Law Enforcement and Immigration Reporter
The Associated Press
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Russell Contreras is a law enforcement and immigration reporter/photographer/videographer at The Associated Press in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico, he worked for the AP in Boston where he helped with coverage on the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy and wrote about DREAMers and Iraqi refugees.
He worked previously at the Boston Globe and the Albuquerque Journal, and has remained an active member of the Native American Journalists Association.
In 2010, he was elected financial officer of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists where he drafted a plan to save the group from bankruptcy and helped turn a $250,000 deficit into a $200,000 surplus.
A graduate of the University of Houston and Columbia University’s School of the Arts Creative Writing Program, he teaches composition at the University of New Mexico-Valencia. He’s working on a book on JFK and the Mexican-American civil rights movement. Contreras lives in Placitas, New Mexico, with his wife Mandi Torrez, a teacher, their 1-year-old daughter, Ava, and dog, Tupac. The whole family is on twitter.
Paul Cheung is AP’s Director of Interactives and Digital News Production. The director manages a global team of visual journalists who produce multimedia and information graphics for all formats, including print, online and mobile.
Cheung was an adjunct faculty member at Columbia Journalism School teaching visual journalism in the spring of 2011 and 2012. Prior to joining the AP, Cheung was The Miami Herald’s Deputy Multimedia Presentation Editor. In 2009, he managed MiamiHerald.com site redesign in 2009 and was responsible for the conceptualization, creative direction and visual look of MiamiHerald.com. He was The Miami Herald’s graphics editor from 2004 to mid-2007. Prior to joining the Miami Herald, Cheung was a Senior Graphics Editor at The Wall Street Journal. During his eight-year tenure at WSJ, he produced graphics for WSJ’s front page one, Marketplace and National sections, helped launch the Personal Journal section and assisted with the 2002 redesign of paper.
Cheung is Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)’s national president for 2013 to 2014. He was the National AAJA convention co-chair in Miami 2007. He was elected to the national board from 2008 to 2012 and served as convention programming chair from 2009 to 2012. He co-developed the AAJA ELP demonstration project in New York City. A hyperlocal news blog focused on Chinatown. (http://www.OurChinatown.org).
Cheung, a 2007 Newspaper Association of America Breakthrough fellow, graduated from New York University where he studied journalism, sociology, science and photography.
- Twitter: @pcheung630
- Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulcheung630
- Tumblr: http://pcheung630.tumblr.com/
Tomoko is a longtime member of AAJA and served on the national board representing Asia and San Francisco from 2007-2013. She was also a governing board member for the past two years. Tomoko is currently an editor with the AP’s Washington, D.C.-based Economics team. She previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Plympton, a digital publisher and mobile technology company. She also worked at Ustream, where she led news strategy and partnerships for the world’s largest live video platform. Until late 2011, Tomoko was a Japan-based journalist for the AP and Dow Jones Newswires. She graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a master’s degree from Waseda University in Tokyo.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Neal Justin is the media critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He previously covered crime for the Rockford Register Star. His duties at the Star Tribune include helping to run the summer internship program. Neal was one of the original members of the AAJA governing board and was named AAJA member of the year in 2006. He also served as AAJA president for the Minnesota chapter. He is a co-founder of JCamp, a national program for the country’s top high-school journalists, which is now entering its 15th year. Neal previously served two years on the UNITY board.
His goals for UNITY in the near future include discovering new ways to reach out to young adults – particularly freshmen and sophomores in college – and getting them more involved in our activities, creating programming beyond our conventions and insuring that we are open and clear to our members.
Mary Hudetz is the current editor-in-chief of Native Peoples Magazine. She is a former editor on The Associated Press’ West Regional Desk in Phoenix, where she filed national breaking news and daily stories on broad range of topics and events in the West. She also worked closely with a team of reporters to develop stories specifically about Native issues and communities. Hudetz joined the West Desk in June 2009 after working as an AP reporter in Portland, Ore. She is a member of the Crow Tribe. She graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in dance and later shifted her focus to writing as she entered the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute, or AIJI, and the University of Montana’s School of Journalism graduate program in 2006. She was selected as a Chips Quinn Scholar the following year. In 2010, Hudetz served as a mentor on the NAJA student projects in Minneapolis, and also teaches at AIJI. She was previously vice president of NAJA and chair of the 2013 National Native Media Conference in Tempe, Ariz.
Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee) is a poet, writer, lecturer, curator, and policy advocate, who has helped Native Peoples recover more than one million acres of land and numerous sacred places. She has developed key federal Indian law since 1975, including the most important national policy advances in the modern era for the protection of Native American cultures and arts, including the 1996 Executive Order on Indian Sacred Sites, the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the 1989 National Museum of the American Indian Act, and the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Harjo is president and executive director of The Morning Star Institute, a national Native rights organization founded in 1984 for Native Peoples’ traditional and cultural advocacy, arts promotion, and research. A leader in cultural property protection and stereotype busting, Morning Star sponsors the Just Good Sports project, organizes the National Day of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places, and coordinated The 1992 Alliance (1990-1993). Harjo is one of seven prominent Native people who filed Harjo et al v. Pro Football, Inc., regarding the name of the Washington football team, before the US Patent & Trademark Board in 1992. They won in 1999, when a three-judge panel unanimously decided to cancel federal protections for the team’s name because it “may disparage Native Americans and may bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The District Court reversed their victory in 2003 and the case is now before the US Court of Appeals. Harjo’s essay, “Fighting Name-Calling: Challenging ‘Redskins’ in Court,” is published in Team Spirits: The Native American Mascots Controversy (University of Nebraska Press, 2001). She also wrote “Just Good Sports: The Impact of ‘Native’ References in Sports on Native Youth and What Some Decolonizers Have Done About It,” a chapter in For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook (SAR Press, 2005).
An award-winning columnist for Indian Country Today (2000-2006), she wrote the foreword “Camp Criers Speaking Across the Generations” and eleven columns featured in America Is Indian Country: Opinions and Perspectives from Indian Country Today (Fulcrum Publishing, 2005). Founding co-chair of The Howard Simons Fund for American Indian Journalists, she was news director of the American Indian Press Association and drama and literature director and “Seeing Red” producer for WBAI-FM Radio in New York City. A keynoter for the 2000 Journalism & Women Symposium, she was a 1998-99 Brain Trust Member for UNITY Journalists of Color and an organizer/presenter for UNITY ’04 in DC, ’99 in Seattle, and ’94 in Atlanta. Her essay “Redskins, Savages and Other Indian Enemies: An Historical Overview of American Media Coverage of Native Peoples” is in Images of Color: Images of Crime (2005).
Margaret Holt is standards editor at the Chicago Tribune, working closely with reporters and editors about issues of accuracy, fairness and ethics. She has a particular interest in urban issues and diversity of coverage and regularly meets with community leaders and groups to discuss coverage. Also, Holt has a background in training and staff development; she is a past chair of the Mid-America Press Institute and represents the Tribune on the MPI board. Additionally, she works with colleagues at other Tribune Co. newsrooms on the company’s editorial ethics code and practices.
A graduate of the University of Missouri, Holt has held a variety of reporting and editing jobs. She joined the Tribune Co. in 1987 when she became business editor of the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. In 1993, she joined the Chicago Tribune as sports editor and, in 1995, began working on customer and accuracy matters for the newsroom. She is a frequent speaker at media workshops and conferences on accuracy and credibility. A member of the Native American Journalists Association, Holt represented NAJA in planning for the 2008 UNITY convention in Chicago, serving as co-chair of programming.
Media Communications Faculty
Haskell Indian Nations University
Rhonda LeValdo (Acoma Pueblo) is a Faculty in Media Communications at Haskell Indian Nations University.
LeValdo is also a host for Native Spirit Radio 90.1 FM-KKFI Kansas City and past president of the Native American Journalists Association. LeValdo currently sits on the board of directors for Native Public Media and was a member of the Heartland Project Advisory Council that done in collaboration with the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
LeValdo received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Kansas in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Jen Christensen is a Peabody-award winning producer for CNN Special Investigations & Documentary Unit. In that role, Christensen has produced a variety of in-depth investigative stories and compelling long-form documentaries for CNN Presents, the most honored documentary series in cable news. She is based at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters.
Christensen served as a producer for the Peabody and DuPont award-winning CNN Presents: God’s Jewish Warriors; and the award-winning documentaries about Martin Luther King Jr., Words That Changed a Nation; Black in America: Eyewitness to Murder; and Obama Revealed; Sarah Palin Revealed; and Christiane Amanpour’s Generation Islam. She also produces regular investigative pieces for CNN’s primetime programs. And has been a regular freelance reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Professional Photographer’s Association Magazine, the Advocate, Pain Solutions, and Sirius OutQ News.
Previously, Christensen ran the investigative unit for WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and started the investigative unit at WTVQ in Lexington, Ky. where she also worked as a line producer. While still in college, she started her broadcast career at WXIN in Indianapolis running the assignment desk and as a line and field producer.
Prior to her broadcast journalism career, Christensen worked in London on nuclear non-proliferation issues for NATO’s Atlantic Council and worked re-drawing voter redistricting maps at the Chicago Board of Elections. She is listed as a co-author for two books: Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: a Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Greenwood Press, 1993) and Women Confronting Retirement – A Nontraditional Guide (Rutgers Press, 2003).
Christensen severs on several non-profit boards. She is the Vice President for Broadcasting with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association, a KEYS core team member at Turner Broadcasting, and the Secretary for GirlsRockCampATL.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Butler University in TV/radio and political science with a gender studies minor and also attended the London School of Economics where she studied foreign policy and economics.
Sarah Blazucki is the vice president for print and digital media for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She is the former editor of Philadelphia Gay News, the oldest LGBT newsweekly in the country. During her tenure from 2006-12, PGN reported on LGBT homelessness and domestic violence, produced an annual Gay History Month series and interviewed presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Under Sarah’s direction, the staff won more than 35 awards for news writing, arts and entertainment, columns, photos and advertising. Sarah was co-chair of the NLGJA 2011 annual convention in Philadelphia and was on the programming committee for 2012 UNITY Journalists Convention, a quadrennial conference of minority journalist organizations.
In 2012, she led the development of a website to find LGBT rights (lgbtrights.me) by address or GPS locator on a smartphone.
In addition, Sarah is a freelance résumé writer and career coach and has served as a contributor, editor and proofreader for several résumé writing books. Prior to that, Sarah served as news editor for the LGBT biweekly The Baltimore Alternative. She received her B.A. from Towson State University in mass communications, with a concentration in journalism and a minor in women’s studies. In her free time, Sarah runs, bikes, and practices yoga. She now lives in D.C. and is an editor for The Peace Corps.
Sharif Durhams is the Journal Sentinel’s social media editor and a digital strategist, working with reporters and editors to restructure their beats and departments to focus them on interaction with readers and preparation for digital platforms. Durhams oversees the Journal Sentinel newsroom’s social media accounts. In this position, he oversaw social media coverage of shootings at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. in 2012. He also oversaw the social media coverage by more than 30 reporters for the Journal Sentinel’s 2012 Election Day coverage.
Durhams was one of the initial reporters on the Journal Sentinel’s breaking news desk when it was created in 2008. In that job, he created the Journal Sentinel’s main news Twitter account and was the Journal Sentinel’s first news reporter to use social media extensively in covering breaking news stories. He has overseen news coverage on the desk and is regularly consulted on news breaking news decisions.
Ken is a Segment Producer at KGO-TV, the ABC owned station in San Francisco. A three time Emmy award winning producer, Ken has been active in NLGJA for over a decade. He served as President of the Northern California Chapter and as a member of the NLGJA National Board.
Kathy has over ten years of experience in program development and nonprofit management with various non-profit agencies. Prior to coming to AAJA, Kathy was the Director for Hands On Sacramento, a volunteer action center that provided volunteer opportunities in three counties.
Kathy also worked for six years as a public affairs representative for The Sacramento Bee where she was in charge of their employee volunteer program, managing charitable contribution, special projects, and the development of client relations with businesses such as the Asian, Hispanic, Black and Metro Chambers. Kathy has also consulted with companies such as VSP and lead workshops on multicultural marketing. Kathy is certified by the Newspaper Association of America as a Diversity Facilitator, and has served on the advisory council for the National Corporate Volunteer Council and the National Hands On Schools Council for Hands On Network & Points of Light Institute.
Native American Journalists Association
Rebecca Landsberry graduated with a degree in Public Relations with a minor in Native American Studies from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
After working as an intern with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Judicial Branch for three summers, she was hired as senior writer for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Communications Department in 2008. Landsberry was later promoted as the youngest editor in Muscogee Nation News history at 23 where she served for five more years in tribal media. In addition to her duties as editor, she co-hosted the tribe’s weekly 30-minute talk radio program, Mvskoke Radio.
Under her management, the MNN doubled production and became a semimonthly, award-winning newspaper in 2008. She also led the editorial division in the creation and development of a social media presence. During that time, she served on the Native American Journalists Association Board of Directors as secretary in 2013.
Landsberry joined NAJA full-time as the membership and communications manager in April 2013 where she has worked to increase membership from 270 to more than 400 in 2015. She has worked with NAJA staff and volunteers to deliver programs and services including the annual Native Media Summit in Norman, Oklahoma and National Native Media Conferences in Tempe, Arizona and Santa Clara, California.
Adam K. Pawlus
National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association
Prior to joining NLGJA, Pawlus served the Physicians for Social Responsibility as its Director of Operations and at the Voluntary Protections Programs Participants’ Association as the Deputy Executive Director after he was the Director of Communications & Outreach. Pawlus serves on the NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Board of Directors and is an active member of many non-profit organizations in the DC area. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Georgia at Athens.
Eloiza Altoro, MS, CAE, HS-BCP
UNITY Executive Director
Principal Consultant, Mind Redesign Consulting
Eloiza has 22 years of experience working for and with associations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. She is currently the Principal Consultant of Mind Redesign Consulting, a business that she founded seventeen years ago to provide Board governance and transition management and organizational development services.
Eloiza’s association and nonprofit management experience includes Administrator of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Southeastern WI Chapter and Interim Executive Director of English Language Partners of WI (ELPW), UNITY Journalist for Diversity and Relationships First. She also served as Executive Director of the Society for Clinical Data Management (SCDM), Council of Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) and the Wisconsin Certification Board (WCB).
She was an Adjunct Professor at Springfield College in the Human Services graduate program and professor at Alverno College in the Psychology Department. She has a Master’s of Science in Human Services, with an emphasis in Management and Organizational Leadership from Springfield College and two Bachelor of Arts degrees from Alverno College in Clinical Psychology and Professional Communications. She holds the credentials, Certified Association Executive (CAE), through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) through the Center for Credentialing and Education.