We are proud of our team of staff, fellows, interns and contributors who work together to make Wisconsin Watch strong. Click on the team member’s name to learn more about them.
Part of our mission at Wisconsin Watch is to train the next generation of journalists and those working in the business of journalism. After team members leave our offices, they move on to jobs in journalism and other fields, where they put the skills they learned at the Center to use by holding the powerful to account, creating innovative ways of engaging with the public, sustaining high-quality journalism, and strengthening our society. We celebrate the successes of our former staff, fellows and interns, who are Wisconsin Watch’s legacy.
Also, learn more about our Board of Directors.
Andy Hall is co-founder and executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Since 2009, he has overseen the Center’s journalistic and financial operations. Previously he spent 26 years at the Wisconsin State Journal and The Arizona Republic and has won dozens of awards, including a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism and a national award from the Education Writers Association. Hall is a former Investigative Reporters and Editors board member, and current IRE member.
ROY W. HOWARD INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING FELLOW
Jonmaesha Beltran joined the Center in January 2023 as a Roy W. Howard fellow. She graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism. While completing her degrees at ASU, she’s been a social justice reporter for Cronkite News, an investigative reporter for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and a Pulliam Fellow for The Arizona Republic. In 2020, she won an Arizona Press Club Award and a Society of Professional Journalists Regional Mark of Excellence Award for her reporting on the experiences of street medics during the Black Lives Matter protests in Phoenix.
Jay Burseth joined the Center in April 2020. His role includes coordinating fundraising strategy, overseeing the organization’s development department, and leading philanthropic relationships, including foundations and major donors. Prior to joining the Center, Burseth led fundraising for the Milwaukee County Parks, helped found the Milwaukee Parks Foundation, and was the Development Director for WMSE in Milwaukee. Burseth has been in fundraising and development for over a decade and holds a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from UW-Milwaukee, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History, also from UWM.
MIKE SIMONSON MEMORIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING FELLOW
Jonah Chester is Wisconsin Public Radio’s 2022-2023 Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. He most recently worked at Public News Service, a national radio news service, where he covered Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. He previously produced the 6 O’Clock News at WORT 89.9 FM in Madison, where he won numerous awards from the Milwaukee Press Club and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association for his reporting on issues in Dane County and south-central Wisconsin
PROJECT MANAGER, NEWS414
Bevin Christie joined News414, a collaboration between Wisconsin Watch, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media, in 2020. Christie is a social entrepreneur and community organizer, with a background in education reform and workforce development. She has partnered with public/private schools, community based organizations, and the Milwaukee community to build upon a belief that healing, equity, and inclusion is key to Milwaukee being a better place to thrive not just survive.
STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF
Matthew DeFour started in September 2022 as Wisconsin Watch’s first statehouse bureau chief. Previously at the Wisconsin State Journal he covered state and local government for 16 years, including four years as state politics editor. He has a BSJ and MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He was honored by his peers as the 2020 Wisconsin Watchdog of the Year.
Coburn Dukehart joined Wisconsin Watch in 2015 as the Digital and Multimedia Director and became Associate Director in 2022. She is currently head of product and audience and directs Wisconsin Watch’s visual and digital strategy. Dukehart previously was a senior photo editor at National Geographic, picture and multimedia editor at NPR, and a photo editor at USATODAY.com and washingtonpost.com. She has received numerous awards from the National Press Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International and the White House News Photographers Association.
Mariela Fonseca Ruiz
Mariela Fonseca Ruiz is a News414/Noticias414 ambassador — forging connections with Milwaukee’s South Side residents, including those who predominantly speak Spanish. She is a proud graduate of Alverno College, where she earned a B.A. in psychology and minored in medical interpretation and professional communications. She’s a first-generation college graduate who knows the importance of community and mentorship navigating careers and resources. She has worked in the nonprofit sector of 10 years, six of those in education — serving families and the broader community.
Lauren Fuhrmann joined the Center in 2011 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Fuhrmann leads revenue development efforts as well as public engagement initiatives, and assists with development of donors and writing of grant reports. Fuhrmann is vice president of the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She was among five young leaders in the inaugural group of “Future Headliners” honored in 2014 by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
Bennet Goldstein reports on water and agriculture as Wisconsin Watch’s Report for America representative on the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk — a collaborative reporting network across the Basin. Before this, Goldstein was on the breaking news team at the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska. He has spent most of his career at daily papers in Iowa, including the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Goldstein’s work has garnered awards, including the Associated Press Media Editors award for an explanatory feature about a police shooting in rural Wisconsin, and an Iowa Newspaper Association award for a series that detailed the impacts of the loss of social safety net programs on Dubuque’s Marshallese community. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dee J. Hall, a co-founder of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, joined as managing editor in June 2015. She worked at the Wisconsin State Journal for 24 years as an editor and reporter focusing on projects and investigations. Previously she was a reporter for eight years at The Arizona Republic, covering city government, schools and the environment. Hall has won more than three dozen local, state and national awards for her work, and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND PARTNERSHIPS — MILWAUKEE NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS SERVICE
Deborah Heffner serves as the first Director of Development and Partnerships for Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Supporting the shared vision of the Center and NNS to transform local news in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin, Heffner’s role includes crafting a fundraising strategy and forging new relationships to build visibility for NNS in the business and philanthropic community.
Heffner holds a BA in Educational Policies and Community Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to joining the team in October 2022, Heffner spent over two decades working in the nonprofit sector in Milwaukee specializing in development, grants administration, and program evaluation.
Mario Koran joined Wisconsin Watch in July 2021. He was a 2021 Knight Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan. Previously, he was a west coast correspondent for the Guardian US and covered education for Voice of San Diego, where he was named 2016 reporter of the year by the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Appeal, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he was a Wisconsin Watch intern in 2013. He holds a BA in Spanish literature and MA in journalism from UW-Madison.
DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
Jim Malewitz joined Wisconsin Watch in 2019. His role includes editing, managing fellows and interns and investigative reporting. He also coordinates Wisconsin Watch’s role in its News414 service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. He has worked for Bridge Magazine in his home state of Michigan, was an investigative reporter for the Texas Tribune and Stateline. Malewitz majored in political science at Grinnell College in Iowa and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa. He was a founding member of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, where he serves on the board of directors.
Matt Mencarini joined Wisconsin Watch in 2022 as an investigative reporter covering voting rights and threats to democracy. Previously, he worked as an investigative reporter for the Louisville Courier Journal where he was part of the team that won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons and commutations by an outgoing governor. Before that, he worked at the State Journal in Lansing, Michigan, as well as newspapers in Illinois and Florida.
Emily Neinfeldt joined the Center in 2017. Her role includes maintaining the digital infrastructure and operations developed under the Facebook Local News Membership Accelerator and leading audience-growth efforts including marketing initiatives. Before working at the Center, she was a news intern at Wispolitics.com and managing editor at The Badger Herald. Neinfeldt is secretary of the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and holds degree in journalism and political science from UW-Madison.
FINANCE AND OPERATIONS MANAGER
Rhiannon Orizaga (pronounced: ree-ANN-nun or-ih-ZAH-gah) joined the Center in 2022 as the organization’s first Finance and Operations Manager. Prior to joining the Center, she spent nearly a decade in nonprofit operations. She earned a BA in English and History from Oregon State University and an MA in History from Portland State University. She is a current board member of SCRAP Creative Reuse. Orizaga is proud to be a queer Chicana of mixed descent. In her spare time, she can be found knitting, antiquing, or exploring Wisconsin’s beautiful natural spaces.
DONOR ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
Zachary Peterson joined the Center in May 2022 as the first Donor Engagement Coordinator. He manages donor communication and leads donor prospect research. Previously, Peterson has served as Donor Relations Assistant at TSA, Instructor of English at ECU, Graduate Assistant Director of the Writing Center at UWEC, Alumni/Donor Relations Intern at Ripon College and Advocacy Intern at the Boston Preservation Alliance. He received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Ripon College and Master of Arts in English- Writing from UW- Eau Claire.
Phoebe Petrovic is an investigative reporter at Wisconsin Watch and a 2022-2023 Law & Justice Journalism Project fellow. As a Report for America corps member from 2019-2022, Petrovic reported, produced, and hosted “Open and Shut,” a podcast series co-published with Wisconsin Public Radio examining the power of prosecutors. Petrovic previously worked at WPR as a Lee Ester News Fellow, “Reveal” from the Center for Investigative Reporting as an editorial intern and NPR’s “Here & Now” as a temporary producer. Her work has aired nationally on all of NPR’s flagship news magazines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Yale University.
Jacob Resneck joined Wisconsin Watch in 2022 via Report for America, covering threats to democracy with an emphasis on rights in the workplace. Previously, he worked in Juneau, Alaska as an editor and reporter for the nonprofit public media consortium CoastAlaska. Before that he spent more than eight years abroad reporting from Germany, Turkey, the Balkans and Middle East. He’s also worked for weekly and daily newspapers in rural Northern California where he grew up and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. He now lives in Oshkosh with his wife, a poet and teacher and their two young children.
Kiran Saini joined Wisconsin Watch in January 2023. She graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a bachelor’s degree in online journalism, where she was a member of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity. Prior to joining the Center, Saini was an audience development manager at the Detroit Free Press where she oversaw audience work for 15 newspapers across Michigan. Saini is passionate about championing diversity in newsrooms and increasing accessibility to news coverage.
Amena (Amona) Saleh
DIGITAL EDITOR AND PRODUCER
Amena Saleh joined Wisconsin Watch in January 2023, after working for a year as a photo and production intern. She graduated in 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and neurobiology from UW-Madison. She is a recipient of the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship award for her academic and reporting work. She is also the past president of both the Muslim Student Association and the Arab Student Association at UW-Madison.
SPANISH TRANSLATOR AND ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT FOR NEWS414
Dilpreet Saraina is the Spanish translator and engagement assistant for News414/Noticias414. She graduated from Marquette University with degrees in Biology and Spanish. After graduation, decided to stay in Milwaukee and deepen her involvement in the community. In 2017, Saraina served a year with Public Allies at Core El Centro on Milwaukee’s South Side. She continued to serve her community with her work at a free clinic in Milwaukee’s Spanish speaking community. Saraina keeps herself busy volunteering and serving as a Spanish Cultural Specialist/ teacher assistant at NorthShore Montessori School, and as a clinical research coordinator at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Vanessa Vasquez is a News414/Noticias414 ambassador — forging connections on Milwaukee’s South Side, where she grew up. Vasquez earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Alverno College as a first-generation student. Vanessa currently serves as the Director of the Caroline Scholars Program at Mount Mary University. She previously worked at Carmen Schools of Science & Technology, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Alverno College. Vasquez volunteers with multiple Milwaukee-area organizations. She was recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal (MBJ) as one of the 2019, 40 Under 40 Award recipients, the 2018 UMOS Hispanic Woman of the Year, and the 2016 Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM) Future Leader Award. She served as the 2013-2014 Ambassador representing the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation/Mexican Fiesta Inc.
FUND FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM DIVERSITY FELLOW
Zhen Wang joined Wisconsin Watch as a Fund for Investigative Journalism fellow in January 2023. She has worked as a reporting intern since May 2021. At UW-Madison, she earned a master’s degree in journalism. She previously worked for the Guardian Beijing bureau and China Daily. Before joining the journalism industry, she worked in various sectors and obtained a master’s degree in international relations in New Zealand. She speaks Chinese and is a member of Asian American Journalists Association.
Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work
Drake White-Bergey joined Wisconsin Watch as a photography intern in January 2023. He is a junior who majors in history and journalism at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Before joining Wisconsin Watch, Drake served as the Photo Editor of the Daily Cardinal student newspaper. During his term as photo editor, he sought to bring higher standards to the Cardinal’s photography work and to bring more opportunities to the Cardinal’s photo team.
Jacob Alabab-Moser joined as Wisconsin Watch’s fact checker in September 2022, as part of the effort by The Gigafact Project in partnership with different state-level news outlets to combat misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections. Jacob has several years of experience as a fact checker and research assistant at a variety of organizations, including at The Gigafact Project. He holds a BA from Brown University and is pursuing a MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER AND ANIMATOR
Claire DeRosa worked for the Center from 2019-2022 as their first graphic designer. She pioneered Wisconsin Watch’s brand through bold and experimental design, establishing their visual identity. DeRosa currently designs for Rise Strategy Group in Chicago, helping tell the stories of public, private and nonprofit clients throughout the city. She holds a BA in journalism and political science from UW-Madison and enjoys deejaying and producing electronic music in her free time.
Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.
AUDIO STORIES NARRATOR
Wesley Lethem is an audiovisual and acoustic engineer with a diverse background in narration, audio design & production, podcasting, theater, live sound, noise control, recording, AV design, and architectural acoustics. He is the owner and founder of Sound Service, a Chicago based design and engineering company and currently works for Shure Incorporated as a DSP Test Engineer.
SENIOR STRATEGIC ADVISOR
Barbara Johnson joined the Center in 2016. As a volunteer, she helps strengthen the Center’s operations, with a special focus on the development of the Center’s business model. Johnson was CEO and COO of four media companies in New York and Madison before her retirement in 2015. She was also a reporter and editor for 15 years before moving into business roles, winning national and state awards for her investigative stories. She has served on the boards of public and private companies and as an operating partner of a private equity firm. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Christa Westerberg is an attorney at Pines Bach LLP in Madison, Wisconsin, where she practices environmental, civil rights, and open government law. Since 2008, Westerberg has served as the vice president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.