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.

Kate Sheppard, managing editor

Kate joined us from HuffPost, where she was a senior enterprise and national editor. She previously covered environment, health, and labor for Mother Jones, Grist, and The American Prospect, and got her start in local news in New Jersey. Email her at

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. 

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.

Paige Ladisic, revenue and growth director 

Paige is not a Tar Heel born but is certainly a Tar Heel bred. She previously led advertising and agency services as the director of sales and strategy at UNC’s The Daily Tar Heel, and worked in audience engagement at McClatchy and The Charlotte Observer.

Jeffrey Billman, politics and law reporter

Jeffrey Billman reports on politics and the law for The Assembly. The former editor-in-chief of INDY Week in Durham, he holds a master’s degree in public policy analysis from the University of Central Florida. Email him at

Carli Brosseau, reporter

Carli Brosseau joined us from The News & Observer, where she was an investigative reporter. Her work has been honored by the Online News Association and Investigative Reporters and Editors, and published by ProPublica and The New York Times.

Michael Hewlett, criminal justice reporter

Michael Hewlett, a a native of Richmond, Virginia, covers courts and law. He was previously the legal affairs reporter at the Winston-Salem Journal, where he and colleagues won the Henry Lee Weathers Freedom of Information Award. Email him at

Ren Larson, reporter

Ren Larson joined us from The Texas Tribune and ProPublica’s investigative team, and previously worked as a data reporter at The Arizona Republic. She holds a master’s of public policy and M.A. in international and area studies from the University of California, Berkeley.  

Kelsey Robertson, account executive

Kelsey grew up in the small town of Reidsville, N.C. and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2022. She previously worked as an account executive for the Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student-run newspaper, where she developed and ran digital and print advertisements. 

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 five years on staff at The News & Observer. She previously freelanced for National Geographic, The New York Times and Bloomberg.

Contributing writers: Matt Hartman, Barry Yeoman

Copyeditors: Sara Abrons, Katie Kosma, Leah McCann

Senior financial adviser: Ford Worthy