Bios – 2010

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.

Marjorie Connelly is an editor at The New York Times in the News Surveys and Election Analysis Department. She oversees polling at The Times from questionnaire design to data interpretation to the reporting of the findings. She guides reporters and columnists on their use of public opinion data, vets outside survey research that is being considered for publication in The Times, and coordinates multi-platform survey coverage with editors and interactive graphic artists. Her byline appears frequently on the pages of The Times and in various blogs for Marjorie is a veteran of eight presidential campaigns, traveling the country with reporters to analyze exit poll results and has recently finished working on the coverage of the New York gubernatorial election. A native New Yorker, Marjorie joined the staff of The Times in 1981, after working on the Times/CBS News polls as an interviewer while a journalism student at New York University.

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 is the Vice President of the New York City Scholastic Press Association and an active participant in the High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College.

James Fergusson is the editor of the Mount Hope Monitor and Tremont Tribune, two community newspapers in the Bronx. He also helps run the Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative, a program for high school students. James studied history at the The University of Reading in England and went on to work in web production for The Guardian Newspaper in London. He moved to New York in 2004 and lives in Washington Heights with his wife.

Seth Freed Wessler is a writer in Brooklyn, New York, whose work explores the politics of race, inequality and the nation state. Seth writes on immigration, the safety-net, the recession and family policy. A senior research associate at the Applied Research Center, a think tank on race, and an investigative reporter for, his stories have been published in ColorLines, The Texas Observer, In These Times, The Huffington Post, and Link TV. His research reports can be found at

Alison Gendar is an enterprise reporter for the New York Daily News – focusing on law enforcement and crime. Her career at the News began as an education reporter, where she broke details of Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to eliminate the Board of Education. She ran the News’ police bureau for nearly five years, leading coverage on such stories as the NYPD fatal-shooting of an unarmed man, Sean Bell, and the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger safely landed a passenger plane in the Hudson River. Alison then moved Manhattan federal courts, chronicling the fourth – and final – trial of mob boss John Gotti Jr. as well as the terror trial of ‘Lady al Qaeda,’ Aaffia Siddiqui. She returned to the News’ main office this year to lead coverage on the attempted terror bombing in Times Square. Alison grew up in Manhattan and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Robert GreenmanRobert Greenman taught high school and college English and journalism, and advised school publications, for more than 30 years. Currently, he is a newspaper in education consultant for The New York Times and on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists’ New York City chapter. Greenman is the author of The Adviser’s Companion, a guide for high school newspaper advisers, published by CSPA (currently out of print); Words That Make A Difference; and, with his wife, Carol, More Words That Make A Difference (Levenger), vocabulary enrichment books based on words and passages from The New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly. He writes for the Web site Visual Thesaurus and lives in Manhattan.

Rafer Guzman started out as a freelancer in San Francisco, writing for the San
Francisco Bay Guardian, The East Bay Express
and other publications. He got his Masters in journalism from Columbia University in 1997. After that he worked at The Wall Street Journal for about four years covering travel and tourism. In 2002 I started as a rock critic at Newsday, and in 2007 I became the paper’s film critic. I’m also a regular
contributor to “The Takeaway,” a national morning show broadcast from WNYC, and I also co-host a podcast called “Movie Date.”

Jere HesterJere 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.

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.

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.

Trymaine Lee is a reporter covering Harlem for the Metro desk of The New York Times. Prior to joining The Times in late 2006, he was a staff writer at the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, where he was part of a team that won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Hurricane Katrina coverage. He also contributed reporting to the Times’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the Eliot Spitzer scandal and is a past recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists Emerging Journalist of the Year Award. Mr. Lee began his career as a police and crime reporter at the Philadelphia Tribune and the Trentonian newspaper in Trenton, New Jersey. He grew up in Chesilhurst, New Jersey, and attended the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, with a degree in journalism.

Rick Lipsey

photo by Erick Rasco

Rick Lipsey, 43, is a staff golf writer at Sports illustrated, where he’s worked since 1993. As a sophomore at Rye Country Day School, Rick was one of four boys who started an all-sports newspaper (Topcat) because he and the other founders felt the regular school paper didn’t adequately cover sports. Rick graduated from Cornell University as an English major, and he also was captain of the golf team. He’s written three books, has appeared as a guest commentator on TV and has contributed freelance articles to publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. Rick lives on the upper west side of Manhattan with his wife, Carrie Cohen (An attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice), and their children: three boys (ages 7, 2 and nine months) and one girl (age 8).

Colleen Long is a law enforcement reporter with The Associated Press in New York City. She works out of a windowless, virtually airless press room at police headquarters with other city media affectionately know as “the shack.” She covers the NYPD, FDNY and courts and has written and reported on stories like the Times Square car bomb, the Hudson River plane landing and Somali pirates, as well as typical crime in New York. She has worked for the AP for a decade, first in the Denver bureau and recently traveled to New Orleans to help cover the oil spill, and to Mexico City to cover the drug wars. She graduated from the University of Richmond in 2000 with a degree in English and journalism, and she is from Chicago.

Kirsten LundbergKirsten Lundberg is director of the Knight Case Studies Initiative, which she created in early 2007. Its library of journalism cases has since grown to over 35 and its cases are being used in upwards of 70 colleges and universities. Ms. Lundberg oversees case conception, production, sales and marketing (internal and external). She is editor of the collection and writes cases herself. She was formerly acting director of the Case Program, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, where she wrote numerous cases on public policy issues as a Senior Case Writer. She has published articles in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the Boston Globe and the London Daily Express, among others. She is a contributor to several books. Ms. Lundberg holds a BA in history from Williams College, and a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard.

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.

Cathy McElrath Renna is the Managing Partner of Renna Communications and is nationally recognized as a media relations expert and as a leader within the LGBT community.As a major force behind the success of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), where she worked for 14 years, Cathy served as a primary spokesperson for GLAAD, as well as its first National News Media Director. She contributed to the strategic, crisis communications and community relations components of the organization’s most visible campaigns. Since leaving GLAAD, Cathy has worked to increase the visibility of clients such as 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the Point Foundation, Family Pride and the Williams Institute. In her 17 years working in media relations, Cathy has garnered placements in every major newspaper and television outlet in the country, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, Newsweek and a cover story of Time magazine. In addition to her work as a communications consultant, Cathy has appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America and numerous local affiliate shows throughout the country.

Betty Ming Liu (BBA, Baruch College; MS, Columbia University School of Journalism) is a former nationally syndicated columnist for the New York Daily News who also worked at the paper as a gossip columnist, business reporter, and lifestyle writer. She has also been a staff reporter at the Newark Star-Ledger and Crain’s New York Business, and worked on-air for Thirteen-PBS. In addition to blogging and freelance writing, she is currently teaching journalism and writing at NYU, The New School, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Rich O'MalleyRich O’Malley is the night news editor of the New York Daily News, where he has worked since 2005. Previously, he was the editor of The Queens Courier and worked as a sports reporter for Newsday. Outside of journalism, he was the campaign manager for his father’s successful run for the N.Y. City Council in 2001. Rich majored in broadcasting and journalism at Long Island University – C.W. Post, where he graduated with honors in 1997. He earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1998. He has written freelance articles for the Daily News, The Sporting News, the New York Post and Newsday.

Katina ParonKatina Paron is a journalism educator with 16 years of youth media experience. She is the co-director of the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College, where she is also an adjunct lecturer. She is 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 is a professional journalist who has focused on health, literary arts and youth media. 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.

Kate Phillips has mainly been an editor at The New York Times since 1995. She is now supervising health care coverage for the Bizday section, and was the online politics editor for the last four years in the Time’s Washington DC buro. Before joining The Times, she worked for New York Newsday, and was a reporter at newspapers in upstate New York and in Fla.

Geanne RosenbergGeanne Rosenberg, a professor, journalist and attorney, is founding chair of the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions at City University of New York’s Baruch College. She directs the Harnisch Collaborative Projects and McCormick Foundation News Literacy Project and serves as executive director for the McCormick Foundation high school journalism initiatives at Baruch. She recently won a grant from the Carnegie Corporation to help provide legal education and resources to American journalism schools and departments that are serving as news providers.

Professor Rosenberg teaches media law and journalism ethics at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and Baruch College and has worked on a pro bono basis at the Associated Press on open government-related legal matters. She authored and produced Knight Citizen News Network’s Top Ten Rules for Limiting Legal Risk and the recently launched Citizen Journalist’s Guide to Open Government, and co-authored the Poynter Institute’s News University course Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers (available at

Prior to joining City University of New York, she taught as an adjunct at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Her journalism experience ranges from local community coverage through journalistic projects on complex national and international issues, including work as a business and legal journalist covering law, accounting, technology, media, regulatory issues and many other topics. Her articles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines including Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily and The National Law Journal.

She 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.

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.

Rob SchimenzRob 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.

Joshua Sipkin has been teaching of English Language Arts at Information Technology High School in Queens since September 2004 when he helped found the school’s digital newspaper, The Blackhawk Online. In addition to his regular classes, he also teaches a Journalism and SAT Prep elective course, and also serves as the varsity baseball coach. Prior to joining the education field, he spent many years working in the online sports media world, holding various editorial roles for Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, CBS Sports, FOX Sports and ABC Sports. He is also the founder and president of Appetite for Instruction, Inc, a not-for-profit organization committed to helping underprivileged students afford educational endeavors.

John SmockJohn Smock is a visual journalist based in New York City. He is a visitng professor teaching photojournalism and interactive journalism the CUNY Graduates School of Journalism. Smock has worked for the Associated Press and SIPA Press, a photo agency with offices in New York and in Paris. His work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Paris Match and Der Siegel. His educational experience also includes work as a journalism trainer in several former Soviet Republics, Cambodia and most recently Afghanistan. In 2005 he was awarded a Knight International Press Fellowship to the Middle East, where he assisted regional publication in developing the visual components of their publications. Prior to becoming a photographer, smock worked as a reporter, an editor and as a consultant for New York Today, the predecessor for The New York Times Online. He received his M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Andrew Strickler grew up in New Orleans and graduated from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. He was a science textbook editor for several years before he got bored and decided being a newspaper reporter would be more fun. He started writing for newspapers around the San Francisco area and got a graduate degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005. Since 2006, he has written about murders, fires, plane crashes, and lots of “news of the weird” for Newsday in Long Island and New York City.

Katie Thomas joined the New York Times in 2008. She writes news and feature stories related to sports, with a focus on college sports, gender-equity issues, and the Olympics — including covering the Beijing and Vancouver Games. Prior to joining the Times, she was a general-assignment reporter for Newsday, where she covered a range of topics, including local towns, courts, state government, and growth on Long Island’s East End. She has been on the scene at several major news events, including the terrorist attacks of September 11, the blackout of 2003, and Hurricane Katrina. Thomas is the author of the book Waters Dark and Deep, an account of one New Orleans family’s rescue and reunification after Hurricane Katrina.

Liz Willen is associate editor of The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education news outlet affiliated with the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a former senior writer focused on higher education at Bloomberg Markets magazine. Willen spent the bulk of her career covering the New York City public school system for New York Newsday. She has won numerous prizes for education coverage and shared the 2005 George Polk Award for health reporting with two Bloomberg colleagues. Willen is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and an active New York City public school parent.

Sandy Woodcock directs scholastic and professional press programs, research and outreach for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) Foundation. She is a former journalist and high school publications adviser whose student publications were awarded highest honors by national and state scholastic press associations. She is a recipient CSPA’s Gold Key; NSPA’s Pioneer Award; JEA’s Friend of Scholastic Journalism Award; SIPA’s Beth Dickey Distinguished Service Award; and a member of the Executive Board of the Southern Interscholastic Press Association, the Journalism Education Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Rong Xiaoqing is a reporter in New York for Sing Tao Daily, a Chinese language newspaper, where she covers health issues, social services, immigration, politics, and business. She has contributed to English-language publications in the United States and Asia, including the New York Daily News, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. She previously covered nonprofit organizations for City Limits, a grassroots English language magazine in New York. Rong holds a master’s degree in business journalism from Baruch College/City University of New York and a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature from Nanjing University in China.

Thanu Yakupitiyage is the Media Relations Associate at the New York Immigration Coalition. She has an extensive research background in immigration and media, having recently completed her master’s thesis on new media and messaging in immigration-focused organizations since 9/11. Thanu has worked as a researcher and media producer in several organizations in New York and internationally.

Colleen Long is a law enforcement reporter with The Associated Press in New York City. She works out of a windowless, virtually airless press room at police headquarters with other city media affectionately know as “the shack.” She covers the NYPD, FDNY and courts and has written and reported on stories like the Times Square car bomb, the Hudson River plane landing and Somali pirates, as well as typical crime in New York. She has worked for the AP for a decade, first in the Denver bureau and recently traveled to New Orleans to help cover the oil spill, and to Mexico City to cover the drug wars. She graduated from the University of Richmond in 2000 with a degree in English and journalism, and she is from Chicago.