Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest – Participant Bios

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Climate Change and the News Initiative

September 6-7, 2013
The Bullitt Center
Seattle, WA


Kenton Bird has been director of the School of Journalism and Mass Media at the University of Idaho since 2003. He teaches courses in reporting, media history and public opinion. During his 15-year career as a reporter and editor, Bird worked for newspapers in Moscow, Lewiston, Sandpoint and Kellogg, Idaho, and spent a summer working at The Washington Post. In 1989, he was chosen as a congressional fellow of the American Political Science Association and worked as a congressional staff member in Washington, D.C. He spent three years on the faculty at Colorado State University before returning to the UI in 1999 as a full-time faculty member. Bird holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho, where he was editor of the student newspaper, the Argonaut. He attended University College, Cardiff, Wales, on a Rotary fellowship, earning a master’s degree in journalism history, and Washington State University, earning a Ph.D. in American Studies.

Steve Brown has been a newspaper editor and writer since graduating with a B.A. in journalism from New Mexico State University in 1976. He worked at daily newspapers in the desert Southwest until he migrated to the Pacific Northwest in 2002 for his wife’s health. Now working at the Capital Press, he has learned that even in a wet part of the world, water is becoming an endangered commodity, especially to the farmers and ranchers who make up the bulk of Capital Press’ readership. Brown is attending Metcalf Institute’s Climate Change Seminar for Journalists on behalf of people who grow and raise our food, not all of whom accept that climate change is real, but who do want to know about possible threats to pollinators, shifting growing seasons and reduced water supplies. He’s also attending the seminar on behalf of Capital Press’ sister publications and websites in EO Media Group, whose communities depend on natural resources for recreation, for tourism and for healthy forests.

Lance Dickie is an editorial writer for the editorial pages of The Seattle Times, covering natural resources, energy, social issues, national politics and international affairs. He joined The Times from The Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., where he had been a reporter, editorial writer and editorial page editor. He has won national and regional awards for editorials and commentary. He has been a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Jefferson Fellow of the East-West Center. Dickie has a B.S. in political science from the University of Oregon, and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Sandi Doughton is the science reporter at The Seattle Times, where she’s worked for ten years. Before that, she covered science, health and environment at The News Tribune of Tacoma. Doughton set out to be a biologist, but after graduate studies that involved milking rattlesnakes and dripping venom into test tubes in a walk-in freezer, she decided to write about science instead. Her first newspaper job was in Los Alamos, New Mexico, birthplace of the atomic bomb and home to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Doughton is the recipient of numerous regional and national awards, and her work was featured in the “Best News Writing” book series.

Christopher Dunagan has been the Kitsap Sun’s environmental reporter for the past 27 years, covering issues ranging from killer whales to recycling with a special focus on the waters around the Kitsap Peninsula. Coming to Bremerton in 1977, he covered local government for five years, then worked on an investigative reporting team before being named the Sun’s first, and so far its only, environmental reporter.  He writes a blog, Watching Our Water Ways, which focuses on water issues. Among his awards are a Governor’s Writing Award for the book Hood Canal: Splendor at Risk, which describes an ecosystem struggling to survive; a Dolly Connelly Award for a piece about old-growth maple thieves; and a regional Society of Professional Journalists award for a multimedia guide for salmon-watchers. Dunagan holds bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and communications from Washington State University. He is a founding member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Steve Forrester is editor and publisher of The Daily Astorian. He is also president and CEO of EO Media Group, a family-owned company that publishes 11 newspapers and maintains 13 websites. Prior to moving to Astoria in 1987, he was Washington correspondent for Pacific Northwest newspapers in Washington, D.C., for ten years. He was also publisher of NorthwestLetter, a political newsletter, and producer/host of Northwest Week in Review, a weekly half-hour show about regional politics that aired on public radio stations in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Forrester served in Vietnam with the U.S. Marine Corps before earning a degree at Portland State University. He attended Williams College. In 1973, he was one of the five principals who started Willamette Week.

Brionna Friedrich is a reporter for The Daily World in Aberdeen and a Washington native. She has worked as a reporter for the Calaveras Enterprise in San Andreas, Calif., a multimedia intern for the Seattle Times and a legislative intern for the Lewiston Tribune in Lewiston, Idaho. She was part of the team honored with a first-place award for comprehensive coverage in the 2012 Society of Professional Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Competition. Friedrich is a University of Washington graduate.

Andrew Garber is the lead reporter for statehouse coverage for The Seattle Times. His responsibilities include covering the governor’s office and tracking key legislative and political developments. Prior to joining The Seattle Times, Garber reported for The Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine, and for The Idaho Statesman. Garber received his BA in journalism from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and his Master’s in public administration from Boise State University.

Becky Kramer is the environment/energy reporter at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington. Her beat includes water quality, Superfund cleanup, mining, endangered species and other topics of interest to readers in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. She was a Ted Scripps fellow last year at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Kramer received a 2012 Best of the West award for “Radioactivity on the Reservation,” stories about a defunct uranium mine on the Spokane Reservation. She is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University.

Judith Lavoie is an award-winning journalist in Victoria, British Columbia, who has covered environmental and First Nations stories for the Times Colonist–Victoria’s daily newspaper–for more than a decade. Previously at the Times Colonist, Lavoie covered the B.C. Legislature, city hall and social issues, but she always found ways to return to the environment beat. Previous work includes editing the Goldstream Gazette in Victoria, reporting for the Fredericton Daily Gleaner in New Brunswick, reporting for the Cyprus Mail in Nicosia, writing Middle East stories for UPI and training/reporting at the Wilmslow and Stockport Advertiser/Express in the U.K.

Jane Braxton Little is an independent writer and photographer drawn to places on the edge and the people who live there. She has written about Borneo rainforests for Scientific American, Owens Lake for Audubon and the role of forests in a changing climate for Nature Conservancy, American Forests and other publications. Most recently she has focused on post-nuclear disaster ecosystem management in Chernobyl and Fukushima for EHP, Earth Island Journal, The Daily Climate and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. She coordinates the Mentor Program for the Society of Environmental Journalists and writes a monthly column for The Sacramento Bee. After earning a Harvard MA in Japanese cultural history, Little moved to California’s Sierra Nevada for a summer that has yet to end.

Tracy Loew is senior investigative reporter for the Salem Statesman Journal, focusing on the environment.  She also is the Oregon correspondent for USA Today. She has worked at newspapers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon covering business, politics, health, education, social services and the environment. Loew has been honored with state, regional and national awards, including the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, Education Writers Association Award for Investigative Journalism, APME Gannett Award for Digital Innovation in Watchdog Journalism and Best of Gannett for Public Service. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Oregon State University, and later returned to OSU to study science journalism and narrative nonfiction with two-time Pulitzer winner Jon Franklin.

Ann McCreary has written for the Methow Valley News for more than a decade. My primary areas of coverage are national forests and wilderness, wildlife, water-related issues, recreation and local government. Her journalism career began with a college internship at the Los Angeles Times Sacramento bureau. After graduate studies at Boston University’s School of Public Communication, she worked at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City for several years. Then moved to New England, where she worked for the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram in Massachusetts, and the Portland Evening Express in Maine. She returned to live in the Seattle area and worked in public information in the University of Washington’s Department of Engineering and the Health Sciences Center, moving to the Methow Valley in 1995. McCreary has received various journalism awards over the years, most recently second place in 2012 for Best Comprehensive Coverage of a Single Issue (Northwest gray wolves) from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. In addition to her work for the Methow Valley News, she is the part-time executive director and a founding member of Public School Funding Alliance, a non-profit organization that raises money and funds academic enrichment in the local public schools.

Camilla Mortensen is the associate editor and reporter for Eugene Weekly, an alternative news weekly in Oregon where she covers the environment, activism and politics from the county through Congress. She also teaches courses in writing, film, folklore and Scandinavian at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College. She has a master’s degree in folklore and mythology, a doctorate in comparative literature and prior to being hired at EW, she wrote a thesaurus for the American Folklore Center of the Library of Congress. She is a member of the American Folklore Society, Modern Literature Association and Society of Environmental Journalists.

Michelle Nijhuis is a journalist whose reporting on science and the environment appears in National Geographic, Smithsonian, and many other publications. She is also a longtime contributing editor of High Country News, a magazine known for its in-depth coverage of environmental and community issues in the American West, and the co-editor of The Science Writers’ Handbook: Everything you Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age. Nijuis is a two-time winner of the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award, and her work has been selected for several Best American anthologies, including The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013. After 15 years of living off the electrical grid in rural western Colorado, she and her family recently moved to White Salmon, Washington, in the Columbia River Gorge.

Bellamy Pailthorp reports news at KPLU Public Radio in Seattle, where she started as a general assignment reporter in 1999 and covered the business and labor beat from 2001 to 2011. She has been the station’s environment reporter for two years now. Her coverage includes energy, transportation, built environment and ecological health stories in the Puget Sound region. Prior to working at KPLU, she freelanced in New York City and produced bilingual television news at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin, Germany. She was a Fulbright Scholar at large and a stringer for AP sports and the foreign desk of NPR News in Berlin during and immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Her work has won numerous prizes from organizations including RTNDA and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2005, she was awarded a Knight-Bagehot fellowship, which culminated in the award of a certificate in advanced business and finance reporting and a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2006. Pailthorp earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in 1989.

Lynne Peeples is thrilled to have just moved back to her hometown of Seattle. She covers the environment and public health for The Huffington Post, has freelanced for outlets including Scientific American, Reuters, Popular Science, OnEarth and Audubon Magazine, and is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Before becoming a journalist, Peeples worked at Harvard University crunching numbers for HIV clinical trials and environmental health studies, while teaching an introductory biostatistics course. She holds an MA in science journalism from New York University, a MS in biostatistics from Harvard and a BA in mathematics from St. Olaf College.

Christine Pratt is an award-winning reporter who covers public hydropower, local government, business and community news for The Wenatchee World daily in North-Central Washington. Her 20-year career in the news business includes more than a decade living and working in the Central American nation of Costa Rica, a country that prides itself on its immense biodiversity but struggles to ensure sustainability. A graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, she has lived in Wenatchee since late 2003 with her dogs Cali–a Costa Rican immigrant–and Jackson.

Larry Pynn covers the environment and special projects for The Vancouver Sun. He is the author of two non-fiction books, Last Stands and The Forgotten Trail, and is also a contributing editor to British Columbia Magazine, a gig that takes him to some of the wildest untrammeled spaces in British Columbia. He has won five Jack Webster Awards provincially and a citation of merit nationally at the Michener Awards. Pynn is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Explorers Club and has previously attended fellowships with the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Jeff Rhodes has served since 2011 as managing editor of The Olympia Report, an online news service reporting on Washington state politics and government. Previously, he spent 16 years as editor of the Port Orchard (Wash.) Independent, which was voted the top community newspaper in Washington state in his final year there. He earlier spent eight years as editor of the Pierce County (Wash.) Business Examiner.  Rhodes is a 1980 graduate of West Virginia University and served in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis (Wash.) from 1981 to 1983.

John Ryan is an investigative reporter for KUOW public radio in Seattle, Washington. In the past decade, he has freelanced for shows such as All Things Considered, Living on Earth, Marketplace, and The World. He also continued his print career by reporting for newspapers including the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Ryan has won national awards including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi awards for Public Service in Radio Journalism and for Investigative reporting. He has also coauthored five books. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from Stanford University.

Allen Schauffler is the Pacific Northwest correspondent with the new national cable network, Al Jazeera America, where he will be covering issues of all kinds in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia and beyond. He has been working as a television news reporter, anchor and show-host for the last 25 years, including a year in Bend, OR, four years in San Luis Obispo, CA, and the last 20 at KING-TV in Seattle. Schauffler received his undergraduate degree in literature at Brown University (1977) and his Master’s degree in broadcasting at San Francisco State University.

Jeremy Schwartz is a reporter for the Peninsula Daily News, a six-day-per-week newspaper in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Before joining the Peninsula Daily News in September 2012, he worked for two years at The Northern Light, the weekly community newspaper in Blaine, Washington, where he was a reporter, photographer, and helped copy edit the small weekly. He also contributed to other publications owned by The Northern Light. During his second year at The Northern Light, Jeremy was invited to lecture to the staff of The Western Front, the student newspaper of his alma mater, Western Washington University, in Bellingham, Washington. He was also chosen to speak on a discussion panel addressing social media and its interaction with community newspapers at the 2012 conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors in Bellingham. Jeremy graduated in 2010 from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Ralph Schwartz has been reporting for The Bellingham Herald since 2011. Before that he spent five years at the Skagit Valley Herald, where he was lead reporter in a 2007 series about the local effects of global warming. Ralph was a reporter and an editor of weekly papers in central Washington from 2002 to 2006, putting his background in atmospheric sciences into play, writing (correctly, it turned out) that the coming El Nino could mean less snowfall in the winter. Ralph was a Ph.D. candidate in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington from 1993 to 1999. His field of study was severe storms in the Midwest, but he rubbed shoulders with climate scientists who at the time were getting a good handle on computer simulations of the future conditions that will result from climate change. A point of pride for Ralph as a student journalist at the UW was a long piece on the science of global warming. A renowned professor in his department, Mike Wallace, remarked that the article was the best thing he had read in the media about global warming.

Kelton Sears hails from Maple Valley, Washington, proud home of the second busiest Safeway on the West Coast. Unhappy with the 24-hour grocer’s lackluster cultural offerings, Sears left to study journalism at Seattle University on a Sub Pop Scholarship. There he managed to climb the ranks at the campus newspaper, The Spectator, becoming the editor-in-chief his senior year. While holding the reins of that paper, Sears also contributed to The Stranger and Capitol Hill Seattle blog, where he once covered a “unicorn riot” on Broadway that ended with an intervention by Phoenix Jones. Sears also plays bass and sings in the band Kithkin. He now works full time as Seattle Weekly’s new nightlife reporter and contributes to news coverage. Sears has already contributed two cover stories to the paper in his month and a half working for the paper.

Brad Shannon, a native of the Northwest, serves as political editor for The Olympian, covering politics and state government from the newspaper’s Capitol bureau in Olympia. His focus is on state budgets and taxes, state worker issues, elections and campaign finance. Notable past work ranged from the dying timber industry during the 1980s to Washington’s one-time use of hanging to execute some killers, the hidden world of the forest-gatherers economy, what gambling expansion meant in Indian Country, money in judicial races, tax reform, and the downsizing of state government since 2008. Shannon is a graduate of The Evergreen State College and lives with his wife and son near Olympia.

Johanna Wagstaffe is an on-camera meteorologist and science host for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation covering local, national and international weather and science stories. After six years of working in the Toronto Weather Centre, she moved to Vancouver to join CBC News Vancouver where she delivers the forecast as part of the local team. She is also part of the brand new CBC National News Now team, presenting the latest weather, climate and science stories with host Ian Hanomansing during prime time hours. With Wagstaffe’s background in seismology and earth science, she is often utilized by CBC as the go-to expert for insight into breaking science stories. She first reported from the Copenhagen Climate Conference and has since covered several major earthquakes, new climate and science studies as well as severe weather events. Wagstaffe graduated with an honors degree in geophysics from The University of Western Ontario. She was first exposed to weather forecasting as a summer intern at the Environment Canada Severe Weather Centre and then obtained her post-graduate meteorology certificate from York University. Outside of work, Wagstaffe enjoys flying and has both her glider’s and pilot’s license.

Roselynn Wahtomy is the assistant editor for the Sho-Ban News, the official news source of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall, Idaho. She is a Shoshone-Bannock tribal member and of Navajo descent. She attended Idaho State University studying business. She has been a journalist for eight years, mainly learning on the job. Like many tribal papers, the Sho-Ban News staff is small; therefore she covers anything that comes across her desk. Wahtomy attends several cultural functions throughout the year, is knowledgeable of tribal history, and is always insistent on learning more since she views this as an important tool in making her a better Native journalist. She is a member of the Native American Journalists Association and served as a mentor on the 2012 NAJA Native Voices student project. Lending a hand by helping to preserve tribal culture and share stories of the past, present, and future is what is most valuable to her.

Brett Walton is a reporter for Circle of Blue, a news agency reporting on freshwater and all its connections. He covers U.S. water policy and infrastructure, the American West, and how water affects energy development and agriculture. His water-pricing index for major U.S. cities has been cited in magazines such as Popular Mechanics and The Saturday Evening Post. In 2011, Walton won a fellowship from the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources to report on water and energy issues in New Mexico and Colorado. A member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, he earned a fellowship to attend the annual conference this year in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is also a member of the Northwest Science Writers Association.  Walton has a BA in English from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington.

Craig Welch has worked as the environment reporter at The Seattle Times since 2000. A journalist for two decades, his work has appeared in Smithsonian magazine, the Washington Post, and Newsweek. He is author of the book, Shell Games (William Morrow, 2010). He has tagged along with tribal fishermen who hunted seals in Alaska, hitched helicopter rides with scientists in the melting Arctic, prowled the Oregon woods for endangered owls, and tracked the development of Wyoming’s oil fields. The national Society of Environmental Journalists twice named him Outstanding Beat Reporter of the Year, most recently in 2010. He was a 2007 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and lives in Washington State.


This program was underwritten by The Grantham Foundation,
with in-kind support from The Seattle Times and The Bullitt Center


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