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The 42nd 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.

David Brauer

David Brauer is a retired journalist in Minneapolis, Minn. He is a former media reporter for, editor of the Southwest Minneapolis and Downtown Minneapolis Journals, reporter for two Twin Cities alt-weeklies, and a freelancer for Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post.

Lisa Brennan

Lisa Brennan is a writer in San Gabriel, Calif. She worked for over 25 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.

Sharon Broussard

After 30 years in the journalism business as a reporter for The New York Daily News and an editorial writer for and The Plain Dealer, Sharon Broussard is a freelance editor and public relations consultant in Cleveland. She formerly served as the project manager for the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative based in Cleveland. The collaborative is a partnership of 16 local news outlets that have banded together to write about solutions to long-standing regional problems such as COVID-19 and economic recovery.

David Y. Chack

David Y. Chack is a professor in The Theatre School at DePaul University in Jewish and Holocaust Theatre/Performance. He is also producing artistic director of ShPIeL and TEATRON Festival of Jewish Theatre: Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York. He is a theatre consultant for Taube Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Warsaw as well as the Illinois Holocaust Museum. A director, producer and dramaturg throughout the United States, he was the initiator and programs curator for the 2016 Museum of the City of New York’s major exhibition “New York’s Yiddish Theatre: From Bowery To Broadway.” Before COVID he directed the epic play “Mother Courage and Her Children” by Bertolt Brecht, adaptation by Tony Kushner, in Louisville; and adapted and directed “Imagining Heschel” by Colin Greer.

Recent papers are “The Inherency, Inheritance, and Intersectionality of Jewish Theatre Festivals” for the March 2022 Conney Jewish Arts Conference at the University of Wisconsin/Madison and “A Jewish Theatremaker in the Pandemic,” Harold Pinter Review vol. 5, 2021. He has also written for American Theater Magazine, The Forward, and Howl-Round/Emerson College. His B.F.A. is from Tisch School of the Arts/NYU and Circle-in-the-Square Theatre on Broadway; and he did Masters work at Tufts University, and Ph.D. work with his mentor, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, at Boston University. He is vice president of the Alliance for Jewish Theater, an international umbrella for Jewish theatre worldwide.

Gary Cohn

Pulitzer 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 a journalism project about the changing economics of college sports in a post-pandemic world.

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 with NPR, 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 U.S. focused exclusively on crisis communications and reputation management. Hennes, with offices in Cleveland and Akron, offers a wide range of crisis management and crisis communications services, including media training, litigation communications support, issues and crisis preparation, social media strategy and peer reviews of crisis plans. Hennes works with hundreds of corporations and manufacturers, law firms, government agencies, nonprofits, hospitals, public and private schools and more.

Thom spent 33 years in newspaper newsrooms, most recently serving as managing editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. He also was managing editor of The Akron Beacon Journal and The Detroit Free Press and editor of The St. Paul Pioneer Press, in Minnesota. Thom, a native of Canton, Ohio, is president of the board of the Press Club of Cleveland.

Jonathan Friendly

Jonathan Friendly was a reporter and editor for 27 years, including 17 years at The New York Times. He ran the master’s journalism program at the University of Michigan and was the news and national editor for Detroit Jewish News and Jewish Renaissance Media. Jonathan retired to Florida in 2000 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2022. He has been married for 61 years and has four children and six grandchildren.

Martin Golan

Martin Golan was an editor and reporter at Reuters for more than 25 years, after being a reporter and feature writer at daily newspapers. He has also published novels and poetry, his most recent, “One Night With Lilith,” a novel about a man convinced his wife is the alluring but dangerous Lilith of biblical legend. Before that came another, the novel “My Wife’s Last Lover,” and a collection of short stories, “Where Things Are When You Lose Them.” A book of poetry, “A Note of Consolation for Lucia Joyce,” was published late last year.

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 five Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards in the last seven years, including three Emmys for environmental reporting, one for investigative reporting and one for religion news. Hammer 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, Hammer’s 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 16-year-old son is the first eighth-generation member of Touro Synagogue, one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the U.S.

Marcy R. Harris

Marcy R. Harris worked as a news and features reporter at a daily newspaper, as a reporter and writer at several magazines, and as a litigator, before retiring to serve as president of her synagogue. She currently serves on the boards of several Jewish organizations and is an avid reader of the Jewish press.

Deborah Hirsch

Deborah spent more than 27 years as an entertainment editor and columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper. She edited daily and weekly copy, while also writing entertainment features and an arts column for the newspaper’s weekly Showtime section. In later years, as the newspaper transitioned its emphasis from print to digital, she also wrote and edited for the newspaper’s entertainment website.

Through the years, Deborah has utilized her communications skills in volunteer work at public schools, her synagogue, Hadassah and the local Jewish Family Service.

A native Chicagoan, Deborah received her B.A. with honors from the University of Iowa in political science and journalism and attended the journalism master’s degree program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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.

Craig S. Karpel

Craig S. Karpel is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, Harper’s Magazine, The 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. He has interviewed such personalities as Henry Kissinger, John Lennon and Andrei Sakharov.

Karpel’s articles have been published in periodicals including 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 received the Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in North American Jewish Journalism for his article in B’nai B’rith Magazine entitled, “The Unseen Side of Arab-Jewish Relations.” His radio series Jerusalem Diary was broadcast on the BBC. He substituted for Ed Koch when the late former New York City mayor hosted a weekly program on 77 WABC Radio.

Karpel 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 Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. He is a graduate of Columbia University, New York.

Hilary Krieger

Hilary Krieger is an opinion editor for CNN Digital. Previously, she was the lead 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.

Hilary had an earlier stint at CNN 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.

Jan Leach

Jan Leach is an emeritus professor of news in the School of Media and Journalism at Kent State University. She retired in 2020 after more than 15 years of teaching media ethics, newswriting, 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.

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 joined the faculty in the School of Photographic Arts & Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2015 and now is an associate professor, teaching photojournalism and multimedia storytelling, including interactive storytelling. In 2020, Josh was awarded the Robin F. Garland Educator Award from the National Press Photographers Association for his strong dedication to his students and his commitment to community.

Before coming to RIT, he was first a photojournalist-in-residence and then an assistant professor teaching similar courses in the School of Media. A native of Athens, Ga., Josh is a 1995 graduate of Carleton College in Minnesota and received his master’s degree in Multimedia Communications from the University of Miami in 2013.

In 2008, after 9 years as a staff photographer and multimedia journalist at The Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Va., Josh accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph and teach in Mexico where he began working on a project about the migration of indigenous families within Mexico. A selection of his work from his Fulbright year won the Grand Prize Professional Award from Photophilanthropy in 2010. He completed this project in 2014 as part of his master’s thesis while at the University of Miami.

His still and multimedia work has been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association’s (NPPA) Best of Photojournalism competition, where he was the 2006 Photojournalist of the Year for markets less than 115,000 circulation, Pictures of the Year International, which recognized a long-term project on those who care for the elderly with the Documentary of the Year award, KNPA, VNPA, Atlanta Photojournalism Competition, Northern and Southern Short Courses and the Society of Newspaper Design.

Hugo H. Ottolenghi

Hugo H. Ottolenghi teaches undergraduate and graduate communications courses at Florida International University in Miami. He brings the knowledge and experience gained as a senior editor at two national news companies and as an online communications writer and editor to the classroom. Hugo sits on the board of Florida Bulldog, an independent, nonprofit news organization that produces in-depth and investigative stories on government, business and the environment. He supports the AJPA by conducting professional development webinars for its members.

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 public policies and hardball politics for the Miami Herald and other newspapers. He currently freelances for The New York Times for which he’s covered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting, the Surfside building collapse, the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago and other major stories. He 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 coming to FIU. Reisner is currently working on a book, “Pythons in Paradise – How Burmese Pythons Have Ravaged the Everglades.” He started his career in Jewish journalism.

Bob Rosenbaum

Bob Rosenbaum is principal of The Market-Farm, a strategic communications firm that helps non-profits and smaller businesses create and engage their own audiences. He also is project chair of the Heights Observer, a non-profit hyperlocal community newspaper serving Cleveland Heights and University Heights, Ohio, since 2008.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he has more than 35 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, editor, publisher, consultant and adjunct professor. He’s a past president and current board member of the Press Club of Cleveland, and is passionate about the important role of journalism in democracy.

He has three grown children and lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife and a dog.

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 received numerous awards for her writing and for marketing campaigns she developed, and recognition by the International Association of Business Communicators, Women in Communications and the Jewish Community Centers Association.

Since “retiring,” she has authored five books for children, published by Menucha Publishers.

Michael Roteman

Michael Roteman has done extensive research on Jewish athletes and frequently writes and speaks on this subject. His series of 21 articles about the Greatest Jewish Athletes of the Twentieth Century was published in four different Jewish newspapers.

Mr. Roteman has also been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and is the author of three baseball novels, “Phenom,” “Warning Track Power” and “Hometown Hero.”

A Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Duquesne University (BSBA & MBA), Mr. Roteman spent many years in Harrisburg, Pa., where he was a senior executive for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and where he also edited the agency’s in-house newspaper, From the Vine. In addition to his work for the government, Mr. Roteman also worked as a freelance television and radio announcer, and as a freelance sports writer. His play-by-play experience includes the Pittsburgh Pirates Class AA affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators, the Harrisburg Horizon minor league basketball team, the Harrisburg Patriots minor league football team, and hundreds of high school football and basketball games.

Mr. Roteman resides in both Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and Pittsburgh with his wife Ellen. He currently writes a weekly blog for his synagogue in Pittsburgh.

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.

Iris Samson

Iris Samson is a graduate of the University of Maryland College of Journalism, with a minor in Jewish Studies. Samson worked for almost two years for the B’nai B’rith International Jewish Monthly Magazine before moving to Pittsburgh. From 1983 to 2001, Iris was the assistant editor of The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, a weekly newspaper. Iris began freelancing for WQED-TV (the Pittsburgh PBS affiliate) in 2005, after serving as an associate producer on “From Pittsburgh To Poland: Lessons of the Holocaust.” Since then, Iris has produced dozens of short pieces, and over a dozen half hour programs, including “Stories of the Holocaust.”

Some other productions include “The Valley that Changed the World,” two programs on the achievements of African American men and young men in the Pittsburgh region; three programs focusing on the emergent and changing educational landscape in the region; and “Vietnam, Another View.” Iris has six Mid-Atlantic Emmys, and has been nominated over a dozen times; She has won 10 Golden Quill Awards. Iris also won five Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters awards; Iris has a Gabriel Award and was part of an Edward R. Murrow Award winning team.

Iris was co-producer of a national PBS special, “Harbor From the Holocaust,” and is currently an associate producer on another national PBS special dealing with Reparations.

Dale Singer

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969, while still a student at Washington University, by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper’s website. In September 2008, he joined the staff of the online startup St. Louis Beacon, where he reported primarily on education; when the Beacon merged with St. Louis Public Radio in 2013, he joined the combined staff and covered education until his retirement in 2017. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct instructor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren.

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan worked for 18 years in print and broadcast journalism, most recently as a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He is currently the executive director of Jewish Veg, a national nonprofit organization. In that capacity, he writes occasional articles for the Times of Israel Blogs and Medium.

Jeffrey lives in Pittsburgh, with his wife Kathryn, dog Maizie and cat Nala.

Andrea Stone

Andrea Stone is a nationally known journalist whose four-decade-long career started in the Bronx on her high school and college newspapers and eventually took her to 47 states and more than two dozen countries as a reporter for one of the largest news organizations in the country.

Stone has a B.A. from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) and an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She spent the first seven years of her career working at trade publications and covering local news as a freelancer for newspapers and magazines in New York, Florida and Illinois, including the Gainesville Sun (Fla.), Newsweek and the Chicago Sun-Times. (Ill.). As a staffer, she was a newspaper reporter at The Riverdale Press (Bronx, N.Y.), the Daily Journal (Wheaton, Ill.) and the Lake Forester (Lake Forest, Ill.).

After working as a full-time freelancer at outlets such as National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine and teaching journalism at American University in Washington, Stone moved back to New York to return to her alma mater as career director at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.

Stone retired in 2019 and remains active as a freelancer, journalism contest judge and high school journalism mentor. She also volunteers at Ellis Island and the Museum of the City of New York.

Shira Vickar-Fox

Shira Vickar-Fox worked for decades in Jewish media. She was managing editor of New Jersey Jewish News, editor of Fresh Ink for Teens, and contributor to the New York Jewish Week (some at the same time!). She is a creative storyteller/writer at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Hamantashen are her favorite Jewish dessert and she loves shutting down her phone every Shabbat eve.

Ellen C. Weiman

Ellen C. Weiman is a retired Public Relations professional, having started out as a newspaper reporter in both New York City and Connecticut, then representing New York city and state agencies to all forms of the media under three different New York City mayors. She then represented various non-profits for the next decade. Ellen lives with her husband in Manhattan, has two daughters and a dog named Charlie.

Natalie Weinstein

Natalie Weinstein has worked as an editor and reporter for more than three decades.

Cheryl Winokur Munk

Cheryl Winokur Munk is a well-established business journalist covering a wide range of financial topics, including personal finance, small business, banking and the financial advisory business. She writes frequently for international publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and CNBC.

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