2020-2021 SPJ Candidates
Voting has begun!
Please select only ONE candidate in each category. You need not vote in each category if you do not wish to do so.
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Voting is open until Thursday, Sept.24 at 4 p.m. Results will be announced the same day at 6 p.m.
Each J-school student is eligible to cast one ballot for the elections.
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BELOW ARE THE CANDIDATES’ PITCHES FOR THE 2020-21 SPJ BOARD
CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT
CANDIDATES FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE CHAIR
Meet the officers who ran unopposed:
DEADLINE CLUB & PROFESSIONAL ORG LIAISON
PART-TIME | MA | DATA DEGREE REPRESENTATIVES
CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT
• Kate Huangpu, M.S. Full-time
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past education: Bachelors in History, Human Rights from Barnard College
qualifications: I have been a part of student government since my high school days. Through these many years of experience, I’ve developed my organizational and leadership skills by planning events and fundraisers, and liaising between the student body and the administration. Further, I attended Columbia University as an undergrad, at Barnard College, and participated in student government during that time therefore I am already familiar with the administrative structure of the University and how it operates. I know who is the EVP of Student Life, I know about the structure of the University Senate, and I have historical knowledge of how students are able to get things done. We are at a University with so many resources, and I’ve already spent four years trying to navigate it and maximizing what I’ve gotten out of it. I want to help others do this as well.
why vote for me: My desire to be SPJ President is rooted in a desire to create a supportive and connected community of journalists. A large part of the reason I decided to attend the Journalism School was to be surrounded by people with a passion and dedication for journalism that matches mine.
I pledge to hold weekly office hours via Zoom for students to express concerns, and always be available via email or text. I plan to hold monthly town halls to discuss what facets of our Journalism School experience needs to be changed or improved. I will work on initiatives large and small, from improving alumnae relations through alumnae mixers and panels aimed at connecting our class and those that came before us, to updating the SPJ website to something made for the 21st century. Above all, I promise to actively listen to our class and work together with the SJP Board to ensure that our class gets all that we can from our Columbia Journalism School experience.
•Shanna Kelly, M.S. Full-time
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past education: James Madison University Honors College-Double major: journalism, Spanish. Double minor: translation/interpretation, honors. Universidad de Salamanca
qualifications: During undergrad, I attended numerous SPJ events, which has given me insight into this prestigious organization and has given me ideas for our chapter.
More important than this, I have experience in leadership positions. This includes founding and running my own news organization and managing its employees. Creating a news site from scratch has taught me time management and leadership skills, organization and creativity. It has also taught me that you get out what you put in. Dedicating the extra hours and staying committed helped my site succeed — a skill I’d carry over to SPJ.
I was also managing editor for The Breeze, the best mid-sized, non-daily newspaper in Virginia. I edited, ran multiple meetings a week, organized events and oversaw the publication, 18 editors and over 200 writers. This has taught me to make sure all voices are heard and to value everyone. The paper would have been nothing without its writers just as the SPJ board would be nothing without every JSchool member.
why vote for me: My classmates should elect me as president because I’m committed to ensuring students get everything out of their experience they hoped for hybrid or not. I’d offer ways to meet and connect in a time that’s made this especially difficult. This includes additional meet-and-greets than previous years with features such as break-out rooms for students to feel more comfortable and connect more easily and themed sessions such as game nights or journalism movie discussions to keep sessions engaging after long days of online classes. Most importantly, I’d make sure voices are heard. This includes feedback about events, speaker requests and Zoom preferences such as how questions should be integrated and enhancing communication between the JSchool and students, a concern that has been expressed. Also, in undergrad, I attended SPJ events, so I’m familiar with the organization, and I’ve led a staff the size of our class during the pandemic, so I’m accustomed to the virtual adjustments.
• Eli Rallo, M.S. Full-time
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past education: – The University of Michigan class of 2020 Bachelor of Theatre Arts (Producing and Arts Management)
qualifications: As a theatrical producing major at the University of Michigan, I consistently sought out leadership roles outside of the classroom in entertainment and journalism. I pushed myself to rise to the occasion of these high stakes roles on my own accord as I feel strongly about my skills as a leader and my passion in leading a team. Producing for theatrical purposes requires strong will, creative problem solving, empathy, listening skills and passionate direction. My work in executive producing enables me to be a unique and skilled candidate for president of the Society of Professional Journalists. I am familiar with taking a group of individuals from bare bones to full production with both hard work and dedication. Beyond my producing experience, I was also an editor at the Michigan Daily. I additionally served on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board at the University of Michigan, in order to help advocate for marginalized voices and stories, which is of great importance to my work.
why vote for me: I believe my classmates should elect me to this position because there is no person more hardworking, diligent and passionate. My goals fall amongst lifting up members of my community and creating the best environment attainable for everyone.
• Chris Riotta, M.S. Part-time
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past education: – University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism
qualifications: As a full-time journalist with over five years of experience working in new media startups and legacy magazines, I’m familiar with the roadblocks many of us will face when trying to secure stable reporting jobs. A member of SPJ since 2012, I have consistently advocated for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, working class and other minority reporters in the field.
I’ve taken major risks to stand up for what’s right, including when I joined a class-action lawsuit against Columbia University this year demanding tuition repayment for our entire campus community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also led events and launched new initiatives at every job I’ve held to hire, retain and promote journalists of diversity, hosting diversity expansion workshops and launching a series of paneled discussions with young, diverse journalists and editors walking through their career paths, workshopping resumes and exploring ways to expand diversity in America’s newsrooms.
I am also a member of the Student Leadership Advisory Committee, where I work to create networking opportunities between alumni and current students. This will be a major focus of my tenure as SPJ president: securing interviews and job opportunities for our incredibly talented campus community. I have always committed myself to my community, making the time to be accessible, to listen and to care about the needs and concerns of my classmates and peers. You will never have to hesitate reaching out if there is ever any way I can be a resource to you as your president.
why vote for me: We are in the midst of the most challenging crisis of our lifetime, and it’s going to take young leaders with the courage to fight for truth, transparency and equality in order to build a new era of responsible journalism.
I will expand job opportunities by doubling the number of career expos for our students. I will create a freelance to full time pipeline. I will confront the COVID-19 crisis with a hopeful vision for a new era of journalism.Most importantly, I will always have your back — even when it means putting my own on the line. When our school sent students a $119 reimbursement check during the spring semester as we were forced off campus, I filed a class-action lawsuit demanding further repayment on behalf of the entire campus community.
If provided with the enormous honor of serving as our school’s SPJ president, I will advocate for each and every one of our best interests. I will fight to ensure we have access to the best job opportunities. As a part-time graduate student, I’m lucky enough to be working in a newsroom while continuing my education at Columbia. This allows me to see if what we’re being taught applies to the modern day newsroom experience in real time. If it doesn’t, I will work tirelessly as SPJ president to ensure our community of journalists are the best-prepared out of any in the country to enter the workforce come graduation.
Vote for me and I will continue these fights. We deserve our money. Let’s get it back together.
CANDIDATES FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE CHAIR
• Lindsey Case, M.S. Part-time
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past education: New York University – Gallatin School of Individualized Study – Bachelor of Individualized Study – Concentration Journalism and History
qualifications: Community service has always played a role in my life. One of my fondest memories is building houses with my Mom for Habitat for Humanity. It taught me the significance of working with a team, building relationships, setting goals, and most importantly giving back to the less fortunate. After college I worked for the NBA where I volunteered for charity events and received the first ever NBA Community Service Award. One year later I moved to California and raised money to run the National AIDS Marathon in Honolulu with a portion of the contribution going to AIDS Project Los Angeles. This turned into a position as a marathon running coach where I helped over 100 runners raise money for the organization and complete their first marathon. Since moving back to New York City I have volunteered as a “homework helper” for NY Cares, and a running coach for Girls on the Run, a charity helping to promote confidence and wellness in young girls.
why vote for me: If elected as Community Service Chair I’ll organize events that unite our class, help our city, and give us all hope. They’ll be creative, filled with compassion, and most importantly fun!
• Jasmine Fernández, M.S. Part-time
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past education: Saint Anthony’s High School (2015) * University of Richmond (2019) *
qualifications: High School:
• volunteer at Stony Brook Hospital (oncology, radiology and cardiology departments)
• long Island soup kitchen volunteer (helped clean facility and distribute food on weekends)
• local nursing home volunteer (sang with choir and played board games with residents)
• senator for student government throughout four years
•Youth Life mentor (mentored a fourth-grade student from one of Richmond’s at-risk communities through workshops to complete homework and teach her math/reading)
•University of Richmond Best Buddies (paired with a Richmond local with developmental disabilities, to expose her and many others like her to countless educational and recreational opportunities, i.e.: movie trips, dodgeball tournaments, talent shows)
•educated Hispanic communities in the Richmond area about the benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet
• orientation advisor to freshmen during my sophomore year
• tutored students in Spanish and Italian for 3 years
why vote for me: I’d love to be the SPJ Community Service Chair because I think volunteering is an exciting way to get a break from the demands of our studies, while still positively contributing to our community. With hybrid learning, it has proven to be difficult to really meet one another. My hope is to provide students with unique chances to give back to our city and connect students with similar interests in volunteer projects. As Columbia students, we are driven and dynamic. Our reporting with the Journalism School offers New Yorkers an abundance of information, but there are other ways we can help out. Some of the volunteer projects I have in mind involve combining our love of storytelling and desire to give back by educating middle- and high-schoolers about journalism, tutoring local students and participating in fundraising events. I am organized, have 10 years of volunteer experience and I am passionate about helping this year’s CJS class contribute to the community we are now a part of.
YOUR APPOINTED VICE PRESIDENT
• Danielle Sinay, M.S. Full-time
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past education: • BA, Writing & Film, Bard College, 2013 • MFA, Nonfiction Creative Writing, The New School, 2016
qualifications: I’m a writer by trade but a leader at heart, especially when it comes to education. I’ve served on education nonprofit 826NYC’s Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, Volunteer Committee, Development Committee and Gala/Event Planning Committee since 2015, was Communications Chair for the Bard College Board of Governors, and single handedly founded, organize, and host the 826NYC Reading Series with the intention of uplifting voices of aspiring writers. I organized 826NYC galas and dozens of other events, managed volunteer, student and alumni outreach, created and oversaw viral social campaigns, sourced, booked and formed relationships with vendors and venues, and maintained and cultivated relationships with volunteers, students, alumni and donors. Most importantly however, I’ve proudly served as a liaison between students, alumni, volunteers and donors and their respective administrations, opening up essential communication to ensure everyone’s voices are heard and needs are met.
why vote for me: I’m experienced in and passionate about people, and know that the students are who makes CJS the incredible institution it is. Our mission is to hear and address the needs of each and every student, as everyone’s voice deserves to and should be heard — especially when challenges are at an all time high. We won’t dwell on these difficulties however: we will embrace the promising possibilities of this new normal, and, most importantly, uplift all of you: The gifted group of talented journalists, curious and courageous enough to attend CJS in the midst of a remarkably momentous year. As a team, we have not just the ability to host unique and extraordinary events, but to empathize with and elevate the student body, because it’s you who lies at the heart of CJS and all it stands for. I am confident that together, we can and will thrive as an institution, graduate students, and most importantly, journalists.
YOUR APPOINTED SPEAKERS DIRECTOR
• Kate Stockrahm, M.S. Full-time
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past education: University of Michigan
qualifications: I bring an extensive background in events management and speaker engagement to the position, and I have already coordinated virtual programming within the parameters required by COVID in my career. The pandemic provides us a chance to seek out some big names who are stuck at home alongside us, and I feel confident in my ability to ask for their insights and participation, using the uniqueness of our time as an opportunity instead of detriment to the year ahead.
why vote for me: The Speaker Director role gives us a meaningful avenue to complement our studies with self-sought content. It would be my honor to support that endeavor, and I would seek to ensure a diversity of voices and perspectives in what we learn and from whom we learn it during the next year.
YOUR APPOINTED UNIVERSITY SENATOR
• Arooba Kazmi, M.S. Part-time
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past education: San Jose State University
qualifications: Last year, I was the secretary of SAJA, where I took meeting minutes and communicated with the SAJA members through our Whatsapp Group. As a committee of four, we planned a panel among four South Asian journalists regarding the conflict in Kashmir within 24-28 hours. We printed and posted fliers around the school for our event and I assisted in the set-up. Even though it was all done very last minute and we were under tight deadline, our event was successful because nearly 100 people showed up and the room was filled to capacity.
why vote for me: Because I am an excellent communicator. I am always attentive, and I listen to what everyone has to say. I actively participate in meetings, take good notes and I make sure that I hear everyone’s input before coming to a conclusion. If I get this position, I want to represent the voices of all the students in the journalism department. I want to make sure we are equally represented and that we all have a voice. As a second year part-time, I’m well acquainted with the curriculum at the J-School and as a team, I want to work together so we can make the J-School a better place for all of us!
YOUR APPOINTED DEADLINE CLUB & PROFESSIONAL ORG LIAISON
• Remmy Bahati, M.S. Full-time
past education: •BA in Journalism and Mass Communication – Ndejje University •Certificate in ICT – AFRALTI
qualifications: I have been a journalist for 9 years reporting news in the US and abroad. I believe my background and experience has prepared me to become a better communicator and have learned a great deal about journalism, communication and how to conduct myself in a manner that will not dishonor me,the people i represent or any organization in which i am in.
Through out my professional experience I have represented different journalists organizations world wide.
In hopes that you give me a chance to become the Deadline Club & Professional Org Liaison,I will work hard to serve my fellow students by coordinating activities between the school and many professional organizations.
Having won the 2020 Deadline Club Scholarship, i will be actively attending their key meetings and activities. The position will give me more power to link Columbia Journalism students to these professional bodies and lobby for discounts that will give each and everyone of us an opportunity to fulfill our professional goals.
why vote for me: My classmates are a group of smart, brilliant and amazing people with awesome ideas. I would like to know each and everyone of them at a personal level. I want to learn more about their goals,dreams passions and what is valuable to them. I will put these ideas together, give them the credit and deliver them to the people who are in charge of different programs both at Columbia University,The Deadline Club, SPJ and many more professional organizations. I am a strong, self motivated and capable of promptly and effectively monitoring, coordinating and communicating strategic objectives. I will negotiate on behalf of my classmates to develop and foster relationships, get people to understand our point of view, report back and forth to all professional bodies. I will also encourage my classmates to become involved in the different activities, as well as ensuring students make the most of their membership benefits. I will promote us & our purpose as CJS and will facilitate communication.
YOUR APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVES
• Liann Herder, M.S. Part-time
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past education: •BA from University of Texas at Austin
qualifications: As a second year Part-Time student, I’ve managed not only a full-time job and physically attending classes, but I have also experienced the transition to a mostly digital format. I have been employed full-time as a teacher and administrative assistant for over a decade. Teaching taught me to listen, and admin work gave me insight into what it takes to run the business of education.
why vote for me: As a second-year part time student, I’ve been around Columbia long enough to know that, through no ill-will on the University’s part, PT students are often left behind in larger considerations. We feel forgotten, as we tend to find out the majority of school news second hand. A great example of this are the extra classes we were assigned this semester. We are thrilled to have dedicated courses to explore issues in Diversity, the Journalism Toolkit classes are refreshers for those who attended Fall 2019. Requiring a full-time employed individual to attend yet another evening class without consulting part timers first has caused conflict for some students and their jobs, especially as the news came at the last minute. As the PT rep, I will ensure that we are treated as full members of the Columbia J-School. We need someone in SPJ who understands the sacrifices part time students make, and just how strong our will is to becoming the best journalists from the best program that we can be.
• Andrew Little, M.S. Part-time
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past education: •BA in International Studies with minors in Economics and Chinese Language from Texas A&M University
qualifications: I work in the U.S. Department of State which gives me experience dealing with one of the largest, and one of the most frustratingly slow, bureaucracies in the country. Also, as an undergraduate I founded an organization that grew to over 100 members and I acted as a liaison between that organization and the university administration, scheduling events and maintaining connections with university staff and faculty. I believe both of these experiences make me well-prepared to work as a representative for part-time students at the Journalism School.
why vote for me: As someone who is a career-changer and whose job schedule is not particularly flexible, I am fully invested in getting the most I can out of this program and committed to communicating with the school faculty and staff about my needs as a part-timer. I would plan to do the same for all my part-time classmates as a representative for them, acknowledging the wide variety of backgrounds and job situations we come from.
•Griselda Lopez, M.S. Part-time
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past education: •B.A. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Criminology. Certifications: Hunter College Continuning Professional Education in Legal Studies and Neuro- Linguistic Practitioner Communication Certification by the International Neuro- Linguistic Association.
qualifications: I have a proven track record of advocating for wellness initiatives and inclusive policies on campus. This will be my second year as a “Columbia Wellness Ambassador”. I am committed to safeguarding the mental and physical health of every student, especially those afflicted by the COVID epidemic and social injustice.
During my first year as wellness ambassador, I helped to create the electronic farewell messages for the graduating class of 2020. Their commencement was pushed online because of the COVID epidemic and I didn’t want them to feel alone. So, I thought, let’s show them our school spirit by sending them messages of congratulations. The response was amazing!
why vote for me: As a part time student, I understand the plethora of issues facing my class. The part-time cohort has the unique challenge of balancing professional pursuits, academic life, and family matters – all further complicated by a virtual learning environment. But those who know me will attest to one thing – Griselda finds solutions. Whenever there is an issue related to student life, I will call/text/email (sometimes all of the above) to find the answer for my classmates.
I also endeavor to protect my fellow students by fighting against misinformation about the COVID epidemic. That is why I participated in the Columbia Public Health 2020 initiative. This program disseminates science-based information to help students transition back to campus safely.
If elected as your part time student representative, I pledge to make sure that all your voices are heard, especially those among you who feel left out and marginalized in the current environment.
• Katherine Lutz, M.S. Part-time
past education: B.A. English FSU
qualifications: I held numerous executive board positions throughout my undergraduate career, including the role of president in a prominent poetry organization. I also am a Part-Time student in the J-School and would represent the interests and needs of Part-Timers excellently.
why vote for me: I am passionate and driven in positions of service and will be sure to dedicate myself to the well-being of the students in this program. I also have every intention of striving to make the most we can out of our Columbia education while still enduring the realities of life during a pandemic.
• Megan Zerez, M.S. Part-time
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past education: BS 2017 Molecular Biology, Univ Texas Dallas; MS 2019 Biotechnology/science media, Univ Texas Dallas/Univ North Texas
qualifications: Before my time at Columbia, I balanced a job in a research lab with local reporting during a major protest movement in 2016. I finally realized that the side gig really should have been the main gig. Since moving to New York, I’ve worked and written for several local organizations, most notably WNYC and Gothamist. I’m also a second year part time student and so I’ve had a little experience navigating the ins and outs of this school.
why vote for me: The part time cohort is small and pretty tight knit. I imagine the same goes for the data cohort. I like to think I understand a lot of my classmates concerns and issues we’ve faced as we navigated the school – especially during this weird weird time. I know we all sacrificed to be here. Given that sacrifice, I see a lot of things I’d like to improve here. I think you might too. If that’s the case, consider giving me your vote. Some of our other classmates are running too, part-timers – so if not me, vote for them!