Meet the CUNY Social Journalism Class of 2016
Learn more about this year’s class of social journalism students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
On December 16, another round of students will graduate from the new social journalism MA program at the CUNY J-School. One of the primary goals of the program is to recast journalism as a service rather than a product.
The students’ goals are to better understand the communities they’ve chosen to serve, in order to produce the kinds of journalism that members of those communities want and need. This means getting their hands dirty and doing stories about the real problems and issues these communities face, but it also involves using all kinds of information resources along the way, including apps and databases.
Meet the class of 2016 below and learn more about the communities they’ve been working with over the last year. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.
Please feel free to comment on this post below, or contact our program director, Carrie Brown, if you have suggestions for the class.
Meet the social journalism class of 2016:
Joe Amditis is the newly-appointed associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. He writes a daily morning newsletter for the NJ News Commons and works with a statewide community of more than 150 journalists and publishers in New Jersey. Joe received his bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice in 2013 from Rutgers University. He served in the NJ Army National Guard from 2006–2013, deployed to Iraq for a year in 2008, and was activated in 2011 in response to Hurricane Irene. He recently launched the NJ Mobile News Lab and raised $20,000 from the Dodge Foundation to support experiments in mobile news innovation for local publishers.
Allen Arthur graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in theater. He also became a Cicerone, the beer equivalent of a sommelier. Then he realized he’s a journalist after all. He spent this year learning from formerly incarcerated people, starting a Medium publication called _Greylined_ and selling an investigative story to the Marshall Project in the process. He leaves hoping to continue work on his culminating project, a zine built with formerly incarcerated people to help those currently in prison prepare for reentry.
Sasha M Fountain graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to graduate school she did an AmeriCorps term where she worked in engagement as the social media associate for the NYC Medical Reserve Corps. She has interned as a content creator for both ConcrtMe, a crowdfunding site for independent musicians and Destined 2 Leave A Legacy, a branding firm for entrepreneurs and independent musicians. She is a freelance photographer and field/studio producer for the Manhattan Neighborhood Network where she produced and edited short news and documentary pieces. Her focus is Afro-Latinx community, and her work can be found on her Medium publication #HeyMiGente and the La Otra Cara Latina blog.
Simon Galperin studies and works in journalism and media innovation. He received his undergraduate degree in journalism and media studies from Rutgers University, where he also co-founded Muckgers, a local online news site. He is completing an internship with ProPublica’s business development and partnerships team and recently launched a project called Info Districts, which seeks to redesign local news and information ecosystems. Previously, he helped develop NJ Spark, a social justice journalism lab at Rutgers University, and served as senior editor at Jerrick Media, a digital media startup. Simon’s project in the social journalism program serves emerging journalists, specifically undergraduate journalists in New Jersey. He is mapping the existing student media ecosystem and conducting a survey of journalism students and educators to understand what issues and pressures they are facing.
Katelyn Gillum is a graduate of Murray State University with a degree in English education. At Murray State, she participated in a study-abroad program in Belize and served as the coordinator of a mentoring program called G.R.O.W, or Growing into Respected Outstanding Women, which paired female college students with middle school girls. She taught English for a year in rural Kentucky and then worked for an outdoor camp for kids, where she focused heavily on youth development, social media, and marketing. She is currently working on the Customer Relations team at DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects. For the past year, Katelyn has helped grow Wire the Wise, a nonprofit organization that brings seniors and young professionals together to learn technology skills, and is creating a guide that will help older adults communicate and tell their own stories.
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her editing debut won an Emmy for WGBH’s “Greater Boston Arts” series and she has continued to distinguish herself as a producer, editor, and now, director. She is currently producing QUEST: The Fury and the Sound, which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017, in competition for Best Documentary. Her feature debut as a producer and editor, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, also premiered at Sundance in 2006, and was named in the Chicago Tribune’s “Best Documentaries of 2007.” Sabrina is also the Co-Producer and Editor of DOCUMENTED, the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning undocumented journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas. The film had record viewership on CNN, with over a billion impressions on Twitter, and was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Best Documentary Film. She has produced and/or edited videos for The Ford Foundation, Frontline, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Witness, American Masters, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Agricultural Missions the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, and more.
Colin-Pierre Larnerd is the co-founder of the Kolkata Children’s Project, a program that sends children in lower class communities to school. He graduated from SUNY College at Oneonta with a degree in Anthropology before moving to Daejeon, South Korea to teach English for a year. While obtaining his Masters degree in Social Journalism, he worked with New York City’s street and subway performing community (a.k.a. “buskers”). He recently launched The BUSK Stop: NYC, which provides an underground look into New York’s busking scene by fostering communication, collaboration, and networking for performers.
Anna-Michelle Lavandier is the editor of a blog called The Nerd Castle, which explores diversity within the gaming community and nerd culture. She is also a contributing writer to the New Voices section of the Orlando Sentinel and has partnered with the bilingual (English-Spanish) award-winning blog El Mundo Tech. She often travels between the New York/New Jersey area and Orlando, Florida to cover various geek/nerd events including Anime Festival Orlando. Anna-Michelle received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with minors in both Digital Media and Spanish, from the University of Central Florida in 2014. Before coming back to New York, she was the food and arts reporter at The Villages Daily Sun. She also interned at a number of places, including the Orlando Business Journal, WESH 2 News, and the startup SocialNewsDesk, among others.
Gloria Medina is a graduate of SUNY College at Old Westbury where she earned a degree in Mass Media and Communication/Journalism. Medina has 18 years of journalism experience in the Spanish media in New York City. She combined her working experience — mostly within the Hispanic community, with the tools she acquired in the Social Journalism Program, and after a year of engaging with the community, Gloria decided to work with New Immigrants to empower them and help them help themselves so they may lead more fruitful and productive lives. During this program, she started volunteering with Queens Chamber of Commerce and shortly later she was hired to work helping organizing events. Gloria, originally from Colombia, is an active member of NAHJ; until recently she held the treasurer position at Jackson Heights Rotary Club, and is the founding member of the Theta Chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc. in SUNY Old Westbury.
Noa Radosh (NR Sverdlin) graduated from Tel Aviv University with a major in Middle Eastern Studies. She is working with the Palestinian youth to introduce freelance jobs in the West Bank, as thousands of students and graduates in the area face high unemployment rates. With the help of social media and all available social tools, she aspires to connect Palestinians with global businesses and better represent them in the media. Noa also reported on organizations promoting dialogue and peace building in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Philip B. Richardson began his graduate study while working as an editorial assistant and blog producer at The New York Times. His wide ranging duties there included daily posts, curating visual essays and posting to social platforms, among others. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in African and African American studies. Before joining the Times, Philip worked with Lambda Legal Defense Fund as a community health educator, and most recently with Empire State Pride Agenda, where he helped coalesce New York City corporate sector support to legalizing marriage equality in New York State in 2011. He now serves as a strategic communications officer with Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Nancy Spiccia (nancy.spiccia) is a Certified Public Accountant from Atlanta, Georgia and a graduate of Florida State University. She is a published author, was a guest on the Dr. Oz Show and has been featured in multiple commercials. As an entrepreneur, Nancy has built several successful businesses. Her professional background includes years of expertise in healthcare consulting, investigative auditing/reporting and regulation. For her capstone project, Nancy is passionate about serving women with a chronic illness that is unresolved through traditional medicine by providing them with the resources needed to make more informed healthcare decisions. Her new website, ChronicHealthBridge.com is a collaborative community effort that brings patients and functional medicine doctors together through informed journalism. Nancy is also a Certified Health Coach and enjoys teaching organic gardening to children and cancer patients as a Master Gardener volunteer.
Ashley Smalls is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. Her work has been featured in USA Today, Woman’s Day, NBCUniversal and Forbes. She is currently a social media manager at Complex Magazine, where she helps drive traffic and build brand awareness for their Complex Hustle channel. She is also the founder of Smalls Social, a social media consulting firm, and the creator of the workplace discrimination reporting chatbot, NoH8, which was nominated for Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.
Martika Ornella Wilson graduated from Brooklyn College, where she studied cultural anthropology, with special focus in West Indian transnationalism and art history. Originally from Trinidad, she migrated to the US when she was five years-old. At Brooklyn College’s Learning Center, she worked as a writing and reading comprehension tutor. She is a Phi Beta Kappa member and volunteers at Dynamic Learning Center, a pre-K after school program in Brooklyn. She has interned for the Greater New York Councils, and currently works at Daniel’s Music Foundation, a nonprofit music program for people with disabilities. Currently, she is reporting on East Harlem-based community organizing against displacement and gentrification, and her work can be found in the Medium publication: New Harlem World.