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.
Jay Burseth joined the Center in April 2020. His role includes setting the organization’s vision for fundraising growth and building and executing a development plan. Prior to joining the Center, Burseth led fundraising for the Milwaukee County Parks and was the Development Director for WMSE 91.7 in Milwaukee. Burseth 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.
Gia Dinon joined the Center in April 2022 as the Center’s first Grants Manager. Gia coordinates grant writing and reporting efforts, manages foundation partnerships, and leads grant prospect research. Prior to joining the Center, Dinon served as a communications and engagement intern with the Wisconsin State Legislature and as the Development and Grants Specialist for Meta House in Milwaukee. Gia is based in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Madison.
digital and multimedia director
Coburn Dukehart joined Wisconsin Watch in 2015. She is head of product, directs visual and digital strategy; creates visual and audio content; manages digital assets and trains student and professional journalists. 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.
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 joined Wisconsin Watch in 2019 as criminal justice reporting project manager through Report for America. She led the creation of the investigative podcast “Open and Shut” which examined the power of the prosecutor. She formerly worked at WPR through the Lee Ester News Fellowship and was an editorial intern at “Reveal” from the Center for Investigative Reporting. She also worked as a producer for NPR’s “Here & Now” and a reporter for WCPN ideastream. Petrovic earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Yale University, where she founded and led various audio projects.
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.
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.
Alfred Friendly Press Partners reporting fellow
Tanka Dhakal joined Wisconsin Watch in May 2022 as an Alfred Friendly Press Partners reporting fellow. Dhakal is an investigative journalist from Nepal, who works in both radio and online media — most recently for DeshSanchar.com, a Nepalese/English digital news outlet. Dhakal has done in-depth reports on child sexual abuse and children deprived of an elementary school education and covered other sensitive topics such as dowry practices and menstrual cycle taboos. Dhakal also reported on the Rohingya refugees in Nepal and melting glaciers. He was recently named to the 2022 Asia Executive Leadership Program run by the Asian American Journalist’s Association.
Roy W. Howard Fellow
Brenda Wintrode joined the Center in July 2021. She earned her BA in business administration at Bryant University in Rhode Island. After a career switch, she was named the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s outstanding master’s student when she graduated in 2020. As a reporter for the Howard Center, she was the lead writer on an award-winning investigation of the federal CARES Act’s failure to prevent evictions during the pandemic. She covered Maryland state government for Capital News Service and did data analysis for Maryland Matters.
NEWS IMPACT ANALYST INTERN
Aman Abhishek is a Ph.D. student at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, UW- Madison. He studies collaborations in the context of whistleblowing and investigative journalism, and the impacts of investigative journalism. As an intern he is studying the impact of the news stories published by the Wisconsin Watch. Prior to the Ph.D., he got his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in physics from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India. He speaks fluent Hindi and basic Spanish.
Photo and Digital intern
Hannah Ernst joined Wisconsin Watch as a photo intern in February 2022. She is pursuing a strategic communications major through the Journalism School at UW-Madison. She is currently working as a digital media intern for the Journalism School and is focused on earning her digital studies and entrepreneurship certificate. Hannah continues to work as a portrait photographer and has earned recognition for her videography work through the Communication Arts Department at UW-Madison.
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.
Hope Karnopp joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism major and is pursuing certificates in public policy and environmental studies at UW-Madison. Karnopp previously covered state politics as an intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She also works with the Daily Cardinal and hosts a radio segment about campus news for WORT-FM, which has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club.
Samantha McCabe is a summer 2022 investigative reporting intern with Wisconsin Watch and a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. She has previously worked for The Globe and Mail in Toronto and Southeast Asia Globe in Phnom Penh, and has written for VICE World News, The Walrus, Maclean’s, and more. She is most passionate about covering the climate crisis, gender equity, sexual violence and housing, all from a trauma-informed lens. Samantha is originally from Vancouver, Canada and is currently based in Milwaukee, WI.
Erin McGroarty joined Wisconsin Watch as an investigative reporting intern in June 2022. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in journalism at UW Madison, specializing in reporting on criminal justice and mass incarceration. McGroarty served as a fellow for the Center for Journalism Ethics during the ’21-’22 academic year. Before moving to Madison, McGroarty worked for more than three years in Fairbanks, Alaska as a political reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. McGroarty holds an interdisciplinary B.A. in journalism, history and political science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She lives in Madison with her partner, H, and their two dogs.
Chelsi Peter joined the Center in 2022. She is currently a junior at the University of Missouri. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Sports Journalism. She is a member of the University of Missouri’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and currently serve as the Social Media chair for the organization Mizzou Black Women’s Initiative. With a little over five years of experience in news and opinion writing, she is interested in expanding her journalistic passions for more than one media outlet.
Photo and digital intern
Joey Prestley joined Wisconsin Watch as a photo intern in February 2022. He is pursuing a professional-track master’s degree in journalism at UW-Madison with specialties in investigative and environmental journalism. He is a recipient of a scholarship from the Gay I. & Harry C. Leslie Fund for Investigative Journalism. He completed an editing internship with Voyageur Magazine in 2018. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English literature from the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay in 2019.
Photo and Digital intern
Amena Saleh joined Wisconsin Watch in February 2022. She is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in journalism and neurobiology from UW-Madison. Currently, she is completing her senior honors thesis in the Communication Brain and Behavior (CBB) Lab where she is researching the impact mass media has on the brain and human behavior. She is a recipient of the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship award for her academic and reporting work. She is also the current elected president of both the Muslim Student Association and the Arab Student Association at UW-Madison.
Zhen Wang joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2021. At UW-Madison, she is pursuing a master’s degree in journalism, honing her investigative journalism skills, and preparing herself for a career in health care 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.
Clare Amari joined the Center in September 2021 through the Columbia Journalism School/Institute for Nonprofit News internship program. She recently received her master’s degree with honors from the Columbia Journalism School in New York. There, she created an investigative podcast about an unsolved murder and investigated policing practices around domestic violence in Ohio. She previously worked as a legal assistant for an international law firm, and holds degrees in Classical languages and literature from Columbia University and the University of Oxford.
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.
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.
Christopher Glueck joined the Center in 2015, after retiring as a senior director of development at the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Prior to that, Glueck spent 30 years in tech working in sales, product management, marketing and management positions, primarily with Wang Laboratories, Inc. and NCR Corporation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UW-Madison and a master’s in business administration from Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Gail Kohl joined the Center in 2010. She has more than 30 years of fundraising experience for both statewide and local organizations, including American Players Theatre, Taliesin Preservation Commission, Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Tourism Program, United Cerebral Palsy, Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy and Big Top Chautauqua. From 1993 until 2010, Kohl was development director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.
senior strategic adviser
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.