Kyle Villemain, founder and editor-in-chief

Kyle is a former speechwriter who was fortunate enough to hire journalists smarter than him to envision a new model for state-level news. He grew up in the Triangle, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has written for a host of statewide higher-ed and nonprofit leaders. Read more about why he started The Assembly in early 2021.

Kate Sheppard, managing editor

Kate is a New Jersey native who had the good fortune of marrying a North Carolinian. She came to The Assembly from HuffPost, where she had been a senior enterprise and national editor. She previously covered environment, health, labor and other policy issues for Mother Jones, Grist, and The American Prospect, among others. Her reporting has been recognized with awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Online News Association and the Deadline Club, and featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing. She also teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. 

John Drescher, contributing editor

John previously served as deputy editor of The Washington Post’s political investigations team; executive editor of The News & Observer; managing editor of The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.; and as a reporter and editor for The Charlotte Observer. In April 2022, Drescher was inducted into the North Carolina Media & Journalism Hall of Fame. He received degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was editor of The Daily Tar Heel, and Duke University, where he served on The Chronicle’s board. His 2000 book, Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South, was published by the University Press of Mississippi.

Taylor Le, creative director

Taylor is a multidisciplinary creative and the design director at the Los Angeles Times. Her design and imagery have earned recognition from the Society of Publication Designers, National Magazine Awards, the Art Director’s Club, Folio, and Photo District News. Taylor’s most recent projects at Medium, AFAR Media and San Francisco Magazine included collaborations between art departments, editorial, and marketing teams to improve processes and develop thoughtful branding and designs. Previously, as creative director at Pacific Standard, she assigned and produced immersive photo stories, procured brand partnerships and digital experiences, and led redesign efforts that turned the small, academic journal into a national media brand. 

Paige Ladisic, revenue and growth director 

Paige is not a Tar Heel born but is certainly a Tar Heel bred. Before joining The Assembly team, she spent four years leading advertising and agency services as the director of sales and strategy at The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s nonprofit student newspaper. Prior to that, she worked in audience engagement at McClatchy and The Charlotte Observer. She holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from UNC-Wilmington.

Julia Wall, lead producer and videographer

Julia grew up in Wilmington, N.C. and earned a degree in photojournalism from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013. She came to The Assembly after spending five years on staff at The News & Observer, where she produced daily and long form work on social issues, political movements, the pandemic, and more. A documentary she and her colleagues produced in partnership with ProPublica screened at film festivals across the country and won a Midsouth Regional Emmy Award in 2022. Prior to working in local news she freelanced for publications such as National Geographic, The New York Times and Bloomberg. Her work has been recognized by the North Carolina Press Association, the Online News Association, the White House News Photographers Association, and Pictures of the Year International.