Bios – 2016

Keynote Speaker S. Mitra Kalita
CNN Digital


Mitra Kalita is the vice president for programming at CNN Digital. She is a past president of the South Asian Journalists Association, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and has spent much of her career diversifying newsrooms and the journalism they produce. Mitra has written two books, “Suburban Sahibs” about how immigrants redefined New Jersey and, thus, America, and “My Two Indias,” an economic memoir about globalization. She is at work on a third about school segregation. Mitra previously served as managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, executive editor of Quartz and as a senior writer and editor at the Wall Street Journal, Mint (India), the Washington Post, Newsday and the Associated Press. She is married to the artist Nitin Mukul and they have two girls, ages 11 and 4. They eat, laugh and live in Jackson Heights, Queens.

sreeLunchtime Press Conference with Sree Sreenivasan, NYC Chief Digital Officer @sree

Sree Sreenivasan is the Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, where he works to promote access to City government through technology and support the city’s tech ecosystem. Prior to his work at City Hall, Sreenivasan served for three years as the first Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he led a 70-person team to increase the museum’s digital presence. In October 2015, he was appointed by Mayor de Blasio to the Commission on Public Information and Communication, where he worked to increase access to, and education about, City information online. Before his work at the Met, he spent 20 years as a member of faculty of the Columbia Journalism School and a year as Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer. He was a founding member and contributing editor at neighborhood news site DNAinfo, and throughout his career, he has written for various publications, including the New York Times, and was a popular technology reporter on WABC-TV, WNBC-TV and WCBS-TV.

IMG_1138Dan 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 TIME magazine and has also been a copy editor at Condé Nast Portfolio, City Limits and Eight by Eight. Dan has a B.S. in journalism from Boston University and is currently a staff editor for the business section of the New York Times.

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.

Geanne RosenbergGeanne Belton (@geanne), a journalist and attorney, is a full professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York, a faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and an innovator in hybrid, online, classroom and workshop-based educational programs relating to finding and verifying quality online information, responsible and empowering use of social media, and media law and ethics. Geanne serves as vice chair and a member of the Board of Directors of the Student Press Law Center, a national organization devoted to supporting high school and college journalists and news producers with legal resources and education. She also is a consortial faculty member at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism where she created and is piloting a hybrid online-classroom-based media law and ethics course for journalism graduate students. Geanne is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Columbia University’s Schools of Journalism and Law and is a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

img_7715Carl Bialik (@CarlBialik) is the lead writer for news and the quantitative editor at the ESPN website, which he joined in December 2013. Before that, he wrote the Numbers Guy column for the Wall Street Journal for nine years. He has written regularly about sports analytics for FiveThirtyEight and, previously, the Journal, since 2009. He has been recognized for his work by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

screenshot_2016-10-18-15-40-49-1Christina Carrega-Woodby (@ChristinaWoodby)is an award-winning journalist who works as the Kings County Criminal/Supreme courts reporter for the New York Daily News. She has covered wrongful conviction cases and has thoroughly reported on high-profile trials including the People V. Peter Liang. After Liang’s conviction, Carrega-Woodby exclusively uncovered information about a juror’s past that could have caused a new trial. Carrega-Woodby’s professional journalism career began as a freelancer with the Canarsie Courier and the New York Post as well as working as the Newspaper Director for The Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, a non-profit after-school program, located in Ridgewood, Queens. The New York Association of Black Journalists  awarded her first place for 2014’s Best Spot News and in 2013 was a finalist for the National Association of Black Journalists’  Best Single News Story. Carrega-Woodby volunteers as the co-director of FIRST TAKE: NYABJ’s High School Journalism Workshop. Carrega-Woodby graduated from St. John’s University in 2007 where she majored in Journalism and minored in International Studies.

img_20160921_1917323Nate Chura(@NateChura is a New York sports writer, author and speaker. He has written for Tennis Week Magazine,, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. From 2009-2013 Nate was the tennis correspondent for WNYC Radio and WNYC.ORG‘s coverage of the US Open. He is currently a contributing writer and moderator of the Heights Casino Speakers Program in Brooklyn. His first novel The Man in the Barn: Digging Up Lincoln’s Killer was released last spring – on the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s death.

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.

Photo credit: Alex Johnson, WNYC

Rafer Guzman (@raferguzman) 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. He is the founder and co-host of “Movie Date,” a podcast through WNYC.

Tedpic-4-15Theodore (Ted) Hamm (@HammerDaily) is chair of journalism and new media studies at St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn. He was a co-founder of The Brooklyn Rail and editor from 2000-2013. Over the past year he’s written for publications including Vice News, NY Daily News, the Columbia Journalism Review, City Limits and Gotham Gazette. His books include “Rebel and a Cause” (2001), “The New Blue Media” (2008), and “Pieces of a Decade” (co-edited with Williams Cole, 2010). His current projects include a history of freedom of the press.

Jere HesterJere Hester (@jere_hester) is Director of News Products and Projects at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where he started the award-winning NYCity News Service, which feeds student-produced stories about New York neighborhoods to news organizations. Hester was previously City Editor of theNew 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 about pop culture for NBC Local Integrated Media, and is the author of “Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family.”

10997993_10101765433294597_5058790579139204220_nKatie Honan (@katie_honan) is a reporter with DNAinfo New York, the city’s leading online news site, where she covers neighborhoods in Queens. She joined DNAinfo from NBC 4 New York in 2013, where she was the TV station’s first social media editor and also worked as a web editor. While at NBC 4 she won two local Emmy awards, one national Emmy award and an Edward R. Murrow Award for team coverage of the shooting at the Empire State Building and Hurricane Sandy. She is a graduate of St. John’s University and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. In another life she worked in film and television production.

Lonnie IsabelLonnie Isabel (@lonniei) is a special lecturer at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.  He 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.

12006119_10100224881766969_3832327001303246500_nEmily H. Johnson (@EmilyJReports) is an independent multimedia journalist who has reported in East Africa, India, Southeast Asia and New York. From 2014 to 2016, she was based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she covered everything from major breaking news to feature stories. During those two years, she also reported from India on sanitation and public health in the eastern state of Bihar, as well as on the digital front in the struggle for Tibetan independence among activists in the Dalai Lama’s Himalayan home of Dharamsala. A former wilderness guide, Professor Johnson studied International Reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Her body of work includes photography, radio, video, and writing, and her stories have appeared in The Washington Post, PRI’s The World, Al Jazeera, AJ+, Mashable, Agence France-Presse (AFP), Deutsche Presse‑Agentur (DPA), The Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Fusion, Free Speech Radio News, and America Abroad. She joined the journalism faculty of Baruch College this year.

Sandeep Junnarkar (@sandeep_nyc) 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.

CathyKCathy Kaczmarek has been teaching at Midwood High School in Brooklyn for 28 years and the adviser of Argus for 25 years. She teachers a yearlong journalism class. Students who complete the course then choose to become editors to work on the newspaper as seniors. The paper is published nine times a year and online. In 2011 Argus was the Newsies! winner for Best Overall Newspaper. She is a 20-year veteran of the New York City Scholastic Press Association, where she is currently president.  She inspires students to be good consumers of news and to take an active role in reporting the news at Midwood by embracing the First Amendment.

fdl-annual-report-2016-headshotFrank LoMonte (@FrankLomonte) joined the Student Press Law Center (@splc) in January 2008 after practicing with a large corporate law firm in Atlanta and clerking for federal judges on the Northern District of Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Before law school, LoMonte was an investigative journalist and political columnist for daily newspapers in Florida and Georgia. LoMonte graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was a senior editor of the Georgia Law Review. His articles about the First Amendment and media-law topics have been widely published in Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education and in many other outlets.

Michael Lydon (@franklinstpress), 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.

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 ParonKatina Paron Katina Paron (@katinaparon) is a journalism educator with 20+ years of youth media experience. She is the director of the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College and the editor of Teen Voices, a global girl news site at Women’s eNews (@TeenVoices). 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, WNYC SchoolBook,  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.

coverphotoTatsha Robertson (@TatshaRobertson) worked on her high school newspaper staff in South Carolina and later earn a MA in Journalism from Ohio State University. She has more 20 years of experience handling investigative, feature and news stories for digital and print media. As the first female New York City Bureau Chief for The Boston Globe (1998 – 2006), she covered the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and many other major news events.  Additionally, she has been an adjunct instructor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU from 2006 to 2014. She’s worked for Essence Magazine and People Magazine. Since becoming an editor, Robertson has won many awards, including Time Inc.’s Henry Luce Award for Public Service (2008, 2010, 2013), 10 awards (of which 6 were for first-place) for news coverage from the National Association of Black Journalists; New York Association of Black Journalists, and was a finalist in the Henry Luce Award for Reporting (2014). Robertson recently co-authored “Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public Eye,” with Kim Goldman, the sister of Ron who was killed alongside Nicole Simpson, the wife of OJ Simpson.

scottrosenbergScott A. Rosenberg (@RosenbergScottA) has been working in journalism 12 years and is currently the Entertainment Editor at amNewYork newspaper where he oversees the entertainment coverage, interviews famous and not so famous people, reviews movies and more. Before that, he worked at The Washington Post Express, The Onion and The Washington Examiner. He lives in Queens with his wife, his cat and too many books and movies.

polly-schoenfeldPolly Schoenfeld retired from teaching Junior Honors Journalism and English at The Bronx High School of Science in June 2015. She was adviser to the school’s Columbia Scholastic Press Association award-winning newspaper, Science Survey, from 2001-2011.  Schoenfeld starting teaching at Bronx Science after more than 20 years as a contributing reporter and editor for numerous business publications in diverse fields and human resources newsletter consultant to corporate and non-profit clients. Her journalism career began at The City College of New York, where she worked as a reporter and photographer for Tech News. Now, she is most proud knowing that Science Survey, published continuously since the school’s founding in 1938, has been a formative experience for student reporters and editors who went on to become professional journalists.


Since 1984, Townsend Harris High School’s student newspaper “The Classic” has enjoyed its status as a student-run publication. Following the Hazelwood Supreme Court decision, which limited the autonomy of scholastic periodicals across the country, the students and faculty at Harris worked to ensure that student press freedoms remained in tact. This led to the creation of a charter that every principal of Townsend Harris has since signed and renewed. The charter ensures students retain control over “The Classic,” and its existence has motivated many different editorial teams to produce publications that have received praise from numerous sources around the city and the country. The current version of “The Classic” has received praise for its mixture of online, print, and social media publications.

img_1460The Blazer is a student-led newspaper at World Journalism Preparatory School. Since its first formal issue in November 2006, The Blazer has transitioned from print publication to a robust online outlet to function like a real newspaper would in today’s society. The Blazer is not only the newspaper name, but it is also a reputation of the school. As a school body that often wears blazers, students have received positive feedback on them. This ultimately led the first-year newspaper staff to decide upon the name, “The Blazer”, as the official newspaper name. Ever since then, it has become a common tool for the school.

_45d3397Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (“A Black Sail,” “Drop Dead Punk,” “Last Words”). Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter. Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.