The alumni profiles written in 2010 or before were done by students in Jour 105, the introductory journalism class for pre-majors, and edited by Iman Hamdan, a UA journalism senior.
The profiles are sorted by year and include career advice to journalism students.
Note: If any information in your profile has changed, please let us know. Contact Mike Chesnick.
Sam McNeil '14
Sam McNeil was awarded the 2014 Excellence in International Journalism award and earned a dual Master's degree in Journalism and Middle Eastern and North African Studies. While finishing his graduate studies McNeil spend time in Tunisia documenting the effects of climate change on the country and produced an impactful video titled "A Siege of Salt and Sand." This documentary film chronicles a region in Tunisia that is being encroached by the Sahara Desert on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. Follow McNeil on Facebook.
Susan E. Swanberg '13
Susan Swanberg was awarded the 2013 Outstanding Graduate Student award for her work ........ Swanberg who also has a J.D., and P.h.D, will begin teaching environmental journalism for the school in the fall of 2015.
Anissa K. Tanweer '12
Anissa Tanweer was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student Award ......
Marisa A. Gerber '11
Marisa Gerber was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Gradaute Student award and the Philip Mangelsdorf Award for Outstanding Newsperson. Gerber, who graduated in May 2011, won a prestigious Metpro fellowship at the Los Angeles Times.
Candace Begody '10
Unlike most journalism majors, Candace Begody believes that journalism chose her.
Scott Karpen ’09
Scott Karpen is producer at Universal Sports in Los Angeles, where he specializes in year-round Olympic and World Championship coverage. For the 2012 Olympics in London he will be an associate producer for NBC’s coverage of the gymnastics.
Jamie Blanchard ‘08
Jason Kleinman ‘07
Dmitry Rashnitsov ‘06
Dmitry Rashnitsov is the marketing manager for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a fundraiser for Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
Jeremy Duda ‘02
Jeremy Duda began working at the Arizona Capitol Times in 2008. Today he is a political reporter covering the governor’s office.
Shortly after graduating, he worked as a high school sports reporter in a small town in New Mexico called Hobbs, but it was not his long-term dream. Duda then moved on to Provo, Utah, and worked on a newspaper called the Daily Herald, covering local government, courts and cops for two years.
When Duda first took his position at the Arizona Capitol Times, he said it was an exciting time to cover politics because Arizona Sen. John McCain was running for president.
“I love being in the inside of politics,” Duda said.
Matthew Minton ‘98
Matthew Minton is a senior digital strategist with Social@Ogilvy of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.
Prior to joining Ogilvy & Mather Atlanta, Minton worked for nine years at CNN, five of which he spent as a producer on its nightly news program, Anderson Cooper 360°. An award-winning journalist, Minton said he was among the network’s early adopters of social media and its “real time” news-gathering and story-telling applications.
Minton said his journalism background helps provide valuable communications insights to both his Ogilvy PR clients and colleagues.
Minton’s main client accounts include InterContinental Hotel Group, BP, Coca-Cola and the Mexican Government, where he provides senior leadership on issues-management and crisis communications.
Prior to joining CNN in 2002, Minton worked for FOX Sports Network, where he helped launch its regional sports report programming in both the Los Angeles and Atlanta markets.
Minton also worked in the San Francisco Forty Niners’ Public and Media Relations department during the team’s 1998 season.
Amanda Riddle ‘97
Amanda Riddle is a co-managing editor for L.A. Youth, a nonprofit teen-written newspaper founded in 1988. She works with high school students who use writing as a creative outlet.
“Some of them end up in journalism, but most of them don’t,” Riddle says. “They are really learning writing skills that can help them in any field.”
Straight out of college Riddle spent five years with the Associated Press. She worked in Florida and was responsible helped cover the presidential recount in 2000.
“It was exciting to cover big news stories that were read around the world,” Riddle said.
As a junior, Riddle worked at the Arizona Daily Wildcat covering student government. She believes that while classes teach fundamentals, her work on the newspaper allowed her to put those skills to work.
Riddle’s advice to journalism students is to work really hard each and every day. It’s not going to become easy in one day.
--Maddison Mac Neil
Tilly Lavenás ‘95
“When you have your own magazine you can do whatever you like,” Tilly Lavenás said.
In 2010, Lavenás founded the travel magazine “Jurassic Coast Visitor” in Lyme Regis, England. As the editor and publisher, Lavenás is responsible for commissioning and writing the stories, lining up advertisers and distributors, obtaining printer quotes and communicating with her employees. Her ability to highlight the most attractive characteristics of the coast and get people interested in the area is what defines Lavenás as a feature writer.
The hardest part about starting her own publication was “finding enough advertisers, especially during a recession. Many were reluctant to take a chance on a new publication.”
Lavenás didn’t start writing stories for her own publication until she had enough commitments from advertisers to break even.
As a human rights and animal rights activist, Lavenás takes pride in establishing a local Amnesty International group.
Lavenás was born in Argentina and has lived all over the world.
Lavenás took part in the student-produced newspaper, El Independiente, which developed her love for journalism and the fast-paced atmosphere it inspired.
Her advice to journalism students is to always start with a good lead and use strong verbs to capture the audience’s attention. “I’m more of a sprinter - get a topic, do the research, publish the story - that’s what I love about journalism.”
Ernest Sotomayor '77
Ernest Sotomayor was named Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in July 2012.
Sotomayor came to Columbia seven years ago to build a career services office, which has set records for percentage of students employed in journalism at graduation.
Before coming to the Journalism School, Sotomayor had a long and distinguished career in newspaper journalism, most recently at Newsday.
“I’d long wanted to work in one of the nation’s media centers, and jumped at the chance to be part of another team that was challenging the biggest and some of the best known papers in the country,” he said.
In 1989, Sotomayor began his career as the Brooklyn/Queens editor at Newsday. As part of a team of editors, he helped oversee coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the explosion of TWA Flight 800 and online coverage of the Iraq War. Sotomayor also directly oversaw the investigations of the Port Authority. As the Internet took over the news business, Sotomayor found himself switching to the online scene as he became the Long Island editor for Newsday.com.
Sotomayor has also been one of the country’s leading figures in promoting diversity in journalism, via his longtime activities in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and in UNITY, of which he is a past president.
In June 2011, Sotomayor was inducted in to the NAHJ Hall of Fame for his efforts to assist the organization in making journalism more racially and ethnically diverse. He also was inducted into the Wildcat Hall of Fame in 2006.
Sotomayor’s advice to current journalism students: “Never stop reporting. That means never stop learning about what’s around you, and look for the stories that no one else is covering. Those are the ones that let you make a difference to the reads.”
Elinor Brecher ‘77
Elinor J. Brecher works for the Miami Herald as a staff writer for the metro section, covering topics ranging from obituaries to religion to animals. Prior to working for the Herald, she worked for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., for 12 years. In 1999, Brecher worked for six months on Tropic Magazine, the nationally acclaimed Sunday magazine of the Miami Herald. One of the highlights of her career was being in Germany for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
As an American Jew, born right after World War II, Brecher had some anxiety about the trip to Germany. She accompanied a group of American Holocaust survivors.
“We were all surprised in a positive way that crowds of teens followed the groups everywhere, begging to hear the truth about an era that their parents and grandparents refused to discuss,” she said.
Brecher also went to Israel in 1998 for the 50th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, which led her to writing a book entitled, “Schindler's Legacy: True Stories of the List Survivors.”
In recent years, Brecher found herself reporting on breaking news stories. She filmed live from Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, and was the lead reporter on a story about the victim of Miami’s “sensational face-eating attack,” in which another man ate his face while under the influence of bath salts.
In 1990, Brecher won first place nationally as the outstanding feature writer from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors.
In 2003, she was inducted into the Arizona Daily Wildcat Hall of Fame. Before joining the Miami Herald, in 1989, Brecher was named Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University.
Brecher’s advice for journalism students: “The more you can do with multimedia, the better off you’re going to be. The young journalists who are going to make it are the ones who can file a 15-inch live story in the middle of a shootout from under a car from their hand-helds.”
- Iman Hamdan
Mary Alice Kellogg '70
Mary Alice Kellogg wore many hats throughout her career. Currently, she is a freelance writer and contributing editor to FarewellTravels.com and EverettPotterTravelReport.com. Also as an accomplished collage artist, she currently has two abstract collage exhibitions running at galleries in New York.
Newsweek was Kellogg's first calling. She started off as a researcher, then was promoted to correspondent -- the youngest in Newsweek history -- covering 18-state territories first in Chicago and then in San Francisco bureau of the magazine.
In 1977, Kellogg moved back to New York and became an associate editor at Newsweek.
Since then, she has been an on-air news correspondent for WCBS-TV in New York and was later the senior editor of Parade. Recent career posts include editorial director of Voyage.tv and editor of EffortlessLuxury.com.
Kellogg has won several local awards, including a spot in the Arizona Daily Wildcat Hall of Fame in October 2011.
"Being inducted was very, very special," she said. "I was able to really thank all my professors especially Don Carson."
She also won the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award, an international award that honors travel journalism at the highest level.
Kellogg has traveled to 125 countries to date and claims that "journalism opened the doors to the world for her."
Kellogg's advice to journalism students is to pay attention to what is being taught to ensure a skill set that is adaptable to changes in the journalism market. "Have an eye for where opportunity happens," she says, "As communicators, don't be shy about trying new mediums and new avenues for expression."
- Iman Hamdan
Frank Sotomayor ‘66
Frank Sotomayor always took an active role in promoting diversity throughout his journalism career, which paid off in 1984 when he, along with a team of Los Angeles Times reporters, won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The team looked in-depth at the community’s growing Latino population in a series entitled “Latinos in Southern California.” Sotomayor co-edited and wrote the prize-winning three-week series with George Ramos, who taught for a time in the UA journalism program.
Just 10 years later he took on another challenge.
In 1994, when UA President Manuel Pacheco threatened to eliminate the journalism department, Sotomayor and his wife, Meri, helped by forming the Save Journalism Committee. They worked with journalism faculty to encourage alumni and supporters to fight the proposed closure. The Sotomayors’ work resulted in 1,100 letters, telegrams and emails being sent to Pacheco and the Arizona Board of Regents. Sotomayor also organized a meeting with Pacheco in which nationally prominent journalists and educators spoke strongly in favor of the journalism department. In the end, the university president backed off after seeing the degree of support for the department.
“It is really gratifying to see the School continue to do a fine job of preparing students for careers in the media,” Sotomayor said. “The School of Journalism is very close to my heart.”
Sotomayor’s extensive journalism career began while he was still in high school. At age 17, he worked as a sports correspondent for the Arizona Daily Star.
At the UA, Sotomayor worked for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, which at the time was the paper students worked on to fulfill requirements for their journalism degree. He was a reporter, city editor, and in his senior year, was the editor-in-chief.
Sotomayor went on to pursue his master’s degree at Stanford University at the urging of Sherman Miller, who was the head of the journalism department at the time.
“I am very grateful to Sherman Miller and all the professors of what was then the journalism department,” he said. “Through them and through my fellow students, I developed skills and resources that have benefitted my work throughout my journalism career.”
Sotomayor put those skills to work as he spent the next 35 years working at the L.A. Times.
He currently works as a senior fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism and an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism.
His best advice for students is to learn from your classes, but to get out and get practical experience in journalism.
-- Iman Hamdan
Robert Crawford ‘59
Robert Crawford’s journalism career has led him from the newsroom to the baseball diamond.
After graduation, he worked for the Phoenix Gazette before being hired as the high school sports coordinator for the Tucson Daily Citizen, where he spent five years.
Crawford then moved back to Phoenix to pursue a position as the sports desk chief from 1966 to 1995.
The paper started to downsize, so Crawford decided to retire, or so he thought.
On Dec. 13, 1995, Crawford was asked to be the media relations director for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix’s first professional major league baseball team. Crawford was media relations director for almost five years.
“I wasn’t employed when the team won the World Series in 2001,” he said. “But I was in the stands for all of the home-field World Series games and it was the greatest to see players I had come to know so well reach the pinnacle of their profession.”
Crawford won many awards including the Arizona Press Club’s “Best Sports Story” award three times. He also had the opportunity to cover Super Bowl I.
As a UA student he said he took pride in two things. The first was being one of the last students of Douglas Martin (a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter from Detroit who helped start the journalism school.) The second was being the editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
Even though he is retired, Crawford finds himself in the Arizona Republic newsroom two days a week copy editing.
His advice to current journalism students: “Get it first and get it right. If you can’t get it right, then don’t bother getting it first.” Also, “There are stories everywhere, you just have to find them.”
Ron Silverman ‘55
From day one Ron Silverman had a vested interest in two things: journalism and film, television production.
While at the UA, Silverman’s goal was to write for the Daily Variety, an entertainment trade paper in Hollywood. But to get there he had to pay his dues.
Silverman began his career in entertainment journalism at the Arizona Republic. In his two-and-a-half years at the Republic, he wrote entertainment reviews and an entertainment column. His most memorable experience writing reviews came from his first assignment.
“I received a call from the city editor telling me that the theater reviewer was ill and I would be reviewing a play at the Sombrero Playhouse, which was Phoenix’s professional theater,” he said. “I wrote the review, and the next day I was made the permanent reviewer.”
Beyond his knack for entertainment, Silverman also wrote a 39-part series about Arizona State Hospital.
“It had a major impact on the newspaper’s mental health coverage and, as a result, the Republic was named the country’s outstanding newspaper in the battle against mental disease,” he said.
Silverman said he was determined to become part of the Daily Variety team and made several trips from Phoenix to Los Angeles. Each time he was told, “The next job is going to the copy boy!” Finally, Silverman’s goal was accomplished as he landed a position as reviewer and reporter at the Daily Variety.
Silverman had amazing opportunities to interview some of the most prestigious names in the entertainment business, but by far his most memorable interview was with Jule Styne, a Broadway composer and lyricist. Silverman’s passion for Broadway musicals made this an exciting experience.
“I scheduled about an hour with him” he said. “But when I got to his room he started talking about his new Broadway musical called ‘Gypsy’, which hadn’t opened yet. Mr. Styne had a recording of the score and played it for me telling me at each song what would be happening onstage.”
Needless to say, Silverman’s planned one-hour interview quickly turned into three hours of being “mesmerized.”
His job was all about meeting “big name” people, including filmmakers. When Silverman met with Mark Robson, director of “The Champion,” “Home of the Brave” and “Bridges at Toko Ri,” his career path changed drastically.
Robson asked Silverman to be his assistant in a new production deal at 20th Century Fox. With his foot in the door, Silverman went on to produce movies such as “Brubaker,” “Krull,” “Shoot To Kill,” “Buster and Billie,” “Lifeguard” and “The Last Innocent Man.”
After 10 years of working on “Brubaker,” a film about the deplorable condition of prisons in many parts of the country, Silverman felt he truly accomplished something. Not only had he produced something he was passionate about, but he was also able to cast Robert Redford in the title role.
As his career in production came to an end, Silverman found another passion: teaching. He and his wife set off in search of an area that was home to a university. Right as they settled on the idea of moving to Ashland, Ore., so he could teach at Southern Oregon University, a lunch with Dan Petrie, a director and close friend, changed everything.
Silverman discussed his aspirations to teach and Petrie called him later that day offering him the position of dean of the American Film Institute, which educates the next generation of filmmakers and preserves American film heritage.
Silverman took the job and stayed in L.A. another three years before moving to Oregon to teach. Although he is retired he finds himself actively involved in the nonprofit world with organizations that include the Craterian Theater, a performing arts center in nearby Medford, and the board of the Southern Oregon Leadership Council, the local arm of the Oregon Community Foundation, which funds nonprofits throughout the state.
Silverman credits his success in life to learning under Douglas D. Martin, former head of the UA journalism department. He even tried emulating Martin’s character while at the American Film Institute.
“I was told about Douglas D. Martin and that studying with him would be to my advantage,” Silverman said. “It was to my advantage and, even more, Doug Martin changed my life! He was my Mr. Chips!”
Although Silverman believes that current journalism students know more about the industry that he does, he leaves them with one thought.
“Observe, question, listen and remember.”
-- Iman Hamdan