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
Peter Thomson, Secretary
Douglas Fischer, Future Conference Sites Chair
Tom Yulsman, Rep. for Academic Membership
Meaghan Parker, Rep. for Associate Membership
Ex Officio Board Member
Jim Detjen, Founding President
SEJ Project Consultants
Christine Rigel, 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 - NPR in Seattle. She also contributes regularly to programs such as Public Radio International's "Living on Earth" and "The World." She has completed fellowships at the Metcalf Institute, the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources and SoundVision Productions. Ashley received her masters in science journalism while on a fellowship at the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. In her spare time Ashley rides a 40-year-old motorcycle and keeps her fingers crossed that it doesn't break down — although when it does, she usually comes home with interesting stories and new friends. 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.
Peter Thomson is the environment editor at the BBC/Public Radio International program "The World" and the author of Sacred Sea: A Journey to Lake Baikal. He was the founding producer and editor of NPR's groundbreaking environmental news program "Living on Earth" in 1991, and in a decade with the program also served as senior editor, western region bureau chief, senior correspondent and special projects editor. Thomson's work has been honored with numerous awards, for reports and documentaries on subjects ranging from oil, natives and wildlife on Alaska's North Slope to threats facing America's drinking water supply to the environmental legacy of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Thomson has received fellowships from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Rockefeller Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. He is a member of the advisory board of the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, and has served on the advisory board of the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources. Contact Peter, 617-983-2327.
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 profession for over 14 years. She is the Founder and President of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalist, 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.
Peter Fairley is a ground-breaking energy and technology journalist based in Victoria, British Columbia. He is a contributing writer with Technology Review magazine, contributing editor with Spectrum, and author of the webjournal Carbon-Nation, covering developments in renewable energy, nuclear power, the sustainable use of fossil fuels and clean transportation technologies. An experienced foreign correspondent, Fairley has worked on assignment on four continents, from Bolivia to China and throughout Europe. Other publications where Peter's byline can be found include The Sunday Times of London, Canadian Business, Architectural Record and Popular Mechanics. Prior to freelancing Fairley served as Washington bureau chief and senior managing editor for Chemical Week, chronicling the global chemical industry's collision with the environment and its struggle to change. Fairley holds a master's degree from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and a B.Sc. in molecular biology from McGill University. Contact Peter, 250-514-6248.
Christy George is an independent radio and television producer in Portland, Oregon. She has worked for Oregon Public Broadcasting since 1997, most recently as a TV producer for the PBS program, "History Detectives." She is currently producing a one-hour documentary on the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Act at 25 years old. She moved to Oregon initially to create a bureau covering the intersection of business and the environment for the Los-Angeles based national business show, "Marketplace," later hosting her own weekly radio show, "Oregon Territory," and most recently producing special projects for radio and TV. Before that, George edited foreign and national news for The Boston Herald and covered politics for WGBH-TV. She started out in 1976, covering noise and air pollution and neighborhood encroachment by Logan Airport for The East Boston Community News — a dream beat that first introduced her to the environment beat. George 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.
Tom Henry has been a journalist for 29 years. He created The (Toledo) Blade's environment beat when he was hired by that newspaper in 1993. Tom began his career in 1981 at The Bay City Times in northern Michigan, where he was insane enough to go up in a twin-engine plane in 25-below zero weather with a Michigan DNR official one day and track elk from the sky. A few years later, he wised up and went to The Tampa Tribune, where he tracked manatees from the air in 80-degree weather with two U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials (as well as some alligators by airboat). In fact, between that and his multiple trips out on Lake Erie with Ohio Sea Grant and other researchers, Tom has made quite a career of getting free rides in the air and on the water from public employees. He has won multiple awards, as well as a two-week Vermont Law School fellowship for a class on nuclear power policy in 2006. He has written about mass murderers, businessmen, some of the nation's top politicians and a bevy of rock 'n' roll stars with equal aplomb throughout his career. He began writing a column about the environment for The Blade's Sunday news analysis section in 2007, in addition to his ongoing coverage of that subject. His first major series at The Blade was about the longstanding abuse of Toledo area waterways. He has spoken at national conferences and at major universities about the Great Lakes and energy issues, his two favorite environmental topics. In 2008, he spent 10 days in Greenland researching a four-day series on climate change that was recognized by The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, the Knight Science Journalism Tracker and Columbia Journalism Review. Tom has contributed chapters to two books (one on Florida rivers and the other on nuclear power) and essays for scholarly magazines such as Harvard University's Nieman Reports and Michigan State University's EJ magazine. "Why I do what I do," Great Lakes Echo, Nov. 3, 2010. Contact Tom, 419-893-1946.
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.
Jennifer Weeks is a writer specializing in nature, energy and environmental issues. She has written for more than 50 newspapers, magazines, and web sites, including the Washington Post, Boston Globe Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Audubon, National Wildlife, Grist, Daily Climate, Miller-McCune, National Geographic Kids, Plenty, Backpacker, High Country News, Preservation, New Scientist, Columbia Journalism Review, and Newsweek. She was part of a team that won the 2009 Science Prize for Online Resources in Education from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Before going freelance she worked for fifteen years as a Congressional aide, lobbyist, and public policy analyst. Weeks graduated from Williams College and holds master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina (political science) and Harvard University (environmental policy). Contact Jennifer, 617-924-3792.
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
Tom Yulsman is an associate professor at the University of Colorado's School of Journalism & Mass Communication. As co-director of the Center for Environmental Journalism, he oversees a variety of programs with a colleague, including the Ted Scripps Fellowships in Environmental Journalism, a year-long, in-residence program for working journalists, and the environmental journalism emphasis in the school's master's program. Yulsman also serves as a faculty member in CU's Environmental Studies Program, where he oversees the Graduate Certificate in Environment, Policy and Society and is a member of the program's Executive Committee. He is an affiliate with a number of programs on campus, including the Center for Science, Technology and Policy Research. He teaches a variety of courses including Science Writing, Principles of Journalism, and Critical Thinking in Environmental Studies. As part of his commitment to interdisciplinary education and research, Yulsman has been a co-principal investigator in the NSF-funded Carbon, Climate and Society Initiative at CU. Since he began his career as a science journalist in 1980, Yulsman has written for a variety of major publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Denver Post, Discover, Audubon, Earth, Astronomy and, most recently, Climate Central. His journalistic work has ranged from health and medicine to environment to cosmology. He currently focuses on the earth and environmental sciences, with a particular focus on climate. In 2009, he created the content for "Covering Climate Change," an online, interactive course hosted by the Poynter Institute’s News University. His blog CEJournal provides journalistic reporting, analysis, commentary and multimedia content on a variety of environmental subjects, particularly climate change. Yulsman has also written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003. Prior to joining the journalism school's faculty in 1996, he was editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Until its closure in 1998, Earth was the only consumer magazine dedicated to the science of our planet. Contact Tom.
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 is the Director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. He joined the MSU faculty in January 1995 as the Knight Chair in Journalism. 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.
Assistant to the Executive Director
Jeanne Scanlon joined headquarters staff in March 2011. Jeanne provides support for SEJ budget development, messaging through social media, and management projects including the Fund for Environmental Journalism. She has worked as a grantmaker and strategist for philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and municipalities. Her background in financial services and administration includes pension fund portfolio services at Morgan Stanley in New York City, where she also served as a grant reviewer on the company's peer grantmaking "Volunteer Incentive Committee." Jeanne transitioned to the nonprofit sector in 2002 upon finishing a degree in public and nonprofit administration at the Baruch School of Public Affairs, and worked under the chief fundraiser for The After School Corporation, a major project of the Open Society Institute. As an Associate with the Claneil Foundation in Plymouth Meeting, PA, Jeanne contributed to significant grantmaking in the environment, food systems and health. In 2010, as interim executive director, she took the Bucks County Women’s Fund through its fundraising, grantmaking, and special celebration events and programs, in the Fund’s 20th anniversary year. Jeanne’s board, consulting and committee work advances women's issues, energy conservation, a sustainable food system, and strong nonprofit organizations. In 2010, she 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 recently married daughter is a social worker/urban farmer in New York City.
SEJ Project Staff
Director of Awards, Sr. Programs Manager, Systems Analyst
Christine Rigel, 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)