Meet our team

Spotlight PA is building a highly talented team of investigative journalists and ushering in a new era of accountability for state government and beyond. When the citizens of Pennsylvania pay their taxes, need help in a tough time, or vote a politician into office, we'll be there to make sure they get what they deserve. Contact our reporters using the emails below, or see how to send us tips more securely.

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 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 Cuban immigrant and Miami native, Cynthia is particularly interested in reporting on marginalized communities and how they interface with institutional and governmental systems.
Photo of Sarah Anne Hughes
Photo of Sarah Anne Hughes

Sarah Anne Hughes

Deputy Editor

@sarahanne_news

Sarah Anne Hughes is the 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 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 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 Matt McKinney
Photo of Matt McKinney

Matt McKinney

Investigative Reporter

mmckinney@spotlightpa.org
@Mmckinne17

Matt McKinney covers criminal justice and law enforcement, including State Police and the Attorney General's office. He previously worked on the projects and education teams at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he contributed to coverage that won a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news in 2019. While in Pittsburgh, Matt examined topics such as school board members who've skipped nearly half their meetings, superintendent contract perks and licensing educators with criminal records. He previously worked as a reporter at the Virginian-Pilot and Baton Rouge Advocate newspapers. Matt is a proud graduate of Knox College, in Galesburg, Ill., and Northwestern University's journalism school. He's also a sixth-generation Central Illinois native, who loves golden retrievers, the Chicago White Sox and strong open records laws.
Photo of Rebecca Moss
Photo of Rebecca Moss

Rebecca Moss

Investigative Reporter

rmoss@spotlightpa.org
@rebeccakmoss

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 Aneri Pattani
Aneri Pattani comes to Spotlight PA from The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covered mental health, suicide and health disparities. Also, she helped launch a biweekly solutions-oriented series called Made in Philly aimed at engaging diverse communities. Previously, she uncovered New York City's failure to protect children from lead poisoning as a reporter for WNYC, and exposed the abuses of Florida's disability services system as a producer on the podcast Aftereffect. She has also been a James Reston reporting fellow at The New York Times, and reported from Liberia with columnist Nicholas Kristof. Pattani's articles, on topics ranging from politics to crime to business, have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Texas Tribune, CNBC and The Hartford Courant. Originally from Connecticut, she graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 2017.
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.
Photo of Sara Simon
Sara Simon is a software engineer turned investigative data reporter. She comes to Spotlight PA from the New York Times, where she built research tools to assist reporters in the newsroom. Her data work at the Times spanned desks and beats, from homicide convictions in opioid deaths to state-level abortion restrictions to contestant patterns throughout Miss America pageant history. Previously, Sara was a web developer at Vermont Public Radio. She studied English at Wellesley College before heading to the Turing School of Software and Design.