Connect Alumni: Where are they now?

CONNECT trains and prepares the next generation of journalists devoted to fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, the program has trained more than 200 students. See where some of our graduates have landed. If you’d like to be featured on this page, please fill out this short questionnaire.

2016: Miami

Louis Finley
Then: Temple University
Now: Reporter, KTVO, Kirksville, Mo.
“[CONNECT] was an opportunity for me to strengthen my skills as a multimedia journalist. I learned tips that create multidimensional, compelling stories which I use frequently in my day-to-day news production.”

Cai Thomas
Then: Boston College
Now: News associate, CBS Sunday Morning
“As a Miami native participating in NLGJA 2016, it was a homecoming of sorts that allowed me to tell stories about my own community.”

John-Michael Murphy
Then: Davidson College
Now: Storytelling Engineer at The New York Times, CONNECT mentor.
“NLGJA was a metamorphic experience for me. It ignited my interest in digital storytelling and connected me with an incredible group of journalists with whom I still keep in touch.”

2015: San Francisco

Varad Diwate
Then: Iowa State University
Now: Content writer, CS Direkt, New Delhi
“NLGJA made for great learning with experienced mentors who guided us in every way possible. As a straight ally at the project, I got to know about peculiar issues LGBTQ media professionals have to face.”

Jaden Urbi
Then: Iowa State University
Now: Production assistant, CNBC Digital
“My week with NLGJA truly gave me the confidence to pursue working for organizations like CNBC. Without the mentorship and guidance from [CONNECT] I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

2014: Chicago

Nkongho Beteck
Then: University of Maryland College Park
Now: News and information associate, American Association for the Advancement of Science
“Honestly, it was one of the best experiences in networking and discipline that I’ve ever had…I was able to meet very genuine people.”

Matt Bloom
Then: Indiana University
Now: General assignment reporter, KPCC-FM, Los Angeles
“[CONNECT] was really the first time I narrowed my broad interest in journalism to radio reporting. I made great connections that I still have today.”


2013: Boston

Wesley Juhl
Then: University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Now: Reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal
“I made great friendships during CONNECT that I still cherish today, and I always advise LGBTQ students I encounter to apply for the program.”

Diana Williams
Then: American University
Now: Digital editor and strategist for Backstory
“NLGJA allowed me to live as a reporter for a few days and report on a community I am passionate about supporting (proud ally right here!).”

2012: Las Vegas

Larry Tung
Then: Columbia University
Now: Full-time faculty, York College (City University of New York)
“I made connections with many journalists, but mostly I am inspired by my peers’ creativity and dedication to journalism.”

Brian Zahn
Then: University of Connecticut
Now: City education reporter, New Haven Register
“After putting in five days of hard work… I built a strong foundation for my future career I wouldn’t have been able to without the NLGJA student newsroom program.”

2011: Philadelphia

Nadia Galindo
Then: University of North Texas
Now: Multimedia journalist, News 12, Westchester, N.Y.
“The student project program is really a community service to aspiring journalists. I can’t thank y’all enough for the opportunity.”

David McAlpine
Then: University of Southern California Now: Field producer at Fox News Channel, NLGJA chapter member, CONNECT mentor
“The Student CONNECT experience taught me that it is best to put 100 percent effort into every piece I do, because you never know who will be reading what and how that may lead to another really great opportunity.”

Sharyn Jackson
Then: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Now: General assignment features reporter, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“It helped lead me later to the decision that I wanted to be a daily newspaper reporter. Because of the diversity of skills from the different mentors, I had the opportunity to both write traditional print stories and do audio reporting.”

2009: Montreal

Blair Mishleau
Then: Columbia College Chicago
Now: Director of personalized learning, Western School of Science and Technology
“My Student CONNECT experience was life-changing. It ‘pulled back the curtain’ of the industry, and dramatically increased my confidence as a journalist.”

2008: Washington, D.C.

Keith Quinones
Then: University of West Florida
Now: Flight attendant, United Airlines
“My experience at NLGJA’s convention truly provided a strong foundation that I’d eventually build a successful career upon in working beside industry legends like Barbara Walters and many more.”

2006: Miami

Melina Kolb
Then: University of Chicago
Now: Digital producer and writer, Peterson Institute for International Economics
“Skills learned from NLGJA and Medill set me on the path to multimedia journalism.”

2005: Chicago

Jes Burns
Then: University of Oregon
Now: Multimedia journalist, EarthFix
“I wanted to participate because I was excited to meet other LGBTQ professionals in the field.  Learning how many members of that community were finding a place and being successful on the public radio side of the industry really solidified that as the career path I wanted to pursue.”

Matthew Trent Harris
Then: Virginia Commonwealth University
Now: Supervising producer, The Now (E.W. Scripps)
“I couldn’t believe how interested everyone was in our work and what we wanted to do once we graduated from college. It was definitely a warm welcome to the journalism industry, especially knowing there is a great network to…support you.”

2003: Los Angeles

Nikki Usher, Ph.D.
Then: Harvard University
Now: Professor at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs
“I landed a great internship at the Chicago Tribune at the job fair for after graduation, which helped get me in the door at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where luminary NLGJA member Gail Shister and former NLGJA president Eric Hegedus provided kind mentorship.”

Brett Zongker
Then: American University
Now: Public Affairs Specialist at The Library of Congress, Adjunct Instructor at American University, CONNECT mentor

2002: Philadelphia

Derrik J. Lang
Then: University of West Florida
Now: Senior editor, American Way (the in-flight magazine of American Airlines)
“As the only gay editor on my college newspaper staff, it was refreshing to be surrounded by other LGBT budding journalists.”

2001: Dallas-Fort Worth

Jamie Guirola
Then: University of Missouri-Columbia
Now: Reporter, WTVJ NBC6 Miami
“The student project was really instrumental in me growing comfortable in my own skin and sexuality…It was very powerful to see a lot of LGBTQ journalists in the same place doing what I aspired to do.”