SEJ Board & Staff
Don Hopey, President
Jeff Burnside, First Vice Pres. & Programs Chair
Ashley Ahearn, Second Vice Pres. & Membership Chair
Carolyn Whetzel, Treasurer & Finance Chair
Christy George, Secretary
Douglas Fischer, Future Conference Sites Chair
David Poulson, Rep. for Academic Membership
Meaghan Parker, Rep. for Associate Membership
Ex Officio Board Member
Jim Detjen, Founding President
SEJ Project Consultants
Christine Bruggers, Director of Awards, Sr. Programs Manager, Systems Analyst
Jay Letto, Director of Annual Conferences
Cindy MacDonald, Web Content Manager
Joseph A. Davis, TipSheet and WatchDog Editor; member, SEJ FOI Task Force
Adam Glenn, SEJournal Editor
Talli Nauman, Diversity Program Associate
SEJ board service FAQ's
— the whats and whys of serving on the SEJ board
Don Hopey has covered the environment for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since 1992. He has written series about an 80-mile canoe trip through the Wild & Scenic sections of the Allegheny River, the "Wise Use" movement in Pennsylvania and problems with the nation's hazardous waste incinerators. He participated in an end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail by five eastern newspapers in 1995, hiking more than 500 miles from Virginia through Pennsylvania. Reports on the hike were reprinted in a book, An Appalachian Adventure. He is co-author of Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic States, one of five guide books in a series that highlights the trail's social and natural history. He teaches an environmental issues and policy class at the University of Pittsburgh. Contact Don, 412-263-1983.
First Vice President and Programs Chair
Jeff Burnside is the senior investigative reporter at KOMO 4 News in Seattle. He has been in the news business for more than 20 years working as a reporter, anchor, news manager and producer in cities such as Seattle, Boston and Miami where he was part of the highly regarded WTVJ Special Projects Unit. In addition to environmental reporting, Jeff covers daily news and periodically reports investigative stories. He's won more than 20 journalism awards — for television and newspaper reporting and photography — including a dozen regional Emmys. Among his environmental stories, Jeff was among the very first to chronicle the harm to marine mammals from low frequency active Navy sonar, documented concerns over rock mining threats to Miami-Dade wellheads where one million people get their drinking water, has traveled extensively to cover the decline of the world's coral reefs, and ventured to the bottom of the ocean aboard a scientific submersible during bioprospecting and reporting the damage from bottom trawling. His general assignments have ranged from interviewing presidents, going inside to investigate violent white extremists, exposing dangerous religious cults, documenting serious lapses in Florida's drivers' licensing, videotaping bribes, to going undercover to expose the little-known pipeline from puppy mills to pet stores. Jeff is also a frequent invited speaker and panelist on environmental journalism and journalism ethics. He's earned working media fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Tromso, Norway), Steinbrenner Institute for climate science (Carnegie Mellon University), Reynolds Center for Business Journalism on the green economy (Cronkite School at Arizona State University), Metcalf Institute for Environmental Reporting (University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography), and the Western Knight Center for Specialized Reporting in political coverage (University of Southern California Annenberg School). Contact Jeff, 305-333-6615.
Second Vice President and Membership Chair
Ashley Ahearn is the environment reporter at KUOW — National Public Radio in Seattle — and part of the regional multimedia collaborative project EarthFix. Before joining KUOW Ashley was a producer and reporter for Living on Earth, a nationally aired environment program from Public Radio International. She has a masters in science journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California and has completed reporting fellowships with the Vermont Law School, the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island and the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources. In her spare time Ashley enjoys riding vintage motorcycles, snowboarding and hiking in the Olympics and the Cascade mountain ranges of the Northwest. Contact Ashley.
Treasurer and Finance Chair
Carolyn Whetzel is an environmental reporter for Bloomberg BNA, a private publisher headquartered in Washington, D.C. that covers legislative developments, federal and state laws and regulations, court decisions, and economic trends. Whetzel is based in California and covers a variety of state environmental issues including air and water quality, hazardous wastes, chemicals, and energy since 1992. Her work appears primarily in Bloomberg BNA's Daily Environment Report, Environment Reporter, Toxics Law Reporter, Chemical Regulation Reporter, Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, and Daily Report for Executives. Whetzel joined BNA in 1970 while attending George Washington University, but left four years later to travel and move to California. Before rejoining BNA, which Bloomberg acquired in 2011, she wrote for in-house publications for several companies and institutions and was a freelance writer in San Francisco, Phoenix, and Dallas. Contact Carolyn, 909-793-1430.
Christy George is an independent radio and television producer in Portland, Oregon. Her most recent projects have been for Oregon Public Broadcasting's TV show, "Oregon Field Guide," and the PBS program, "History Detectives." She's also working on a book about climate change and social change. Christy initially moved to Oregon to create a bureau covering the intersection of business and the environment for the American Public Media business show, "Marketplace," and later hosted the weekly radio show, "Oregon Territory." Before that, Christy edited foreign and national news for The Boston Herald and covered politics for WGBH-TV and WBUR-FM. She started out as a volunteer, covering noise and air pollution and neighborhood encroachment by Logan Airport for The East Boston Community News — a dream job that first introduced her to the environment beat. Christy has won Emmys in both the Northwest and New England, a Gracie Allen Award, an Edward R. Murrow award, a first-place prize in the New York Festivals and numerous AP and SPJ awards. Her special, "Liquid Gold," on how water is bought, sold and marketed like any other commodity, was part of "Marketplace's" 1998 winning submission for a Columbia-DuPont Silver Baton award. A high school graduate, she was a 1990-91 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. Contact Christy, 503-702-8448.
Future Conference Sites Chair
Douglas Fischer is the editor of DailyClimate.org, a nonprofit, foundation-funded news Web site focusing on climate change. Before switching to the Web, Fischer spent eight years covering the environment for the Oakland Tribune and five years at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska, where, among other hats, he was the paper’s restaurant reviewer. He started his journalism career in Newsweek’s Letters Department. His articles have won numerous national and regional awards, among them an Award of Merit from the inaugural Grantham Prize. Fischer is a graduate of Columbia University and lives today with his wife and two children in Boulder, Colo., where he's learning to play piano. Contact Douglas, 406-219-3816.
Imelda Abano has been in the journalism profession since 1998. She is the Founder and President of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists, Inc. (PNEJ) which was created in 2010, aiming to increase the quality and quantity of environmental reporting. Abano is the first Filipino to receive the 2009 Developing Asia Journalist of the Year award for her climate change story "Scorched Earth," which was organized by the Asian Development Bank Institute based in Tokyo, Japan. She is also the first Filipino journalist to receive the prestigious United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) Award for excellence in reporting on environment, humanitarian and development affairs in 2008. In 2002, Abano received the Asian Winner of the Global Awards on Environmental Reporting organized by Reuters and IUCN in Washington DC. She has been covering environmental and science issues for the UK-based Science and Development Network (scidevnet), the BusinessMirror and InterAksyon. Abano was among the first batch of journalists who launched the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) in 2007 to cover the United Nations-backed climate change conferences. She then became a United Nations Framework of Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) fellow covering series of climate change negotiations from 2008 to present. Contact Imelda.
Jennifer Bogo is the articles editor at Popular Science, where she orchestrates coverage on topics ranging from medical breakthroughs and space exploration to advances in alternative energy and robotics. Stories she edited have won a National Magazine Award and been included in The Best American Science Writing and Best American Science and Nature Writing anthologies. She’s appeared on radio and television programs, including NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Nightly News, and Fox Business, to discuss topics such as green design, asteroid defense, and solar storms. She’s traveled to research stations from the Arctic to the Antarctic to write stories herself. Contact Jennifer, (212) 779-5578.
Emily Gertz is a freelance journalist based in New York City, covering national and international stories on the environment, science, politics, and technology. Her work has appeared in diverse publications, from magazines like Rolling Stone, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Dwell, to digital news outlets like Talking Points Memo, SciAm.com, Grist, Ensia, and OnEarth.org. Emily was a founding blogger at Worldchanging, the award-winning web site that in the mid-2000s pioneered solutions-oriented coverage of environment, climate, human rights, politics, technology, design, cities, business, and more. She also contributed to the Abrams book based on the site’s reporting, Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. Emily has co-authored two innovative books on do-it-yourself electronics, Environmental Monitoring with Arduino and Atmospheric Monitoring with Arduino, both for Maker Media. She is at work on a third related book, Sensor Networks, for O’Reilly Media, and contributed to the 2013 DaCapo book The Science Writers’ Handbook. Emily has a masters in environmental studies from the University of Oregon, and got her start in journalism as a writer and editor of The Bear Deluxe, an independent arts-and-environment ‘zine out of Portland, Ore., overlapped with an 18-month stint as environmental and outdoors news producer for OregonLive.com, the online arm of The Oregonian newspaper. She has received fellowships from SEJ, The National Association of Science Writers, COMPASS, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Knight Science Journalism at MIT Boot Camps. Contact Emily, (718) 812-4328.
Robert McClure is Executive Director of InvestigateWest, an independent reporting studio in Seattle, WA. A Florida native, he spent a decade on the beat at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where he wrote numerous articles pointing out the need for Everglades restoration in the years leading up to launching of the planet's largest ecosystem restoration there. He also was awarded a prestigious Knight Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan, where he studied environment and economics and concluded that he must move West to tackle the really big environmental stories. That's what he did, taking a job with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In a decade at the P-I, he produced five multi-part projects on mining, endangered species, and the need for environmental restoration of Puget Sound and the Duwamish River. He has covered climate change and other environmental news topics in his blog, Dateline Earth. When the P-I ceased publishing in March 2009, McClure was instrumental in helping launch InvestigateWest, a start-up non-profit news venture, to carry on investigative and narrative reporting on the West. His professional career began at United Press International's Miami and Tallahassee bureaus. McClure is the recipient of numerous state, regional and national journalism awards including the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism. Contact Robert, 206-718-0340.
Environment reporter Mark Schleifstein has worked at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune since 1984. In 2011, the Press Club of New Orleans honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. His stories on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill were among The Times-Picayune work honored with the 2010 Edward J. Meeman Award for environmental reporting from the Scripps-Howard Foundation National Journalism Awards program, and with a second place award in the 2011 John B. Oakes Awards program. His reporting during and after Hurricane Katrina was among the newspaper’s stories honored with 2006 Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service and Breaking News Reporting and the George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting. He is the co-author with John McQuaid of Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms, published by Little, Brown & Co., in August 2006. Stories written with McQuaid prior to Katrina on coastal science issues were honored in 2006 with a special award from the American Geophysical Union. The 2002 series he co-authored, “Washing Away: How south Louisiana is growing more vulnerable to a catastrophic hurricane,” won the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2003 Excellence in Media award and the 2003 National Hurricane Conference media award. He also was co-author of the 1996 series, “Oceans of Trouble: Are the World’s Fisheries Doomed?” which won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service from the Society of Professional Journalists. He co-authored the 1998 series, “Home Wreckers: How the Formosan termite is devastating New Orleans,” which was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Biological Sciences. He also was the co-author of the 1991 series, “Louisiana in Peril,” which was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism. He is married to Diane Schleifstein, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren. Contact Mark, (504) 826-3327.
Kate Sheppard is a senior reporter and the environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post. She previously reported for Mother Jones, Grist, and the American Prospect. Her writing has also been featured in the New York Times’ Room for Debate blog, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, High Country News, The Center for Public Integrity, In These Times, and Bitch. Her reporting has been recognized with awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Online News Association, and Planned Parenthood. She is also currently a graduate student in the School of Communication at American University, studying media entrepreneurship. Contact Kate, (202) 360-6848.
Wm. Roger Witherspoon has spent more than 45 years working in all forms of the media as a journalist, author, educator, and public relations specialist. Along the way, he has written extensively on politics, foreign affairs, finance, defense, civil rights, constitutional law, health, the environment, and energy. Most of his career has been in the news business, working as a full time reporter, editor, columnist, or producer for a variety of media companies including newspapers (The Record, N. J.; Star Ledger, N. J.; NY Daily News; Atlanta Constitution; Dallas Times Herald; and Journal News (N.Y.); television (CNN, KNBC and NBC Network); and radio (WCBN, MI). As a freelance writer, he has written for several publications, including Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Essence, The Economist, and US Black Engineer & IT. As an educator, he was responsible for restructuring the print and broadcast curriculum and staff in the Department of Mass Communications at Clark-Atlanta University. In public affairs, he managed millions of dollars in health and environmental grant programs globally for Exxon Corp. He is the author of Martin Luther King, Jr…to the Mountaintop, Doubleday; and co-author of Feats and Wisdom of the Ancients, Time-Life Books; and Engineering 101: A Text Manual, Hampton University College of Science and Engineering. He is a founder of the Association of Black Journalists, which grew into the present National Association of Black Journalists; and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, the International Motor Press Association, and the Automotive Press Association. Contact Roger, (201) 906-0220.
Representative for the SEJ Academic Membership
David Poulson is the senior associate director of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental journalism where he teaches environmental, investigative and computer-assisted reporting to graduate and undergraduate students. He also organizes and implements workshops in the U.S. and abroad to help professional journalists better report on the environment and to help environmental scientists better communicate to the public. He is the founder and editor of Great Lakes Echo, a non-profit award-winning environmental news service serving the Great Lakes region. Before arriving at MSU in 2003, he had a 22-year professional career as an environmental and public affairs reporter and editor. Contact David, (517) 432-5417.
Representative for the SEJ Associate Membership
Meaghan Parker has served as the Writer/Editor for the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars since November 2003. She is the editor of the ECSP Report and the founding editor of the daily blog New Security Beat, both of which focus on the connections among environmental, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human security, and foreign policy. Her work at the Wilson Center has won five Global Media Awards for Population Reporting. Prior to joining the Center, she was Manager of Research and Internal Communications at PPL Global, a subsidiary of Fortune 500 energy company PPL Corporation, where she researched international investments and renewable energy policy. Contact Meaghan, (202) 691-4182.
Jim Detjen served as Director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and Knight Chair at Michigan State University from January 1995 through May 2012. Previously Detjen spent 21 years as a professional newspaper reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and other publications. His reporting has won more than 50 state, national and international awards including Polk, National Headliner, Stokes and Meeman awards. He is a three-time finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Detjen is a contributor to or author of four books on environmental and science journalism topics. He has lectured widely and has taught journalism workshops in the British Isles, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, China, Japan, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Mexico and throughout the U.S. Detjen helped found the International Federation of Environmental Journalists in 1993 and served as IFEJ president from 1994 to 2000. He earned a bachelor's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. Detjen was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach at Nanakai University in Tianjin, China, during the spring semester of 2002. Contact Jim, 517-353-9479.
Beth Parke became SEJ's first executive director in 1993. She provides entrepreneurial leadership to clarify, protect and advance SEJ's mission. Parke's responsibilities include implementation of board policies, budget and finance, development, strategic planning, university relations with regard to annual conferences, and collaboration with partners in the journalism community. From 1984-1992 Parke was senior producer and host for Consider the Alternatives, an award-winning radio series on public policy issues. Prior to that she was employed as a producer for National Public Radio affiliates WGBH-FM, Boston and WHYY-FM, Philadelphia. Parke earned a B.A. in Communications from Boston College, and an M.A. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Contact Beth, 215-884-8174.
Records Manager and SEJournal Design Editor
Linda Knouse, records manager and SEJournal design editor, began working for SEJ in the fall of 2002. Knouse maintains member records and accounting files and lends support to many programs and projects. Before joining SEJ's staff, Knouse was employed by Montgomery Newspapers where she handled billing data and page layout for display advertising. Knouse's freelance writing on environmental subjects has been published by Montgomery Newspapers, Montgomery Town and Country Magazine and Pennsylvania Magazine. Contact Linda, 215-884-8174.
Development and Programs Associate
Jeanne Scanlon joined headquarters in March 2011. She assists the executive director and board in budget and membership development, grants administration, messaging through social media, and program management. Jeanne has worked as a grantmaker and strategist for philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and municipalities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from CUNY and in 2010 completed a Master's degree in Community and Regional Planning at Temple University’s School of Environmental Design, focusing on philanthropy and sustainable communities. Jeanne lives with her artist husband on the Bucks County, PA farm where he grew up. Their married daughter is a social worker/urban farmer in New York City.
SEJ Project Staff
Director of Awards, Sr. Programs Manager, Systems Analyst
Christine Bruggers, director of awards, sr. programs manager and SEJ systems analyst, has been with SEJ since 1993. She designed and built SEJ's database system and served for many years as design editor of SEJournal. Responsibilities at SEJ's Pennsylvania headquarters over the years included planning and implemention of many SEJ programs, supervising administrative and program staff, managing SEJ's computer systems and working with SEJ's board on awards, membership and elections committees. Rigel moved to Kentucky in 2011. She continues to direct the annual awards program, develop membership and database systems, manage marketing for SEJ, and handle many aspects of annual conference planning. Rigel earned a B.A. in professional writing from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. She is also an accomplished photographer. Contact Chris, 502-641-1844.
Annual Conference Director
Jay Letto, a founding member of SEJ, has been the group's annual conference director since 1993. He also works as a freelance writer and editor. From 1986 to 1992, Letto served as director of the environment program at the Scientists' Institute for Public Information in New York City, where he was also co-editor of SIPIscope. Letto has organized scores of programs for journalists on the full spectrum of environmental issues. As annual conference director for SEJ, he works with the board conference chair and dozens of member-volunteers to organize a balanced, diverse and news-making program dealing with the myriad aspects of news reporting on environmental issues. Letto is on the editorial board of the Stanford University publication Ecofables/Ecoscience and on the advisory board of the Science & Technology News Network. Letto earned his B.S. in biology and environmental studies from the University of Michigan. He also holds an M.A. in journalism, with a certificate in science and environmental reporting, from New York University. Contact Jay, 509-493-4428.
Web Content Manager
Cindy MacDonald, SEJ's Web content manager, develops and maintains fresh, accurate and timely content for www.sej.org on a daily basis. She has applied her technical expertise and extensive experience as a detail-oriented writer and administrator to this creative and critically important service to the SEJ community since December 2000. Based near Lindsay, Ontario, Canada, MacDonald is an avid proponent of accurate information in general and on environmental issues in particular. She is a French/Spanish undergraduate of the University of Windsor, Canada. Contact Cindy.
TipSheet and WatchDog TipSheet Editor; member, SEJ FOI Taskforce
Joseph A. Davis, free-lance writer/editor in Washington, D.C., directs the WatchDog Project, an activity of SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force that reports on secrecy trends and supports reporters' efforts to make better use of FOIA. He also edits TipSheet, a biweekly electronic newsletter of story ideas and sources co-published by SEJ and the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation (RTNDF). Davis was senior writer with the Environmental Health Center until 2002, where he was acting editor of EHC's Environment Writer as well as principal author of EHC's reporter's guide on the science of global climate change. Between 1982 and 1989, he covered energy, environment and natural resources for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C. Davis earned his B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has experience in database reporting and has taught Web publishing. Contact Joe, 301-656-2261.
Diversity Program Associate
Talli Nauman is co-founder and co-director of the Aguascalientes, Mexico-based bilingual independent media project Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness, initiated with a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1994. She was the Americas Program associate and editor at large for the International Relations Center, a people-based policy think-tank and non-profit, trilingual web publisher based in Silver City, New Mexico, from 2003 to 2006. She writes a weekly column on environmental issues in the Mexico edition of the Miami Herald and takes part in hemispheric efforts to promote environmental community right-to-know and access to public information on industrial toxics. Nauman recently returned to reside in the United States after living and working in photojournalism in Mexico for 16 years. Her background includes more than 30 years in major media outlets in the Americas, including the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, UPI, and The Associated Press in Los Angeles and Mexico City; a master's degree in International Journalism from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard-Radcliffe. Contact Talli, 215-884-8174.
Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)
Katherine Fanning (1927-2000)
Thomas Winship (1920-2002)
SEJournal Editorial Board
Robert McClure (chair)
Adam Glenn (editor)
Peter Thomson (co-chair)
Carolyn Whetzel (co-chair)
Beth Parke (ex officio)