Chips Watch: The Latest Alumni News

Chips Quinn alumni are moving up, over and on in their careers. The latest Chips Watch has this news and more. 

Special note  

Mary Ann HoganChipsters who knew the late Mary Ann Hogan from her long tenure as a CQS career coach may also know she was working on a memoir at the time of her death from lymphoma in 2019. Her book, “Circle Way: A Daughter’s Memoir, a Writer’s Journey Home,” will be released Feb. 15 by Wonderwell and is available for pre-ordering. For alums who would like to learn more about Mary Ann and her craft (and find out if she followed her own writing advice) and support her book, her husband, Eric Newton, suggests:
• Write and post an online review on Feb. 15
• Post about the book on social media using the #CircleWay hashtag (and tag @ericnewton1 and @wonderwellpress)
• Buy the book in bulk, for friends and colleagues, from Porchlight Books.
Proceeds from sales of “Circle Way” will be donated to the Hogan-Newton Fund for young journalists at The Miami Foundation.

Moving up 

Courtnay Kim (1996) is the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s assistant managing editor of business news, the first woman of color to be appointed to the position. She has served in a variety of roles during her 16 years at the paper, most recently as national editor. 

Bowdeya Tweh (2007) has been named deputy chief of the New York Corporate Bureau for The Wall Street Journal. Previously, he was the Journal’s spot news editor and oversaw the breaking business and finance news team.  

Tariro Mzezewa (2015), former travel reporter for The New York Times, has joined the Times’ national desk as a correspondent covering the South. 

At left, Benjamin Din (2018) has signed on as technology reporter for Politico after working as an intern on the breaking news team.

Siandhara Bonnet (2019) has been promoted to city editor at the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota. She’ll continue to cover the city and county as she joins the editorial board and takes on added newsroom responsibilities.  


Adding on 

Krissah Thompson (1999), named The Washington Post’s first managing editor for diversity and inclusion last year, has taken on added responsibility: climate and environmental coverage, features reporting and recruitment. 

Akeem Glaspie (2013), who covers high school football and basketball for the Indianapolis Star, is also one of two reporters covering men’s basketball at Purdue University this season. 

Mercy Quaye (2014) has been named the first editor of Connecticut Mirror’s new community editorial board, a project to amplify diverse voices and perspectives. Mercy, whose duties for CT Mirror include writing a monthly column, is president of The Narrative Project-CT. 

Moving on  

Perry Bacon Jr. (1999) is a columnist for The Washington Post’s Opinions section, focusing on politics, governing, identity and American society. Previously, he was a senior political writer at FiveThirtyEight.  

At left, Christine Armario (2003) has joined the general assignment news desk of The Washington Post as a deputy editor. Previously, she was the Latin America and Caribbean editor for the Miami Herald 

Two alums are now reporting for Law360: Jonathan Capriel (2006), who previously reported for Washington Business Journal, and Kellie Mejdrich (2013), who left a financial services beat at Politico to become Law360’s senior reporter covering employee benefits.  

Stephanie Clary (2006) is deputy editor of WNYC, New York Public Radio. Previously, she was vice president of content for Vice Media Group. 

Two alums have joined ProPublica’s Southwest team: Mary Hudetz, Apsaalooké (2007), who investigates from Albuquerque tribal issues throughout the region, and Nicole Santa Cruz (2009), who reports from Phoenix on underserved communities. Previously, Mary was an investigative reporter for The Seattle Times, and Nicole was a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times 

Two alums have hired on with WPLN, Nashville Public Radio. Anna Gallegos-Cannon (2012) is digital lead for the “This is Nashville” show. Previously, she was a digital producer for The TennesseanJuliana Kim (2019), formerly a reporting fellow for The New York Times, is WPLN’s education reporter. 

Lindsey Ford (2013) is a multimedia journalist for Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver. Previously, she was a news anchor WXOW News 19 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

At right, Nolan McCaskill (2014) has joined the Los Angeles Times’ Washington, D.C., bureau, assigned to cover Congress and launch a new beat focused on the congressional caucuses. “His primary role will include covering the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus and how they reflect larger communities and interests in California and across the nation,” according to the announcementPreviously, Nolan was a reporter at Politico, most recently covering policy with a focus on race. Nolan was a guest on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” in November.   

Roberto Roldan (2015) covers city politics and government for WFPL, the NPR affiliate in Louisville. Previously, he was a City Hall reporter for VPM, Virginia Public Media, in Richmond.  

Shondiin Silversmith, Diné (2015), is covering Indigenous communities for the Arizona Mirror. Previously, she covered the beat for The Arizona Republic

At left, Leslie Ignacio (2019) is a desk assistant at “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” in New York. Previously, she was an editorial intern with dot.LA. 

After filing her 500th story for The Capital in Annapolis, Maryland, Olivia Sanchez (2019) bid farewell to her colleagues and joined The Hechinger Report, where she covers higher education and education policy in Washington, D.C.     


Laura Zornosa (2019) is a 2020-21 reporting fellow at The New York Times, writing about culture. Previously, she was a features reporter for the Los Angeles Times 


Founded by Nancy Flores (2001), Austin Vida, a digital Latinx news and culture site for Austin, Texas, was selected as one of six news organizations to join the first cohort of the Tiny News Collective. “This opportunity helps publishers with the launch of digital news sites in underrepresented communities and provides funding as well as training, back office support and more,” Nancy says. People who sign up at Austin Vida receive a free monthly culture guide.  

Luella Brien, Apsaalooké (2004), is the founder and editor-in-chief of Four Points Press, a news service for Montana’s Crow Reservation and surrounding area. “We are dedicated to giving the voice back to the people of this region and getting the story straight,” Luella says on the site, which includes an episode of her podcast, Smoke Break. Supporters may subscribe, and plans include offering a sports talk show and a storytelling podcast with elders, in the Crow language, Luella says. Previously she was general manager of Big Horn County News in Hardin, Montana. 

Emma Carew Grovum (2009), founder of New York-based Kimbap Media and a 2021-22 Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, has developed an initiative to promote and retain journalists of color in local news. She has launched a program named Upward, a coaching pilot for journalists of color in local news. As part of her RJI fellowship, Emma will guide six coaching fellows on a seven-month leadership development journey. Nicole Norfleet (2010), business reporter for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, is among the Upward fellows. 

Professional development  

Marian Liu (2001), operations editor for The Washington Post, and Meena Thiruvengadam (2003), freelance journalist and digital strategy consultant, are among the 44 fellows participating in Maynard 200, a fellowship of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Marian is pursuing the fellowship’s executive leadership track; Meena is following the media entrepreneurship track.  

Nancy Yang (2003), digital editor of MPR News, and Francisco Vara-Orta(2006), training director for Investigative Reporters & Editors, are participating in the 2021-22 News Leaders Association’s Emerging Leaders Institute for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The institute is a six-month program that aims to help traditionally underrepresented journalists rise into news management ranks and to support those who have already launched their leadership careers. Faculty include Krissah Thompson (1999), The Washington Post’s managing editor for diversity and inclusion, and Iliana Limón Romero (2002), deputy sports editor, Los Angeles Times. 

Meredith Bennett-Smith (2012), managing editor of MSNBC Digital, was selected for this year’s third cohort of Poynter Institute’s annual Leadership Academy for Women in Media. The academy is designed for women and nonbinary journalists who directly manage people and are within their first five years of formal leadership experience. 

Convention news and awards 

At left, Khristopher Brooks (2006), CBS MoneyWatch reporter, is serving on the program committee of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and will help determine the workshop and session content offered at the 2022 joint convention of NABJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).  

Edgar Sandoval (1999), national correspondent for The New York Times, received a 2021 NAHJ Ñ Award in the category of Latino issues, print/digital journalism, for Chasing Virus News, Even When it Hits Home. 

Osage News: Senior reporter Benny Polacca (2005) and Editor Shannon Shaw Duty (2006) flank photographer Cody Hammer. (Photo: Cody Hammer, Osage News)

The Native American Journalists Association’s (NAJA’s) 2021 National Native Media Awards recognized the following CQS alums: 

  • At Osage News (Division II, print-online category), editor Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage (2005), won first place for best health reporting and an honorable mention for best feature reporting. Senior reporter Benny Polacca, Hopi, Pima, Tohono O’odham, Havasupai (2006), won first place for best news story and for excellence in beat reporting. The staff won second place for general excellence. In an unrelated 2021 competition, by the Oklahoma professional chapter of the Society of Professional JournalistsOsage News was named best newspaper in its division for the fourth consecutive year, and the paper took second-place honors in the diversity category. Several stories by Shannon received awards in the spot news, education, health and sports categories.    
  • Journalists at three Division III publications received NAJA awards in the print-online category. Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe (2005), deputy managing editor of Indian Country Today, took top honors for best news story and excellence in beat reporting, second place for best sports story and third place for best feature story. Sunnie Clahchischiligi, Diné (2006), a contributing writer for Searchlight New Mexico, took first place for best elder coverage. Arizona Mirror reporter Shondiin Silversmith, Diné (2015), took second place for an editorial she wrote while at The Arizona Republic. Shondiin and Dalton served as competition judges.  

Two 2010 alums are finalists for NABJ’s 2021 Salute to Excellence AwardsElvia Malagón, a reporter covering immigration, social justice and income inequality for Chicago Sun-Times, for Black Homeowner, 2 Appraisals, $64,000 Difference, in the local-under-100,000 business category; and Nicole Norfleet (2010), business reporter for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, for A Surge in ‘Buy Black,’ in the national business category. Winners will be announced Dec. 4. 

More awards  

Chandra Thomas Whitfield (1994) was recognized with a 2021 Clarion Award by the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) in the podcast category for In The Gap – A Podcast About How And Why Black Women Aren’t Getting Their Green. Chandra produced the podcast for In These Times magazine as part of the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting Fellowship. The podcast explores how pay inequality and racial and gender discrimination adversely affect Black women in America. In a proud career moment, Chandra was invited to discuss her work in November with students in a Tulane University class, for whom the podcast was required study.   

Kyle Hopkins (1999), special projects editor for the Anchorage Daily News, and colleagues from his newsroom and ProPublica were awarded a Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for “Unheard.” The project focuses on “29 Alaskan women and men of different races and socio-economic backgrounds seeking to inspire change in Alaska’s justice system, and to de-stigmatize being a survivor of sexual violence.” The project also won the Online News Association’s Gather Award In Engaged Journalism for overall excellence.   

El Paso Times photographer Briana Sanchez (2015) has been recognized by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors in Class AAA for work that won first and third place awards in news photography and for taking second place as star photojournalist of the year. 

Charlie Kaijo (2016) earned the photo of the year award and first place in the single news photo, larger dailies category, from the Arkansas Press Association (APA). Charlie, a photographer with the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, won for his shot of a healthcare worker comforting a boy after he took a COVID-19 test. Charlie and the photo were the subject of the lead story in the July 29 issue of APA Publisher Weekly.    


Aleanna Siacon (2017), a student at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, has been named to the newly created position of diversity editor of the 2021-22 Wayne Law Review editorial board. “The diversity editor will ensure that the Law Review remains committed to its mission of increasing the representation of diverse identities among its membership, leadership and authorship,” the announcement states. 

Beyond journalism 

LaSharah Bunting (1999), formerly Knight Foundation’s director of journalism, is vice president and executive editor at Simon & Schuster. She writes, “In this role, I will acquire both nonfiction and fiction. And I see it as an awesome opportunity to discover fresh, diverse voices that will drive powerful, dynamic stories.”  

Carolyn Phillips (2009) has been promoted from director of marketing to chief advancement officer for the Methodist Children’s Home Society in Detroit and Redford, Michigan.   

Kailey Fisicaro (2015) is a communications specialist with San Mateo County Libraries in California. Previously, she was a writing and communications consultant in Bend, Oregon.  

Jenny Ung (2017) is a business immigration analyst (assistant paralegal) at Fragomen in Phoenix. She graduated from earning her master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.     


Virginia Isaad (2013) and Nick Martin were married in a family-only ceremony on June 23 overlooking the ocean at Point Dume State Beach in Malibu, California. Virginia and Nick grew up in the San Fernando Valley and were living only 15 minutes by car from each other when they met through an online dating site four years ago. They live in the Granada Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. Virginia is lead editor for HipLatina.  


Brian Slodysko (2008) and Amanda Lonick Slodysko welcomed their second child, Arlo William Stanley, on April 18. He joins big brother Orion, 2. Brian covers Congress for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C.    




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