Bios – 2011

Keynote Speaker Paul Steiger Editor-in-Chief, CEO and President, ProPublica Steiger served as the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2007. During his tenure, members of the Journal’s newsroom staff were awarded 16 Pulitzer Prizes. In addition, ProPublica reporters received Pulitzer Prizes in May 2010 and 2011.

He is a member of the steering committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, based in Arlington, Va., which provides free legal assistance to journalists. He is a trustee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, based in Miami, that funds efforts to enhance journalism and the functioning of American communities. From 1999 to 2007, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, serving as its chairman in his final year. For six years, from June 2005 to June 2011, Steiger was the chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit that advocates for press freedom around the globe.

Awards include the Columbia Journalism Award, the University of Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism, the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center, the Gerald Loeb Award for lifetime achievement from the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, the Dean’s Medal for Distinguished Leadership from Brandeis University, the Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the National Press Foundation’s George Beveridge Editor of the Year Award, the Decade of Excellence Award from the World Leadership Forum in London, and the American Society of News Editors Leadership Award.

Steiger worked for 15 years as a reporter, the Washington economics correspondent, and the business editor for the Los Angeles Times, and for 26 years as a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University in 1964.

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 atNewsday 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.

Sara Clemence is a travel editor at the Wall Street Journal who has covered everything from chemical weapons to out-of-control grooms, Alabama rivers to Manhattan townhouses. She has been an editor at, Condé Nast Portfolio and the New York Post, and is a co-founder of the online magazine Recessionwire. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications, including the Journal, Marie Claire and the Arizona Republic. She has an undergraduate degree in international studies from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in  journalism from Columbia University

Ilsa Cowen

Ilsa 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 High School Journalism Collaborative at Baruch College.

Cindi Creager has served as the Director of Communications & Marketing at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City since December of 2010. As a member of the Center’s senior leadership team she is responsible for overseeing all external communications and marketing initiatives for the 28-year old agency. She most recently launched a new e-newsletter called Front and Center, highlighting the Center’s life-saving programs and services. She is also project managing a comprehensive re-branding project with the pro bono support of experts from the firm, Lippincott, and developing a strategic communications and marketing plan designed to raise the Center’s visibility and expand its donor base. Before joining the Center she served for 5 and a half years as the Director of National News for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), working to ensure fair, accurate and inclusive national news coverage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. She has placed hundreds of stories and spokespeople in high profile media, and brokered agreements with top media outlets including NBC News and the Associated Press, to facilitate changes in editorial standards for LGBT related coverage.  Prior to GLAAD Creager spent 13-years as a local and national news reporter/producer in Alaska and New York City working for ABC News, PBS Frontline and several independent documentary producers.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Master of Science degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. During her tenure at ABC News, Creager shot and field-produced for the series “Hopkins 24/7,” about life inside Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which won a Columbia DuPont Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.

Bridgett Davis teaches a range of Journalism and Creative Writing courses.  Professor Davis’ essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in The Washington Post, New York Newsday, Columbia Journalism Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Chicago Tribune, as well as other publications. Her debut novel Shifting Through Neutral was published in hardcover by HarperCollins in 2004 and in paperback a year later and was chosen as an “Original Voices” selection by Borders Books.  She is completing her new novel, entitled Lagos, which is set in 1980s Nigeria and inspired by her experiences while doing research on African media women. Professor Davis is also a filmmaker.  Her feature-length drama, Naked Acts, was theatrically released in 1998.  Professor Davis was the screenwriter/producer/director of the film, which as screened in 25 film festivals on four continents and won key awards. She received a BA in English from Spelman and an MS in journalism from Columbia. Bridgett Davis was honored by the New York Association of Black Journalists with its 2007 Excellence in Education Award.

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.

Lonnie IsabelLonnie Isabel is the former deputy managing editor ofNewsday, 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.

Rick Lipsey

photo by Erick Rasco

Rick Lipsey, 44, 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 8, 9 and 20 months) and one girl (age 9).

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.

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.

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. You can also read her work in the arts section of AmNewYork.

Katina Paron Katina Paron is a journalism educator with 17 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.

Geanne Rosenberg

Geanne 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, including business and local, community-oriented 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 newly released 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 is director of Journalists in Schools, a non-profit organization that is creating the first student-driven news network to serve public high school students in New York City.  He has worked as a journalist and educator for more than three decades.  He was editor of the Sunday Opinion section of Newsday for nine years, commissioning and editing essays from writers around the world.  He has won several national editing awards, and was the arts and media reporter on the staff that launched the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS in the early 1980s.  He was an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for 15 years and founded and directed a path-breaking program in New York City, in which at-risk students produced a newspaper for their alternative public high school. He is a graduate of Harvard College, with a master’s degree in history from Columbia.

Indrani Sen

Indrani 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.

Robert Shields is the Executive Production Editor of the New York Daily News, where he oversees the layout, picture selection and headline writing of the news pages. He has been employed at New York’s Hometown Newspaper since 1997. He also worked at The Trentonian (Trenton, N.J.) and The Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.) He received a BS in Newspaper Journalism from Syracuse University and is a proud graduate of Staten Island’s New Dorp H.S.

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.

Sandy Woodcock Sandy Woodcock directs scholastic and professional press programs, research and outreach for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) Foundation. In that role, she has presented sessions and workshops on everything from attracting and engaging young readers to writing the best feature story and  serves as a judge for a variety of student journalism competitions.  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 Finance Committee of the Southern Interscholastic Press Association, the Multicultural and Curriculum Committees of the Journalism Education Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists.  In her spare time she teaches English for Daily Living to non-English speaking adults.

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.

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