Staff

  • Editor in Chief

    Liz Willen

    Liz Willen is proud to lead an award-winning staff at The Hechinger Report. She got her start in newspapers as feature editor of Northport High School's "The Rag," in Northport, New York. After working at an array of New England newspapers, Liz spent nearly a decade at Newsday, where she won numerous prizes for covering New York City public schools. She picked up more awards, including a Polk, at Bloomberg News. In 2006, Liz became assistant director of The Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, running seminars and fellowships for education journalists before the Institute switched gears and became a leading provider of in-depth reporting on one of the most important topics in the U.S. She's a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, an active New York City public school parent, bike commuter and a board member for the Spencer Education Fellowships at Columbia. Liz celebrates every New Year's Day by plunging into the icy waters off Brooklyn's Coney Island with the Polar Bear Club and a small member of reluctant friends, family members and colleagues.

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  • Executive Editor

    Sarah Garland

    Sarah Garland is the executive editor of The Hechinger Report. She started out in journalism reporting on murders and mayhem in New York City for New York Newsday and the New York Times, before joining the New York Sun, where she discovered a passion for the education beat. As a Spencer Fellow in Education Reporting at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she wrote "Divided We Fail" (Beacon Press), a narrative of the landmark enactment and repeal of court-ordered school desegregation in her hometown of Louisville, KY. Garland is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul and has a joint master’s degree in journalism and Latin American studies from New York University. In 2009, Garland published her second book, "Gangs in Garden City," about Salvadoran street gangs in the Long Island suburbs. Her first book, "The Haunted Kitchen," was awarded the best entry by a third grader at Coleridge-Taylor Elementary. During the really cool and somewhat dangerous field trips hosted by her public elementary and middle schools, Garland learned to sail a tall ship, developed a phobia of underwater caves, and cooked pancakes "like a pioneer" over an open fire.

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  • Higher Education Editor

    Jon Marcus

    Jon Marcus, higher-education editor, has written about higher education for the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, the Boston Globe, Washington Monthly, is North America higher-education correspondent for the Times (U.K.) Higher Education magazine, and contributed to the book Reinventing Higher Education. His Hechinger coverage has won national awards from the Education Writers Association and he was a finalist for an award for beat reporting from the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The former editor of Boston magazine, Marcus holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from Bates College. A journalism instructor at Boston College, he says he ends up learning from his students far more than he teaches them.

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  • Contributing Editor

    Jill Barshay

    Jill Barshay, a contributing editor, writes a weekly column, Education By The Numbers, about education data and research. She taught algebra to ninth graders for the 2013-14 school year. During her own time in high school, she was a poor athlete (cut from the junior varsity soccer team) and a dreadful writer (remediation required). Previously, Barshay was the New York bureau chief for Marketplace, a national business show on public radio stations. Her 2011 series for Slate, "Negotiation Academy," was ranked a top 10 business podcast on iTunes. She has also written for The New York Times and the Financial Times and appeared on CNN and ABC News. A graduate of Brown University, Barshay holds master's degrees from the London School of Economics and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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  • Program Manager

    Matt Bruderle

    Matt Bruderle, program manager, has worked for the Institute in various roles since 2007. A native of northern Virginia, Matt has almost two decades of experience in higher education administration, including positions at Purchase College, SUNY-Oswego, and Emerson College. Matt has a master’s degree in education from Colorado State University and earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations and communications from Virginia Tech. He had his first byline in the second grade, when a poem he wrote was published in the local paper.

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  • Data Editor

    Sarah Butrymowicz

    Sarah Butrymowicz is data editor. Prior to falling in love with spreadsheets and statistics, she spent four years as a staff writer for The Hechinger Report, covering k-12 education, traveling the country and developing an affinity for rural America. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, as well as on Time.com and NBCNews.com. She was the winner of the 2012 New York Press Club’s Nellie Bly Cub Reporter Award. Before receiving a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she attended public schools in Connecticut, where she had a tendency to go overboard on school projects. Her family still talks about her sixth grade haunted house project in hushed, reverent tones.

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  • Contributing Editor

    Sarah Carr

    Sarah Carr is a contributing editor who also oversees the Teacher Project at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She has reported on battles over school vouchers, efforts to educate China’s massive population of migrant children, and the explosion of charter schools in New Orleans. Sarah is the author of Hope Against Hope, a nonfiction account of New Orleans schools post Hurricane-Katrina, which she reported as a Spencer Education Journalism fellow. Sarah has contributed to the Atlantic magazine, Slate, New Orleans public radio and numerous other media outlets, winning several national awards. She is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Sarah attended the Nauset Regional School District in Massachusetts, and got her start in journalism interning at the Cape Cod Times newspaper. A local high school kicked her out for trying to cover a student protest rally her first day as an intern, and Sarah is grateful to the many schools since then that have let her stay.

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  • Reporting Fellow

    Nichole Dobo

    Nichole Dobo writes about blended learning. Most of her 10-year career as a reporter has focused on education. She has also covered stories about government, courts, business and religion. She was a staff writer at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., The York Daily Record/Sunday News in York, Pa., The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa. and The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and has been published in The Atlantic's online edition. She won first prize and best of show for education writing in 2011 from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. She earned a B.A. in journalism at the Pennsylvania State University. She is a graduate of a small, rural high school in western Pennsylvania where classes are not held on the first day of deer-hunting season. She earned her first writing award for an essay about freedom when she was an elementary school student on an Air Force base in Missouri.

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  • Staff Writer

    Emmanuel Felton

    Emmanuel Felton is a staff writer. Prior to joining The Hechinger Report, he covered education, juvenile justice and child services for the New York World. He received a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He grew up in the music rich city of New Orleans, but learned the hard way that he had no musical talent during one very long week in middle school. Luckily, he found journalism.

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  • Senior Editor

    Barbara Kantrowitz

    Barbara Kantrowitz, a senior editor, is an award-winning magazine editor and writer. She worked at Newsweek for nearly 25 years in the magazine’s society section, where she wrote and edited dozens of cover stories on health, education, religion and women’s issues. Kantrowitz has also worked at People, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday and The Hartford Courant, and has freelanced for many national publications. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia Journalism School, where she has been an adjunct professor since 2009. One of her major life goals is to visit all 50 states.

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  • Staff Writer

    Meredith Kolodner

    Meredith Kolodner is a staff writer. She previously covered schools for the New York Daily News and was an editor at InsideSchools.org and for The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. She’s also covered housing, schools, and local government for the Press of Atlantic City and The Chief-Leader newspaper and her work has appeared in the New York Times and the American Prospect. Kolodner is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and an active New York City public school parent. She is grateful to her 11th grade English teacher who persistently gave her Cs on essays until she finally stopped burying the lead.

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  • Staff Writer

    Jackie Mader

    Jackie Mader is Mississippi bureau chief. She covers preK-12 education primarily in the rural South. Her work has appeared in the The Denver Post, the Sun Herald and The Clarion-Ledger, as well as on Time.com, The Atlantic and NBCNews.com. She was the winner of the 2013 Front Page Award for In-Depth Newspaper reporting from The Newswomen's Club of New York, as well as the 2014 Nellie Bly Cub Reporter Award from the New York Press Club. Her most notable award, however, came from The California Dried Plum Association when she was 13-years-old and won a recipe contest for her "Puffy Plum Cake," which she dreamt up during a particularly uneventful summer vacation. She received a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to attending Columbia, she taught special education in Charlotte, N.C. and trained first-year teachers in the Mississippi Delta.

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  • Web Editor

    Davin McHenry

    Davin McHenry is the web editor, responsible for managing The Hechinger Report website. He has spent the last decade working on news websites, including previously at the Bakersfield Californian newspaper. While in Bakersfield he rose from county government reporter to assistant city editor to web editor. He also wrote a lousy novel, had two plays produced locally and restored two classic cars. Before that he worked as a reporter in Hanford, Ca. and Goleta, Ca. And before that, time did not exist and all was still.

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  • Senior Editor

    Lawrie Mifflin

    Lawrie Mifflin is a senior editor. Until 2013 she was a senior editor at The New York Times, where she spent 30 years as a reporter, an editor and an executive supervising new digital initiatives. She helped launch and lead the Times’s television and web video departments, as well as the Knowledge Network, which offered online adult education courses from Times staffers; earlier in her career, she was the paper’s national education editor. She joined The Times as a sportswriter, after having been the first woman sportswriter at the New York Daily News. She holds a B.A. in history from Yale University and an M.S. from the Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. A Philadelphia native, she started Yale’s first varsity team for women — field hockey — and wrote her master’s thesis at Columbia about the first girls to break into Little League baseball.

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  • Engagement Editor

    Lillian Mongeau

    Lillian Mongeau is the engagement editor and West Coast correspondent. She also co-writes an early childhood education blog for Education Week. Her future as a writer was not a forgone conclusion, according to her first grade teacher, Miss. Gill. "I would like to see her put more effort into her writing," Gill wrote on Lillian's first term report card. Also, "Practice math facts to 10... She should know them without using her fingers." While Lillian still often uses her fingers to add (Common Core says it's OK), she has gone on to cover education issues for EdSource Today, KQED–Northern California Public Radio and others. She won a special citation from the Education Writers Association for a feature in The Dallas Morning News on returning to South Texas, where she'd served as a Teach For America teacher, to see her former students graduate high school. Lillian is a alumna of the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, an expert skier and a novice quilter.

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  • Contributing Editor

    Joan Motyka

    Joan Motyka, contributing editor, honed her editing and writing skills during a 25-year career at The New York Times, where she also served as a writing coach, director of newsroom training and recruiting editor. She was educated by Polish nuns in what is now the epicenter of hipster Brooklyn and survived by dreaming up episodes of The Twilight Zone. She then went on to write for many sections of The New York Times, including the Book Review, Travel and Business, as well as for The Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and Business Week. She is a now an editor of The Westchester Review, a literary journal; a teacher of memoir writing, and a board member of the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Center for Continuing Education. She holds a B.A. in journalism and American studies from Syracuse University.

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  • Contributing Editor

    Sara Neufeld

    Sara Neufeld is a contributing editor. She was first assigned to the education beat in 2000 while interning at the San Jose Mercury News; her editors figured she couldn't mess up too badly since it was summer and schools were closed. But with a local superintendent under indictment, she found plenty to write about, and she's been at it ever since. She spent nearly a decade reporting for daily newspapers, including more than six years at The Baltimore Sun. At The Hechinger Report, her work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, Slate, NBCNews.com and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She spent nearly three years on "A Promise to Renew," a series about a struggling Newark school that has received numerous journalism awards. She holds a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and got her start working on The Trident at Amity Regional Senior High School in Woodbridge, Conn. As an intrepid 17-year-old editor, she once drove her grandmother's car into a flood while attempting to get photos developed and had to climb out through the sunroof. Today, Sara is also a yoga teacher, and she has experience teaching yoga to youth at risk. Her son is scheduled to begin kindergarten in New York City public schools in September 2019.

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  • Columnist

    Andre Perry

    Dr. Andre Perry, a contributing writer, is the founding dean of urban education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Previously, Perry worked in both academic and administrative capacities, most notably as CEO of the Capital One-University of New Orleans Charter Network, which consisted of four charter schools in New Orleans. A native of Pittsburgh, Perry earned his Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland-College Park. Perry’s views have been featured on NBC, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera America, GOOD Magazine, TheGriot.com, The New Republic and CNN. In 2011, UNO Press released his book, The Garden Path: The Miseducation of a City.

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  • Business Manager

    Salina Sanchez

    Salina Sanchez is business manager. She oversees the management and reporting of all grants, budgets and spending. Sanchez holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from Purchase College, SUNY and a master’s degree in English from New York University. Since joining Hechinger in 2007, she has also organized numerous professional development seminars. Over the years it has been confirmed that she has a serious and mildly concerning addiction to sesame bagels.

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  • Contributing Editor

    Jennifer Shaw

    Jennifer Shaw is the contributing editor for opinions. She is a writer and editor who has worked on the staff of The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Reuters and The New York Post. She has also written on books and family issues for Better Homes and Gardens. A graduate of Brandeis University, she is a past co-winner of the New York Press Club and New York State AP Best Feature awards. In the second grade, Jennifer's teacher brought a television set to school and the class watched the entire Mets-Baltimore World Series. A die-hard Met fan ever since, she has been known to sneak a baseball analogy into a headline.

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  • Staff Writer

    Kayleigh Skinner

    Kayleigh Skinner is a graduate of The University of Mississippi. During her time at Ole Miss she contributed regularly to the school’s publication The Daily Mississippian and city newspaper The Oxford Eagle. Her work for The Hechinger Report has appeared in The Clarion Ledger, Jackson Free Press and The Sun Herald. She is from Canada where she primarily learned French growing up. When she moved to California in the third grade she was very bad at reading and writing in English, so she taught herself by reading "The Petsitters Club" book series.

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  • Contributing Editor

    Justin Snider

    Justin Snider is a contributing editor at The Hechinger Report. He is an advising dean at Columbia University, where he also teaches undergraduate writing. Previously, Snider taught high-school English and advised student publications in the United States, Europe and Asia. A California native, he holds degrees from Amherst College, the University of Chicago, the University of Vienna, Harvard University and Columbia University. Snider's fanatical devotion to the written word generally and to English grammar specifically can be traced to the worst grade of his life -- a check-minus -- on his report card in second-grade Language Arts, taught by his own mother.

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