Meet The 2018 Staff

Ben Appel is a nonfiction creative writing major at Columbia University. He has worked as a News and Rapid Response Intern for GLAAD, an editorial intern for Avenue Magazine, a literary intern for Harvey Klinger Literary Agency and an editorial extern for DNAInfo New York. His work on Maryland’s marriage equality campaign and a subsequent transgender rights bill prompted his decision to leave behind his former career to pursue an education in creative writing, human rights and journalism. His work has been featured in The Eye, Quarto, HuffPost and Avenue Magazine. Follow him @benappel on Twitter and Medium and on Instagram @benappel83.
Palmer Haasch is a senior at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities majoring in English and French studies and minoring in political science. She specializes in entertainment media and internet culture and has a deep understanding of fan communities. Palmer is a weekly columnist at the Minnesota Daily and a GLAAD campus ambassador. She was previously an editorial intern at Polygon, a Vox Media brand that covers video games, entertainment and culture, and she worked as an entertainment media intern at GLAAD. You can find her on Twitter @haasch_palmer and on her website,
Tamica Jean-Charles is a first-generation college student at Florida International University studying journalism and minoring in political science and English. She is the entertainment director of her school’s student newspaper and radio, PantherNOW, and a part-time barista at Starbucks. She was also an intern for her hometown’s online newspaper, the Naples Herald, in Naples, Fla. Tamica is all about everything music, culture, minority communities and chicken chipotle sandwiches. You can find her @thisistamica on Twitter and Instagram and on her website,
Kristin Lam is a recent graduate of San Jose State University’s journalism program and will be a reporting fellowship at USA Today in Los Angeles this fall. She has interned at The Mercury News and Metro Silicon Valley and worked as the executive editor of The Spartan Daily. Reporting enterprise stories about marginalized communities is her passion, and she wants to work someday as an online or print editor to advocate for diverse and inclusive coverage in mainstream news media. Follow her on Twitter @kristinslam.
Bennett Purser is a radio news producer who cultivated his skills at Utah Public Radio, in the deep mountains of the rural West. He graduated from Utah State University in 2017 with a B.A. in journalism and a passion for public radio reporting. After college, he interned for NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace in Los Angeles.
Brooklyn Riepma is a senior at Boise State University pursuing an undergraduate degree in media arts with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. Her published work can be found in Boise Weekly and College Media Network. She enjoys covering politics and local events. This fall, she will be a newsroom intern for Boise State Public Radio.
Orion Rummler is a recent graduate of Emory & Henry College, where he studied mass communications and political science. He served as the editor of his college newspaper and interns at the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington. He is passionate about investigative journalism, for which he won the Bristol Herald Courier and Washington County News award in 2017. He specializes in political, technology, and science-based reporting. Follow him @i_oriion on Twitter and Instagram.
Trey Strange is a freelance journalist and second-year graduate student at New York University in the Global & Joint Program, or GloJo, where he studies journalism and Near Eastern studies. A Texan from Fort Worth, he received a dual bachelor’s in journalism and Middle East studies from the University of Houston in 2013. His work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, CNBC and the Huffington Post. He writes for OUT Magazine and lives in Brooklyn. Follow him on social media @treynormal.
Jacob Sutherland is a second-year political science student at the University of California, San Diego. He has written for Medium and Truth Against the Machine, and is currently writing opinion pieces for the UCSD Guardian, as well as working on his first book. In his free time, he likes to travel to various Starbucks locations across the country and to practice Irish dance. Follow him @jacobsutherlandofficial on Instagram and Facebook and on Twitter @jacofreak123a.
Xiaozhang (Shaw) Wan is a recent graduate from Medill, Northwestern University, specializing in multimedia reporting. She is passionate about social justice, arts and culture. As she is originally from China, she hopes to cover the Chinese LGBTQ community in China or worldwide. Find her on Twitter @XiaozhangWan and on her website,


This year’s mentors, pictured from top left, are Frances Fernandes, David McAlpine, Karen Hawkins, Brett Zongker, Megan Rossman, Caroline Que, Jamal Jordan, David Ok and John-Michael Murphy. Que will serve as the lead project manager.

Frances Fernandes is a lifelong journalist who worked at regional and metro dailies in the Los Angeles area. She spent that last decade of her career at UC Riverside writing for the chancellor and the UC Institute for Mexico and the United States. She is currently retired from full-time employment but writes and edits miscellaneous projects online.

David McAlpine is an award-winning field producer for Fox News Channel based in Washington, D.C. Before moving to Fox, he produced the top-rated 5 p.m. newscast at WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. McAlpine started his career at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles as an entertainment producer for the KTLA Morning News. He has also produced newscasts and special coverage at KTLA, and KIRO-TV in Seattle. Born and raised in Chicago, McAlpine is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Follow his adventures covering news across the country on Twitter @DavidMcAlpine and on Instagram @dmcalpine.

Karen Hawkins is a longtime NLGJA student project mentor and the Rebelle in Chief and founding editor of Rebellious Magazine, a feminist publication based in Chicago. She is the fir  st recipient of NLGJA’s Jeanne Córdova Award, which “recognizes the achievement of an LGBTQ woman for a current body of work in journalism and/or opinion.” She was formerly a reporter with The Associated Press.

Brett Zongker leads communications on exhibitions and literary programs at the Library of Congress and is an adjunct professor in communications at American University. Previously, Zongker managed media relations at The George Washington University. He also served as a staff writer for The Associated Press for 12 years, covering the arts, culture, education, entertainment, nonprofits and breaking news. In addition to writing, he has produced video packages and reported for AP Radio. Zongker has been a member of NLGJA since 2003 and is an alumnus of the CONNECT program. Follow him on Twitter @BrettZongker.

Megan Rossman is an assistant professor of communications at Purchase College in New York and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Previously, she was the director of video for Teach For America and a multimedia journalist at The Washington Post. She has been a mentor for NLGJA’s student training program since 2010.

Caroline Que, a senior editor at The New York Times, has led NLGJA’s student project since 2007. Before joining The Times, she worked at The Washington Post, Yahoo and a profitable business news startup.

Jamal Jordan is a digital storytelling editor on The New York Times’s Digital Transition team. He’s worked on the digital documentary team at NBC News, with VRT News, Belgium’s national broadcaster and with VICE News. His tweets are fire: @lostblackboy.

David Ok is an assistant news editor at The New York Times. He participated in NLGJA’s student project twice (2007 in San Diego and 2015 in San Francisco), and this is his third year as a mentor.

John-Michael Murphy is an associate software engineer at The New York Times. Before joining The Times, he was an innovation fellow at Davidson College in North Carolina. Murphy was a CONNECT student participant in 2016 and now helps students with technology and data visualization.