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Meet our team

Spotlight PA is the largest newsroom in Pennsylvania dedicated to holding the Pennsylvania state government to account. Our team of a dozen investigative reporters and editors based in the capital are working every day to keep track of taxpayer dollars and ensure the government is working for the people — and no one else. Contact our reporters using the emails below, or see how to send us tips more securely.

Photo of Marie Albiges
Marie Albiges covers election administration and the process of voting through a collaboration between Votebeat and Spotlight PA. Marie joins the team from Virginia, where she covered the legislature and governor’s office for the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot. A winner of several Virginia Press Association awards, Marie previously reported on the treatment of inmates, mental health, redistricting and the census. She’s also reported in Austin, TX, where she covered government and education. A French native, Marie spent most of her childhood in Berks County and graduated from Christopher Newport University in Virginia.
Photo of Christopher Baxter
Christopher Baxter is the founding editor of Spotlight PA and oversees all aspects of the newsroom. His work as an investigative reporter and editor has regularly prompted meaningful change in the form of new laws and regulations, criminal investigations, resignations, legislative hearings and more. Most recently, he was the editor for data and investigations at NJ Advance Media (NJ.com & The Star-Ledger), where he led the newsroom’s highest-level investigative projects with a digital-first approach and an emphasis on journalism that gets results. Previously, he was the Mike Wallace Fellow in Investigative Reporting with the Knight-Wallace Fellowships at the University of Michigan and, before that, worked for four years as a statehouse investigative reporter in The Star-Ledger’s Trenton Bureau. He began his career as a local reporter for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. His work has garnered numerous state and national awards, including the 2014 Livingston Award in Local Reporting and the 2018 Investigative Reporters & Editors Freedom of Information Award.
Photo of Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein
Photo of Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein

Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein

Development Director

joanna@spotlightpa.org
@jzbernstein

For the past 10 years, Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein has dedicated her time alternately to investigative journalism and fundraising and communications for nonprofits. Most recently, she was in charge of grants and partnerships for HolaCode, a coding bootcamp for returnees and deportees in Mexico City. As an investigative reporter, she was part of a team at the Miami Herald chosen as a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting, and her reporting on Takata airbag defects for Reuters was recognized by the Society of Publishers in Asia. Joanna received a master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a Stabile Investigative Fellow. She also attended Columbia for college, graduating magna cum laude with a major in English and a minor in Hispanic Studies. She was born and raised in Philadelphia and is fully fluent in Spanish.
Photo of Angela Couloumbis

Angela Couloumbis has covered government, politics, courts and crime for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1996. She has reported on forest fires in the Rocky Mountains, riots in Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati, the mob’s effort to infiltrate city hall in New Jersey’s poorest city and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

For the past 13 years, she has focused on government and politics in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, shedding light on backroom dealing and corruption. She was part of a two-member reporting team that, in 2014, exposed a secret effort by the state Attorney General’s office to shut down an investigation into lawmakers who accepted envelopes stuffed with cash from an undercover government informant. The reporting led to a series of resignations and criminal convictions over several years. She has spent the past 18 months focused on investigative reporting on the #metoo movement in Pennsylvania. Her coverage has included projects on secret, taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements in the Legislature and state government.

Photo of Tamara Dunn
Photo of Tamara Dunn

Tamara Dunn

Diverse Source Database Project Lead

sources@spotlightpa.org
@itistamara

Tamara Dunn is currently a freelance writer. She was most recently the night news editor and movie columnist at Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She began her journalism career as a copy editor and military editor at The Progress-Index in Petersburg, Va., in 2002, covering parts of central Virginia and an Army base during the Iraq War. She later joined The Citizens’ Voice in 2007 in Wilkes-Barre as a copy editor/paginator and created two lifestyle columns. In 2014, Dunn became the assistant city editor at the Standard-Speaker in Hazleton, Pa. As a journalist, Dunn earned state awards in design, photography and opinion, feature and headline writing. She graduated from Wake Forest University with honors in studio art.
Photo of Cynthia Fernandez
Cynthia Fernandez covers the most important news and events from the Capitol and state legislature. She is a member of the second class of Lenfest Fellows, a program of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and supported by the Independence Public Media Foundation. Cynthia joined Spotlight PA from Boston, where she recently completed an undergraduate degree in journalism, with a concentration in computer science, from Boston University. She has interned at several news organizations, including Muck Rock, WBUR, and Boston Magazine. Most recently, she was a part-time breaking news reporter at the Boston Globe and a research assistant for their Spotlight team. A native of Cuba who grew up in Miami, Cynthia is particularly interested in reporting on marginalized communities and how they interface with institutional and governmental systems.
Photo of Sarah Anne Hughes
Sarah Anne Hughes is a deputy editor for Spotlight PA, helping oversee day-to-day news operations. She is a native Pennsylvanian who has helped lead newsrooms in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. She was previously associate editor of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star and a Report for America fellow with Billy Penn and The Incline covering the state legislature. Before returning to her home state, Sarah was managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor of DCist, and a reporter for The Washington Post. She is a 2019 National Fellow with the Center for Health Journalism, focusing on the decline of cash welfare for families in poverty.
Photo of Joseph Darius Jaafari
Joseph Darius Jaafari covers prisons and police for Spotlight PA. A graduate of the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York, he’s written about crime, courts and policing of queer communities for Teen Vogue, Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times, and PA Post. In 2019, he was awarded the Tow Knight Fellowship at The Marshall Project covering U.S. military courts and was a Solutions Journalism Fellow in South Africa reporting on rape and prosecutions in rural townships outside of Johannesburg. Prior to that, he reported on military technologies and public health issues in the American South. He won three honorable mention awards for his documentary “WOOF: A Barkumentary,” that explored abuse within gay fetish communities and he’s been a video producer for VICE, the New York Post and NationSwell.
Photo of Carl Johnson
Photo of Carl Johnson

Carl Johnson

Technology Director

cjohnson@spotlightpa.org
@carlmjohnson

Carl Johnson is the Technology Director for Spotlight PA. Prior to joining the Spotlight PA team, Carl worked as a Newsroom Product Engineer at The Baltimore Sun for Tribune Publishing, a Tech Lead for PBS, and a web developer for The Atlantic. Carl has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii and is interested in looking at online publishing and full stack development from a critical perspective. Before becoming a software engineer, he worked as an educator for 9 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, daughter, two cats, and a dog.
Photo of Charlotte Keith
Charlotte Keith joins Spotlight PA from The Investigative Post, a nonprofit news outlet in Buffalo, N.Y., where she has reported extensively on the corrupt and wasteful spending in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ‘Buffalo Billion’ economic development program. In 2016, her reporting on problems in Erie County’s child protective services unit was a finalist for the national Livingston Awards for Young Journalists in the local reporting category. She has experience translating her stories for both radio and television, and her work has also appeared in the Albany Times-Union, ProPublica, and the Texas Observer. Originally from London, she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge, where she edited Varsity, the independent student newspaper. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.
Photo of Kamala Kelkar
Photo of Kamala Kelkar

Kamala Kelkar

Deputy Editor

kkelkar@spotlightpa.org
@kkelkar

Kamala Kelkar is a deputy editor at Spotlight PA. She’s a dogged muckraker, who has exposed injustices for more than a decade for many of the industry’s most trusted outlets. She most recently spent three years in Manhattan at PBS NewsHour; two on digital investigations and one leading its digital team for the weekend show. While there, the judicial reform nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice named her an influencer to watch for her reporting on prison labor and wrongful infractions. She was also invited by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, because of her Electoral College coverage, to speak on his first voting rights panel through his initiative at Columbia University. Her reporting abroad helped relocate a Hmong refugee family abandoned in Thailand and was cited by federal judges in India. She comes to the editor role vested in the power and necessity of local journalism and with intent to shake up traditional newsroom structures.
Photo of Tom Lisi
Tom Lisi joins Spotlight PA in covering election administration and voting issues in collaboration with Votebeat. Tom previously covered economic development and housing issues at PublicSource in Pittsburgh. Before that he worked at the Herald & Review in Central Illinois, where Tom undertook special projects on everything from cancer rates to water supply management while covering city government. Tom graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield with a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.
Photo of Ed Mahon
Ed Mahon comes to Spotlight PA from PA Post, where he covered state politics and policy, produced radio stories that were broadcast on public media stations throughout the state and on NPR’s national newscasts, and co-wrote a weekday newsletter. Prior to joining PA Post, Ed worked for six years as an investigative and political reporter for the York Daily Record, part of the USA Today Network. His reporting on failures in Pennsylvania’s system for protecting domestic abuse victims was a finalist in the national 2018 Livingston Awards for Young Journalists in the local reporting category. He was also part of a team whose coverage of the criminal justice system, including the aggressive use of civil asset forfeiture by York County prosecutors, received the 2018 G. Richard Dew Award for Journalistic Service from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association. Before joining the York Daily Record, Ed covered K-12 education at the Centre Daily Times in State College and worked as a stringer for suburban sections of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He grew up in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Photo of Jamie Martines
Jamie Martines joined Spotlight PA in 2020 after four years with Triblive/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. While in Pittsburgh, she spent two years on the education beat before transitioning to covering Allegheny County government and special projects. She has covered major breaking news in the Pittsburgh region, including the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Tree of Life mass shooting, concerns about air quality following a series of fires at the Clairton Coke Works, and the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation of clergy abuse in the Catholic church. Before pursuing journalism, Martines worked for a nonprofit in China’s Yunnan Province and lived there for three years.
Photo of Rebecca Moss
Rebecca Moss joins Spotlight PA from The Santa Fe New Mexican, where she covered the environment, nuclear waste, problems at assisted living facilities, and clergy abuse within the Catholic Church. As part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, she spent more than a year investigating serious worker health and safety problems at the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons facilities, as well as failures by the Department of Labor to fairly adjudicate workers' compensation claims. The reporting led to Congressional efforts to preserve an independent nuclear safety board. The series also won the Association of Health Care Journalists’ Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism in the public health category and, in collaboration with Investigate TV, the National Headliner Award for environmental reporting. Prior to the New Mexican, she reported from Cambodia, where she covered public health and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Her work has also appeared in The Village Voice, Elle.com, and Vogue.com. Originally from New Mexico, she has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Photo of Ese Olumhense
Ese Olumhense comes to Spotlight PA from THE CITY, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to accountability reporting on New York City. Before joining the team at THE CITY, she was a reporter at The Chicago Tribune — where she first started reporting on health — and at the Investigative Fund. Ese, a native New Yorker, graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and is currently an adjunct professor at the school’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. Her reporting on the failure of crime victims' support programs in New York City public housing was a finalist for a national Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2018, and her reporting has earned awards from the New York Press Club, the Newswomen’s Club of New York, and local and national honors from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Photo of Yaasmeen Piper
Photo of Yaasmeen Piper

Yaasmeen Piper

Temple University Engagement Fellow

ypiper@spotlightpa.org
@Yaasmeenaaa

Yaasmeen Piper is a recent graduate of East Stroudsburg University with a degree in English and concentration in digital and professional media writing. She served as Editor-in-Chief of the Stroud Courier, East Stroudsburg University’s student newspaper for two years. Over the past four years, she has worked as an intern and freelance writer with a focus in arts, culture, news, and social issues. Her work is featured in TheBurg Magazine, Central Penn Business Journal, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and more. She won first place in the 2020 Professional Keystone Media Awards in the DV diversity category.
Photo of Daniel Simmons-Ritchie
Daniel Simmons-Ritchie has worked in journalism for nearly a decade, most recently as an investigative reporter for PennLive/The Patriot News in Harrisburg, Pa. His journalism combines traditional reporting skills, including an extensive understanding of Pennsylvania’s Right-To-Know law, with data analysis and web scraping. His reporting has led to resignations, fomented lawsuits, sparked government reforms and earned more than a dozen state and national awards for public service journalism, including a 2017 Investigative Reporters & Editors award and a 2014 Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Simmons-Ritchie is formerly from New Zealand and moved to the U.S. in 2011. Before he was hired by the Patriot-News in 2014, he worked as an enterprise reporter in South Dakota and as a county government reporter in southern Oregon.