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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 Christopher Baxter
Photo of Christopher Baxter

Christopher Baxter

Executive Director & Editor in Chief

Christopher Baxter is the executive director and founding editor in chief of Spotlight PA, and oversees all aspects of the organization. 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 ( & 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, the 2018 Investigative Reporters & Editors Freedom of Information Award, as well as the 2019 Knight Award for Public Service and the 2019 Investigative Data Journalism Award from the Online News Association.
Photo of Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein
Photo of Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein

Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein

Development Director

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.
Ethan Edward Coston (he/they) is a government reporter at Spotlight PA, where he focuses on politics and disinformation. Originally from San Diego, California, they were an inaugural CalMatters College Journalism Network fellow, where they covered the 2020 general election and higher education. As a student reporter, Ethan sued the University of California twice for access to public records, and his subsequent reporting won a San Diego SPJ award. He graduated from UC San Diego in 2020 with a B.A. in Political Science. Ethan’s work has been published by CalMatters, Prism, and Voice of San Diego.

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.

Colin Deppen is a newsletter editor/reporter with Spotlight PA. He crafts and grows the site’s daily and weekly newsletters, while contributing to the organization’s mission of producing journalism that serves readers and holds powerful people to account. He came to Spotlight PA from The Incline, a digital news outlet in Pittsburgh, where he served as director and author of a daily newsletter hyper-focused on the city and region. Colin has worked at newspapers and outlets across Pennsylvania during his 10-year career — from the Northern Tier to the south. This includes PennLive/The Patriot-News, where he won statewide awards for written features, personality profiles, and political coverage. He is a native of New York City with deep family ties in Pennsylvania and has been a longtime resident of the commonwealth. He still refuses to try scrapple.
Gary Harki is an investigative reporter covering criminal justice for Spotlight PA. His stories on police and jails have sparked change in Virginia, where he worked at The Virginian-Pilot and West Virginia, where he worked at The Charleston Gazette. A former Livingston Award finalist, he spent a year in Marquette University’s O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism reporting on the jailing of people with mental illness. In 2019 he won the Al Nakkula Award, which honors outstanding police reporting. Gary’s reporting on a regional jail in Virginia led to a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the jail’s treatment of people housed there. His investigation into the strip search of an 8-year-old girl by officers with the Virginia Department of Corrections led to the suspension and review of the policy and ultimately to the creation of several laws to prevent such practices in the future.
Kate is an investigative reporter covering redistricting for Spotlight PA. She is a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School’s data journalism program where she reported on police accountability and social services for survivors of domestic violence in New York City. She has previously worked at ABC’s World News Tonight, and MSNBC. Kate enjoys painting and road-tripping, preferably all while listening to Taylor Swift.
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 Sarah Hutchins
Photo of Sarah Hutchins

Sarah Hutchins

Investigations Editor

Sarah Hutchins is Spotlight PA’s investigations editor. She came to the newsroom from Investigative Reporters & Editors, where she spent eight years as the organization’s Training Director and Editorial Director. At IRE she developed and delivered intensive training to journalists around the world and coached reporters on using data, public records and other investigative techniques. Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and a master’s degree in data science and analytics from the University of Missouri. She has worked as a reporter for newspapers in several states.
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 Stephen Kearse
Photo of Stephen Kearse

Stephen Kearse

Assistant Editor

Stephen Kearse is the assistant editor of Spotlight PA. He previously worked as the copy editor of Stateline, and has contributed arts criticism and reporting to The Nation, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Pitchfork, among other outlets.
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.
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.
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.
Danielle is an investigative reporter covering the Capitol for Spotlight PA. She previously worked at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, where she won a Pulitzer Prize special citation with her newsroom for covering the mass shooting of her own colleagues. She worked with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network investigating thousands of lawsuits filed by the Annapolis housing authority against tenants. With The Capital, she covered city hall, the U.S. Naval Academy and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is an avid home cook, plant mom and will gladly take pie recipes alongside news tips.
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.