Center for Cooperative Media restructures, welcomes Cassandra Etienne to team

Stefanie Murray
Aug 10 · 4 min read

This post is something I’ve been waiting (patiently and excitedly) to write for months.

The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is fortunate to have grown a lot over the last five years. In 2020 our team finished the Center’s five-year strategic plan following more than a year of discussions. After that, we knew that to continue to grow and better support New Jersey news organizations, as well as our national collaborative journalism program, we needed to staff up—and restructure. Thanks to a grant from Democracy Fund, we have been able to do exactly that.

I’m pleased today to share that the Center has recently expanded to add Cassandra Etienne to the team as assistant director for programming and membership. Additionally, longtime staffer Joe Amditis has moved into a new role as assistant director for products and events.

Cassandra has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and has worked as a documentary producer and freelance reporter in New Jersey and her native New York City.

She has contributed to local news publications including The New York Beacon, Norwood News, and the Metuchen Mirror, and to television outlets such as PBS and Democracy NOW! Her reporting and documentary projects reflect an interest in cultural reporting and social issues such as civil rights, environmental justice and healthcare and education reforms.

Cassandra worked at Legal Services of New Jersey before joining the Center, where she developed multimedia resources supporting LSNJ’s mission to provide legal advice and representation to low-income New Jerseyans. She is a founder of the forthcoming Public Square, a Newark-based nonprofit newsroom. Cassandra is also a 2021 Higher Education and Media Fellow with the Institute for Citizens and Scholars.

At the Center, Cassandra will be focused on growing our relationships with, and programming for, New Jersey news organizations through the NJ News Commons. She will be a central figure in conceiving and executing a large chunk of the work we do to examine, support and help change our news and information ecosystem in the Garden State. Cassandra will work very closely with Center rock star Oni Advincula, who runs all of our programs focused on ethnic and community media. We are thrilled she’s our colleague now at the Center; Cassandra can be reached at

Joe, meanwhile, has been with the Center for seven years. During that time he’s held the titles of coordinator and associate director, but he’s more than that—in many respects, Joe is the heart of the Center.

Joe graduated from Rutgers University in 2013 and earned his B.A. with a double-major in political science and criminal justice before going on to finish his M.A. from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

He was co-founder and former director of operations of Muckgers, a hyperlocal, student-focused, investigative publication serving the Rutgers-New Brunswick community. Joe is also a seven-year veteran of the New Jersey Army National Guard. He deployed to Iraq from 2008–2009 and was activated to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene in 2011.

In this new role, Joe will have a laser focus on ensuring all of the products that the Center produces are top-notch and widely distributed, from our research papers to our websites, newsletters and more. He will also take the lead on running the Center’s events, which range from the Collaborative Journalism Summit to monthly press briefings and trainings we host. Joe can be reached at

Joe, Cassandra and I are proud to work with an amazing team at the Center, including Oni, as mentioned above, as well as Ambreen Ali, Carla Baranauckas, Jeanette Beebe, Heather Bryant, Martin Halo, Molly Jenkins, Mariela Santos-Muniz, Denise Shannon, Sarah Stonbely and Meena Thiruvengadam. You can read more about everyone on our staff page.

Stefanie Murray is director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Contact her at

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism and support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit

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