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Alumni Newsletter, Summer 2019

  • By Maritza Villela
Artur Pietruch

2019 Alumni Homecoming

(Photos: Frida Sterenberg, ’19)

Craig Newmark, this year’s special homecoming guest, answers questions with Dean Sarah Bartlett on June 8, 2019.
Kara Chin, ’16; Kirsti Itameri, ’11; Helina Selemon, ’15; and Max Resnik, ’17, show off their Newmark J-School swag bags.
2009 alums reflect on life after J-School ten years after graduating. Left to right: Jessica Simeone, NBC News news editor; Mark Morales, CNN law enforcement reporter; Aisha Al-Muslim, reporter for The Wall Street Journal; Rima Abdelkader, digital reporter; and moderator Angela M. Hill,  ’07, national investigative producer for Scripps.
Alumni, faculty, and staff gather for the homecoming cocktail reception.

Peter Mackler Award for Courageous Journalism

Italian journalist Paolo Borrometi, an expert on the Sicilian mafia, will receive the 2019 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism at a ceremony at the Newmark J-School on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Alumni are invited to attend for free with the code: newmarkjschool

The award presentation will be followed by a panel discussion about the challenges reporters like Borrometi face in pursuing their stories.


Aisha Al-Muslim, ’09, who joined The Wall Street Journal in November 2017 as a breaking news reporter, is now working on their Pro Bankruptcy team.

After working as a data and interactive graphics journalist for and The Star-Ledger for six years, Carla Astudillo, ’12, moved to Austin in June where she is now a data news apps developer at the Texas Tribune.  

Previously an associate producer for NowThis World, Kimberly Avalos, ’16, was promoted to producer for the NowThis News Originals team.

Claudia Cruz, ’08, joined the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV as director of internships and experiential learning. 

After freelancing as a podcast producer since December, Matthew Cutler, ’18, was hired as a research associate at  PEI Media.

Allyson Escobar, ’18, was hired as a reporter for The Tablet, a newspaper that covers the Catholic community in Brooklyn and Queens and the Catholic Church in New York.

After freelancing for five months, Natalie Fertig, ’14, joined POLITICO as a federal cannabis policy reporter in Washington, D.C.

In June, Bianca Flowers, ’14, was hired at MarketWatch as a video journalist.

From July through November 2019, Alva French, ’11, will be producing videos related to women’s health and family planning as a bilingual video and digital producer for the  Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C.

Constanza Gallardo, ’17, was hired at Transmitter Media, where she’ll produce the podcast WorkLife with Adam Grant and develop new shows.

Deanne Gaston, ’16, has joined TBS and TNT’s Chasing the Cure Live with Ann Curry  as a social associate producer.

In addition to working as an assistant editor and director of video production for the American Heritage magazineGeorge Goss, ’16, was promoted to studio manager for the Diocese of Arlington, VA.

This fall, Rachel Glickhouse, Social Journalism ‘15, returned to the Newmark J-School to co-instruct the community practicum course with Social Journalism Program Director, Carrie Brown.

Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez, ‘15, was hired as a senior writer at Medium’s new power, politics, and culture publication, GEN.

Kirsti Itameri, ‘11, started work as the New York bureau chief for the South Florida Media Network, the student-powered news service of Florida International University.

Sarah Kerr, ’17, was hired full-time as a video journalist to cover the 2020 presidential race for The New York Times.

In August, Katherine Lavacca, ’17, was hired as news assistant for NY1.

On August 5, Olivia Leach, ’15, started as a multimedia journalist for Spectrum News Hudson Valley.

Kat Long, ’15, was promoted from staff editor to science editor at Mental Floss, leading all of the science and health coverage for the site.

In June, Kyle Mackie, ’17, started working as a reporter for WBFO, the NPR member station in Buffalo, NY.

After joining Tylt as assistant entertainment editor in May 2018, Keydra Manns, ’17, was promoted to entertainment editor in April.

In July, Will Mathis, ’17, started working at Bloomberg’s London bureau covering renewable energy and climate change.

Desiree Mathurin, ’15, was hired as a news associate at the Associated Press‘ South Desk in Atlanta.

This fall semester, K. Dominic McKenzie, ’19, started teaching TV News Magazine with Professor Linda Prout at the J-School.

“Amanda Knox” producer Stephen Robert Morse, Tow-Knight ’12, is working on projects based on the book “Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty.”

Natalia V. Osipova, ’12, was hired as a producer for CNN’s Digital Features team.

In July, Nick Perez, ’16, started a year-long data fellowship at the News Journal and Delaware Online.

Cathy Rainone, ’07, was promoted to manager of editorial operations, digital, at NBC Owned Television Stations.

Emilie Ruscoe, ’18, is working at Law 360 as general assignment reporter covering white collar crime, securities, banking, and transportation.

On August 15, Alyxaundria Sanford, Social Journalism ’17, started her new role as digital trainer with the Society of Professional Journalists and the Facebook Journalism Project in New York City.

Derek Scancarelli, ’15, was hired as a producer for Consumer Reports‘ show “Consumer 101” in Yonkers, NY, where he is writing, shooting, and editing consumer-based news stories that are distributed to over 100 TV stations nationwide.

In May, Minda Smiley, ’14, was hired as an agencies reporter covering the advertising industry for Adweek.

Sierra Leone Starks, ’13, (above) is working behind the camera as a social media specialist for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Seattle Battalion.

Tiffany Thomas, ’17, is now teaching 8th graders Citizen Multimedia Journalism at Linden SDA School in Queens.

Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn, ’15, joined The Washington Post as the Subscriptions and Engagement Team’s community editor.

Michael Wilson, ’16, was promoted from associate editor to associate managing editor at Anesthesiology News.

In May, Alex Wolf, ’13, left Law360 to work with BloombergLaw in New York, covering bankruptcy around the country.

In June, Naomi Yane, ’17, joined WRNN/ FiOS1 in New York as a news reporter.


Two 2018 Tow-Knight alums were selected to participate in the ONA Midway for innovative new journalism ventures:

Miguel Dobrich will showcase Amenaza Roboto, a platform that provides Latin American and global tech news, podcasts, and videos for technologists and business people in Spanish.

Hersh Patel will present Hindsight, a tool that helps news organizations show readers related content from their archives. Hindsight has already begun partnering with Forbes, The Virginian-Pilot, and other news organizations around the world.


Meral Agish, ’14, was part of the team behind “Operation Ceasefire,” which was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Editing: News category.

Class of 2017 alums Lizeth BeltranJeremy IbarraMallory MoenchRahima NasaNicole Rothwell, and Pauliina Siniauer (pictured above with Investigative Reporting Professor Andrew Lehren) won the national “best student investigation” award from the Investigative Reporters and Editors for “Food Plight: Cafeteria inspections reveal critical health violations at New York City schools”.

Brett Dahlberg, ’17, was a guest on NPR twice in July: first, for a story about how the heat wave affects urban populations and second,  for “Walking On Painted Keys: Creative Crosswalks Meet Government Resistance,” about how colorful crosswalks and engaging sidewalks lead to safer intersections, stronger neighborhoods, and better public health.

Class of 2018 Graison Dangor‘s capstone, “Mental Health Parity’ Is Still An Elusive Goal In U.S. Insurance Coverage,” was published by NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Less than three months after getting hired at The Wall Street Journal, 2018 alum Ben Foldy’s story, “SUVs Are Bumper-to-Bumper on Dealer Lots, With More on the Way,” made it to the front page of the newspaper.

Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez, ’15, was one of the recipients of the 2019 Ida B. Wells Fellowship. As a fellow, she will receive $16,000, editorial feedback, legal counsel, research resources, and mentoring while covering an investigation on women’s rights in Puerto Rico.

2016 Social Journalism alum and Newmark J-School adjunct professor Sabrina Schmidt Gordon’s QUEST Documentary was nominated for two Emmy awards, for “Best Documentary” and “Outstanding Social Issue Documentary.”

Katie Honan, ’10, and her Wall Street Journal colleagues, won a Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial journalism for their breaking news coverage of Amazon’s decision to abandon plans to come to New York City.

Kayle Hope,’14; Charu Raman, ’18; and Maria Villasenor, ’14 worked on the Emmy Award nominated team for outstanding business, consumer or economic report, “Future of Aging.”

Tow-Knight 2016 alum Stephen Jefferson‘s startup partnered with the San Diego NBC local station NBC 7 and students at San Diego State University to produce local news stories.

Caroline Lewis, ’14, helped launch the NYC Media + Social Justice Collaborative, a network that aims to make it easier for journalists to reach out to social workers about stories they’re working on and for social workers to alert journalists to issues they think they should cover.

Mariya Moseley, ’16, (seated in orange) was named co-director for the First Take Journalism workshop hosted by The New York Association of Black Journalists. She will oversee the six-week program for high school students at the Newmark J-School, creating their curriculum while preparing interactive activities, field trips, and introductions to industry professionals.

Class of 2018 alum Paula Moura’s story, “If Carbon Offsets Require Forests to Stay Standing, What Happens When the Amazon Is on Fire?,” was published on ProPublica.

2014 alum Jake Naughton’s piece about octopus farming and fishing in Yucatán, Mexico was published on the TIME magazine website.

Social Journalism Class of 2017 alum Laura Olivieri Robles’ opinion piece on Puerto Rico’s political situation, “In Puerto Rico, Rosselló Finally Hears the People,” was published in The New York Times.

Mike Reicher, ’09, won the Tennessee AP’s Malcolm Law Investigative Reporting Award for his report, “Amid Nashville’s housing boom, safety rules are ignored and more workers die.”

Monica Cordero Sancho, ’17, and Giannina Segnini published their cross-border investigative project, #transnacionalesdelafe, on Univision and El Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística. Their project looks at how a group of fundamentalist religious leaders with ties to the White House and ministries in Latin America has influenced presidents and policies towards Israel.

Julia Sclafani, ’17, (right) and Priscella Vega, ’19, won second place in the Orange County Press Club’s 2019 Excellence in Journalism Awards for their story, “Arrests of white power leaders are a reminder of Huntington Beach’s painful past.”

Jackie Snow, ’12, was accepted into Harvard Medical School’s media fellowship program, where she will be meeting with experts, physicians, and researchers in September for a research track called “The Doctor and the Machine: The promise and peril of artificial intelligence in medicine.” 

Brandon Sugiyama, Tow-Knight ’17, won an Emmy for Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj in the Outstanding Motion Design category.

Christina Thornell, ’16, just finished producing the fourth season of Vox Borders.


2017 Social Journalism alums Melissa DiPento and Sebastián Auyanet met up in Mexico City in July.  (Left to right: Melissa’s husband Ryan Venezia, Sebastián’s son Felipe, Sebastián, and Melissa)
Bay Area alumni joined Dean Sarah Bartlett and Professor Jeff Jarvis for a cocktail reception in downtown San Francisco on August 1. (Left to right: Orlando Watson, EJ ’16; Samantha Maldonado, ’18; Lea Ceasrine, ’18;  Dean Bartlett; Amy MacMillan, ‘10; Alyssa Pagano, ‘16; Manolo Morales, ‘17; Tiffany Camhi, ‘13; Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Newmark J-School Foundation Board Member; Professor Jarvis; Lisa Mahapatra, ‘12; Heather Appel, ’07; Mathew Ramirez Warren, ‘08; and Chinwe Oniah, ’14).
Elly Yu, ’13, and Noah Caldwell, ’16, who teamed up for the NPR segment about Independence Day celebrations, posed for an Independence Day photo.
Brooke Williams, ’15, produced and anchored a weekend newscast for WFXR News in Roanoke, VA with colleague Ford Carson.
Michael Rain,  Tow-Knight ’17, spoke about his startup ZNews at the Talks at Google: African Tech Entrepreneurship: Diversifying the Global Tech Market.
Anuz Thapa, ’17, traveled to Nepal this summer and sat down with billionaire Binod Chaudhary for an exclusive interview that will be featured on in September.
Consumer Report’s Associate Director of Content Development Althea Chang, ’12, proudly displays her collection of J-School mugs.
Kimberly Avalos, ’16, traveled to Puerto Rico to report on how small farms are combating climate change through ecological agricultural practices.
Frances Solá-Santiago, ’17, was a guest on CNN on July 22 talking about Puerto Rico’s protests for Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation.
On July 17, Nicole Acevedo, ’17, was a guest on MSNBC, where she discussed Puerto Rico’s political crisis.
Alums, faculty, and staff mingled at the 2019 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in Houston, TX. (Left to right: Jane Sasseen, executive director, McGraw Center for Business Journalism; Nico Grant, ’16; Nicole Lewis, ’16; Barbara Gray, chief librarian; and Jeanette Tavarez, associate director of admissions).
Left to right: Nomin Ujiyediin, ’16; Rachel Glickhouse, Social Journalism ’15; Natalie Savitz, research adjunct for Craft I & II; Felisa Fine, research adjunct for Craft I & II; Barbara Gray, chief librarian; Paula Moura, ’18; and Sean Carlson, ’12, pose for a picture at the 2019 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference.
Staff reporter at NBC News Digital, Nicole Acevedo, ’17, spoke about audience and engagement at the 2019 Latino Media Summit on June 21.
Almudena Toral, ’10; Jonathan Blitzer, staff writer at The New Yorker; and Ginger Thompson, ProPublica senior reporter, led a panel about covering immigration under President Donald Trump’s administration at the 2019 Latino Media Summit.
Alums reunited at the NABJ Miami Newmark J-School reception at Corsair Kitchen. (Top row, left to right: Melissa Noel, ’12; Nicole Lewis, ’16;  Kizzy Cox, ’12; Khorri Atkinson, ’16; Mariah Brown, ’17; Shaquille-Omari, ’16; Michelle Simon, ’16; Aisha Al- Muslim, ’09; and Walter Smith-Randolph, ’10. Bottom row, left to right: Priscilla Alabi, ’17; Karina Hernandez, ’18; Daisy Rosario, ’12; Ariama Long, ’18; and Deron Dalton, Social Journalism, ’15).  
Brandon Nix, Kara Chin, and Mariya Moseley celebrate with their fellow 2016 graduate Deonna Anderson at her wedding in Los Angeles, CA on July 27.
Cristian M. Arroyo-Santiago, ’19 and Sofía Cerda Campero, ’18 pose for a picture at the 2019 Excellence in Journalism conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Andrew Mendelson, Associate Dean, Nicole Acevedo, ’17, and Graciela Mochkofsky, Director of the Spanish-language Journalism Program, reunited at the Newmark J-school reception at the 2019 Excellence in Journalism conference.


On July 27, Deonna Anderson, ’16, married Derrick Bines in Los Angeles, CA.
On July 21, Erin Brodwin, ’13, married Chris Westling at San Moritz lodge in Crestline, CA. Their wedding photographer was Brock Stoneham, ’13.
Kayle Hope, ’14, tied the knot with Sue Bourque in Underhill, VT on July 4 in the valley of Mt. Mansfield, close to St. Michael’s College, where Kayle and Sue met.
Joe Jenkins, ’12, married Megan Haight in Poughkeepsie, NY on June 21.

J-School Babies

Sean Flynn, ’12, wife Melissa, and two-year-old sister Emmarie welcomed Norah Mary and Maeve Alaina on August 2.
Katarina Hybenova, ’14, and her husband Ken Kocses, welcomed their first baby, Conor St. Eagle Kocses, on April 16 in Los Angeles.
Clark Merrefield, ’08, and his wife Sarah had their second baby, Sylvia Merrefield, on May 24. Her older brother is two-year-old Theodore.
Mary Croke, ’13, welcomed her second baby Arlo on May 5. He joins his sister Frances.
Fritzie Andrade, ’08, and partner Josh welcomed daughter Rigby Lara Andrade-Orenstein on June 19.
George Goss, ’16, and his wife Kathleen welcomed son Luke Emmett on March 12 at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Tinamarie Vella, library manager, and husband Santos Tian welcomed their first child, Evan Santos, on August 20.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT - Deron Dalton, ’15

When Deron Dalton joined the Newmark J-School’s first Social Journalism class in 2015, he knew where he wanted it to take him. He chose a career in journalism combining both of his passions: pop culture/nostalgia and under-reported news. Currently, he is not only working as Senior Fandom Engagement Editor for The Tylt, but he also co-hosts one of Radio Free Brooklyn’s top five talk shows, “Queer State of Mind.” Through his work, he’s able to raise awareness about issues and experiences impacting black and queer identities, something he strongly believes in.

I’ve been lucky to cover a variety of beats throughout my career. I always look for those narratives that are more intersectional, complex, and lacking coverage in mainstream media. As a gay black man, I think about the experiences that impact me. I think about the importance of representation, visibility, education, and advocacy. I think about providing journalism that’s a service to underrepresented communities and has a direct impact or causes change.

Faculty and Staff News

Lindsey Allen started as our new assistant director of student affairs on July 15 after serving as assistant director of graduate programs at the NYU School of Professional Studies.

Last year, Amanda Aronczyk, acting director of audio journalism, needed to get in touch with the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, for a story. This year, he wrote back to her, leading to a three-part series for WNYC’s new show, ‘The Stakes. “

Geraldine Baum, assistant dean for external affairs, has launched a quarterly newsletter to share the latest J-School happenings with “Friends of Newmark” and members of the public.

Jeremy Caplan, who has been the Tow-Knight Center’s director of education since 2010, will take on the new position of director of teaching, learning, and assessment. He will support Associate Dean Andy Mendelson by serving as the school’s adjunct coordinator, implementing new faculty development programs, strengthening the school’s outcomes and assessment process, and developing new learning opportunities for students.

Yahaira Castro, who started working in admissions in 2005 and served as director of student affairs starting in 2015, has been promoted to assistant dean for student experience. In her new role, Yahaira oversees Admissions, Student Services, Career Services, and Alumni Affairs.

Marie Gilot, director of professional development, launched a new series of free video classes taught by Washington Post reporter David Farenthold and Hearken CEO Jennifer Brandel. Coming soon is a course taught by NY1 political anchor and Newmark J-School adjunct professor Errol Louis.

After teaching as a Craft adjunct professor for the past two years, journalist and educator Michelle Higgins was hired as the new Director of Career Services.

Yoruba Richen, director of the Documentary Program, received the Henry Hampton Award For Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking by the Roxbury Film Festival for her documentary, “The Green Book: Guide to Freedom.”

Bob Sacha traveled to Anchorage, AK to participate as a judge for Alaska’s Photographic Center’s Rarefied Light 2019.  He also gave a public lecture and workshop called “Visual Storytelling – Creating short, powerful iPhone videos.”

Anthony LaViscount, who spent more than 17 years in student activities and residence life at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, SUNY’s Stony Brook University, and Monmouth University, was hired as Interim Director of Student Affairs.  

Colleen Leighwho joined the school in 2007 as an admissions/outreach counselor and served as director of admissions starting in 2014, has been promoted to assistant dean for administration. She oversees Public Safety, Facilities, Technology, Human Resources, and Academic Operations.

International students’ coach Diane Nottle met up with Tow-Knight Fellows, Masa Oga, ’18; Hisashi Ayuzawa, ’18; Michiko Kuriyama, ’13; Miyuki Inoue, ’14; and Katsu Ishii, ’16, after teaching at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China.

Maximo Patiño who joined the admissions team in 2014 and most recently served as associate director of multicultural recruitment, has been promoted to director of admissions.

Distinguished Lecturer Miguel Paz left the J-School to return to his home country of Chile, where he will continue to teach and work with a startup business.

As a judge for the National Museum of the American Indian, Photojournalism Program Director John Smock helped select three Native-American photographers who will receive support from the Smithsonian to work on “Photo Essays from Indian Country.” He was also a keynote speaker at the Go Viral festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Career Services

Please join us on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the annual job & internship fair. As the fair approaches, the Office of Career Services will share a Google sheet with the companies and recruiters who have registered.

Our Latino Media Fair will take place on Thursday, Nov. 7 from  12-3 p.m.

As always, alumni are welcome to attend both events.

Send questions to

Have a job or internship to offer?
Email Michelle Higgins to post openings 

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J+ Workshops

The J+ Professional Development Program offers alumni 50% off its digital skills workshops using code ALUM50.

Research Center

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

Research Center Alumni Resources

Public Research Guides for Reporters

We Want to Publicize Your Work

Alumni interested in promoting their work should notify Social Media Marketing Manager Ellen Lai. Please send ideas, pitches, videos, photos, and links to And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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