2020 SPJ R1C Speakers

The following speakers will be presenting at the 2020 SPJ Region 1 Conference.


Yamiche Alcindor, who will keynote the event on Saturday, March 21, is the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour and a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. At PBS NewsHour, she has directly questioned President Trump a number of times and has traveled extensively including to places like Belgium for the 2018 North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting, to Helsinki, Finland as President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to McAllen, Texas to chronicle life on the border of the United States and Mexico and the impact of President Trump’s family separation policy. As a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, she often appears on a number of shows including Morning Joe, Andrea Mitchell Reports, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Previously, she was a national reporter for The New York Times, covering politics and social issues, and also a reporter with “USA Today.” She was named “Emerging Journalist of the Year” in 2013 by the National Association of Black Journalists. Alcindor earned a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University and a bachelor’s in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University.  A native of Miami, Fla., Alcindor is married to a fellow journalist and is the daughter of Haitian immigrants who met while attending Boston College.

Jase Bernhardt, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability at Hofstra University where he teaches and researches meteorology and climatology. Bernhardt’s current research involves the use of novel immersive technologies to improve weather warning communication. His work has been covered by numerous media outlets including The Washington Post, The Weather Channel, Reuters, FOX-5, CBS-2, and WPIX. 


Bill Bleyer was a prize-winning staff writer for Newsday, the Long Island daily newspaper, for 33 years before retiring in 2014 to write books and freelance for magazines and Newsday. He is the author of Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History (The History Press 2019), The Fire Island Lighthouse: Long Island’s Welcoming Beacon (The History Press 2017), Sagamore Hill: Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House (The History Press 2016) and co-author of Long Island and the Civil War (The History Press 2015). And he was a contributor and editor of Bayville, a history of his Long Island community (Arcadia 2009). The Hofstra University graduate has taught economics and journalism there and history at Webb Institute, the naval architecture college. From 1986 to 1989 he was president of the Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He is currently treasurer. In 1990 and again in 1992, he was elected to the society’s national board of directors. In 2012 he received a top national SPJ award, the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for a large chapter for service to the society or a chapter. He was inducted by PCLI into the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2015.

Liza N. Burby is the author of nearly 40 nonfiction books for children and five books for adults, including her second edition on How to Publish Your Children’s Book (Square One Publishers). She has also worked as a book editor for companies like Barron’s Educational Series, Galison Books and Brown Books, and continues to offer editorial consultation to aspiring authors. In addition, Liza is an award-winning journalist, editor and founding publisher of Long Island Parent magazine. She is currently working as a project-based manager on editorial content for magazines at companies and organizations like Bonnier Corp, Adelphi University and Stony Brook University. Her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, including Newsday and The New York Times, and over 50 national magazines and websites. She has been guest speaker on radio and TV talk shows and at local events. Liza is also a senior adjunct professor in the communications department at Adelphi University, where she is faculty advisor for the student paper, The Delphian. Her site is www.lizaburby.com

Rich Cimini has worked for ESPN since 2010, covering the New York Jets and the NFL. In 2019, he received the Bob Oates Beat Reporting Award as the top NFL beat writer in the country, selected by the Pro Football Writers of America. Prior to ESPN, he worked at the New York Daily News from 1996 to 2010. His primary beat was the Jets, but he also covered college basketball, baseball and golf. His career started at Newsday, where he worked from 1985 to 1996. He began covering the Jets in 1989, making him the longest-tenured beat writer in the history of the franchise. Cimini is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, where he currently works as an adjunct instructor. He attended Sachem High School and still lives on Long Island.

Denise Civiletti is the co-founder and co-publisher of the community news website RiverheadLOCAL, which is celebrating its 10th year of publication in 2020. Journalism is her second career but her true vocation. Denise practiced law for more than 15 years following her graduation from New York University School of Law in 1982. She worked for Times/Review Newspapers from 1999 to 2009, first as an opinion columnist, then as editor of the News-Review, before being named executive editor and co-publisher of the award-winning four-paper news group. RiverheadLOCAL has won numerous awards from the Press Club of Long Island and the New York  Press Association, including PCLI awards for “Best Website,”  news stories, feature stories, columns, audience engagement and best use of social media.  Denise received a “Writer of the Year” Award in 2014 and an investigative reporting award in 2018 from the New York Press Association. Denise is passionate about journalism, especially community journalism, and she is optimistic about the future of local digital news done right.

Michael “Manny Faces” Conforti is an award-winning new media journalist and podcast producer based in the New York Metropolitan area. He is the co-creator, co-producer, audio editor, and host of News Beat, a groundbreaking, multiple award-winning podcast series that melds hard-hitting social justice journalism and expert interviews with music and original hip-hop lyrics crafted by independent hip-hop artists. Among other accolades, News Beat was awarded Best Podcast at the 2018 New York Press Club Journalism Awards. In 2015, he founded The Center for Hip-Hop Advocacy, a nonprofit utilizing journalism, original research, and media/public outreach to increase awareness and understanding of hip-hop’s important artistic and cultural contributions. He is an accomplished DJ, producer/remixer, event host, and public speaker, advocating on behalf of hip-hop music, culture, and community at universities, organizations, and festivals throughout the country and the world.

Carl Corry is a full-time journalism instructor at Suffolk County Community College and executive editor of the community news site, GreaterMoriches.com. Previously, he was a freelance writer and held stints as the online editor for local and products at Newsday, executive producer of News 12 Interactive and editor of Long Island Business News. Corry served 21 years on the board of the Press Club of Long Island, including three terms as its president, and held two terms on the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2017, he was inducted into the PCLI Contributor’s Wing of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. That same year, he earned a master’s degree in communications, with a concentration in journalism innovation, from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

In a career spanning three decades, Claudia Gryvatz Copquin‘s byline has been seen in many publications and websites, including Newsday, where she’s written lifestyle and human interest features as well as many op-eds, The Saturday Evening Post, The Washington Post, the LA Times, Parade.com and The New York Times, where she currently contributes to the Sunday Real Estate section. She’s also the author and co-author of three non-fiction books. In 2015, Copquin founded Word Up: Long Island LitFest, which brings best-selling authors to the region for talks and book signings.

Irwin Gratz has been the local “Morning Edition” host for Maine Public Radio since 1992.  He is a past national president of the Society and current president of the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation.  Irwin served for nearly two decades on the Society’s national ethics committee and worked on drafting the revisions to the Code of Ethics adopted in 2014. A native New Yorker (and lifelong Mets fan) Irwin has worked as a radio reporter and anchor for over 40 years. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from New York University.  In 2011, Irwin won a Yankee Quill Award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for his “broad influence for good, both inside and outside the newsroom.” Irwin lives just outside of Portland, Maine.

Miriam Goderich is a partner at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC, a well respected literary agency with an impressive client list.  She is involved in developing new projects and taking them from the conceptual stage to publication and her areas of interest include literary and commercial fiction as well as some genre fiction, narrative nonfiction, pop culture, psychology, history, science, art, business books, and biography/memoir. Miriam received a BA in Comparative Literature and an MA in English from Columbia University. She was born in Cuba and grew up in Spain and Miami, Florida.

Roy Gutterman is an associate professor and director of the Tully Center for Free Speech at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.  He is a long-time SPJ member, a former newspaper reporter and lawyer.



David Falkowski is President of Open Minded Organics and  a 15-year organic mushroom farmer with more than a decade of naturally grown produce under his belt and several years of processing food and herbal extracts here on Long Island. United States Department of Agriculture certified organic. New York licensed hemp processor and farmer. The farm stand is in Bridgehampton. The apothecary is in Sag Harbor.


Tim Healy was a Newsday editor for nearly 40 years, most recently handling data projects and helping reporters with FOIL requests.





Keith Herbert has been at Newsday since 2007. He has been a member of the paper’s investigations team since 2013. Previously he has covered transportation at the paper. Other assignments at Newsday have included covering the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Hillary Clinton in 2008. Keith was a member of the Newsday team that won the New York Press Club’s 2019 Gold Keyboard Award, the competition’s highest, for “Pathway to Power,” an investigation into the rise of political power broker Gary Melius. He was a key member of the “Long Island Divided” team. Before coming to Newsday, Herbert was a court reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a general assignment reporter with the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. He graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. He a former president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and currently vice president of the Press Club of Long Island. Keith was recently named deputy editor for Long Island.

Eileen Lehpamer is an Edward R. Murrow Award winning journalist. She also has several Emmy-nominations for investigative work done as the full time criminal justice reporter for News 12 Long Island. Eileen recently launched a half hour True Crime TV show for News 12+ (a newly created channel), as well as a matching podcast series for News 12 Talks called “True Crime Long Island with Eileen Lehpamer”. Eileen was born and raised in New York. She has covered New York City and Long Island news since 1997. She has some of best sources in the news business that routinely land her exclusives. Eileen’s Emmy nominations are for her work on a government corruption investigation, an in-depth ongoing series on MS-13 and her enterprise reporting on other street gangs back in 2011. She has two Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting on September 11th, 2001 and the Corey Lidle plane crash in 2006. Her background includes 20 years as a reporter and producer for CBS Radio – 1010WINS in NYC. She was also a news writer at WABC-TV and WPIX-TV, as well as a reporter for the NPR-affliate WFUV-FM, and the B-B-C, WOR and WABC radio. Eileen is an active member of the exclusive Inner Circle of City Hall Journalists, inducted in 2005. She is also published in the book: Covering Catastrophe: Broadcast Journalists Report September 11th. Eileen was a double major in Political Science and Communications and received a BA from Fordham University in the Bronx. She lives in Manhattan.

Jonathan Lemire is a White House reporter for The Associated Press and a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News. He covers the day-to-day workings and drama of the Trump administration, has interviewed the president in the Oval Office, has traveled with the president to the Middle East, Asia and Europe and received attention for his news conference questions to Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin at their July 2018 Helsinki summit. He covered Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, including the candidate’s June 2015 Trump Tower campaign kickoff and nearly 100 rallies in 2016. He previously covered New York City and State politics, including the 2013 mayoral election of Bill de Blasio over Anthony Weiner and other candidates. Before joining the AP in 2013, he spent more than a decade at the New York Daily News, covering the 2012 presidential election, City Hall and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He graduated from Columbia University. He grew up in Massachusetts and spends entirely too much time thinking about the Boston Red Sox.

James T. Madore writes about the economy and development for Newsday. He previously served as statehouse bureau chief, reporting on the rise and fall of Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the rocky tenure of Gov. David Paterson. Prior to coming to Long Island in December 1996, Madore was a business reporter for The Buffalo News and the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Washington University in St. Louis. He serves on the board of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW).

Thomas Maier is an award-winning author, television producer and investigative reporter for Newsday in New York. He is the author of six books, including Masters of Sex, adapted into an Emmy-winning book. In 2019, he published two books, “Mafia Spies” — a true-life tale about two gangsters hired by the CIA to kill Cuba’s Fidel Castro during the Cold War — and “All That Glitters”, a contemporary history of Anna Wintour, Tina Brown and how Si Newhouse’s Conde Nast media empire became a major media enabler in the rise of Donald Trump.

Rashed Mian is the managing editor of award-winning social justice podcast News Beat and its parent company Morey Creative Studios. Previously, he covered civil liberties, government and politics at alternative weekly Long Island Press, giving voice to the Muslim American  community and a wide range of activists and disenfranchised groups seeking justice. He’s reported from protest movements including Occupy Wall Street and the Global Climate Strike, House Homeland Security Committee “radicalization” hearings on Capitol Hill, and was one of but a few journalists inside National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland for the court martial of U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. At News Beat, he covers mass incarceration, press freedoms, wrongful convictions, the war on drugs, and much more. Mian graduated with a degree in journalism from Hofstra University and has earned dozens of local, state and national journalism awards and accolades.

Pat Milton, an award-winning journalist, is a senior producer of the CBS News Investigative Unit, specializing in national security, terrorism and federal law enforcement. She joined CBS News in 2008 after more than two decades with The Associated Press where she reported on scores of the nation’s biggest news events. At CBS News, she has contributed to major news coverage including the Paris attacks, Sandy Hook massacre, the capture of Mexican drug lord El Chapo, the Colorado theater shootings, and the Boston Marathon bombing. She was on the CBS news team that earned an Emmy for its coverage of the Boston bombing.

Milton has co-produced segments for 60 Minutes, including a behind the scenes look at the FBI’s investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, the DEA’s international hunt for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, a look inside the New York Police Department’s counter terrorism bureau, and in-depth interviews with FBI Director Jim Comey and CIA Director John Brennan. She was on the team that produced the documentary film, “The Spymasters: The CIA in the Crosshairs.” She also secured the first television interview with undercover FBI agent Jack Garcia, who, as Jack Falcone, became only the second law enforcement officer in history to be invited to be a member of La Cosa Nostra. She regularly files reports for CBS Radio and CBSN, CBS’s digital network. At The Associated Press, Milton led coverage of the mid-air explosion of TWA Flight 800 off the coast Long Island that killed 230 people and raised questions whether a bomb or missile might be to blame. The coverage was nominated by the AP for the Pulitzer Prize. She reported for the AP on the 9/11 attacks, the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and obtained several exclusive interviews with New York Yankees boss George Steinbrenner. She was twice selected as AP reporter of the year in New York.

Milton authored “In the Blink of an Eye,” which told the inside story of the FBI’s investigation into the TWA Flight 800 crash. Milton is an attorney, licensed to practice law in New York and Washington, D.C. She holds a B.A. in History and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Dominick Miserandino is the CEO of Inquisitr. Since taking the helm, he has overseen a company-wide reorganization that has increased profitability and taken the site in new, exciting directions. Previously, he founded one of the first entertainment news websites on the internet, TheCelebrityCafe.com, bringing it to a multi-million dollar business. He’s been involved in or has overseen the launch of over three dozen online publications.  He’s also served as CMO for Adorama Pix and Director of Internet for Bigfoot Media. Dominick has worked as a consultant for eCommerce and publishing for the Wall Street Journal, Morgan Stanley, Hearst Publications, Scout, NASA, Goldman Sachs and other major brands. Over the past 25 years he’s worked with more than 100 different web properties and consulted with top-tier digital publishers, e-commerce and app-based businesses. He has also authored two travel books. Dominick has served as president of the Press Club of Long Island and currently lectures about web businesses and analytics at Hofstra University, Stony Brook, NYU and other local colleges. He’s also lectured at Digiday, MediaPost, AdMonsters among other industry conferences.

Mark Morales is a CNN law enforcement reporter. He focuses on the New York Police Department and other local, state and federal agencies in the northeast. He is based in New York. Morales joined CNN in June 2018 and has broken news on several national stories including the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, the college admissions scandal, Cesar Sayoc’s mail bomb plot, the mass shootings in Virginia Beach and Dayton, Ohio and others.

Before joining CNN, Morales was a crime reporter on Long Island, New York, for Newsday, where he wrote about the violent, transnational gang MS-13 and the record-setting deaths due to opioid addiction. He won a Press Club of Long Island award for his reporting. Morales also previously covered law enforcement for the Wall Street Journal and crime for the New York Daily News where he was a staff reporter. While at the Daily News, Morales broke news during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers. Before that, he got his start working nights and weekends as a desk assistant for WCBS Newsradio 880. Morales is from Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Pace University with degrees in communications and Latin American studies. He also holds a Master’s Degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where he was also an adjunct lecturer.

Jed Morey is the executive producer of award-winning social justice podcast News Beat and CEO of Morey Creative Studios, a HubSpot partner inbound marketing agency based on Long Island. Morey began his career in broadcasting at WLIR-FM in New York, the heritage alternative rock station in the country. From 2002 to 2017, he was publisher of the alternative weekly Long Island Press, which earned more than 400 local, regional and national awards during that period. Morey is the author of The Great American Disconnect: Seven Fundamental Threats to our Democracy (2013). He launched News Beat in 2017 with former Press Editor in Chief Christopher Twarowski, Civil Liberties Editor Rashed Mian, and Morey Creative Engineer Michael “Manny Faces” Conforti, a respected New York hip-hop journalist. The podcast infuses hard-hitting journalism with original hip hop to shine a light on issues often neglected by mainstream media, hopefully, sparking change. Among other accolades, News Beat has earned Best Podcast prizes from SPJ’s New York Press Club and Press Club of Long Island chapters.

Emily Ngo is a political reporter with Spectrum News NY1, the 24-hour TV news network based in New York City. She covers national politics through a local lens, including the 2020 presidential election. She can be found in the field interviewing local officials about their presidential endorsements and on set, discussing the particulars of the Senate impeachment trial. Emily previously was a national political reporter for Newsday, the Long Island-based newspaper. She also appeared as a political news analyst on MSNBC, Cheddar and other networks. She was Newsday’s White House reporter during President Trump’s inaugural year in office, and she traveled the country to cover both Trump and Secretary Clinton’s campaigns during the 2016 presidential election. Emily’s past beats have including New York City Hall and Long Island politics. She grew up in Chicago, but feels like a New Yorker through and through. She graduated from Syracuse University. She loves a little bit of everything: baseball and basketball, visual arts and performance arts.

Hilary Niles is an independent multimedia and data journalist with roots in community radio. She holds a master’s from Mizzou, has produced stories for NPR and the BBC, chairs SPJ’s Freelance Community and serves on SPJ’s FOI Committee. She is also a trainer for SPJ’s “Facebook for Journalists” program. In Autumn 2019, Hilary will set off on a solo motorcycle trip from Maine to Florida to explore cultural identity and a sense of home in America. 

Rosemary Olander-Beach edits the Sunday LI Life and Act 2 sections for Newsday. She began working at Newsday in 2005 on the features copy desk, then moved to the web copy desk in 2008. From 2012 to 2018, she was an early morning breaking news editor on the Long Island Desk. Before joining Newsday, Rosemary worked as a both a staff and freelance copy editor for a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Journal News in Harrison, Institutional Investor, The National Law Journal and Martha Stewart Weddings.

Minerva Perez serves as the executive director of OLA of Eastern Long Island (Organización Latino-Americana) where her work is focused on the protection, empowerment and celebration of Latino individuals and families of the East End community. Through advocacy, education and arts, OLA is helping to craft and encourage policy and practice at a local level that seeks to integrate communities while recognizing the vulnerability present within immigrant communities. OLA is focused on advocacy, including but not limited to: existing and growing exploitation of Latinos in the workforce, the housing crisis, challenges regarding the integration of Latino parents into the framework of public education, and the challenges around building communication with local law enforcement. Prior to joining OLA, she worked for six years as director of residential and transitional services at The Retreat, where she ran a 24-hour crisis shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. There are many aspects of this type of advocacy work and municipal involvement that have formed her understanding of the critical nature of relationship building and communication between victims, witnesses and local law enforcement. OLA also explores the ways the arts shape our local understanding of the Latino culture in our midst, which broadens the spectrum of understanding among many Latinos from different countries as well as non-Latinos. As an East End advocate, Minerva has found the best way forward for our community, as a whole, is through informed action, collaboration and willingness raise the bar when it comes to human dignity and the protection of peaceful communities. She has appeared on Fox to discuss the issues related to the 2020 election and to bring light to immigration raids. She was also voted as one of NBC’s top 20 Latino leaders.

Víctor Manuel Ramos, a Newsday deputy editor, covered immigration and diverse communities on Long Island from 2011 through 2019. He was previously a senior reporter with the Orlando Sentinel in Florida, where he wrote on immigration issues and the growing Hispanic electorate.


Matthew Reed is an attorney for the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission.  In that position he serves as hearing officer, and prepares recommended decisions for the FOI Commission.  Additionally, he represents the Commission before Connecticut’s courts. Prior to his position with the FOI Commission, Matthew served as Chief of Police of the South Windsor, CT police department retiring in 2015 after 28 years of service.  He served as the Assistant Director of Public Safety for the University of Connecticut and practiced privately as a labor and employment attorney. Matt was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts and is a veteran of the United States Army.

Ronny Reyes, editor of the Freeport Herald Leader, was previously a Herald assistant editor and reporter. He has won a number of reporting awards, including the Press Club of Long Island’s Cub Reporter of the Year in 2019. He was previously a news fellow with NPR, and earned his bachelor’s in journalism from Stony Brook University. At the Herald, he has covered immigration from the very first week he joined the paper in 2018.


Michael Rizzo is the former Executive Producer of ABC Sports Radio as well as the General Manager/Executive Director for News and Sports at ABC Radio. He was also the director of Sports Services for ABC-TV News working closely with ESPN and ABC Sports. Mike’s leadership at ABC Radio helped the Sports Department win its first ever Edward R. Murrow award from the RTDNA. He was the Executive Producer of The Fabulous Sports Babe Show and the syndicated Speaking of Sports commentary show by Keith Olbermann on ABC Radio. Mike is currently the Director of the Journalism Program and an Assistant Professor at St. John’s University. Mike is a graduate of Fordham University and has an MBA from St. John’s University in Marketing Management. 

Tara Rosenblum spent 14 years as an anchor/reporter with News 12 before kicking off the station’s first investigative unit in 2017 named ‘Turn to Tara’. She also hosts the half-hour political talk show, ‘Power and Politics’. Since joining the news team in 2004, Tara has become one of the most award-winning television reporters in the state of New York. Her more than 200 industry awards include a 2017 National Edward R. Murrow Award, 25 Emmy wins and 105 Emmy nominations, six of them for New York’s top general assignment reporter. In 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 she was the most Emmy-nominated t-v reporter in the NY market; one of the years bringing home a record 8 wins, including Top GA, Investigative and Political reporter. Tara was a 2005 Walter Cronkite political fellow and spends much of her time producing, writing and reporting News 12’s political coverage. Tara has interviewed presidents, governors and reported live from state and national political conventions. In early 2019, her interview with Hillary Clinton announcing that she wasn’t running a third time for president went viral across the globe. She was also invited as the only American television reporter to accompany New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his summer solidarity trip to Israel. Before joining News 12, Tara worked on-air at two NBC stations; first as a reporter in Iowa, then as a main anchor/talk show host in Elmira, NY. She started her career working jobs/internships at The White House, Capitol Hill, CNN’s White House unit and CBS News during the 2000 presidential elections.

Kevin Z. Smith is the executive director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism located at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. Smith spent his first 15 years in newsrooms at daily newspapers working in a variety of positions from sportswriter to business reporter, state house correspondent and managing editor. He spent the next 14 years as a college professor, working at schools in West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio. He is the former national president of SPJ and served on the Society’s ethics committee for 23 years, serving as its chair for six years. He is a contributing author to four ethics textbooks, and presented more than 100 ethics presentations around the world. He is a speaker specialist with the U.S. Department of State and frequently travels overseas to assist journalists on ethics and digital media issues.

Sara Brittany Somerset is a United Nations-based cannabis correspondent and global drug policy analyst. Her work has been syndicated worldwide in various media outlets from The New York Times to High Times. She was formerly U.N. Bureau Chief for the latter,  Personally establishing the first cannabis news desk within the United Nations. As a foreign correspondent, “SB” covered illicit cannabis cultivation during the blood diamond wars in Sierra Leone. In 2018, she received an AxisWire Star Media Award for Best Freelance Cannabis Writer. Her coverage has a penchant for social justice issues and equality. As a public speaker, Sara Brittany has appeared at the Cannabis Media Summit, CannaTech, Collision, Pot or Not, World Cannabis Congress, the Green Market Summit, CWCBE, NCIA, iC3, cLAB, entOURage, and Cannabis Europa.

Dr. Temis G. Taylor is a Message Design Instructor and Science Communication Researcher at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. As the Center’s lead on Climate Change Communication, she is an advocate for the development of communication skills as a pathway to reduce polarization and improve trust among scientists, the public, and policy makers. She is passionate about helping scientists engage with stakeholders, decision makers, and colleagues by more effectively communicating their work across the broad range of knowledge, experience, worldviews, and values that people hold. Dr. Taylor’s research addresses questions of sustainability, resilience, social complexity, and innovation within the context of natural resource and ecological limitations. Her work focuses on public discourse, perceptions of risk, and energy resources and transitions. She holds a Ph.D. in Environment and Society and an M.S. in Bioregional Planning from Utah State University, and a B.S. in Communication from the University of Utah. Prior to joining the Alda Center, she worked on environmental planning projects for government agencies and NGOs and held faculty and management positions in research and higher education administration. Her work appears in journals such as Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Building Research and Innovation, American Journal of Sociology and Economics, and International Journal of Science and Society, and in several edited volumes.

Christopher Twarowski is editor in chief of award-winning social justice podcast News Beat, its parent company Morey Creative Studios, and former editor in chief and investigations czar of the alternative weekly Long Island Press. There, he spearheaded many of its award-winning probes, exposing environmental crimes, political malfeasance and corporate misdeeds affecting the health, safety and welfare of countless members of the public at large. Among these: hazardous conditions and gross mismanagement at local wastewater treatment plants; an ever-growing subterranean plume of toxic chemicals contaminating public drinking water supplies; a potentially deadly backlog of county vehicle forfeiture cases; and the largest case of circulation fraud in publishing history. He’s given voices to workers stricken with incredibly rare cancers who unknowingly toiled atop a former atomic waste site in Hicksville, whistleblowers punished for sounding the alarm in the public good, and many more. Twarowski has written for the financial and metro desks of The Washington Post and has earned more than 150 local, state and national journalism awards and accolades. He holds two master’s degrees from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, with specializations in investigative journalism and business and economics.

Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro is Vice President of Digital News for Altice USA. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Journalism at Hofstra University, where he is also Director of the graduate journalism program and advisor of the student SPJ chapter. The immediate past president of the Press Club of Long Island (PCLI), Vaccaro is assistant regional director of SPJ’s Region 1 (northeast U.S.). As president of PCLI, the chapter was named SPJ National Chapter of the Year in 2016, as well as runner-up in 2015. With PCLI he is co-chair of the 2020 SPJ Region 1 Conference and chair of the SPJ Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. Vaccaro has also served as Editor-in-Chief of The Topps Company (yes, baseball cards!), as well as an editor and producer at the New York Daily News, Aol and Southampton Press. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, The Athletic and more, and he is the author of six books. 

Michael White is the founder of Greater Long Island Media Group, LLC, publishers of GreaterPatchogue, GreaterBabylon and the four other Greater-brand of local news websites operating in Suffolk County. The sites can all be accessed by visiting greaterlongisland.com. White is also a former staff writer at the New York Post and Daily News, with journalism degrees from the University of Delaware and Columbia University.


Jim Whiteman was an original member of the News 12 Long Island team. He was there when the popular news service debuted back in 1986. In the years since, Jim has worn a variety of hats at News 12, working his way from photographer to producer, up to his current role as the News Director. A lifelong LI resident, Jim went to college in upstate New York and lives with his wife and 2 children in Wantagh.