The 40th Annual Simon Rockower Award JUDGES

Michael E. Bennett

Michael E. Bennett, former publisher and editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, is vice president of external affairs for the Cleveland Leadership Center. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he worked in newspapers for 25 years before forging a career in nonprofits. He still enjoys his print subscriptions to several newspapers much more than their digital offerings.

Lisa Brennan

Lisa Brennan is a writer in Glen Ridge, NJ. She worked for 25-plus years as a reporter at various American Lawyer newspapers and magazines, Bloomberg News and freelanced for news outlets and magazines. Brennan also does publicity for non-profits. She is active in Bnai Keshet, a Reconstructionist community in Montclair, NJ.

Barri Bronston

Barri Bronston is the assistant director of public relations at Tulane University. Prior to working at Tulane, she spent 31 years as a writer at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where she shared the paper’s Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She is also the author of “Walking New Orleans: 33 Historic Neighborhoods, Waterfront Districts and Recreational Wonderlands.” Barri holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri. She is active in the New Orleans Jewish community and has severed on numerous boards and committees. She has one daughter, Sally, a White House producer for NBC News.

David Y. Chack

David Y. Chack is the Producing Artistic Director of ShPIeL ShPIeL Identity Theatre in Chicago and Louisville, KY. His most recent productions are the virtual 2020 production of “Imagining Heschel” by Colin Greer and the upcoming “Teatron: 2021 Jewish Theatre Festival.” Before Covid he directed the epic drama about oppression “Mother Courage and Her Children” by Bertolt Brecht, adaptation by Tony Kushner, in Louisville. He is a proud adjunct professor of “Holocaust Theatre”; “Jewish-American Performance”; and “Identity Theatre” at The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago. He has also written numerous articles on theatre and advised/curated exhibitions including the first exhibition on "The Yiddish Theatre and New York Theatre" at the Museum of the City of New York. He is also on the Executive Board of the Alliance for Jewish Theatre.

Gary Cohn

ulitzer Prize winner Gary Cohn is a longtime investigative reporter. Many of his stories have exposed wrongdoing and resulted in significant reforms. A reporter for more than three decades, Cohn has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at USC Annenberg since 2004. In 2019, he was one of the editors who helped lead Annenberg’s groundbreaking Beacon Project, teaching and inspiring the next generation of investigative reporters.

Cohn has worked for the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Sun, the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, The Wall Street Journal, and for columnist Jack Anderson in Washington. He also served for two years as Atwood Professor of Journalism at the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

Cohn won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1998 and was a Pulitzer finalist in 1996 and 2001. His work has received numerous other prestigious journalism awards, including two Selden Ring Awards for investigative journalism, an Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) Medal, a George Polk Award for environmental reporting and two Overseas Press Club awards. He is currently working on an investigative project looking into
the fast-growing anti-vaccine movement and its implications for people and science in the age of Covid-19, under a grant from the McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism.

Cynthia Dettelbach

Cynthia Dettelbach was the first woman editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, and she served in that role for over 29 years. In her retirement she has been doing playwriting. Prior to the pandemic, several of her plays were produced at a small local theater company in Cleveland. During the pandemic several of her ten-minute plays have had dramatic readings over Zoom.

Jeff Diamant

Jeff Diamant is a senior writer and editor with the Pew Research Center, and a board member of the Religion News Association. Prior to that, he was an award-winning reporter for the Charlotte Observer and Newark Star-Ledger. He has a doctorate in U.S. religious history.

Dawn Fallik

Dawn Fallik is an associate professor at the University of Delaware who teaches STEM students how to communicate to the public. She was a full-time reporter for 15 years, most recently for the medical and science desk at The Philadelphia Inquirer. She continues to publish in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Neurology Today.  She has lived in 14 states including Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, California, and New York.

Thom Fladung

Thom Fladung is managing partner of Hennes Communications, one of the few firms in the United States focused exclusively on crisis communications and crisis management. Thom spent 33 years in newspaper newsrooms, and held lead editing positions at the Detroit Free Press, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Akron Beacon Journal and, most recently, served as managing editor of The Plain Dealer. Thom, a native of Canton, Ohio, is on the board of the Cleveland Press Club.

Martin Golan

Martin Golan works as a journalist, a reporter and feature writer at several daily newspapers, and lastly as an editor at Reuters. His newest novel, One Night With Lilith – about a man convinced his wife is the alluring but dangerous Lilith of biblical legend – has just been published.

Roy Gutterman

Roy Gutterman is an associate professor of communications law and journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

David Hammer

David Hammer is an award-winning investigative reporter at WWL-TV, the CBS station in New Orleans. He has won four Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards in the last five years, including three Emmys for environmental reporting and one for investigative reporting. He has also won a national Scripps Howard Award and an international beat reporting award from the Society of Environmental Journalists for uncovering the key engineering decisions that led to the BP oil disaster in 2010.

As a seventh-generation New Orleanian, his mission is to help improve his community by holding area leaders accountable. His investigations have helped land several local politicians and businessmen in prison, including New Orleans’ mayor during Hurricane Katrina, Ray Nagin, and exposed millions of dollars wasted by government agencies in hurricane recovery programs, coastal restoration projects and the city’s outdated drainage system, to name a few.

His 14-year-old son is the first eighth-generation member of Touro Synagogue, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the U.S.

Dr. Edward Horowitz

Dr. Edward Horowitz is an associate professor in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University, where he has taught since 2004. Dr. Horowitz teaches classes in journalism, political communication, communication technology, international communication, mass media effects, and mass media history. For 10 years he was the faculty advisor to Cleveland State’s weekly student newspaper, The Cauldron. He also is head of the university’s Polish Studies Initiative where he organizes lectures and presentations about Polish culture and current events, as well as bringing in professors from Poland to teach at CSU.

Deborah Kalb

Deborah Kalb is a writer, editor, and book blogger. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for a variety of news organizations. Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, which she started in 2012, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors. She is the author of several books for children and adult.

Craig S. Karpel

Craig S. Karpel is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, Harper’s MagazineThe New Republic, The New York Times, The Village Voice, New York, National Review, and The Wall Street Journal. He has interviewed such figures as Moshe Arens, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Natan Sharansky, Ariel Sharon, and Moshe Ya’alon. His articles have been published in such periodicals as Baltimore Jewish Times, Hadassah Magazine, AMIT Magazine, B’nai B’rith Magazine, The American Zionist, Sh’ma Journal: A Journal of Jewish Ideas, The Jewish Digest, and Ma’ariv
He was privileged to count among his friends Louis H. Rapoport (1942-1991), the distinguished journalist, author, and senior editor of The Jerusalem Post in whose memory the Louis Rapoport Awards for Excellence in Commentary are awarded annually in the Simon Rockower Competition for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. He is a graduate of Columbia University, New York.

Hilary Krieger

Hilary Krieger is the news editor for NBC News Digital’s opinion and analysis section, THINK. She has frequently appeared as a radio and TV analyst on outlets including NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CNN, CSPAN, VOA and Al Jazeera. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Previously, Hilary was the Washington Editor for FiveThirtyEight and before that served as enterprise editor for CNN Politics Digital, handling foreign policy and national security editing and assisting with 2016 politics content. She came to CNN via Politico, where she was the deputy White House editor, after The Washington Post, where she was a multiplatform editor in the Editorial Department, editing op-eds, editorials and blogs.

As a reporter, Hilary served as the Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post, where she wrote about the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Congress and the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. She worked for The Jerusalem Post in Israel from 2002 to 2006, covering World Jewry, diplomacy and social issues. She also served as the Israel correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace.

Ellen Lazer

After retiring from a career in book publishing and educational public relations, Ellen Lazer of Livingston, New Jersey couldn't say no when a part-time position opened at the West Essex Tribune, her town's weekly newspaper. That was 7 1/2 years ago and she has been writing about meetings, news, and interesting people ever since. She was delighted to help judge the Rockower Awards, as she understands the satisfaction of being recognized for a meaningful job well done. 

Jan Leach

Jan Leach is an emeritus professor of news in the School of Media & Journalism (formerly the School of Journalism and Mass Communication) at Kent State University. She retired in 2020 after more than 15 years of teaching media ethics, news writing, public affairs reporting, copy editing and other courses. She was director of KSU’s Media Law Center for Ethics and Access, and is a former Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Journalism Studies in Florida.

In 2016, Jan was awarded the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She also received the Distinguished Teaching Award for the College of Communication and Information. In summer 2020, Jan was a guest instructor for the University of Notre Dame’s Journalism, Ethics and Democracy program. In 2018, Jan was a speaker/instructor at Zayed University in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She taught media ethics in India in 2014 as part of the U.S. State Department’s Speaker and Specialist Program.

Before joining the faculty at Kent State, Jan was editor and vice president of the Akron Beacon Journal for five years. During her tenure, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists named the Beacon Journal “Best Newspaper in Ohio” three times. Jan came to Akron from the Cincinnati Enquirer where she had been managing editor. She also was managing editor at the (now-defunct) Phoenix Gazette, city editor at the Arizona Republic, and held reporting and editing positions at other newspapers in Ohio.

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in media ethics from Kent State. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Cleveland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2020 and the Dorothy Bowles Public Service Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019. In 2015, she was named to the Cincinnati SPJ Hall of Fame. She remains active in professional associations and community groups and has published in newspapers, research journals and textbook chapters.

Jonathan Make

Jonathan Make served on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists D.C. chapter for many years. He currently volunteers through various other journalism organizations including judging awards and is involved in Jewish congregations. He is an active member and volunteer at Hill Havurah in Washington, DC. In his day job, he is executive editor of newsletter publisher Warren Communications News, where he also occasionally writes about the media industry.

David L. Marcus

David L. Marcus, senior editorial manager for the College Excellence Program, has been a journalist, a teacher, and a communications consultant. David covered education and immigration as a reporter for the Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Newsday, and U.S. News magazine. As a foreign correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, he was based in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. He shared the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for a series about violence against women. David wrote a book about struggling teens, What It Takes to Pull Me Through (Houghton Mifflin), as well as a book about college admissions, Acceptance (Penguin Books). Before joining Aspen, he was a high school teacher and an adjunct professor. He volunteers as a board member of Career Day Inc., which introduces young adults to professions. An honors graduate of Brown University, David was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He studied Spanish at a community college in Florida.

Tom Mashberg

Tom Mashberg is a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, former investigative editor and Sunday editor at the Boston Herald, and frequent contributor to The New York Times and the Boston Globe.

Josh Meltzer

Josh Meltzer teaches photojournalism and non-fiction visual storytelling at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. His work has been recognized with the Documentary Project of the Year by Pictures of the Year International, Photojournalist of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the Grand Prize by Photophilanthropy, among dozens of other regional journalism and photographic organizations. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 2009 working on a project about migration within Mexico.

Tom Moore

Tom Moore is a news anchor and reporter for WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, Ohio, and has been with the station since 1995. He has been doing radio news since 1978. Tom has won numerous awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Press Club of Cleveland, and the Associated Press.

Richard M. Perloff

Richard M. Perloff, Professor of Communication, Political Science and Psychology at Cleveland State University, is well-known for his scholarship on persuasion, including a 7th edition of The Dynamics of Persuasion. Perloff also is the author of The Dynamics of News, as well as articles in academic journals. He has written in the past for The Cleveland Jewish News on such topics as Jewish courtship, reflections of kosher butchers, what it is like to be a rabbi, and the challenges and joys of serving as a Jewish cantor. He has authored many opinion pieces for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and has received state-wide journalism awards for his work. He enjoys working with students in his role as a teacher.

Larry Reisman

Larry Reisman is a community editor and columnist at the Press Journal and TCPalm on the Treasure Coast of Florida.

Neil Reisner

Neil Reisner is a journalism professor at Florida International University in Miami. In four decades as a newspaper reporter and editor, he covered corrupt officials, complicated policies and hardball politics for the Miami Herald and other newspapers, and currently strings for The New York Times. He began his career in Jewish journalism and was a pioneer in database journalism, which he taught to hundreds of journalists around the country, Canada, the UK and Mexico. He taught at Rutgers and Columbia universities before going to FIU.

Ellen Roteman

Ellen Roteman began her professional career as a journalist at the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh. She later served in a wide range of writing and marketing capacities, most recently as director of marketing for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Her work has encompassed writing and managing projects ranging from annual reports and brochures, to speeches and scripts, to newspaper and magazine features. She has received numerous awards for her writing and for marketing campaigns that she developed, as well as recognition by the International Association of Business Communicators, Women in Communications and the Jewish Community Centers Association.

Since "retiring," she has authored three books for children, all published by Menucha Publishers. Her "Five Star Detectives" series, for middle grader readers, includes The Case of the Disappearing Chanukah Candles (published in 2018) and The Case of the Unfair Science Fair (2020). Her debut novel for teen girls, Production!, was also released in 2020. She is currently at work on another YA novel and the next installment in her "Detectives" series.

Lauren R. Rublin

Lauren R. Rublin is the senior managing editor at Barron's. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Joel, and is active in her local Jewish community.

Dr. Rebecca Shimoni-Stoil

Dr. Rebecca Shimoni-Stoil is a historian, journalist and a professor at Clemson University. She served as the Washington, D.C. correspondent for the Times of Israel and provided analysis for i24 News, as well as contributing to, FiveThirtyEight, and The Washington Monthly. Prior to joining Times of Israel, Rebecca was the Knesset and later the Internal Security correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and was the outlet’s acting Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief. She is the co-author of Between the Straits, a forthcoming book about the Winograd Report and the Second Lebanon War, which she is writing through a grant from the US Marine Corps Foundation.

Dubi Silverstein

Dubi Silverstein worked as a computer programmer in the 1980s, business executive in the 1990s, professional hockey writer in the 2000s, and musician and video producer in the 2010s. He splits his time between Manhattan and Northeastern Pennsylvania. His wife Ellen Weiman, a journalist and memoirist, is past president of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism.

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic is the editorial director of Waste360, a waste and recycling industry publication. She graduated from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2009 and completed the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism 2018. Valentic has been in B2B publishing for more than a decade, covering topics from agriculture to occupational health and safety. She has been a member of the Society of Professional Journalists since college. In her spare time, she enjoys freelancing and volunteering for BaseABLE, an organization working to bring baseball to the Special Olympics. She lives in Cleveland with her partner Max, her two dogs Pickles and Napoleon, and her cat Mr. Kitty.

Natalie Weinstein

Natalie Weinstein has worked as a journalist for three decades. She was a reporter and editor at the then-Jewish Bulletin of Northern California in the 1990s before joining the staff of CNET, which covers all aspects of the tech industry. She is currently a senior editor at CNET News.

Rich Weiss

Rich Weiss is Publisher of The Tremonster (the community newspaper for the neighborhood of Tremont in Cleveland, Ohio), and Vice President of Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland. He is Executive Director of Neighborhood Media Foundation, a nonprofit that supports media produced by and for communities. Weiss and his wife, Cleveland State Writing Instructor Amanda Lloyd, began producing The Tremonster together in 2011, after Weiss developed an interest in community media marketing and writing to support Cleveland-area newspapers The Call & Post, The Plain Press, The Collinwood Observer, The Campus District Observer, The Buckeye-Shaker Square METRO, West Park Times, and The Gordon Square. Weiss is Co-Chair of The Superior Initiative (a secular/non-secular Cleveland community service nonprofit), and has previously served on the boards of the Ingenuity Festival of Art & Technology and Tremont West Development Corporation.

Cheryl Winokur Munk

Cheryl Winokur Munk is a well-established business journalist covering a wide range of financial topics, including college financial planning, insurance, fintech, retirement, personal finance and wealth management. She writes frequently for international publications including the Wall Street Journal and Barron's.

Lee Zurik

Lee Zurik’s hard-hitting investigations continue to effect change and garner 
respect. Lee’s work has been recognized with journalism’s top awards. In total, two Peabody Awards, three Columbia-duPont Silver Batons, eleven National Edward R. Murrow Awards, the IRE Medal, six IRE Certificates, and twelve Sigma Delta Chi Awards. 

Lee is currently the Evening News Anchor and Chief Investigative Reporter at 
WVUE-TV in New Orleans. In addition, he also serves as Director of Investigations for Gray Television. In that role, Lee oversees Gray’s National Investigative Unit and it’s new OTT App – InvestigateTV.

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