Alumni Newsletter, November 2021

  • By Virginia Jeffries



We know you are all eager to see each other and we had planned a great agenda for our annual homecoming. But our city and the country and citizens around the globe are still facing the threat of the coronavirus. To ensure we remain healthy and create the best possible homecoming, we’re going to have to postpone homecoming until further notice.


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

Walter Smith Randolph ’10 married LeAnne Armstead in Philadelphia, Pa. Smith Randolph is an investigative editor at Connecticut Public Broadcasting as well as the chair of the Newmark J-School Alumni Board.

Roxanne L. Scott ’14 recently became a senior producer at the Futuro Media Group.

An essay by Isvett Verde ’18 was recently published in the anthology Home in Florida: Latinx Writers and the Literature of Uprootedness. She will be on a panel at the Miami Book fair on Nov. 20 with other contributors from the anthology, which will be livestreamed.

Daniel Laplaza EngageJ’19 started a new role as Community Manager at Epicenter NYC.

Allison Dikanovic EngageJ’20 started a new role as Service Journalism Editor at The Kansas City Star.

Rawan Yaghi EngageJ’20 started a new role as News Innovation Fellow at The Green Line Toronto.


FRONTLINE, PBS’s flagship investigative documentary series, has recruited a recent graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY for a yearlong fellowship, funded by the Tow Foundation. This position is open exclusively to recent CUNY Newmark graduates (2019 and 2020) or soon-to-be CUNY Newmark graduates (December 2021). The fellowship will be remote, with the option to be in Boston. The target start date is January 2022 but is flexible. Application deadline: November 30, 2021.


Claudia Irizarry Aponte ’18 interviews Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) during a ride-along with the labor group Los Deliveristas Unidos. Photo by Ben Fractenberg ’09.

Claudia Irizarry Aponte ’18 had been reporting for THE CITY on New York City’s food-delivery workers for almost a year when one of her stories, about deliverers risking their lives to carry food orders through waist-deep water during Hurricane Ida, was picked up by national media. . “It was so horrendous that these people felt like they had to work under these conditions in order to make a buck,” she said.

Her coverage led to the passage of legislation in New York City ensuring minimum payments on each delivery, access to bathrooms at restaurants where they pick up orders, and limiting the maximum distance workers can be asked to travel. It has also won multiple journalism awards alongside her colleague Josefa Valasquez at THE CITY, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award from The Radio Television Digital News Association and another prize from the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Irizarry Aponte first became interested in covering local labor movements when she was a student in the Newmark J-School’s Bilingual Journalism Program. She graduated in 2018 and won the Sidney Hillman Foundation Social Justice Reporting Award in 2019.

Jere Hester, her editor at THE CITY who was director of the J-School’s NYCity News Service at the time, said he was not surprised she was able to produce such a high-impact body of work. “I think what that story exemplifies about Claudia is the way she digs in. It all starts with people first,” he said.

“I did my very first labor story for a class at the J-School. And one of my main contacts for the Deliveristas story, I met while reporting out stories there,” she said. “In the bilingual program, it was really drilled into us to look at stories about the Latino or Latinx communities that aren’t really told.”

Hester said that for as long as he has known her, Irizarry Aponte has had the ability to identify undiscovered stories and to stick with them.

“I remember last winter during a strike at the Hunts Point Produce Market, which had amazingly gone largely ignored by the press, [she was] out there on the lines and in the cold with the workers getting good stories,” Hester said. “And then, when there was a settlement — and more of the press was paying attention — her being out there on a Saturday morning, calling in details to me [meant we could] put together a good story.”

For the foreseeable future, Irizarry Aponte is focusing on covering The Bronx full-time, including charting the borough’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic. But she said she isn’t done with the delivery workers yet. “I continue to keep a close eye on the Deliveristas.”