To select the winners in Youth Journalism International’s annual contest, an international panel of judges combed through many entries to make difficult decisions. The hard work and dedication of these volunteers is greatly appreciated. Here is a list of judges:
Lynn S. Abrahamson
Lynn S. Abrahamson, MPH, RN is the former Director of Health for the Bristol-Burlington Health District, a full-service local health agency in central Connecticut. Previously she worked for the Manchester Health Department. Lynn has served on the executive boards of the American Public Health Association and the United Way of West Central Connecticut. She is a past president of both the Connecticut Public Health Association and the Connecticut Association of Public Health Nurses.
She is the recipient of numerous honors and distinctions including the President’s Award from the Connecticut Public Health Association and the New England Public Health Association. Her primary interests are in health communication, disease prevention and public health advocacy.
Lynn earned her BSN from the University of Pennsylvania and her MPH from the University of Connecticut. She lives in Maryland.
Steve Collins has covered government and politics for daily newspapers in New York and Connecticut since 1987, winning scores of journalism awards along the way.
He is co-founder of The Tattoo international teen newspaper, online at www.ReadTheTattoo.com, and Youth Journalism International, a 501(c)(3) public educational charity serving young people across the globe.
Born in Massachusetts, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Virginia. He is married and has two school-age children and two collies.
Eugenia Durante was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1991. She is currently studying Interpreting and Communication in Milan. She joined Youth Journalism International in 2008 and she constantly cooperates with the organization, which introduced her into the world of journalism and helped her in growing up both as a writer and as a person. She works both as a freelance journalist and translator. She writes for Rolling Stone Italia; she collaborates with many music websites and webzines and she is the editor of the music section of Quote Magazine.
Randy Flaum is the assistant managing editor for visuals at The York Dispatch in York, Penn.
His interest in photography started in high school when his grandmother gave him a Minolta camera, his first.
Since that time he has worked as a studio and wedding photographer as well as a journalist.
Flaum’s photojournalism career includes both weekly and daily publications.
At every newspaper where he’s worked, the goal has been to focus on the local community.
Over the past few years, Flaum has added videos and smart phones photographs to his storytelling techniques.
Nicole Megan Gounder
Nicole Megan Gounder is a self-motivated extrovert who is always trying to reach new limits. She holds a degree in media from the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa.
As a student at Youth Journalism International, she won first place in YJI’s second Excellence in Journalism Contest, earning High Honors in the news category for leading a team of reporters covering the World Cup in her country as well as awards for feature writing, photography and sports.
She is now an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.
Variety, challenges and fun are important to Gounder and she enjoys working in a colorfully diverse group of interesting and inspiring people. Her interests are vast and include many activities, such as scrapbooking, videography and interacting with people from all walks of life. An aspiring producer/director, Gounder’s love for the media industry has allowed her to work with well-established South African production companies. All in all, she is a firm believer that hard work eventually pays off.
Frank Johnson is President of MAC, the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut, Inc., a not-for-profit manufacturing trade association. He is also President of MASC, Manufacturing Alliance Service Corporation, Inc., a tax-exempt educational institution dedicated to teaching manufacturing and metal trade skills. In addition, Johnson is President of the Tunxis Community College Foundation which raises funds to support college scholarships and support the students of the college.
He serves as Chairman of the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation in Bristol, Conn., and previously served for over two decades on the Bristol Zoning Commission. He is married to attorney Cheryl Johnson and resides in Bristol, Conn.
Katie Jordan joined Youth Journalism International in 2000 as a reporter and cartoonist, and participated in the group from 7th grade through her entire high school career. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism from the University of Connecticut.
Jordan was part of Youth Journalism International’s incredible evolution from a Connecticut-based volunteer organization into a non-profit that educates hundreds of students around the globe. Now working as an Executive Assistant in a software company in South Windsor, Conn., Jordan is honored to continue her involvement with YJI as a judge for its annual Excellence in Journalism contest.
Artist Joe Bun Keo has been living, working, and creating in the Greater Hartford area for almost 25 years. Much of his earliest work was as a student of Youth Journalism International, where he was a prolific cartoonist and wrote many news and feature stories.
Keo has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture and a minor in art history from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.
He is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International. Some of his work can be seen on his website, JoeBunKeo.com.
A natural writer who loves a good story, Joe Killian was introduced to journalism as a teen reporter with Youth Journalism International.
He studied at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and after internships at newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts, he took a reporting position at the Greensboro News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. There he’s won awards covering crime, education and politics.
He is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.
Jeremy Kohler is an investigative reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a journalism instructor at Washington University in St. Louis.
His in-depth crime and medical stories have won recognition from his peers and have helped lead to public policy changes in Missouri.
He has been a finalist for national awards such as including the Dart, IRE, Livingston and the Al Nakkula Award for police reporting.
In 2009, Jeremy’s series “Dodging DWIs” with reporter Joe Mahr won several state awards and led to a Missouri law tightening enforcement of drunken driving in the St. Louis area.
His series “Who Protects the Patients?”, with medical reporter Blythe Bernhard, won the 2011 Sweepstakes Award — best all around work of journalism — from the Associated Press Managing Editors in Missouri. The series also inspired a 2011 state law that gives regulators more power to take action against dangerous doctors and provides more transparency for patients.
In March, his investigation into St. Louis firefighter disability pension abuse garnered first place for community service and public interest from APME in Missouri.
Jeremy teaches courses in principles of reporting and online journalism at Washington University. His travel and humor pieces have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Esquire Magazine and other publications. He is married to award-winning Post-Dispatch reporter Nancy Cambria. They have two sons, 12 and 8.
Josh Krulewitz says: I’ve been at ESPN since 1990 and to the company’s credit, every year has been dramatically different. I’m a proud representative of thousands of ESPNers who bring great passion, personality and a commitment to create distinctive content for sports fans each and every day. I’ve always been a big sports fan and ESPN is the ultimate sports hangout. From a business standpoint, my main job is to serve the ever-changing needs of the media by actively representing the company with honesty, integrity and a respectful, positive attitude. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on so many great initiatives, including the creation/launch of the X Games, the award-winning SportsCentury project, the BCS Championship, the legendary Dick Vitale and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. I was especially honored to be recognized, along with colleague Mike Soltys, with the Katha Quinn Award, given by the United States Basketball Writers’ Association for outstanding media service (http://www.sportswriters.net/usbwa/news/2008/quinn080313.html). My Twitter handle is jksports (a tribute to my Dad) if you’d like to follow my updates, including “Stephen Wright Quote Friday” tweets. As they said in Airplane, “Good luck. We’re all counting on you.”
Theatre critic Jacques Lamarre regularly publishes reviews for BroadwayWorld.com and Connecticut’s Manchester Journal-Inquirer. He has also written for TheatreCT magazine, Hartford Magazine and Yale Alumni Magazine. He has worked for three of Connecticut’s professional theater companies: Hartford Stage, Yale Rep, and TheaterWorks Hartford.
As a playwright and comedy writer, his work has been seen at Hartford Stage, Joe’s Pub, ARS-NOVA, Hole in the Wall, Midtown International Theatre Festival, and the Sydney Opera House, among others. He is currently the Director of Communications for The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT.
Brian LaRue, one of the earliest students at Youth Journalism International, wrote news, features, commentary and travelogues as a high school student in the mid-1990s.
After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University’s Honors College, where he co-edited the university’s literature publication, Folio, and co-founded and edited the interdisciplinary Honors Review, he worked at the international journal Metaphilosophy.
Later, he held a staff position at the New Haven Advocate, where he worked the local and independent music beat, reviewing countless CDs and interviewing scores of musicians for more than three years. He’s also worked as a reviewer of books and CDs, a music columnist, a community and small business reporter, a proofreader and copy editor, a blogger and a PR agent.
LaRue is now the managing editor and chief reporter of Adotas, a leading trade publication covering the online and mobile advertising industry.
He’s an accomplished musician, playing guitar, bass, keyboards or trumpet on more than 10 music releases and performing live at multiple East Coast venues.
He lives in Brooklyn, NY and is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.
A native of South Korea, Minha Lee spent part of her childhood living in the Midwest region of the United States and some of her teenage years as a student of Youth Journalism International. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute in New York, where she studied animation and interactive media.
She is currently living in Seoul, editing English as a Second Language textbooks. She is moving to Amsterdam later this year. She is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.
Amanda Lehmert is an award-winning investigative and environmental reporter.
She began her career at age 14 with Youth Journalism International, where she wrote award-winning stories and discovered the ink flowing through her veins.
She currently is the city government reporter and writer for the blog Inside Scoop at the News & Record, a daily newspaper in Greensboro, North Carolina.
She graduated magna cum laude from Emerson College with a B.S. in print journalism. Lehmert previously wrote for the Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Mass. and the Bristol Press in Connecticut. She is married to journalist Joe Killian.
She is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.
A co-founder of Youth Journalism International, Jackie Majerus now serves as the organization’s executive director. She works one-on-one with students as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations at YJI.
A graduate of The University of Iowa and an award-winning newspaper reporter, Majerus believes strongly in the role that journalism can and should play in shaping a better world. Her work for the past 19 years with young journalists gives her great faith in the future.
Christine Petit is a Connecticut-based photographer who studied at Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts. She holds a bachelors degree in Media Communications from The College of Charleston, during which she began began her journalism career by co-founding The Daniel Island News in Charleston, South Carolina.
She then spent time as city editor at her hometown newspaper in Bristol, Connecticut. Petit worked as marketing director at Ticket Network and The Country Club of Farmington, both in Connecticut.
Her work with Up with People as music coordinator then took her to seven states and eight countries around the world, where she performed and directed the music for their weekly show. The group also performs community service, in addition to the music they provide as they aim to build bridges of understanding between cultures and countries.
Mariechen Puchert is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. She hails from East London, a small city in the Eastern Province of South Africa.
With a life-long passion for reading and writing, she has served as the editor-in-chief of her campus newspaper and has had work published by Youth Journalism International and South African student anthologies.
Puchert is currently the chairperson of her campus’ student government, but aims for a more global impact. She is a keen traveler and has spent time in Canada, the United States and China for different projects. Later this year she will travel to Kolkata, India, to assist at a primary healthcare facility there.
She is an International Rotary Youth Leadership Awards alumnus, a member of the Golden Key Academic Honour Society and a Youth Journalism International Ambassador.
Education, critical discourse and global citizenship are considered by Puchert to be of greatest importance in all aspects of society.
Recently, at a big divisional meeting, Dan Quinn was surprised to see his name atop a list recognizing ESPN employees who’d been with the company 20 years. He’s had a good run so far, enjoying and/or surviving Super Bowl weeks, championship boxing matches, World Series and NHL games, and touring guests and media through on-site production trucks.
For Quinn, the perks of working on SportsCenter – not just ESPN’s “flagship news and information” program, but what could be considered America’s sports news and information program – has let him meet some celebs taping those great “This is SportsCenter” promos, including Sean Payton and Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees of his New Orleans Saints. More importantly, in promoting ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning storytelling and news breaking operation, he’s been privy to the heart and soul of SportsCenter, Outside the Lines – the incredibly hard-working folks who make those show must-watch TV for sports fans.
Off the books it’s music, sports and beer for Quinn – though maybe not in that order – and packaging them together for vacations, preferably in warm weather.
Wendy J. Riling
A Kodak Scholar and graduate of Northwest College with a degree in commercial photography, Wendy J. Riling is an award-winning photographer who has had the opportunity to shoot for some of the finest newspapers in the United States. With a portfolio that includes politicians and celebrities, she and her camera have documented local, regional and national news for nearly a quarter of a century. A constant traveler, Riling currently resides in Orlando, Florida where she concentrates on commercial and landscape photography.
Karen Rouse proudly identifies herself as a Jersey girl, a first-generation American and a writer who uses words to earn a living – and unleash her creative side.
She has covered government and politics, the business side of healthcare, issues around race, and Colorado’s public education system, and has worked at publications in New England, the South and out West. Since 2008, she has covered transportation in the Greater New York metro area
She considers it both a privilege and a great responsibility to be able to tell the stories of people in her community.
She is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.
You can follow her tweets at www.twitter.com/rouse_karen
Mike Soltys, who was ESPN’s first college intern in 1980, serves as vice president, U.S. network communications, responsible for strategic planning for publicity for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS and ESPNU, and ESPN on ABC. His responsibilities also include oversights of public relations of ESPN Regional TV, ESPN Radio, ESPN the Magazine, events owned by ESPN and the communications department’s listings, viewer response, photography and new media areas.
He graduated from the University of Connecticut magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications and later earned a Master of Arts degree in communications from the University of Harford.
Soltys and his family reside in Southington, Connecticut, where his community involvement includes serving on the Board of Directors of Bread for Life and being active in his church. He is an Ambassador for Youth Journalism International.