Alumni Newsletter, Winter 2019

  • By Maritza Villela

Class of 2018 Commencement

Since the December 14th ceremony, 2018 grads have been hired at the following companies:

 NPR, NBC News, Foreign Policy magazine, WNYC, Quartz, CBS MoneyWatch, and Bloomberg

In his keynote speech, Univision’s award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos encouraged graduates to question authority.
Class of 2018 graduates gathered for their official group portrait at TheTimesCenter. (Photo by Julius Motal, ’14) 
Class of 2018 student speaker Dominic McKenzie accepted his diploma from Dean Sarah Bartlett. Photo by Julius Motal, ’14
Alumni speaker Melissa Noel, ’12, talked about managing post-graduation expectations and visions of success.  
2017 Awards for Excellence

The 12th Annual Awards for Excellence 

The Awards for Excellence will take place on Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2019 at Cipriani 25 Broadway. The event honors journalism and technology innovators and provides scholarships for Newmark J-School students. The evening will include award presentations to four graduates as well as Richard Tofel, president of ProPublica, and John Borthwick, founder and CEO of betaworks.  Up to two alumni tables for 10 are available, with discounted seats of $100 per person.   Go to this link and select “GALA” under the fund tab.


2019 Alumni Homecoming

Kick off summer on June 8th by celebrating Alumni Homecoming 2019. Take advantage of this annual opportunity to reunite and reminisce with your Newmark J-School family of alums, faculty, and staff. There will be fantastic food and a great program featuring a special guest speaker.

Look for more details on our alumni Facebook page and by email soon.

Mugshots Series

Newmark J-School alums who work at Spectrum NY1 News and NY1 Noticias gathered with faculty members/fellow employees Errol Louis and Juan Manuel Benítez for a group photo at their offices in Chelsea. (Photo by ©Skyler Reid/

Alumni On the Move


Claudia Irizarry Aponte, ’18, Brooklyn reporter
Kazi Awal, ’16, interactives/graphics producer
Ben Fractenberg, ’09, visual editor
Rosa Goldensohn, ’14, senior reporter


Ann Marie Awad, ’13, is producing and hosting a national podcast about marijuana legalization for Colorado Public Radio.

Jacob Becker, ’14, started a new position as a search engine optimization manager at The New York Post.

Rachel Dzanashvili, ’11, is a booking producer for “WSJ at Large with Gerry Baker” on the Fox Business Network.

Deniz Ergürel, Tow-Knight ’16, is working at Apple as a localization producer in Silicon Valley.

Natalie Fertig, ’14, took on a new role as cannabis reporter for Circa News in Washington, D.C.

Dewayne Gage, ’17, joined Rolling Stone as a social editor.

Teddy Grant, ’17,  started his junior reporter position at Buyouts Insider in February.

Rebecca Harris, ’14, joined The Infatuation as product manager for Text Rex.

In addition to teaching video classes at the Newmark J-School, Kayle Hope, ’14, started working as a video journalist at Quartz, where she produces, shoots, and edits stories for a weekly global news show.

Lucy Huang, ’17, started a long-term freelance position as a producer for “StarTalk,” a podcast and National Geographic show hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Anthony Izaguirre, ’16,  was named AP’s statehouse correspondent in Charleston, WV.

Heather Martino, ’13, is working part-time as a video producer for UNICEF and for Redglass Pictures.

Suzanna Masih, ’16, joined The Independent Urdu  as an online producer in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Erin McCarthy, ’10, joined Barron’s as a digital and print story editor in December.

Tassos Morfis, Tow-Knight ’18joined the Global Advisory team of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) as manager for a new project on digital subscriptions.

In addition to her current role as writer and producer at WCBS-TV, Annais Morales, ’11, is teaching a journalism course at CUNY’s Brooklyn College.

Paula Moura, ’18, started an internship at WNYC and also wrote about Brazil’s dam collapse for the British publication Tortoise.

Viktoria Muench, ’17, started a new job as a video producer for Money.

Melissa Noel, ’12,  is covering the Caribbean region and Caribbean diaspora communities in New York and Toronto as a correspondent for One Caribbean Television.

Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech, ’16, is working as a reporter at The Villager in Brooklyn.

Brian Reich, Tow-Knight ’12, took on a new role as vice president of communications for Murmuration.

Kayla Rivera, ’17, is joining CBS 46, WGCL-TV in Atlanta as a photojournalist/videographer.

Kathryn Ryan, ’17, joined Reuters‘ New York bureau as a reporter covering women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, and the environment.

María Sánchez Díez, ’15, who co-taught Spanish-language Craft I last fall,  joined The Washington Post as an operations editor for the Local section covering the D.C. metro area.

Alyxaundria Sanford, ‘17, was named interim global engagement strategist at Time Out New York.

Joel Schectman, ‘09, is covering intelligence and cyber at Reuters in Washington, D.C.

Adam Shrier, ‘16, started a position as a public information officer for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

Pauliina Siniauer, ‘17, was hired to work at the data desk of the Scandinavian newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.

Samantha Stark, ‘10, was promoted to producer for The New York Times’ new TV show,  “The Weekly.”

Brandon Sugiyama, Tow-Knight ’17, has been working as a designer and lead animator for the Netflix show, “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.”

Charlie Turner, ‘17, was hired as a product manager for Patch Media, where he oversees online forums and audience engagement.

Nomin Ujiyediin, ’16, is a reporting fellow covering criminal justice at the Kansas News Service.



Claudia Irizarry Aponte, ’18,  will receive the Sidney Hillman Foundation Social Justice Reporting award. She has produced stories about the aftermath of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico, housing, immigration, and the opioid crisis.

The $5,000 Stephen B. Shepard Prize for Investigative Reporting will go to Allen Arthur, Social Journalism ‘16. His story, “Too Sick for Jail — But Not for Solitary,” made the front pages of USA Today, The Tennessean, and The Marshall Project, and even prompted changes in Tennessee’s laws.

This year’s Newsweek Alumni Prize will be given to Reynaldo Leanos Jr.’18. He covers border issues for Texas Public Radio in the Rio Grande Valley, a position that was created just for him.

Alexandra Semenova, ’18, will be awarded the Frederic Wiegold Prize for Business Reporting. Her capstone on New York businesses adapting to the $15 minimum wage was published in Gotham Gazette in January.


Natalie Madeira Cofield, Tow-Knight ’18, founder and CEO of Walker’s Legacy,  won a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.

Maggie Freleng, ’15; Emily J. Gertz, Tow-Knight ’18; Samantha Lee, ’16; and Nicole Lewis, ’16, were part of the inaugural class of 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism.

Emily J. Gertz, Tow-Knight ’18, will celebrate the first anniversary of her weekly newsletter, (de)regulation nation,  by launching a podcast to go along with it in March.

Orie Givens, ’13,  produced the first in-depth series for the newly-launched network, Spectrum News 1 Ohio, covering the growing medical marijuana industry across the state.

Rachel Glickhouse, ’15, was interviewed by The New York Times about ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate.”

Erin Horan, ’12, produced the “60 Minutes” tribute to George H.W. Bush. 

Olivia Leach, ’15, executive assistant to the executive producer of World News Tonight, conducted mock interviews at the Office of Career Services with three members of the Class of 2019.

Natasha Madov, ’15, was chosen as a member of the first 2019 Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. 

Barbara Marcolini, ’16, is part of the New York Times Visual Forensics team that won first place in POY’s Documentary Project of the Year.

Mariya Moseley, 16, (above) was selected to be part of a photography showcase hosted by the international organization RAW Artists. 

Peter Moskowitz, ’12, was selected as a 2019 Knight Visiting Neiman Fellow, where he will research labor relations in the media and how digital communities can grow sustainably at Harvard University.

On February 16,  Jake Naughton, ’14, and his partner Juan Anibal Sosa Iglesias released their first book, When We Were Strangers, about what it means to be in love. He also opened a public installation in New Delhi of his project (above) with Aarti Singh, Both Sides of the Veil, which looks at India’s LGBTQ community through photographs and multi-channel video projections.

On March 20, Melissa Noel, ’12, will be on the Caribbean Women in Media panel at The New York Public Library.

Tow-Knight 2015 alum Ana Ormaechea’s startup Cuonda won the Premio Ondas Nacional de Radio al Mejor Podcast  award for best podcast in Spain.

Tow-Knight 2010 alum Jeanne Pinder’s TED Talk,  “What if all U.S. health care costs were transparent?,” was recently featured on the homepage of the TED website.

Hong Qu, Tow-Knight ’11, director of technology at the Harvard Shorenstein Center, and his team released the Email Benchmarking Tool for journalists.

The TED Talk, “What it’s like to be the child of immigrants,” by Michael Rain, Tow-Knight, ’17, has been viewed over one million times.

Azriel Relph, ’10, Peacock Productions’ producer, will be premiering his installment of the new documentary series, “Ministry of Evil,”  on SundanceTV in March.

Luz Mely Reyes, Tow-Knight ’16 , received the Committee to Protect Journalists 2018 International Press Freedom Award and was one of the journalists named in the 2018 Time Person of the Year issue. 

“Tears ‘R’ Us: The World’s Biggest Toy Store Didn’t Have to Die,” by Eliza Ronalds-Hannon, ’11, Matthew Townsend, ’08, Susan Berfield, and Laura Coleman-Lochner was selected as one of Longreads’ Best in Business Writing for 2018. 

Cole Rosengren, ’15, Waste Dive‘s senior editorwas interviewed on the podcast “99% Invisible” about the effects of Chinese trade policies on U.S. recycling systems.

“Unprotected,” co-produced by Nadia Sussman‘, ’17, and Kathleen Flynn, won first place for World Press Photo Online Video of the Year. 

Vanessa Swales, ’17, was chosen as a 2019 New York Times Fellow.

Selly Thiam, ’11,  and her AfroQueer podcast team were selected to be part of the Google Podcasts creator program.

Almudena Toral, ’10, and her team won second place in the World Press Photo Online Video of the Year “Multimedia News & Issue Reporting Story” category for their story, “The Legacy of the ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy: Traumatized Children With No Access to Treatment”. She also won an Award for Excellence for “America First: The legacy of an immigration raid” with her partner, Andrea Patiño Conteras.


Last Halloween, Dana Oliver, ’08, and her son JP paid homage to Michael Jackson’s album “Off the Wall” in matching tuxedos.
While attending the Violence in America conference at John Jay College, Frank Guggenheim Reporting Fellow Kayla Rivera, ’17, ran into Peter Scanavino from “Law and Order SVU.”
Left to right: 2013 alumnae Sophia Rosenbaum, AP regional editor; Mary Croke, WNYC senior producer; and Amy Eley, “Today Show” managing editor (with baby, Olive), visited Tim Harper’s Craft class in the fall.
Emmy award winner Mariana Keller, ’10, spoke with Bob Sacha’s Video Fundamentals class about her experience in the field.
Left to right: Writer Salma Abdelnour and Jackie Snow, ’11, visited Tim Harper’s Business of Freelancing class. (Photo by Tiziana Rinaldi, Tow Knight ’11)
2017 almunae Hanaa Tameez and Vicki Adame celebrated the new year in Mexico City.
Members of the Class of 2008 marked the 10th anniversary of their graduation with a brunch at the Newmark J-School in December.
Left to right: Zach Williams, ’16; Julius Motal, ’14; and Steve Trader, ’14, represented their companies at the Community Media Job & Internship Fair in February.
Jesenia De Moya Correa, ’17, seated second from left, was a guest on “PhillyCAM Voices.”
In January, Tanzina Vega, ’07, host of public radio’s “The Takeaway,” was featured in a Poynter article. Photo by Matthew Septimus
Brooke Williams, ’15, celebrated the holidays as Elf on a Shelf for WFXR News Virginia.
Naomi Yané, ’18, gave the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism a shout-out while doing the traffic report on FOX 5 NY’s “Good Day Wake-Up” the morning of commencement.


Christina Diaz, ’11, and Senator Gabriel Negron tied the knot in September 2018 at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island. They’ve been best friends since they were little kids.

J-School Babies

On Dec. 13, 2018, Anna Limontas-Salisbury, ’08, became a first-time grandmother to Brook-Lynn Y. Carter.
Deniz Ergürel, Tow-Knight ’16, his wife Damla, and son Kerim Deniz, welcomed fraternal twins Ece Nova and Defne Mila on Oct. 17, 2018.

Alumni Spotlight

From a young age, Dominic McKenzie, ’18, dreamed about becoming a broadcast journalist. Dominic, who moved from Jamaica to the U.S. in 2013, spoke to Denise Cervantes , ‘19, about his commencement speech, his experience at the Newmark J-School, and why he chose to stay on for a fourth semester in the Tow-Knight entrepreneurial journalism program to develop a project helping young aspiring Caribbean journalists.

The first point I stressed in my speech was directed at industry executives and all their talk about diversifying the industry. We’ve all heard this before like a broken record. The Newmark J-School is doing its part to train diverse journalists, and I was really trying to encourage my classmates to join the fight. It’s everybody’s fight, not just black and brown people. My second point was don’t be afraid of failure. We all fail at some point. Just keep making an effort and do it now. It will pay off. 

Faculty and Staff News

Dean Sarah Bartlett was chosen as one of New York’s most powerful leaders over the age of 50 by City & State NY. 

Social Journalism Director Carrie Brown and Tow-Knight Education Director Jeremy Caplan presented their poster featuring a “Social Scavenger Hunt” at the CUNY Games Conference at the Borough of Manhattan Community College on January 18.

Jenny Choi was appointed managing director of the school’s News Integrity Initiative. She takes the place of Molly de Aguiar, who left in February to become the founding president of the Independence Public Media Foundation in Philadelphia. Jenny had been serving as director of  diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Sandeep Junnarkar, director of interactive journalism, was named one of the Outstanding Journalism Educators for 2018 by NewsPro.

While visiting family in Colorado over the holidays, Admissions Director Colleen Leigh (above right) met up with 2008 alum Adeola Fayehun, who has a show on YouTube called “Keeping it Real with Adeola.” The show focuses on current events in Africa.

Documentary Program Director Yoruba Richen’s new documentary, “The Green Book: Guide to Freedom,” made its debut on the Smithsonian Channel on February 24.

Yolanda Rodriguez has been appointed interim director of career services.

The Newmark J-School welcomed Anita Zielina as its first director of news innovation and leadership.

Career Services

Have a job or internship to offer?
Email Yolanda Rodriguez to post openings

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Research Center

Chief Librarian Barbara Gray reminds you to check out the Research Center’s online resources.

Research Center Alumni Resources

Public Research Guides for Reporters

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