Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism

Covering Islam and Muslims in America

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   (561) 243-6624
Tal Abbady is a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Abbady has written about crime, religion, homeowner associations and immigration issues in southern Palm Beach County. In January 2005, Abbady traveled to Sri Lanka and wrote a series of articles for on the tsunami's devastation in that country's coastal villages. She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a former English teacher. Abbady holds a M.A. in English education from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and a B.A. in English literature from Sarah Lawrence.

   (303) 820-1756
Diane Alters is an assistant city editor at the Denver (CO) Post. She has also worked at the Colorado Springs Gazette and at the Boston Globe and as a lecturer at the University of Colorado’s Graduate School of Public Affairs. In 1991 Alters won first place in general reporting from the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists. She is a member of the International Communication Association, the American Academy of Religion and the National Communication Association. Alters holds a Ph.D. in media studies from the University of Colorado and an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.A. in history from Grinnell College.

   (216) 999-4116
Frank Bentayou is a reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH. He has also worked as an editor at both Tampa and Cleveland magazines, as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune and as the director of student media at Kent State University’s School of Journalism. He has received numerous awards over the years including Florida Medical Association’s Excellence in Medical Reporting award (1978), six National City and Regional Magazine Association awards for editorial excellence and design (1984-1989) and the Ohio Press club award for column writing. Bentayou holds a M.A. in journalism from Kent State University and a B.A. in English from the University of South Florida.

   (410) 332-6319
Matthew Hay Brown is the religion writer at The Baltimore (MD) Sun. Brown has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East; he has written for TheNew York Times, The Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor and other newspapers. Prior to joining The Sun in August, he covered Puerto Rico and the Caribbean from San Juan for several Tribune newspapers. Brown holds a master's degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

   (215) 854-5880
Kitty Caparella has worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News since 1972. She began her career at the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, NJ. In 2004 she won the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) of Pennsylvania’s Excellence in Ongoing News Coverage award. In 2003 she spent two months in China after winning the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ Henry Scheidt Memorial Travel Scholarship upon graduation from the four-year certificate program in printmaking. Caparella is a member and former president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, and a member of SPJ (Philadelphia chapter), Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association and the Pen and Pencil Club. She holds a B.S. in journalism from Temple University in Philadelphia and has won an N.E.H. Fellowship for Journalists at the University of Michigan, and a fellowship to study the mass media in Mexico from Temple University and Universidad de las Americas.

   (973) 783-5155
Candy Cooper is a freelance writer based in Montclair, N.J. She has held reporting positions at The Detroit Free Press, the San Francisco Examiner and the Bergen (NJ) Record. A University of Michigan Knight Journalism Fellow, she has won numerous awards over 26 years, including finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Selden Ring award for investigative reporting, and the Society of Professional Journalists award for environmental writing. Cooper holds a B.A. in French literature and American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her recent work focuses on Muslim-American youth.

   (619) 293-2082
Sandi Dolbee is a religion and ethics editor at TheSan Diego Union-Tribune. She has also worked at The San Jose (CA) Mercury News, the Fremont (CA) Argus, the Auburn (WA) Globe-News and Kent (WA) News Journal. Dolbee has won numerous awards for her writing including the Religion Newswriters Association’s Religion Reporter of the Year (2004), the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists award for feature writing, and the Copley Newspapers’ Ring of Truth award (2003 and 2001). Dolbee is a board member of the Religion Newswriters Association and holds a B.A. from Central Washington University.

   (813) 259-7920
Chris Echegaray covers diversity, demographics and immigration for The Tampa Tribune. He has also freelanced for several magazines, including Latina Magazine, writing a cover story on Shakira, the international superstar from Colombia. He began his career at the Worcester (MA)Telegram and Gazette. Echegaray is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalist Association. He holds a B.A. from Springfield College.

   (210) 250-3164
Lisa Marie Gomez is the minority affairs reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. Gomez has also worked as the marketing director for the Gladys Porter Zoo, as a journalism teacher and as a reporter at The Monitor and Brownsville (TX) Herald and KRGV-TV in Weslaco, TX. She is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. In 1995 she won the Associated Press Managing Editors’ award for her series ‘A Barrio Grows Up.’ This past July she won the San Antonio Express-News’ online breaking news award for her blog, Hurricane Emily - Eye of the Storm. Gomez holds a B.A. in broadcast journalism from Texas State University – San Marcos.

   (330) 996-3038
Kymberli Hagelberg is a staff writer at the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal. She has also worked at Sun Newspapers in Cleveland and the Cleveland Scene magazine. Hagelberg won first place for both news and business coverage from the Ohio Newspaperwomen’s Association in 2003 and second place for news coverage in 2004. She was also honored by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists for best coverage of children’s issues (2004). Hagelberg is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and is currently attending Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

   (925) 943-8345
Nathaniel Hoffman is a reporter with the Contra Costa Times in the California Bay Area. He covers immigration, California cultures and demographics. He has also worked as a reporter for the Idaho Press Tribune and as a freelance writer for the Boise Weekly.  Hoffman holds a B.A. in Africana studies from Cornell University.

   (206) 448-8096
John Iwasaki is a reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Before coming to the Post-Intelligencer, he reported for two Oregon papers, The Bulletin in Bend and the Valley Times in Beaverton. Iwasaki has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Washington Education Association and the Washington State School Directors’ Association. He has been a guest speaker at university and high school journalism classes in Seattle and a judge for the Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship program. Iwasaki holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Oregon.

   (312) 920-3641
Anna Johnson works for the Associated Press. She is based in Chicago. Before coming to AP, Johnson worked at the Daily Herald (IL). She is a member of the Association for Women Journalists. In 2004, Johnson won the Medill School’s Robert H. Wieder Scholarship Award. Johnson holds a M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.

   (214) 977-8506
Gretel Christina Kovach is a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News. Before coming To the Morning News, Kovach worked as a Cairo-based freelance writer. Her work appeared in Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor and other publications. In 2004 She won a Dallas Morning News award for best beat reporting. She holds a M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in English literature from Mills College.

   (260) 461-8706
Nicole Lee is a reporter for The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, IN. She began her journalism career at the DeKalb (Ga.) Neighbor, and has worked in news management at the Atlanta Daily World, and in public relations for the Fulton County (Ga.) Department of Communications. Most recently, Lee was part of an enterprise reporting team for Knight Ridder’s Washington Bureau, where she provided coverage of rebuilding efforts in Mississippi due to Hurricane Katrina. Lee is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and in 2002, won an award in the hard news/feature category from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists. She holds a B.A. in print journalism from Georgia State University.

   (916) 446-6821
Jason Margolis is a reporter for KQED Public Radio. He is based in Sacramento, CA. Prior to joining KQED, Margolis reported for the Seattle Times and CBS Market Watch. He has won various awards from the Northern California chapter of Radio Television News Directors Association and the Peninsula Press Club. Margolis holds a M.A. in journalism from the University of California – Berkeley, and a B.A. in history from the University of California – Los Angeles.

   (347) 866-6411
Omar Mullick is a staff writer for The Muslim Link Newspaper in College Park, MD.  The paper is distributed in Virginia, Maryland and in Washington D.C. Before joining the Muslim Link, he worked as a New York-based freelance photographer and spent six years working in the film industry. Mullick holds a degree in politics, philosophy and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

   (215) 351-0501
Monique Nazareth is a producer with National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.” She is based at WHYY in Philadelphia, where Fresh Air is produced. Before coming to WHYY, Nazareth worked at Christian Science Monitor radio as the associate producer of  “Weekend Edition,” and as a news assistant. She holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communications with a minor in Portuguese from the University of Iowa.

Charles Radin recently became religion writer for The Boston Globe after serving four years as chief of the newspaper's Middle East bureau. Before coming to TheGlobe, he worked at the Hackettstown (N.J.) Gazette and at Tribune Publications in Boston. Radin has studied Japanese and Hebrew and is a member of the Foreign Press Association. He won the National Council on Crime Delinquency’s Pass award (1998), the National Press Club’s Freedom of the Press award (1989) and the Savellon Brown award for investigative journalism (1983). Radin holds a B.A. in journalism from Boston University.

   (316) 268-6586
Tom Schaeffer is an editor and columnist for The Wichita Eagle. Before assuming his current position in 1991, he reported for The Wichita Eagle. Schaefer is also former minister of Grace Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS. He has received numerous accolades over the years including first place in the Kansas City Press Club’s Presidents Award (2002), third place in their best columnist competition (2000) and second place in 1999. Schaefer is a member of the Religion Newswriters Association and holds a M. Div. and B.A. from Concordia Senior College in Ft. Wayne, IN.

   (213) 237-7031
Larry B. Stammer is a religion writer for the Los Angeles Times. Since coming to the Times in 1975, he has also worked as an environmental reporter, a general assignment reporter, and as the Sacramento-based state politics reporter. He began his career at TheSan Jose Mercury News as a reporter and then as their Sacramento bureau chief. He has been awarded second place in both the Religion Newswriters Association’s (RNA) Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year competition and RNA’s Supple Religion Writer award.  He is currently writing a book on the intersection of religion and the environment. Stammer attended California State University in both Los Angeles and Sacramento.

   (404) 827-5872
Joe Sterling is a news desk editor at Wires CNNCNN's wire service in Atlanta. Before coming to CNN in 1997, he worked at The Nando Timesand The News & Observer, both in Raleigh, N.C., The Pittsburgh Press, and The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa. Sterling was a senior editor at CNN.com when it won a Webby award in 1999 and he was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for contributions to coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He is a member of the Press Club of Atlanta, Online News Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Sterling holds a degree in communications from Temple University and is currently studying Turkish.

   (415) 378-8265
Jennifer Taylor is a producer, director and founder of Specific Pictures, an independent documentary production company based in San Francisco. Before founding her own company in 2000, Taylor produced several films and series which aired locally on KQED-TV (San Francisco), nationally on PBS and the Sundance Channel, and internationally. She has won many awards for her work including a 2005 Northern California Emmy for entertainment and a 2002 Northern California Emmy for best community program. In 1998 her film Paulina won Best Documentary at the San Juan Film Festival in Puerto Rico and a Grand Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. Taylor is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and sits on the Board of Directors of the Film Arts Foundation. She holds a B.A. in Latin American studies and media studies from New College of California.

   (303) 892-5055
Jean Torkelson is the religion writer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, CO. She has also worked as a columnist at the Wilkes Barre (PA) Times Leader, as the Minnesota Governor’s press secretary, and as a reporter at KMSP-TV in St. Paul, MI. Torkelson has won numerous accolades for her reporting including the Pennsylvania Press Association’s award for column writing, the Rotary Club of Wheat Ridge’s (CO) Faith to Faith award, and the Colorado Association of Black Journalists’ newswriting award. Torkelson holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin. She also studied journalism at the University of Wales in Cardiff, Wales.

   (314) 340-8221
Tim Townsend has been the religion reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since June, 2004. In September, he was named the 2004 Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association. He began his career in 1999 as a news assistant at TheWall Street Journal, and his work has since been published in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, the Boston Globe Magazine and Rolling Stone. Townsend holds a M.A. in religion from Yale Divinity School, a M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. from Boston College.

What fellows have to say about past seminars:
"I learned so much. This conference has energized me to go back to my newsroom ready to write story ideas that I learned here. This is a wonderful crash course on Latinos and would recommend it to any reporter who deals with numbers, social issues, education, immigration and public policy."
- Leonel Sanchez, San Diego Union Tribune
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Funded by the John S. and
James L. Knight Foundation