Bios – 2013

EricaGonzalez-2Keynote Speaker Erica González,   Executive Editor, El Diario/La Prensa

Erica González is the Executive Editor of El Diario/La Prensa, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. As Executive Editor, Erica has conceptualized and spearheaded major multimedia projects on the Latino Experience of Sept. 11th, and the 10th Anniversary of the Flight 587 tragedy.  Previously, she served as El Diario’s Opinion Page Editor.  In that capacity, she wrote hundreds of editorials and developed the paper’s hard-hitting positions on numerous issues—from criminal justice to immigration reform, to electoral campaigns.

Erica has represented El Diario on CNN, NBC, NY1, Grit TV, and other local, national, and International programs.  Her professional experience includes reporting for the New York Post, serving as an Editor at, and working as Director of Communications for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.  She has degrees in Political Science and Journalism from Syracuse University, and Columbia University.

Dan Adkison got his start as the photo editor of his high school newspaper. Since then, he has been the copy chief of the Village Voice and has copyedited for Condé Nast Portfolio, City Limits and TIME magazine. Dan has a B.S. in journalism from Boston University and is currently the deputy copy chief at TIME.

Michael ArenaMichael Arena, CUNY University Director for Communications and Marketing, is responsible for planning and implementation of the University’s media, public information and marketing efforts. Prior to joining the University, he was an award-winning special writer and investigative reporter in a career that spanned more than 20 years at Newsday and New York Newsday. He was nominated for Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and shared a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for spot reporting on the downing of TWA Flight 800. He graduated from The City College New York.

Lindsay Armstrong is a Multimedia Fellow with the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute at Baruch College. She graduate from the CUNY School of Journalism, where she studied urban reporting. Her work has appeared in many New York City outlets, including the Daily News, DNAinfo and WNET. Before becoming a journalist, Lindsay taught English in the New York City public school system. She co-founded her middle school’s newspaper “On the Scene at 218.”


Ilsa CowenIlsa Cowen has recently retired after having taught journalism and English at Townsend Harris High School in Queens and serving as advisor of the school’s award-winning newspaper, The Classic, for over 20 years.  Together with student editors, she developed a First Amendment charter for the paper that declares it to be “an open forum for the expression of student views.”  Since the charter was signed by the school’s principal in 2000, the school and the paper have won many national and state First Amendment awards.  In 2002, the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center selected Ms. Cowen as a Newsweek/First Amendment Schools mentor teacher and she frequently conducts First Amendment and other workshops at journalism conferences for New York City high school students. She has served as Vice President and Acting President of the New York City Scholastic Press Association, remains a member of NYCSPA’s Executive Board, and is an active participant in the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College.

twitpic jan 13Sarah Darville is a reporter with GothamSchools (soon to be Chalkbeat NY), an education news website focused on New York City schools. She was recently a Google Journalism Fellow writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, and she previously interned for the New York Times’ The Local East Village, the New York Daily News, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She graduated from Columbia University, where she served as editor in chief of the Columbia Spectator. And before all of that, she had lots of fun editing the newspaper at Coral Glades High School in Florida.

Ojalvo_FBHolly Epstein Ojalvo has spent nearly 15 years at the intersection of youth, education, and news. Holly is the founder and editor in chief of Kicker, which engages millennials in current events and social action. Previously, she was deputy editor for The New York Times Learning Network, which provides teaching and learning materials based on Times content. For more than a decade Holly was an award-winning English, journalism, and philosophy teacher at Stuyvesant, Packer Collegiate, and other schools. As a school newspaper adviser, she specialized in turning student papers around and championing student First Amendment rights.

Photo credit: Alex Johnson, WNYC

Rafer Guzman is the film critic for Newsday and a former rock critic for the paper. He is also a regular guest film critic on “The Takeaway,” a nationally-syndicated news show from WNYC. He was previously a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal. His work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Blender, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and the late, great Option magazine. Recently, Rafer won first place for arts writing from the New York State AP Association for his look at the effects of Sept. 11th on the movies. You can follow him at @RaferGuzman.

peter-hamlinPeter Hamlin is a Motion Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Painter. He works at the Associated Press where he makes video graphic explainers and art for online, broadcast, print, and mobile platforms. Peter is also a freelance artist and enjoys exploring modes of creative storytelling. He has taught at Parsons The New School for Design and Queens College.He currently resides in Brooklyn and likes to take a break from the computer to paint and silkscreen print.

Theodore Hamm is the founding editor of The Brooklyn Rail and director of the Journalism and New Media Studies Program at Saint Joseph’s College in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. His books include The New Blue Media and Pieces of a Decade (co-edited with Williams Cole). Hamm is a member of the Brooklyn Literary Council, which organizes the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Jere Hester Jere Hester is the founding director of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s award-winning NYCity News Service, a multimedia, Web-based wire service that makes student stories about New York neighborhoods available to news organizations around the world. Hester was previously City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Hester received his BA in journalism and politics from New York University in 1988. A lifelong Brooklyn resident, he began his journalism career as an intern at the Downtown Express, a lower Manhattan weekly, eventually rising to editor. He currently writes a national weekday column on popular culture for NBC Local Integrated Media, which has websites covering 10 major media markets.

Colter Hettich, born and raised in Abilene, Texas, is a News Layout Editor for the New York Daily News. Although he specializes in design, experience as a reporter, videographer, editorial writer, and photographer has shaped his holistic approach to journalism. Hettich joined the News this year after a stint as an interactive designer for News Corp’s The Daily.

Lonnie IsabelLonnie Isabel is the former deputy managing editor of Newsday, and was responsible for supervising the national, foreign, state, Washington, health and science staffs. During his 16-year career at the newspaper, Isabel also served as assistant managing editor, overseeing coverage of the September 11th aftermath and the Iraq War, and as national editor, covering the 2000 presidential campaign and the Oklahoma City bombing. Earlier in his career, Isabel worked as a reporter and assistant city editor at the Oakland Tribune, and as a political reporter at the Boston Globe. He was appointed a Poynter Ethics Fellow in 2006. He has taught news writing at Hofstra and San Francisco State universities. He received a B.A. in African Studies from Amherst College.

320383_722571688419_1635347027_nEmily Johnson is a photographer, radio reporter, video journalist and writer who has reported in East Africa and Southeast Asia. She is currently based in New York, where she freelances for a variety of publications when she isn’t teaching multimedia journalism at Baruch College. Before getting into journalism, she studied animal behavior at Bucknell University and spent some time following monkeys around the rainforests of Tanzania and working as a wilderness guide and counselor for troubled teens in Colorado. She received her M.A. in international reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2010.

Sandeep Junnarkar is an Associate Professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the former New York bureau chief of CNET, and has specialized in writing about technologies used in different industries. In April 2003, his three-part report on the security risks of online banking was named “Best in Business Projects among Real-Time Publications” by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Junnarkar helped to create online editions of The New York Times, working as breaking news editor, writer, and web producer when the paper went live on the Internet as The New York Times on the Web. Junnarkar is founder and editorial director of, a multimedia web site that features stories on underreported issues. The site received a New Voices grant for 2008-2010 from J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. He received a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Michael Lydon, known to millions as “The Handsomest Man in the World” is a writer and musician who lives in New York City. A founding editor of Rolling Stone and author of Rock Folk, Boogie Lightning, Ray Charles: Man and Music, Writing and Life, Lydon has written for many periodicals as well, the Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Village Voice and others. He is also a songwriter and playwright and, with Ellen Mandel, has composed an opera, Passion in Pigskin. A Yale graduate, Lydon is a member of ASCAP, AFofM local 802, and on the faculty of St. John’s University.

AveryAvery Marder is the owner of Trade Mark Graphics, a Brooklyn-based commercial printing organization that has been producing printed materials and promotional projects for nonprofits, commercial companies and local and state government agencies, including the NYC Department of Education, for more than 40 years. He began his career working in advertising and opened his own agency in 1976 with two partners. In 1982 this company became Trade Mark Graphics Inc, where he is the sole proprietor. Marder attended NYC Technical College for advertising design and Baruch College for advertising and marketing. Avery is also the recipient of the The University of the State of New York, Education Department’s “Award for Excellence by an Occupational in Education Graduate” and “Outstanding Entrepreneur Award.”

zacharymaxwellZachary Maxwell is an eleven-year-old documentary filmmaker attending public school in New York City.  Zachary began screening his work in film festivals at the age of eight.  His award-winning film, Yuck! A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary about School Lunch, drew international media coverage, including features in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The New York Times.  He has spoken at the Library of Congress and made guest appearances on National Public Radio, Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Zachary recently launched his own media production company, Maxwell Project.

Joshua Mills worked as an editor and writer at The New York Times for a decade and as a reporter or editor at The Associated Press; The New York Post, the New York Daily News, Newsday, Bloomberg News and The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.). He has written on a wide variety of subjects for magazines ranging from Playboy to Boys’ Life. He continues to do occasional editing for The Times, as well as on book projects. Professor Mills has long been involved in training journalists. He served as chair of the training committee of Society of American Business Editors and Writers, as well as a board member. He also was on the Board of Academic Advisers of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and has led Reynolds workshops in cities around the country. Co-author (with Peter Fornatale) of Radio in the Television Age, Mills has written frequently about broadcast ownership and regulation. He has also worked as a writer and editor for several radio and television documentaries. Before joining the Baruch faculty, Professor Mills taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, N.Y.U. and Pace University. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. at City College of New York.

Katina Paron Katina Paron is a journalism educator with 18 years of youth media experience. She is the director of the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College, where she is also an adjunct lecturer. She was the founding newspaper adviser for Achievement First Crown Heights High School and the Business of Sports School and an instructor with the Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative, part of the Bronx News Network. As the co-founder and former managing director of the youth news agency, Children’s PressLine, she has worked with thousands of students to develop professional quality media that has been published in the Daily News, Newsday, Metro, Ebony, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and, among other places. She has written for The New York Times, Voices of New York and the Youth Media Reporter. Her work has been recognized by NY1 as “New Yorker of the Week” and by WCBS-TV as a “Hometown Hero.” Ms. Paron received her B.S. in journalism from Boston University.


Geanne RosenbergGeanne Rosenberg is the director of the Harnisch Collaborative Future of Journalism Projects and a professor at Baruch College and CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism.  In addition, she is a faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Her areas of expertise include: 1. Media law and empowering those engaged in public interest journalism with media law education and resources; 2. News literacy and information quality education to help teenagers and adults become more discerning consumers of and contributors to news information. A journalist and attorney, Geanne is the principal investigator of McCormick Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, and David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation-funded journalism projects relating to media law, journalism education, citizen journalism and news literacy. She was founding chair of Baruch’s Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions. Geanne has written for the New York Times, the National Law Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Nieman Journalism Lab and many other news outlets. She has worked on a pro bono basis at the Associated Press on state and federal freedom of information appeals. In 2010, she organized and directed the first-ever news literacy summit for high school students and a national workshop for news and media literacy experts. She authored and produced Knight Citizen News Network’s Top Ten Rules for Limiting Legal Risk and the Citizen Journalist’s Guide to Open Government and co-authored two Poynter Institute News University media law modules, including Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers and Newsgathering Law & Liability: A Guide for Reporters. Geanne has a J.D. from Columbia University’s School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar; an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism; and a B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Student Press Law Center, a national organization devoted to supporting high school and college journalism with legal resources and education. In addition to being a faculty associate at the Berkman Center, she also serves as a Berkman Center Youth and Media Lab Mentor.

Rob Schimenz Rob Schimenz earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and minored in economics, earned a masters in public administration (MPA) and an MS in secondary education.  He worked in private industry 11 years before becoming a teacher at Queens Vocational & Technical HS, where he currently works.  Rob has been teaching social studies for 15 years.  For 12 years, he has been the advisor to the Vocational Voice school newspaper, which has frequently won first place in the American Scholastic Press Association’s annual school newspaper review.   For 14 years, Rob has coached the Tigers varsity baseball team, which has made the playoffs for 9 of those years.  In 2007 his team won the NYC B Division Championship.  Rob is on the board of the New York City Scholastic Press Association (NYCSPA).  In addition to those activities, he is a dean at Queens Voc and chairman of the school’s School Leadership Team.  Rob works with John Stossel on his Stossel in the Classroom foundation and writes teacher guides for his classroom videos; he also works with the Free to Choose Network on teacher guides for their classroom videos.   In 2009, Rob was named an Teacher of the Year.

Leslie Seifert has been an opinion-page editor for more than 25 years and won two national awards for opinion editing. He was Sunday Opinion Editor of Newsday, commissioning and editing essays from writers around the world, and  wrote columns and editorials as a member of Newsday’s Editorial Board. Now he edits blogs and opinion articles for Advertising Age and In the mid-1980s, he was arts and media reporter for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, a member of the team that launched the award-winning hour-long nightly newscast on PBS. He is also a passionate and  experienced educator, having taught as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for 15 years and founded Journalists in Schools, a non-profit organization that is creating the first student-driven news network to serve public high schools in New York City. He also offers private coaching for students writing their college-application essays.  He has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and a master’s degree in American history from Columbia University.

Indrani SenIndrani Sen is a journalism teacher, news blog editor and freelance writer. She teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She also edits the Local, a New York Times news blog about the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill that is run in collaboration with CUNY’s journalism school. As a freelancer, Sen has written for The New York Times dining section, Saveur magazine, the Village Voice, The Christian Science Monitor, and, among other publications. Sen was a staff reporter at Newsday from 2001 to 2005, where she covered politics and wrote crime, breaking news, and feature stories. She was also the special writer of “American Lives” – a Newsday-published book and newspaper series, where she profiled more than 100 people that were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. For two years, she was a writer-in-residence and journalism teacher at Bronx Academy of Letters, a New York City public high school, where she edited and published the school newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English literature and language from Oxford University and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

singleton_headshotMalik Singleton is a data journalist and a software instructor. He does interactive multimedia and also uses data analysis and fact-checking techniques cover industries, officials, technology and social issues. He has worked with International Business Times, City Limits, TIME, Black Enterprise, PC Mag and LA Weekly. He’s originally from L.A. so his Twitter name is @MalikFromLA

Joshua Sipkin teaches English Language Arts, Journalism and Media Literacy at Information Technology High School in Queens where he has also served as the school newspaper adviser and is currently the varsity baseball coach. Prior to entering the teaching field in Fall 2004, Joshua worked in sports media from the time he was an intern during his senior year of high school. On his path to the classroom, he has had stints writing, producing and editing content at ABC Sports, Fox Sports, the NBA and Major League Baseball.

Andrew Strickler is a senior reporter with Law360 a daily legal news service, covering domestic and international law firms, legal industry trends, finances and strategy. Before joining Law360, he was a stringer for the Wall Street Journal’s Greater New York section, and a national criminal justice reporter with The Daily, the first national daily newspaper developed for the iPad. From 2006 to 2011, Andrew covered breaking news, crime and courts, and police departments for Newsday, the Long Island daily newspaper. Andrew’s work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, New York Post, and others. Andrew is from New Orleans, and graduated from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, N.M. He has a masters in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.

Alexander Thorp Headshot 10-28-2013Alexander Thorp teaches Photojournalism, Photography, Graphic Design, and yearbook journalism at The Bronx High School of Science, a school for gifted students in The Bronx, NY.  He is the advisor to the school’s award-winning yearbook, The Observatory, and he also runs the school’s new online newspaper. For the past twelve years that he has served as advisor to The Observatory, the yearbook has won first place ratings in every major national journalism competition in journalistic writing, photography, and graphic design. Before his career in teaching, he previously worked as an editor at Random House (Bantam Doubleday Dell) and Columbia University Press.


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