Greenfield/Riisna Gift to Support International Journalism Programs

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

James Greenfield, who spent a long career as an editor at The New York Times, and his wife, Ene Riisna, formerly of ABC News, have set up a trust fund to support international journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Their legacy gift has a present value of $730,000.

James Greenfield with Dean Steve Shepard at the CUNY J-School's Awards for Excellence in Journalism gala on May 10th.
James Greenfield with Dean Steve Shepard at the CUNY J-School's Awards for Excellence in Journalism gala on May 10th.

The gift will allow foreign journalists to study at the CUNY J-School and students from the School to do their summer internships in other countries. Because both the visiting foreign journalists and the international summer interns will be focusing on multimedia storytelling and using new digital technologies learned at CUNY, the Greenfield gift helps the School meet its goal of raising $3 million for a challenge grant from the Tow Foundation. The grant money will be used to create the Tow Center for Journalistic Innovation at the CUNY J-School.

The Greenfields said they chose to support the CUNY J-School after hearing that it was becoming a major force in journalism education. “What excites me is the optimism about journalism as we look forward,” Greenfield said. “This is a school that will keep up with the twists and turns” of the industry. Added Riisna: “We found CUNY was emphasizing innovation and international journalism. The combination was irresistible to us.”

Greenfield is president of the Independent Journalism Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to promoting free and independent media in Eastern and Central Europe and Southeast Asia. A Harvard graduate, he has held positions at The Boston Globe, Voice of America, Time and Life magazines, and The New York Times. At The Times, where he worked from 1967-1990, he served as assistant managing editor for foreign news and editor of The New York Times Magazine. In 1971, he was project editor for the Pentagon Papers series, which earned The Times a Pulitzer Prize.

Riisna was one of the first female producers in network news. An Emmy Award winning producer for the ABC News program 20/20, she has worked on many Barbara Walters interviews as well as numerous documentaries for NBC and PBS.

“This very generous gift from Jimmy and Ene deeply strengthens our international journalism programs,” said Dean Stephen B. Shepard. “We will be enriched by having foreign journalists come study with us and by sending our students abroad for summer internships.”