Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2018-present

  • Masters degree in media studies while teaching writing for the mass media as a graduate teaching assistant – sole instructor, August 2022.
  • Pursuing masters of fine arts in creative writing while teaching English composition as a graduate teaching assistant – sole instructor. Graduation anticipated May 2023.

University of Tennessee at Martin, 1996-97

  • Bachelor’s degree in mass communications, minor in theater, December 1997.

University of Memphis, 1993-96

  • Pursued bachelor of fine arts in theater as Cecil C. Humphreys Scholar; transferred to University of Tennessee in 1996.

Academic Honors

  • “Catching Figs: The Bell Jar and Second-Wave Feminism,” poster presentation, SIUE Graduate Research Symposium, 2022.
  • The Mimi Zanger Award for fiction writing, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2021.
  • “No More Sob Sisters: Women Journalists in Film,” selected for presentation at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Symposium on Women and Gender, 2020.
  • “The People Have the Right to Know: Journalists’ Representation in Recent Film,” presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications’ midwinter conference, 2019.
  • Presentation on the 2014 revision of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics and Integrity, 2016.
  • Sigma Tau Delta, English honors society, 2020-present.
  • Wayne Tansil Award for student journalism, 1997.
  • UTM Dean’s List, fall 1996 and summer 1997.

Journalism experience

Freelance, Donald Media — 2018–Present

  • Freelance writer for local and national publications. Clients have included The McClatchy Co., Current Magazine, INSIGHT Into Diversity, Outdoor Guide, Troy (Ill.) Times-Tribune, Entrepreneur Quarterly, DiversityIS, the St. Louis Labor-Tribune and others.
  • Editor and writing coach, working with small presses and beginning writers on developing their work with an eye toward eventual publication.
  • Art and nature photographer and photojournalist with occasional portrait work.

Reporter, Belleville News-Democrat; Belleville, IL — 2000-2018

  • Covered local news, including police, government, labor issues, courts, elections, community development, environment, spot news, local and national politics, and more. 
  • Heavy emphasis on watchdog and public service reporting, with frequent use of FOIA including court challenges.
  • Early adopter of social media reporting, for newsgathering and cultivation of sources as well as extending reach and promoting stories online, including coding for SEO and social media posts.
  • Worked remote 2009-2017, operating outside the newsroom throughout the community.
  • Education focus, covering school boards, labor issues, ongoing trends and issues and extensive coverage of federal and state legislation and its effects on local schools, as well as higher education. 
  • Photography and videography for spot news and features 2012-2018, shooting and editing short news sequences for online publication.
  • Liaison to the Latino Roundtable of Southwestern Illinois, 2006-2012.
  • Popular-culture blogger, writing the CultureGeek blog with occasional print columns 2007-2010, continued as independent blog after cancellation until 2020.
  • Wrote an ethics code for the newspaper and continued working with management on refining the code for eventual implementation.

Reporter/Asst. City Editor, NewsTribune; La Salle, Il — 1998-2000

  • Covered the city of La Salle, including police, city government, education, community news and spot news.
  • Political reporting, including local, state and federal politics, issue-oriented features and legislative analysis, as well as features and opinion columns.
  • Edited and laid out inside news pages two days a week and the opinion page one day a week. 
  • Shot news and feature photographs.

Intern/part-time reporter, Union City (Tenn.) Daily Messenger — 1997

  • Began as paid intern; was eventually hired part-time through graduation.
  • Covered city of Fulton, Ky.; wrote news stories and features, covering local, county and state events with some news photography.

Chief Copy Editor/Op-Ed Editor, UTM Pacer — 1996-97

  • Began as staff reporter/photographer in fall 1996, was promoted to associate news editor and eventually to chief copy editor and op/ed editor.
  • Wrote campus news stories and features; shot news photography.
  • Edited all campus newspaper copy; wrote editorials.
  • Controlled content of the op-ed page including layout; assisted with design and paste-up.

Journalism Awards and certifications

  • Illinois Press Association Award, 2019 – educational coverage, first place with Alexis Cortes.
  • Illinois Associated Press Media Editors Award, 2018 – breaking news, second place with BND team.
  • Illinois Press Association Award, 2017 – features, honorable mention.
  • Illinois Associated Press Media Editors Award, 2017 – breaking news, first place with BND team.
  • Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, 2016 – graduate in leadership and management skills.
  • Illinois Associated Press Award, 2014 – community service journalism, second place with Jacqueline Lee.
  • Illinois Press Association Award, 2011 – educational coverage, second place with Scott Wuerz.
  • Terry Harper Memorial Fellowship, 2010.
  • Illinois Press Association Award, 2010 – educational coverage, third place with Rickeena Richards.
  • Hoyleton Foundation Media Award, 2008 – coverage of the Latino population.
  • Southern Illinois Editorial Association Award, 2003 – educational coverage, second place with Tania Lopez.
  • Southern Illinois Editorial Association Award, 2001 – educational coverage, first place with Jaime Ingle.

Speaking Engagements

Frequent guest lecturer on the practical application of journalism ethics in a daily news environment and development of a personal ethics code, as well as the changing nature of journalism and depictions of journalists in fiction. Speaking engagements include:

  • Washington University, St. Louis, multiple occasions.
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, multiple occasions prior to enrollment.
  • Excellence in Journalism conference speaker and/or delegate 2009-10, 2014-present, including 2010 roundtable on journalism ethics with former Knight Ridder vice president Jerry Ceppos, law professor Jane Kirtley and Stacy Woelfel of RTDNA.
  • St. Louis SPJ Student Boot Camp, “Rules of the Road: A Personal Code of Ethics,” 2011, 2013, 2016-2019.
  • SPJ Region 7 conference, “Mobile Journalism,” 2009; “Practical Ethics,” 2011, 2013, 2016-present.
  • Southwestern Illinois Democratic Women, “State of the News Media,” 2019.
  • Illinois Community College Journalism Association, “Developing a Personal Ethics Code,” 2017.
  • Write On Fest, Collinsville, Ill. 2017.
  • journalismSTL, “New Skills for a New Millennium” and “Practical Ethics,” 2015-16.
  • Missouri History Museum/SPJ roundtable on media coverage of priest sexual abuse scandals, moderator, 2016.
  • St. Louis SPJ News at Noon, “Ethics and the Kirkwood Lockdown,” 2014.
  • Mid-America Press Institute, “Practical Ethics,” 2014.
  • Kimmel Leadership Speaker Series, “Analyzing Public Perception of Media,” 2011.
  • AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Minorities: “Mainstream Media Coverage of the Islamic Community 10 Years After 9/11,” panel discussion, 2011.
  • St. Louis SPJ News at Noon, “Ethics in Disaster Coverage,” moderator, 2010.
  • Kimmel Leadership Speaker Series, “Newspapers in Evolution,” 2010.
  • St. Louis SPJ News at Noon, “Author/Journalist Roundtable,” 2010.

Society of Professional Journalists

  • President of the St. Louis Pro chapter, 2015-present. Previously served as vice president for three years, then stepped down in 2012 to direct scholarship program fundraising until elected president.
  • Member of the national SPJ Ethics Committee 2010-present, writing occasional “ethics toolbox” articles for the national journalism trade magazine Quill, as well as online news pieces on behalf of the ethics committee on various topics.
  • Worked on the team that researched and rewrote the SPJ Ethics Code in 2013-14, reviewing current applications of journalism ethics in modern newsroom environments, and rewrote the code in an intensive workshop in Columbus, Ohio in 2014. As delegate to the national convention in 2014, worked with team members to explain the code changes to other delegates and succeeded in getting it passed by national membership.
  • Founded and directed the SPJ Traveling Book Fair, which repurposed review books and donated books for scholarship fundraising.
  • Other projects include: annual Student Journalists’ Boot Camp, fundraising events, monthly programming for News at Noon luncheon series, and helped plan two regional conferences.
  • Wrote successful grant proposals to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation to fund a public showing of the journalism film Spotlight with post-film roundtable discussion, hosted in cooperation with the Missouri History Museum in 2016; and to relaunch the Student Journalist Boot Camp in 2022
  • As SPJ chapter officer, authored statements on behalf of the St. Louis Pro chapter in advocacy of the New Voices Act in 2016; in favor of changing the Associated Press Stylebook to remove “illegal immigrant” as an appropriate usage in 2013; in opposition to renaming an award originally named after journalist Helen Thomas in 2011.
  • Initial recipient of the Terry Harper Memorial Fellowship, funding attendance at the Excellence in Journalism conference in 2010.
  • Member: Ethics Committee, Freelancers Community, Scripps graduates.

Other Professional/Academic Credits

  • Officer: Sigma Tau Delta (president, 2022-23)
  • Member: AEJMC, Association of Writers and Writing Programs, ELLA, Editorial Freelancers Association, Freelancers Union, SIUE Photography Association.
  • Frequent judge of journalism competitions, including the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards in 2019-present; student competitions under the coordination of Prof. Tammy Merrett in 2011 and 2014; feature-writing competition for SIUE students as sponsored by a grant from the SIUC Center for Intergenerational Leadership as obtained by Prof. Donna Hale, SIUE, 2008.
  • Assisted the SIUE Alestle with copy editing and development of special projects, including FOIA investigations and source directories, 2019-present. Prior to employment, served on the board of directors for the SIUE Alestle as representative of local press, 2011-2018. 
  • Volunteer with the SIUE Mentor Program, 2019-present.
  • Published fiction author of novels, novellas and short stories. Director of the Literary Underworld, a cooperative of small-press authors promoting and selling each others’ work. Three-time winner of the Darrell Award for horror fiction; finalist for the Prism and Imadjinn awards.
  • Frequent guest speaker at popular-culture conventions nationwide, discussing trends in the horror and science fiction genres, social media, small-press publishing, the future of genre fiction publishing and the writing life.

References available upon request.


Journalism Portfolio:

Photography Portfolio:

Fiction website: