Alumni Newsletter, June 2021

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Eli Chen ’12, now senior podcast editor for National Geographic, working on a story for her previous employer, St. Louis Public Radio.


June 3-5, 2021
Registration is open for Newmark J-School’s annual Latino Media Summit!.This year we are hosting a virtual, bilingual and free three-day event. It will include meaningful conversations, inspiring keynote speakers, fascinating lightning talks, great workshops and lots of networking space. We will have newsroom recruiters looking for Newmark-J talent. We will have a performance, a live podcast and a music show. Register here.

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021
We’re planning a street party on West 40th between 7th & 8th Avenues.  Stay tuned for details!

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021
It’s looking better and better for an in-person reunion at 219 West 40th Street — and a special happy hour with the Dean for the 10th reunion classes of 2010 and 2011!



Dean Sarah Bartlett and Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, wrote a guest essay in The New York Times on May 20 explaining how city ad dollars have helped sustain small community newspapers and websites.

The latest report from Newmark J-School’s Center for Community Media is an in-depth examination of the vital role of the community media serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the past year and a half.

Alumnae Sophie Cocke ’09, Nadia Sussman ’10 and Nicole Lewis ‘16 are among the finalists for the awards, which will be announced on June 10 by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

In this year’s awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), Tobias Salinger ’13 won the award for Personal Finance medium division for “A conflicted question: What is fiduciary advice?” for Financial Planning; Karina Hernandez ’18 was part of CNBC’s investigative team that won for Personal Finance reporting for “Where’s the Money?;”  Willa Rubin ’18 was part of the Gimlet/Wall Street Journal team that received an honorable mention in Audio for the podcast “Race and Business;” and Nico Grant ’16 was part of a Bloomberg team that won an honorable mention for Explanatory Journalism for the story “Silicon Valley’s Racial Reckoning.”

Three Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program participants were featured in the Business Insider article, “The Real People of Substack: 12 Newsletter Writers Detail How Much They’re Making on the Platform.” They are Paul Szoldra, whose Duffel Blog has reached about 25,000 total subscribers; Priti Patnaik, who started a paid membership plan in March for Geneva Health Files, which covers global health from the home of the World Health Organization in Geneva; and Tanmoy Goswami, a member of the current Spring 2021 Creators Program cohort who covers mental health, what he calls the “sanity beat,” in his newsletter Sanity by Tanmoy.



The news below was submitted by faculty, staff, and alumni. Send your items to

  • Clark Merrefield ’08, a senior editor at Harvard’s Journalist’s Resource, wrote “How they did it: A reporter-researcher partnership deepens public understanding of untested rape kits in Cleveland,” about how an informal, collaborative partnership between reporter Rachel Dissell and sociologist Rachel Lovell revealed not just how, but why so many rape kits went untested in Cleveland.
  • Aisha Al-Muslim ‘09 was appointed senior editor for newsroom internships for The Wall Street Journal on May 27, where she will help shape the next generation of journalists. Previously, Al-Muslim was a reporter on the Pro Bankruptcy team.
  • Kizzy Cox ’12 reported on some of the actions that have been taken to tackle racism, emphasizing police reform, a year after George Floyd’s killing by police sparked a reckoning on racism in the U.S. and abroad. She reported for BBC Newsround, a program that educates kids and teens on current events as they become aware of and engaged in the world around them.
  • Chester Soria ’12 is a vice president at BerlinRosen.
  • Heather Martino ’13 was producer and assistant editor of the Redglass Pictures series “Out of the Dark” for PBS Digital/WETA. The series premiered on The Root in May for Mental Health Awareness month and was entirely conceived, shot and edited during the pandemic. Martino was also associate editor of The New York Times Op-Doc, “The Sound of Gravity,” which was nominated for a Webby Award.
  • Chris Dell  ’13 & Tow-Knight ’14, recently developed and launched a new premium content subscription service for his sports media startup, The Betting Predators, which focuses on daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting content for the NBA Playoffs. Chris, who is editor-in-chief and co-founder of the company, is also looking for content contributors and editors who have a passion for sports, as well as digital media experience. Please email for more info.
  • Jessica Bal ’15 joins a cohort of creatives for “Carceral Screens and the Abolitionist Imagination” this summer at UnionDocs. The collaborative program, led by experimental filmmaker Christopher Harris, will work to examine, contextualize and dismantle scripts of the carceral state using the archives of popular culture, with the hope of lending imagination and amplification to the abolitionist movement.
  • Andrea González-Ramírez ’15 is one of the recipients of the 2021 ASME Next Awards, which recognize magazine journalists under the age of 30 who’ve shown extraordinary promise.
  • Rachel Glickhouse, EngageJ ’15, hosted an interactive session at the Collaborative Journalism Summit called “Building a guide for collaboration project managers.”
  • Desiree Mathurin ’15 is a reporter at Denverite and Colorado Public Radio.
  • María Sánchez Díez ’15 has joined The New York Times’ Newsroom Development and Support team as a senior editor of digital storytelling and training.
  • Derek Scancarelli ’15 has rejoined People as video editor and started freelancing as a producer for Scientific American.
  • Joe Amditis, EngageJ ’16, associate director at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, wrapped up another year of planning and orchestrating the Collaborative Journalism Summit, which was held online May 19-21.
  • Maria Fraschilla, EngageJ ’17, recently began a new role as social media specialist at the Google Developer Studio.
  • Lori Freshwater’s ’17 “Marine Life: How War Transformed America’s Environment, From Farms And Fishing To Toxic Soil And Water,” traces the history of the Military Industrial Complex and the widespread environmental damage caused by the Department of Defense, while sounding an urgent call to our industries and government to look for solutions. It will be published by the University of Chicago Press.
  • Constanza Gallardo ’17 was promoted to senior producer at  Transmitter Media, where she produces podcasts like WorkLife with Adam Grant.
  • Kristine Villanueva, EngageJ ’17, project editor at Equally Informed at Resolve Philly, recently participated in a community gun buyback event.
  • Natalie Cofield, Tow-Knight ’18, was appointed to the Biden-Harris Administration as assistant administrator for Small Business Administration, leading the Office of Women’s Business Ownership.
  • Tamsen Maloy ’18 is an associate producer at StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • Orlando Watson, Tow-Knight ’18, is working for Facebook in Strategic Partnerships and Business Development for WhatsApp.
  • Ariam Alula, EngageJ ’19, wrote a case study, “How Injustice Watch expanded its commentary to amplify Black essential voices,” which was published in the Institute for Nonprofit News.
  • Jazmin Goodwin ’19, associate writer at CNN, moderated a one-on-one conversation with Dick Parsons followed by a panel with John W. Rogers, Hill Harper and Morgan Debaun on the state of Black wealth in America. The discussion was in support of CNN Films’ Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street.
  • Dalvin Brown ’20, innovations reporter at The Washington Post, was awarded a 2021 New York Financial Writers Scholarship worth $3,000.
  • Suzannah Cavanaugh ’20, landlords reporter at The Real Deal, was awarded a 2021 New York Financial Writers Scholarship worth $3,000.
  • Fiifi Frimpong ’20 has joined Streetsblog as a reporter.  Until recently, he was a researcher at National Geographic and a multimedia journalist at Avant-Youth, an Atlanta-based news magazine.
  • Ali McPherson ’20, associate producer of Luminary’s podcast “Hear To Slay” and freelance writer for WHYY, is judging arts features for the Association of Alternative Newsmedia Awards this year for the second year in a row. She also recently covered the rise of eating disorders and treatment over the pandemic for WHYY.
  • Jake Wasserman, EngageJ ’20, recently began a new role at The Forward, where he’ll serve as engagement editor. The Forward has covered Jewish news, opinion, life and culture since 1897.
  • Madison Ruffo ’20 is a reporter/producer for WRVO News, the NPR member station out of Oswego, NY.

Eli Chen ’12. (photo credit: David Kovaluk)

As National Geographic’s editor at large Peter Gwin trudges through the snow in the mountains of India, describing the terrain while searching for snow leopards, the sound and narration places the listener alongside him, which is exactly where Eli Chen ’12 wants you to be.

“We’re striving to create immersive experiences for our listeners,” said Chen, senior editor since August of  “Overheard at National Geographic”, the magazine’s flagship podcast. “With the podcast medium, we try to create that experience through audio by using sound and great writing that makes you feel like you’re there. Audio is sometimes referred to as a visual medium. If you do it right, the listener can picture the story you’re telling.”

In her new role, Chen works closely with producers on scripts and stories, from pitches to planning episodes. “Overheard” is in the middle of season six and, due to close collaborations with explorers obtaining audio from around the world, Chen feels the episodes have become more sound rich and immersive. She is currently working with a producer who has been listening to tapes of a Nigerian conservationist, Rachel Ashegebofe Ikemeh, working to save chimpanzees. She travels with local people she’s hired to protect the forest habitats from members of drug cartels that establish marijuana farms which, in turn, contribute to rapid deforestation.  Describing the audio, Chen says, “It’s really intense.”

While National Geographic is based in Washington, DC, Chen works remotely from St. Louis, where she was the science and environment reporter for St. Louis Public Radio for four years. While in St. Louis, she also freelanced as a producer for “The Story Collider,” on which people share their true, personal stories about science. She moved to National Geographic because she wanted to tackle more longform storytelling. RIGHT?

She credits the audio and radio faculty at Newmark J-School, including Mia Lobel, for their support. And it was faculty member Alex Goldmark who connected her to National Geographic through fellow alumna Kristen Clark ’14. Her mid-program summer internship at NPR’s “Science Friday” also proved valuable post-graduation, until she landed a job with Delaware Public Media, the NPR affiliate in Dover.

“I always recommend that if people want to get into public radio, work at a small station where they let you do a lot more,” Chen said.  “It was such a good experience, and it helped me get to my job with St. Louis Public Radio.”

Chen, who majored in environmental science and creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, used to be asked what she planned to do with her double major, and she would answer, “Maybe I’ll write for National Geographic.”

“I had a pipe dream to work for National Geographic,” Chen said. “I am still amazed I became an editor here at the age of 30.”