Mike Higdon’s printable resume

I am a change warrior and a creative thinker. I enjoy conceptualizing projects and then making things. I enjoy disruption and often am the one disrupting. It means I will tend move to new projects quickly. It means I understand the difference between effective and efficient. The journey to completing a task or meeting a goal or conquering a challenge is more important to me than the result. The journey is where I learn. The result is the inevitable and obvious outcome of a proper journey. The journey ensures the outcome.

Employment History and Experience

Downtown Reno Partnership | Reno, Nev. | November 2018 – Present

Marketing Manager

  • I publish weekly blog posts, monthly news columns and emails updating business owners and residents about downtown Reno, reaching more than 6,000 people per month.
  • I manage a volunteer committee of 12 and seasonal interns.
  • I host quarterly town halls and monthly business forums to help build a stronger community of downtown Reno residents and business owners drawing more than 100 people each quarter.
  • I built a following of 1,200 email subscribers with a 38% open rate, 2,100 Instagram followers and 2,000 Facebook followers in 12 months.
  • I helped generate 175 media mentions of downtown and the Partnership in first two fiscal years.
  • I launched the public relations, communications, marketing, web design and social media platforms for the Downtown Reno Partnership, the first 501c6 nonprofit business improvement district in Nevada.
  • I created the Downtown Reno Partnership’s monthly email newsletters, first annual report and direct mail pieces. 

Reno Gazette-Journal | Reno, Nev. | July 2015 – November 2018

City Life Reporter

  • My beat focused on the intersection of cultural change, redevelopment, gentrification, younger communities, pop-culture, craft beer and spirits, hipsters and trends in Reno. I became the community’s leading voice on these topics.
  • I covered Burning Man in 2018, generating almost 500,000 page views for the RGJ in 30 days with stories, photo galleries, videos and 360-degree photos.
  • I reached at least 60,000 people per month with my stories, photos, videos and interactive content.
  • I developed and grew my personal brand, the brands of colleagues and the RGJ’s brand on social media and in real life. My social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) have a combined reach of 8,500 first-connections.
  • I focused entirely on acquiring new audiences in the 25 to 45-year-old age group, researching and trying new delivery methods, topics and platforms as one of the top branded reporters at the RGJ.
  • I was part of a leadership team that hosted and produced the Reno Storytellers Project, a quarterly oral storytelling event with 100 attendees per sold out show. 
  • I was the first City Life reporter in the USA Today Network, a collection of 109 publications.

Drinkable Reno | Reno, Nev. | Feb. 2014 – July 2015

Editor and Publisher

Manage web publication. Write between one and three stories a week ranging from large business features including original photography to press releases on local event. Manage all social media. Edit contributor posts. Manage in-person promotions. Attend industry events.

Swift Communications | Carson City, Nev. | June 2009 – July 2015

Digital Content Strategist June 2015 – July 2015

  • Led editorial development of content management system for all six publishing companies, spanning six states, including 250 newsroom employees.
  • Led and participated in company-wide newsroom projects or initiatives, such as audience development, social media best practice training and video training.
  • Developed topic and editorial content direction and story beats to help publications connect with passionate audiences and develop new revenue streams. 
  • Evaluated content tools, for example, storytelling techniques, hardware, software or platforms.
  • Trained staffs on best practices for operating these tools and collaborating with others in Swift on new and improved ways to reach audiences.
  • Worked with web developers to implement tools.

Editorial Project Specialist, Jan. 2013 – June 2015

  • Standardized the design of 22 daily and non-daily newspapers in a company-wide redesign.
  • Developed innovative work flows for different newsrooms and provided system training, which resulted in streamlined workflows across the entire company.
  • Helped shift Swift from a print-first to digital-first operation

Designer, June 2010 – Dec. 2012

  • Developed centralized news design team and newsroom concept in Sierra Nevada Media Group on the Swift Innovation Team.
  • Converted design templates, libraries and style from Quark Xpress to Adobe InDesign 

University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School of Journalism | Reno, Nev. | Aug. 2013 – Present


Part-time faculty teaching JOUR 208: Media Production II, a video-focused class required in the core curriculum of the Reynold School of Journalism.

Freelance | Reno, Nev. | Jan. 2008 – Dec. 2012

Photographer, Designer

Work for University of Nevada, Reno, Las Vegas Sun, Playboy.com and private interests writing, photographing and designing for print and online.

The Poynter Institute | St. Petersburg, Fla. | Sept. 2008 – Sept. 2009

Poynter Fellow

Attended Poynter College for Young Journalists to learn new media methods with Poynter faculty. Awarded at SND Vegas.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) | Reno, Nev. | Feb. 2009–May 2009

Grant Assistant

Used Adobe Flash to develop a journalism game based on Lunar colonization while providing feedback to faculty members of an experimental interdisciplinary minor in Game Theory.

The Nevada Sagebrush | Reno, Nev. | Aug. 2005 – Nov. 2008

Arts & Entertainment Editor, Design Editor, Public Editor

Invent new forms of journalism to enrich the university community using social-networked news. In charge of public projects, such as hold public forums about university budget or political issues. Redesigned the weekly college newspaper in 2007. Responsible for the visual appeal and consistency of the paper. Managed the features section in 2005-2006.

The Indianapolis Star | Indianapolis, Ind. | June 2008-Aug. 2008

Pulliam Fellow – Visuals

Designed weekly magazine (Indy.com), metro, A1 and graphics. Helped Indy.com staff understand the importance of social-networked news. Beta tested and brainstormed with Innovation & Development department about social-networked news.

The Courier-Journal | Louisville, Ky. | May 2007-Aug. 2007


Rotated between news, sports, features. Budgeted and designed full sections and covers. Worked closely with editors to make a daily, three-edition deadline.

Nevada Small Business Development Center | Reno, Nev. | July 2006-July 2007

Graphic Designer, Photographer

Designed advertisements, promotional post cards and flyers. Took photos in different parts of Nevada to be used for Web site and other collateral.

The Maynard Institute | Reno, Nev. | May 2006-June 2006

Reporter, Photographer, Paginator

Worked with various professional editors to create stories, photos and lay out pages for class of professional copy editors.


University of Nevada, Reno class of 2009

Bachelor of General Studies in the Public and Journalism
Minors in Journalism and Political Science
Conferred by the dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism. My general studies degree mixes the study of political participation with a public-motivated theory of journalism. The degree is made up of independent studies on journalism’s role in the community and political science.


  • 2016 Influencer of the Year awarded by Reno-Tahoe American Marketers Association
  • Multiple yearly Nevada Press Association awards for photos, writing and design
  • 2014 Swift Communications Innovation of the Year
  • 2011 Nevada Press Association Best Infographic and Best Illustration
  • 2010 Nevada Press Association Best Multi-Color Advertisement
  • 2009 Newspaper Association of America Foundation News Challenge fellowship
  • 2009 Poynter Fellowship
  • 2008 Associated Collegiate Press First Place Infographic Design of the Year
  • Fellow winner of ACP Pacemaker Award for The Nevada Sagebrush
  • 2008 The Intern competition
  • 2008 Pulliam Fellowship at The Indianapolis Star
  • 2006-2007 Student Society for News Design Non-Daily Designer of the Year
  • A fellow winner of 2006-2007 SSND Overall Best Designed Non-Daily Newspaper for The Nevada Sagebrush
  • Various SSND individual page awards


  • Invited to speak at SND Vegas 2008 about:
  • Conversational Design: using page design, graphic and multimedia to start conversations and connect with a community
  • Young Voices panel: using social networking to enhance the connection between readers and news