
Before The Undefeated, Kelley served as deputy editor at ESPN The Magazine, where she was a leading driver of ESPN’s long-form journalism across different platforms (print, digital and audio-visual) and worked closely with some of the company’s leading storytellers. She joined ESPN in May 2011 as a senior editor at ESPN The Magazine, responsible for the publication’s coverage of the National Football League, tennis, action sports, the Olympics and ESPN Enterprise Unit. She was part of the senior editorial leadership team responsible for successfully merging ESPN’s print and digital content units under one umbrella.
“Kevin has been an outstanding leader, an amazing teacher and mentor to our team,” said Raina. “I assume this responsibility knowing he has left behind a brilliant team of creative minds at The U that will continue this vision well into the future.”
A Yale University graduate, Kelley was a writer for Newsweek magazine where she penned a column on American culture, usually centered on issues of race, gender and politics for the magazine, Newsweek.com and Newsweek/Daily Beast. She joined Newsweek in 2003 as an associate editor and left as a staff writer in 2011.
The management team at The Undefeated that will report to Kelley remains unchanged: Deputy Editor Steve Reiss, Jason Aidoo, who joined the project in December as Vice President for Content Business Strategy and Operations, Monique Jones, Managing Editor, responsible for daily news coverage and digital content, and Sharon Matthews, Senior Director, Original Content Programming, Production and Development.
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