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 Abrahamson, MPH, RN has worked in health care for the last forty years. In addition to providing direct clinical services, she has been a project manager, grant coordinator and public health director. During this time she has become passionate about the need to improve health communications in order to build a more efficient and effective health care system. Whether teaching a person about chronic diseases or the public about infectious diseases, using clear and understandable language is key. To help address this critical need for effective communicators, Abrahamson has served as a YJI contest judge since 2011 and a board member since 2014. She also volunteers as a Leaders on Loan mentor for the Leadership Frederick County (Maryland) program which works with local nonprofit agencies to address community needs. Lynn earned her BSN from the University of Pennsylvania and her MPH from the University of Connecticut. She currently lives in Maryland.
Zac Brokenrope is a former writer from Youth Journalism International, active from 2004-2009. Since graduating from Boston University in 2012, he has been working an English teacher in the Greater Boston Area.
Steve Collins is the State House reporter for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine. Before that, he covered government and politics for daily newspapers in New York and Connecticut, winning scores of journalism awards along the way, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2016 Ethics in Journalism Award and the I.F. Stone Whistle-Blower Award in 2015.
He is co-founder of The Tattoo international teen newspaper and Youth Journalism International, a 501(c)(3) public educational charity serving young people across the globe.
Born in Massachusetts, he earned a degree in history from the University of Virginia. He is married and has two college-age children and two collies.
Rosiane Correia de Freitas
Rosiane Correia de Freitas is a journalist graduated from Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR), south of Brazil. She worked as a reporter in the newspaper Gazeta do Povo and Folha de Londrina, in the website Jornale.com.br and as a freelance for several other publications such as UOL News and the magazine Biodieselbr.
She was a fellow of The Washington Post and the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2010, during which she developed stories about fraud in nonprofit organizations in Brazil that were published in the Folha de Londrina in November 2010. Among the materials produced during this period is one on the use of funds from the Ministry of Tourism in promoting training courses for professionals sector promoted by the Evangelical Benefit Society of Curitiba (SEB), whose legality has been subject to investigation by the Federal Police in 2011.
She also authored the first report on state representatives in Paraná who were with their driver’s licenses suspended, but continued to drive. The report had a significant impact once it was publish just after a state deputy was involved in a serious car accident that kill two young men. The state representative were too with his driver license suspended.
Freitas is currently a professor at the journalism program of Positive University (UP), responsible for the subject of Digital Journalism. She is the coordinator of the network of journalism outlets run by the program, which includes all vehicles. She’s also responsible for Investigative Journalism class and the Center for Investigative Journalism and the Center for News Apps at the university.
She specializes in creating and managing databases, the use of informatics tools in carrying out journalistic work and creation of web applications and mobile publishing products.
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.
Michelle Harmon graduated high school in Boise, Idaho with several journalism awards and scholarships, and attended Ohio State University with a full-ride scholarship for journalism, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1984. She spent a year in college on an all-expense paid, salaried internship in Tokyo for the Pacific Stars & Stripes. She worked 10 years in Florida in university publications, and then moved to New York City, where she was treated to a real life education. After 9/11, she went back to school for my master’s degree and teacher certification in secondary education. She advised the same high school newspaper from which she gained access to the world, and taught American literature, beginning journalism, and newspaper production for 13 years. In retirement from teaching, she is blogging at https://pc56.weebly.com/. She strongly believes a free press’s rights and responsibilities contribute to a better world.
As the Idaho State Director for JEA, she is lead judge for its national write-off contest; a national judge for its Journalist of the Year Scholarship; a scorer for the SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest; and a contributor to jeadigitalmedia.org.
Frank Johnson is the former president of the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut, Inc., a not-for-profit manufacturing trade association. He was 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 was President of the Tunxis Community College Foundation which raises funds to support college scholarships and support the students of the college.
He served 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 Florida.
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.
Joel Nsadha is a 2015 National Geographic award-winning photographer. He was born in Jinja, Uganda, a small town at the source of the Nile River. He and his wife currently live in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
For the past twelve years, he has worked on documentary projects for various non-profit organizations and commercial photography for media agencies. Currently, Joel is a contributor to The Huffington Post. He attended the College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He also studied at the International People’s College in Helsingør, Denmark.
Joel’s photography and film has received recognition from publications such as CNN Africa, the East African Magazine, the German-based Gestalten, and the National Geographic Magazine. His work has also been exhibited internationally. His portraits and landscapes seek to capture the soul and spirit of the people and places he visits. For this reason he calls his photography, ‘The Soul Of Man.’
See Joel’s work on his website, Instagram and Facebook.
Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy is editor at Chicago Parent, an award-winning regional parenting magazine. She started in journalism while still in high school by freelancing for her hometown weekly newspaper and hasn’t stopped writing since. The Maine native spent 21 years working in daily newspapers, before joining Chicago Parent nearly eight years ago. She is the mom of three busy kids.
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 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.