Alumni Newsletter, February 2020

  • By Maritza Villela
Jessica Bal

Class of 2019 Commencement

(Photos: Jessica Bal ’15)

118 students participated in the 2019 commencement ceremony  at TheTimesCenter in New York on Dec. 13, 2019.
Masha Gessen, a writer for The New Yorker who also received an honorary doctorate, was the keynote speaker. During their speech, Gessen reminded graduates: “Journalism is a profession of outsiders. Our job is to go places we don’t belong — and to make sure that we never get comfortable there.”
The student speaker was Natalia Rodríguez Medina, who graduated as part of the Spanish-language Journalism Program. She said, “It makes me so proud to walk into school and not only see a lot of melanin in different degrees, shapes and sizes, but also hear a variety of languages.”
Alumni speaker Walter Smith-Randolph ’10 inspired students to embrace their outlier roles and to find jobs “where you can grow, where you can learn, and where you can listen.”
2017 Awards for Excellence


The 13th annual Awards for Excellence will honor Errol Louis, Spectrum News NY1 political anchor and CNN political commentator, and Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and U.S. artistic director and global content advisor of Condé Nast. The gala will take place May 19 at Cipriani 25 Broadway. A limited number of tickets (20) are available to alumni at the heavily discounted price of $100 each and are restricted to one ticket per graduate. If you are interested in purchasing a ticket, please contact by April 15.



Save the date for the 2020 Alumni Homecoming to reunite with your Newmark J-School family of alums, faculty, and staff.

Look for more details on our alumni Facebook page.

Alumni Updates

Rob Dozier ’18 is an audio producer for The New York Times’ Special Projects Team, where he works in the development of content for voice assistant platforms and smart speakers.

Tasia Jensen ’18 was promoted to full-time associate video producer at Cheddar. 

On February 10, Dominic McKenzie ’18 will join Spectrum News Hudson Valley as a reporter.

Orlando WatsonTow-Knight Fellow ’18, joined Facebook’s News Partnerships Team in Menlo Park, CA, where he focuses on increasing trust and reducing misinformation on the social media platform.

Nicole Lewis ’16 and Beatrix Lockwood ’19 collaborated on a report for the Marshall Project that was published in The New York Times: “How Families Cope with the Hidden Costs of Incarceration for the Holidays.” 

Lena Masri ’15 was hired as an investigative data reporter for Reuters in London.

Derek Scancarelli ’15 has joined E! News and Pop of the Morning as a producer. He previously worked at Consumer Reports.

Jake Naughton’s ’14 and Jacob Kushner’s book, “This is How the Heart Beats: LGBTQ East Africa,” will be published on Feb. 4, 2020.

Erin Brodwin ’13, who was married on July 21, 2019, gave $500 to the J-School after asking for donations as part of her wedding registry.

Heather Martino ’13 worked as an assistant editor for the episodic documentary short seriesHistory of Memory,” which was named a finalist in the Best Brand Film Series category for the 2020 Digiday Video Awards.

Alissa Ambrose ’11 was promoted to STAT‘s new director of photography and multimedia.

Paul DeBenedetto ’11 joined Houston’s NPR affiliate, Houston Public Media, as a senior producer.

Nathan Frandino ’11 has moved to San Francisco to work for Reuters as a video journalist. For the past six years, he was with Reuters‘ digital desk in Washington, D.C.

Alva French ’11 is working as a staff video producer for Reuters in New York, where she’s crafting digital explainer videos on global business and innovation.

Almudena Toral ’10, who is part of the inaugural cohort of media leaders in our new Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership, was chosen as a TED2020 Fellow. A visual journalist reporting stories about migration, violence, and trauma through documentary films, Toral is currently tracking the difficulties and exploitation faced by immigrants and asylum seekers in the U.S. and Latin America. 

Damiano Beltrami ’09 is working as a TV reporter and host in Italy. Here’s a link to one of his recent morning shows.

Rachel Geizhals Bachrach ’09 was promoted to deputy editor at Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly.

Mike Reicher ’09 moved from Tennessee to Seattle to work as an investigative reporter for the The Seattle Times.


Ida B. Wells Scholars

(Photo: John Smock)

Congratulations to the seven Ida B. Wells Scholars: Jazmin Goodwin ’19 and Class of 2020 students Dalvin Brown, Terrence Fraser, Brooke Henderson, Noelle Lilley, Korey Matthews, and Victoria MBA-Jonas.


Mirva Lempiainen ’09 stopped by the J-School with her 20-month-old daughter Lily during their mother-daughter six-week trip around the world. Next up, they will visit Singapore and Thailand. Lempiainen is a travel writer based on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
Class of 2012 alums Kizzy Cox, Jorteh Senah, and Melissa Noel were in Ghana during the culmination of the ‘Year of Return’. It commemorated 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas and encouraged all people of African descent to come back to Africa.
Derek Scancarelli ’15, producer for E! News and Pop of the Morning, loves working at 30 Rockefeller Center, next door to Jimmy Fallon’s studio and a few floors down from SNL.
Georgia Kral ’07, a full-time faculty member at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, and her colleague, Ernabel Demillo, host of CUNY TV’s Asian American Life, took a group of journalism students on a journalism trip to Vietnam. They visited the offices of Zing, one of the country’s top digital media companies, and as it turns out, the group met with Assistant Managing Editor Tuan Nguyen ’11. (Left to right: Georgia Kral, Tuan Nguyen, and Ernabel Demillo)
On January 21, Annais Morales ’11 participated in a journalism career panel at CUNY Brooklyn College, where she spoke with students about internships, networking, and graduate school.

Family News

Rachel Geizhals Bachrach ’09 and husband Shimon welcomed their fifth child, Lily, in June. She joins siblings Jonathan (9), Alyssa (7), Ethan (4.5), and David (2.5).
Christina Diaz Negron ’11 and husband Senator Gabriel welcomed Kingston Malave on December 18.
Nicole Nola Neé Turso ’09 and husband Michael welcomed their first child Olivia Theresa Nola on August 2.
Kaara Baptiste ’14 married Cleavon Harris last October at the Greenbelt Nature Center in Staten Island.


(Compiled by Keishel Williams ’19)

Associate Professor Lisa Armstrong was part of a panel with fellow Pulitzer Center grantees where she displayed and discussed her work from Haiti, as part of the 10-year remembrance of the country’s devastating earthquake.

Visual Journalism Director Travis Fox was featured in B&H’s “What is photography?” series.

Distinguished Lecturer and Writing Coach Tim Harper was the book doctor for  “A Public Service: Whistleblowing, Disclosure and Anonymity” by digital privacy expert Tim Schwartz. The book is a detailed how-to guide for whistleblowers to protect themselves and for journalists working with whistleblowers.

Photojournalism Coach Karen Mullarkey has won the Sprague Award from the National Press Photographers Association. The award will be given out at the Northern Short Course in Photojournalism in Fairfax on March 7.

ESL Coach Diane Nottle’s “American English for World Media” has just been published by Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. The book is a collaboration with Prof. Zhu Xiangjun of Jinan University in Guangzhou and has been named a core text for English majors throughout China.

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The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is now accepting applications from professional journalists for its 2020 fellowship program.

The application deadline is Friday, Mar. 6, 2020.

The fellowships are available to radio, television, print, and web journalists, ages 25 to 35, from mainly developing countries who are interested in coming to New York to report on international affairs during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.  The fellowships will begin in early September and extend to late November and will include the cost of travel and accommodations in New York, as well as a per diem allowance.

Career Services

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

Looking for a new gig?
Check out these listings


Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

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Your scholarship support today leads to journalistic excellence in the future.

Executive Education

The Newmark J-School recently started several executive education programs for media and emerging leaders who want to drive innovation and transformation at their news organizations.

In Spring 2020, we offer two short executive certificates: “Leading the Audience-Centric Newsroom” and “Leading Product Strategy.”

We are delighted to give alumni an exclusive 30% discount on these certificates.

Please be in touch with program director Anita Zielina if you’d like to learn more. Or find more info about the programs and the target audience here.

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


Alumni interested in promoting their work should notify Interim Social Media Manager Keishel Williams ’19. Please send ideas, pitches, videos, photos, and links to And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.