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    Speakers/Staff

    We will soon be announcing our honored speakers who will be taking part in the 2014 Washington Journalism and Media Conference. Our list of 2013 speakers is provided below as an example of the prominent, high-profile speakers in the environmental field who join the program.

    2014 Speakers

    Hoda Kotb, Co-Host, Fourth Hour of NBC's "Today"; Correspondent, "Dateline NBC"

    Hoda Kotb is the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's "Today". She began hosting the 10 a.m. hour when it debuted in September 2007, and she currently hosts alongside Kathie Lee Gifford. Kotb has also been a "Dateline NBC" correspondent since April 1998 and she is a New York Times Bestselling author for her book "Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer and Kathie Lee".

    Kotb has covered a wide variety of domestic and international stories across all NBC News platforms as well as numerous human-interest stories and features. She covered in-depth, the aftermath and one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a story personal to Kotb who lived in New Orleans for six years. She has reported on the war in Iraq, the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

    Kotb is a three-year breast cancer survivor and has been a part of several initiatives to raise awareness about the disease. Diagnosed in March 2007, she shared her story on "Today" in October 2007.

    Kotb graduated from Virginia Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism. She resides in New York City.

    Candy Crowley, Chief Political Correspondent, CNN

    Candy Crowley is CNN's award-winning chief political correspondent and anchor of State of the Union with Candy Crowley, a political hour of newsmaker interviews and analysis of the week’s most important issues. Crowley took the reins of State of the Union in February 2010. In her role as chief political correspondent, Crowley covers a broad range of stories, including presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races and major legislative developments on Capitol Hill. Crowley was selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to moderate a 2012 general election debate between President Obama and Gov. Romney. The town hall debate, scheduled for Oct. 16, 2012 in Hempstead, NY, will be the first debate moderated by a woman in two decades.

    Crowley’s assignments have taken her to all 50 states and around the world. Since taking the anchor chair for State of the Union, Crowley has interviewed top newsmakers including: Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; former President George W. Bush together with his brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; former Vice President Dick Cheney together with his daughter Liz Cheney; and 2012 Republican presidential candidates Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

    Crowley has co-anchored key primary and caucus nights throughout America’s Choice 2012 election coverage. She played a pivotal role in CNN’s America Votes 2008 Peabody Award-winning coverage, traveling to both conventions, every debate and additional stops along the campaign trail. In 2009, she earned a prestigious Gracie Allen Award for coverage of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. She also was part of the network’s Emmy Award-winning 2006 midterm election coverage.

    She has covered the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Bob Dole, Jesse Jackson, Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, among others. Since the presidential nomination of Jimmy Carter, she has covered all but one of the national political conventions. She was also granted an exclusive sit-down interview with President George W. Bush days before he left office.

    Among her most vivid memories as a reporter, Crowley counts the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast; the impeachment trial of President Clinton; Election Night 2000; ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of D-Day on the beaches of Normandy; Ronald Reagan’s trips to China, Bitburg and Bergen-Belsen; the night the United States bombed Libya; and the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.

    Crowley began her broadcast journalism career in Washington, D.C., as a newsroom assistant for Metromedia radio station WASH. She has served as an anchor for Mutual Broadcasting and as a general assignment and White House correspondent for the Associated Press, where she covered most of the Reagan era before moving on to NBC-TV to become a general assignment correspondent in NBC’s Washington bureau. She came to CNN from NBC News in 1987. Prior to her current role, Crowley served as a congressional correspondent for the network.

    Crowley earned a bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

    Peter Doocy, Correspondent, Fox New Channel

    Peter Doocy is currently a Washington-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.

    Most recently, Doocy reported live on the scene of the deadly Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he covered the marathon bombing in Boston and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Throughout his career at FNC, he has covered a multitude of stories, including former Vice President Dick Cheney's heart transplant surgery in March 2012, the 2011 floods in the Midwest and the 2012 and 2008 Presidential Elections.

    Doocy received his B.A. from Villanova University and previously worked as a student reporter at FNC's partner site, The Palestra.

    Carol Guzy, Staff photographer, The Washington Post

    Carol Guzy was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on March 7, 1956. She lived there until 1978 when she completed her studies at Northampton County Area Community College, graduating with an Associate's degree in Registered Nursing. A change of heart led her to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida to study photography. She graduated in 1980 with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Photography.

    While at the Art Institute, she interned at The Miami Herald and upon graduation was hired as a staff photographer. She spent eight years at the newspaper before moving to Washington, DC in 1988 where she is currently a staff photographer at The Washington Post.

    Her assignments include both domestic and international stories and documentary reportage. She has been honored twice with the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for her coverage of the military intervention in Haiti and the devastating mudslide in Armero, Colombia. She has received a third Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for her work in Kosovo as well. She is the only journalist to ever receive a fourth Pulitzer for coverage of the Haitian earthquake in 2010. She has been named Photographer of the Year for the National Press Photographers Association three times and eight times for the White House News Photographers Association and has earned other prestigious awards in her chosen profession of photojournalism.

    Tom Jackman, Washington Post

    Tom Jackman has covered cops and courts for newspapers in Kansas City and Washington, D.C., since 1985, and still has no major arrests on his record. He is a Northern Virginia native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame. At the Kansas City Times, and then The Kansas City Star, he covered the case of serial killer Bob Berdella and wrote a best-selling book about his gory murders. He also wrote a weekly general interest column, regular concert reviews, and co-hosted a weekly TV talk show. After joining The Post in 1998, he covered the D.C. sniper case and was the lead writer on The Post's breaking news coverage of the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, for which the paper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. In 2011, he launched a general interest blog called the State of NoVa, about anything he finds interesting in Northern Virginia, with emphasis on music, sports and gambling. It has been hugely successful so far.

    Beth Parker, General Assignment Reporter, Fox DC

    Beth Parker joined FOX 5 in August of 1998 as a general assignment reporter. She started her career in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley at WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg. She did a little of everything there, working as a reporter, photographer, anchor and producer. Beth then moved to Wilmington, NC where she was the weekend anchor at WECT-TV.

    Next, she worked as a reporter at WGHP-TV in the Greensboro/High Point/Winston Salem market of North Carolina. From there she headed north and became a reporter at WBAL-TV in Baltimore. She's won two Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting. She has also won five Emmys — for investigative reporting, feature reporting and daily news reporting.

    Beth grew up in a small town in Central Pennsylvania called Selinsgrove. At a very young age she started asking "why, why, why?" and her career plan was set. She studied journalism and politics at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. When she's not asking questions, Beth likes to travel, read, cook, and play tennis. She also volunteers as a tutor with Project Northstar, a non-profit that helps D.C.'s at-risk kids.

    Jana Sweeny, Director, International Communications, American Red Cross

    Jana Sweeny ensures the American public is informed about the international work the American Red Cross conducts worldwide. Previously, she worked as a disaster officer helping local Red Cross chapters in five Western states become better prepared to respond to disasters. She has served as a director of communications, marketing and government relations in the Mid-Atlantic region working with more than 100 chapters on their communications strategies and efforts. Sweeney has also deployed on behalf of Red Cross in support of Operations Iraqi Enduring Freedom, as well as worked with military families in Germany and at stateside locations.

    Sweeny serves as a Red Cross national media spokesperson and external affairs liaison during times of disaster. She is a member of the International Response Roster and deployed to Haiti in 2010.

    David Culver, Reporter, NBC Washington

    David Culver is a reporter with News4’s Northern Virginia Bureau. Culver has deep roots in Northern Virginia. He was born and raised in Fairfax County, and most of his family still lives there. Culver attended Gonzaga College High School then graduated from William and Mary with a degree in Hispanic Studies. But Culver always knew he wanted to be a journalist and spent a few summers at NBC in Washington. He interned at News4 and wrote a blog for NBCWashington.com while studying abroad. He was also an intern for NBC News’ Investigative Unit in Washington. After college, Culver became a reporter and producer for WAVY-TV, the NBC station in Norfolk. Two years later, he began anchoring the station’s weekend morning newscasts. He joined News4 in December 2012. Culver is fluent in Spanish and studied Arabic in college. He lives in Arlington.

    Julie Simmons, Managing Director, Human Capital Strategic Consulting

    Julie Simmons is the Managing Director of Human Capital Strategic Consulting. In this role, she works with organizations to accelerate business performance and drive superior results through the development and advancement of people. She advises on talent acquisition, career development, succession planning, retention, training and leadership development, as well as total rewards. She brings with her nearly 20 years of human resources experience with professional services, non-profits and government contracting organizations. Prior to founding Human Capital Strategic Consulting, Julie spent 14 years providing internal human resources consulting to Grant Thornton, TEOCO Corporation, the American Society of Travel Agents and Arthur Andersen. Julie currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and is the chair of the Chamber’s Women’s Business Thought Leadership Group. She serves on the George Mason University Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Marymount University Board of Visitors. She is also the chair emeritus of the George Mason University Alumni Scholarship Committee.

    Rodger Smith, Visiting Professor of Communication, George Mason University

    Professor Rodger Smith is a visiting professor of Communication at George Mason University. He is currently teaching COMM 359 Media Management and COMM 148 Radio Workshop 1. Professor Smith has also taught COMM 354 Radio Production, COMM 348 Radio Workshop 2 and COMM 399 Sports and the Media.

    He is currently the faculty advisor for WGMU campus radio station. Professor Smith’s interest in Communications came from an interest in how the cause and effect of programming, how the media affects a culture, daily life and technology. His previous work in radio includes working for WFTR Front Royal, Virginia where he was a news director (1986-1988), sports director and mid-day on-air talent (1988-1989) and a morning drive personality (1990-1992). He also worked as an advertising/production director for WUSQ Winchester.

    Professor Smith is the director of a Summer Radio Camp geared for middle and high school students who have an interest in radio. The radio camp consists of 2-one week sessions in July where students learn basic radio skills like writing and producing commercial and news items as well as delivering on-air breaks. They also get to tour a professional radio station, WJFK. Professor Smith was nominated for the Who’s Who in the Media and Communications in 1997-1998. What students may not know about Professor Smith is an avid competitive runner in 5K and 10K races and has an encyclopedic knowledge of NFL history.

    Faculty/Staff

    Amy Takayama-Perez, Dean of Admissions and Executive Director of the Washington Scholars Program

    As the Dean of Admissions Amy is responsible for the overall management and execution of George Mason University’s recruitment strategy. Amy also serves as the Executive Director of the Washington Scholars Program, home to the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment and the Washington Journalism and Media Conference. She has an affinity for working with students and families in higher education. Before her involvement in the Washington Scholars Program, she was the Guidance Specialist for Loudoun County Public Schools and served as the Director for a county wide college access program. Previously, she has worked in the Office of Admissions as the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment. She has worked with countless students and families on the application and college search process and is very active in regional and national college counseling associations. A native New Englander, Ms. Takayama-Perez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters of Education from George Mason University, and serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.


    Richard Friesner, Director of the Washington Scholars Program

    Richard is the Program Director for the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment. In this role, Richard develops the summit's curriculum, identifies and recruits exceptional faculty and nationally recognized speakers in a variety of environmental disciplines and specialties, and coordinates with a fabulous group of staff in the Office of Admissions to make the summit an unparalleled experience for the student delegates attending. Richard earned a BS in Environmental Studies/Chemistry and a MS in Environmental Engineering & Science at the University of Kansas. Prior to working with WYSE Richard worked at the US Geological Survey (USGS) and as an environmental consultant for a nationwide engineering consulting firm. Richard also has extensive experience with student leadership experiences both at the University of Kansas and with the Boy Scouts of America.


    Elena Johnson, Program Director, Washington Journalism & Media Conference

    Elena is the Program Director for the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). As the director, she works to create a fulfilling conference experience by developing the curriculum for the conference, as well as recruiting professional faculty and nationally recognized speakers in the fields of journalism and the media. She coordinates with the staff in the Office of Admissions to develop an enriching and well-executed conference for all the correspondents. Prior to working with WJMC, Elena worked as a College and Career Specialist helping high school students explore their educational and career goals and choices. She also managed the National Young Leaders Conference and the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Elena earned her BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She is excited to welcome future journalists to the nation’s capital!


    Andrias White, Events Manager

    Andrias serves as the Event Manager for the George Mason Office of Admissions and the Advanced Team Leader for the Washington Scholars Program. As Event Manager, she plans and facilitates recruitment events that attract prospective students from all over the country and showcase the prestige and innovation that is George Mason University. In her role as Advanced Team Leader, she is responsible for all on-campus logistics for the Washington Scholars Program Conferences and works hard to provide a seamless D.C. experience for all of the scholars. Prior to her permanent role in the Office of Admissions, Andrias served George Mason as Event Coordinator Assistant in the Office of Admissions. As a student, she received several university awards and was a member of many student organizations, university committees, and academic honor societies. However, she is most proud of her term as Student Representative on the GMU Board of Visitors. Andrias will complete her Bachelors of Science in Tourism and Events Management from the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism this spring at George Mason University and is proud to be a Mason Patriot!


    Chloe Carter, Advance Team Staff

    Chloe Carter is a recent graduate from George Mason University with a degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in Global Inequalities and Responses. She is originally from Richmond Virginia where she participated in youth outreach programs through the Richmond Hill organization and was the president of the St. Pauls Catholic Church youth program.

    Chloe now works for the George Mason Office of Admissions as an International Admissions Assistant. With her efforts and the efforts of her international team, she help to give international students a chance to study in the U.S. She plans to work with non-profit organizations and youth outreach programs in conjuction with international development efforts to impliment sustainable projects for health and wellness in developing countries. Chloe loves traveling, watching movies, the outdoors, and is excited that this will be her second year working with the Washington Scholars Program.


    Faculty Advisors

    April van Buren, Mesa Vista Middle and High School, Ojo Caliente, NM

    April van Buren, MJE, has taught journalism for a decade, including at Parkway Central High School in suburban St. Louis and at Mesa Vista Middle and High School in rural New Mexico. She teaches Beginning Journalism, Newspaper Production, Yearbook and some video and creative writing. She has also been an adjunct professor for the Communications Department at the University of New Mexico-Taos. From 2010 to May of 2013, she served as the New Mexico director for the Journalism Education Association and as the Vice President of the NM Scholastic Press Association. She earned her National Board certification in Language Arts in 2012 and studied journalism, education and library sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In August, she is moving to Madison, WI with her husband, a graduate student and former assistant editor of the Taos News. In her free time, she likes to read young adult fiction and plays roller derby and ice hockey.


    Anthony Whitten, Westfield High School, Chantilly, VA

    Anthony Whitten teaches journalism at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va. for Fairfax County Public Schools. He advises the Guardian yearbook and the Watchdog newspaper. The publications have earned Trophy Class designations from the Virginia High School League and the Guardian yearbook has received two Silver Crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association during his tenure. In 2013, the Journalism Education Association recognized him as a Rising Star; the Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisers honored him with the Washington & Lee Young Adviser Award. He began his scholastic journalism career as a high school yearbook editor at Park View High School in Sterling, Va. He then attended the University of Virginia and joined yearbook there and served as Business Manager of Corks & Curls for three years.


    Neelum Chaudhry, Lead Faculty Advisor, Freedom High School, South Riding, VA

    Neelum Chaudhry is currently teaching in the Loudoun County Public Schools at Freedom High School in South Riding, VA. She serves as the English Department Chair, teaches British Literature and is the sponsor of the yearbook. This is her nineteenth year in the profession. After teaching for nine years and sponsoring both the school newspaper and yearbook, she left the profession to work in scholastic book publishing as the marketing director and assistant director at the Iowa State University Press and University of Minnesota Press.

    After nine years, she returned to high school teaching and also taught part-time in the journalism department at Iowa State University. In 1978, she earned her bachelor's degree in journalism and English from the University of Iowa and then in 1980 she received a master's degree in journalism, also from the University of Iowa. We are thrilled to have Ms. Chaudry’s wealth of journalism experience at this year’s conference.


    Matthew Schott, Francis Howell Central High School, St. Charles, MO

    Matthew Schott is the publications adviser for Francis Howell Central Publications, this is his ninth year as an adviser after working as a graphic designer at four different newspapers. He advises newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, website and broadcast. He loves working in a multimedia classroom that allows students to have an experience as close to working for a professional publication as possible.

    Schott's publications have won numerous awards, including a Gold Crowns from CSPA and a Pacemakers from NSPA, as well as received numerous honors from varied local, state and national organizations.

    In his personal time, Schott loves to spend time with his wife, an elementary school assistant principal, and two children, Noah and Sydney. He's a tech and photography geek, as well as an avid reader and rabid soccer fan. This is Schott's fourth year at WJMC. Hope you're ready for an amazing conference.


    Stan Zoller, Rolling Meadows High School, Buffalo Grove, IL

    Stan Zoller, MJE, has been a journalism educator and newspaper adviser for 14 years. During that time, his students have received a number of awards including Illinois Journalist of the Year (2010, 2011), finalists in the National Scholastic Press Association’s Sports Story of the Year (2010, 2012) and a finalist in the Journalism Education Association’s Journalist of the Year (2011). His student publications have received many awards including a 2012 Silver Crown from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, an NSPA Pacemaker finalist, and three successive George Gallup Awards (2010, 2011, 2012) presented by Quill and Scroll. Zoller is Illinois State Director for JEA and is also a member of its Multicultural Commission. He has also served on the Board of the Kettle Moraine Press Association. Zoller was a Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser in 2011 and a Special Recognition Adviser in 2010. He was a 2003 Fellow of the American Society of News Editors. Prior to becoming an educator, Zoller worked in the media and media relations. He is still active in professional journalism and is a board member of the Chicago Headline Club, the Chicago chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. His hobbies include photography, golf and model railroading. He is married and has two sons.


    Melissa Larson, Mesa Middle School, Castle Rock, CO

    Melissa Larson is in her seventh year as an educator. In 2014, she received the Rising Star Award from the Journalism Education Association. In 2013, she was recognized as one of nine Apple Award Finalists for Secondary Educator of the Year in the Douglas County School District. She teaches IB MYP technology courses including Digital Media, Multimedia Productions and Electronic Publications at Mesa Middle School in Castle Rock, Colorado. She has been advising the Imprints yearbook for six years. Her yearbook has won several awards including NSPA 2nd Place Best of Show in 2011 and 2013 and NSPA 1st Place National Picture of the Year in 2012 and 2013. She is also the adviser for Mesa’s online news publication, www.Mesa365.com. She was a fellow at the 2012 ASNE Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Computer Information Systems at Colorado State University. She is married and has three daughters.


    Matt Rasgorshek, Westside High School, Omaha, NE

    Matt Rasgorshek (@matt_raz) is the broadcast and online adviser at Westside High School in Omaha, NE. His publications have received state and national recognition. Westside Wired has been honored as one of the nation's top high school online publications. Warrior Television has been recognized as one of the nation's top broadcast programs. He is the former vice president for the Nebraska High School Press Association (NHSPA) and is actively involved on the JEA's Digital Media committee. This past year, Rasgorshek received special recognition as one of the country's top broadcast journalism advisers by the Journalism Education Association. He was also awarded the NHSPA's Distinguished Adviser Award for 2011-2012. Prior to teaching, Matt worked behind the camera as a newscast director, producer, videographer and editor in local affiliates in Omaha and Phoenix.


    Brian Wilson, Kettering High School, Waterford, MI

    Brian Wilson, MJE, advises Kismet and The Murmur, the yearbook and newspaper at Kettering High School in Waterford, MI. He is also adviser of WaterfordDrift.com, the online student newspaper, taught AP Composition for seven years, and currently serves as a coordinator in the high school Academic Center. Wilson serves as JEA Liaison to the National Council of Teachers of English and is former president of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association. He has presented at workshops and conferences across the country and in 2009 he was awarded the Golden Pen, given to Michigan’s top publication adviser. In 2011 he was named a JEA Distinguished Yearbook Adviser.