Since his appointment as executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2006, Joel Simon has led the organization through a period of expansion. Under his guidance, CPJ launched the Global Campaign Against Impunity, established a Journalist Assistance program and spearheaded CPJ's efforts to defend press freedom in the digital space.
Simon has led and participated in CPJ missions around the world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Under his leadership, CPJ has been honored with the prestigious Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights and a News & Documentary Emmy for its work in defense of press freedom.
Simon has written widely on press freedom issues for publications including Slate, Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Review of Books, World Policy Journal, Asahi Shimbun, and The Times of India. His analysis of press freedom issues is featured regularly in major media, including The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, BBC and CNN.
Having joined CPJ in 1997 as Americas program coordinator, Simon became deputy director in 2000 and was chosen to head the organization in 2006. As a journalist in Latin America, Simon covered the Guatemalan civil war, the Zapatista uprising in Southern Mexico, the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the economic turmoil in Cuba following the collapse of the Soviet Union. A graduate of Amherst College and Stanford University, he is the author of Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge (Sierra Club Books, 1997).
Robert Mahoney worked as a journalist in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East before joining CPJ in August 2005 as senior editor. He reported on politics and economics for Reuters news agency from Brussels and Paris in the late 1970s, and from Southeast Asia in the early 1980s. He covered south Asia from Delhi for three years from 1985, reporting on the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination, the civil war in Sri Lanka, and the fallout from the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. In 1988, Mahoney became Reuters bureau chief for West and Central Africa based in Ivory Coast, spending considerable time in Liberia covering the civil war. He served as Reuters Jerusalem bureau chief from 1990 to 1997, directing print and later television coverage of the Palestinian intifada, the Iraqi missile attacks on Israel, the Oslo peace process, and the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He worked as chief correspondent in Germany from 1997 to 1999 before moving to London to become news editor in charge of politics and general news for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In 2004, he taught journalism for the Reuters Foundation in the Middle East, and worked as a consultant for Human Rights Watch. He became CPJ deputy director in January 2007.
>> Follow him on Twitter @RobMahoney_CPJ. >> Read Robert Mahoney's blog.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND OUTREACH
John Weis joined CPJ in April 2004. He directs all fund-raising activities of the organization, both annual support and campaign contributions. He has a long and successful record as a fund-raiser, having most recently served as the deputy director of development at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First). Weis has held fund-raising positions at WNYC Radio, the New York Public Library, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has a B.S. in Commerce from Rider University.
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
BUSINESS & ACCOUNTING MANAGER
SENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER
Kavita Menon joined CPJ in 1998 as a research associate focused on South Asia and the Pacific. She headed the Asia program from 1999 to 2003, when she left CPJ to take up the Pew Fellowship in international reporting at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. Menon has written for publications including The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, and Ms. magazine. She has produced radio features for NPR's "All Things Considered," Monitor Radio, WNYC, and WBAI, and previously worked as the assistant producer of NPR's "On the Media." Menon worked as a researcher and campaigner on South Asia for Amnesty International before returning to CPJ in 2008. She earned a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
>> Follow her on Twitter @kavita718.
Elana Beiser edits the CPJ blog, special reports, and other pieces,
including essays for Attacks on the Press. In 2013, she edited CPJ's landmark special report on press freedom in the United States, "The
Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11
America" as well as "Challenged in China: The shifting dynamics of censorship and control." Previously, Beiser edited international and business news for 14 years for The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires in New York, London, Singapore, Brussels, and Hong Kong. Prior to joining CPJ in 2011, she developed, launched, and managed the Asian edition of WSJ.com, and led the integration of the Hong Kong newsroom's print and digital operations. Beiser has also worked for an alternative weekly and spent a year in Israel with Project Otzma doing volunteer community service. A native of Kansas City, she is a graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans.
>> Follow her on Twitter @elanabeiser
DEPUTY EDITOR FOR NEWS
Shazdeh Omari joined CPJ in 2011 after working as copy chief at The Village Voice for four years. She has worked as a reporter, writer, editor, medical editor, and copy editor in the United States and Greece. Prior to her career in publishing, she taught English at Western Connecticut State University and reported, wrote, and produced radio features as an intern at United Nations Radio. Omari was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, where she learned to read, speak, and write Urdu. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and sociology from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in English-TESOL from Western Connecticut State University.
DEPUTY EDITOR FOR INNOVATION
Kamal Singh Masuta
Kamal Singh Masuta is a creative professional with more than 10 years of experience in Web site management and design, along with graphic design and production. He joined CPJ in May 2010 to oversee and advance the organization's online presence and electronic communications. Prior to joining CPJ, he served in similar positions at nonprofit organizations, including the Cordoba Initiative and Leader to Leader Institute. He also has experience in for-profit settings, having worked for Nature Publishing Group. He graduated from SUNY at Stony Brook in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and has taken advanced graphics/Web courses at Pratt Institute and NYU.
SENIOR ADVISER FOR JOURNALIST SECURITY
Frank SmythFrank Smyth is a journalist who has specialized in armed conflicts, organized crime, and human rights, reporting from nations including El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Jordan, and Iraq where, in 1991, he was imprisoned for 18 days. Through the 1990s Smyth investigated arms trafficking for Human Rights Watch. He has reported for CBS News, and written for The Nation, The Village Voice, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, World Policy Journal, and Foreign Affairs. Smyth has testified on press freedom matters before the Organization of American States, the International Commission of Jurists, and the U.S. Congress. Smyth blogs on journalist security issues for CPJ. He is also the founder and executive director of Global Journalist Security, a firm that provides consulting and training services to journalists and others.
>> Follow him on Twitter @JournoSecurity. >> Read Frank Smyth's blog.
COORDINATOR, IMPUNITY CAMPAIGN & JOURNALIST ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Salazar-Ferro became coordinator of these two programs in January 2009 after serving four years as research associate for CPJ's Americas program. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, and grew up in New York. Fluent in Spanish, English and French, Salazar-Ferro has an MA in anthropology at Universidad de los Andes, in Bogotá and graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor's degree in anthropology and comparative literature. Salazar-Ferro worked for the United Nations Fund for Population Aid as a researcher in a project on sexual and reproductive health among young refugees in Colombia. She also conducted research on HIV/AIDS prevention in Latin America for the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She worked for Inter-Press Services in New York as an associate reporter.
>> Read Maria Salazar-Ferro's blog.
JOURNALIST ASSISTANCE ASSOCIATE
Before Nicole Schilit joined CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program in 2012, she worked in communications and multimedia research at the Documentary Photography Project Initiative at the Open Society Foundation (OSF), Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, and Foundation Rwanda. In 2011, Schilit was part of a consulting team for the women's Refugee Commission, tasked with producing a tool kit to mitigate the risk of gender-based violence among displaced populations. Schilit, who has a background in documentary photography, worked on Photojournalists on War, a history on the Iraq War as told by photojournalists. She has a master's in public administration from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and a bachelor's in documentary photography from Oberlin College in Ohio.
ADVOCACY AND COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
Prior to joining CPJ in 2010, Magnus Ag worked as head of section in the Danish Ministry for Science, Technology, and Innovation. He represented the Danish Government in EU-level negotiations in Brussels and wrote speeches for the Danish minister for science. He has also developed and implemented ideas for the online campaign for the re-election of Dick Hubbard as mayor of Auckland, New Zealand. Early in his career, he compiled the daybook at the national Danish news agency, Ritzaus Bureau, in Copenhagen. As part of his studies, Ag was awarded a Socrates Erasmus exchange scholarship at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the U.K. Ag holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in political science from the University of Copenhagen. He is fluent in English, Danish, and Norwegian.
Samantha Libby joined CPJ as a communications associate in 2013. She worked for two years for a contemporary art gallery in Hanoi, Vietnam, promoting local visual artists, and, while in the region, investigated the effects of mining operations on local tribes in Kalimantan and West Papua. Libby has also worked in southern Ethiopia for USAID and a local NGO on child rights. In graduate school, she specialized in complex emergencies and arms trafficking and worked as a reporter on the Viktor Bout trial and as a researcher for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Her writing has won several awards, including the Cordier Essay award from the Journal of International Affairs, the Raphael Smith Memorial Essay Prize, and the Baroness Winchester Prize for Human Rights. Libby is also a playwright and an artist, with a focus in freedom of expression and cultural movements. She received her BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and a master's in international affairs from Columbia University.
After finishing her graduate studies in Geneva, Rurarz-Huygens pursued a career in refugee work and was posted with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to Lebanon and Kenya. In both positions, she worked in the resettlement units with refugees from some of the world's most conflict-ridden areas including Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and the Congo. After transitioning to New York in 2012, Rurarz-Huygens worked briefly with Purpose and the Open Society Foundations until she joined CPJ in May 2013. She holds a master's degree in political science.
OFFICE ASSISTANT/TECHNOLOGY MANAGER
Born and raised in Afghanistan, Rahmati graduated from Bard College with a bachelor's in human rights and a concentration in global public health, and wrote his senior thesis on transitional justice in Afghanistan. While at Bard, he interned at both Human Rights Watch and Open Society Foundations, where later he also worked as a consultant. In 2005, Rahmati co-founded the Marefat Educational Center in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, by acquiring a building to rent, advertising the school, and hiring and training teachers. Today, more than 400 students attend the school. Rahmati is fluent in English, Farsi, Dari, and proficient in Pashtu and Turkish.
INTERNET ADVOCACY COORDINATOR
Prior to joining CPJ, King, an attorney by training, represented U.S.-based individuals in constitutional matters involving the freedoms of speech, press, and petition. King is also a documentary photographer whose work has focused on human rights and social movements.
In addition to his work as an advocate and journalist, King teaches courses at UC Berkeley on digital privacy law and policy, as well as the intersection of media and social change.
King holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications, Phi Beta Kappa and with Highest Distinction, from UC Berkeley. He earned his law degree from Stanford Law School. His public GPG encryption key can be found here.
AFRICA PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Prior to joining CPJ as its Africa program coordinator, Valentine worked as a journalist in print and radio in South Africa in a time that spanned the country's transition to democracy and struggle for HIV/AIDS treatment. She has worked as a reporter for The Star paper in Johannesburg and as the executive producer of a daily current affairs radio show on the SABC, South Africa's national public broadcaster. She has served on the media advisory board of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa for almost a decade, and in 2005 briefly worked as the director of the foundation's media program in South Africa. In 1999, Valentine established Health-e News Service, a non-profit news agency based in Cape Town that specializes in public health issues, especially HIV/AIDS, and also supplied news coverage to local media. Valentine received a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 2003 and was a finalist in the South African Women in the Media Awards in 2006. In 2009, she spent a month at Duke University as a Menell Media Fellow. Valentine has a post-graduate degree in history from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and a post-graduate diploma in journalism from Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
AFRICA ADVOCACY COORDINATOR
Keita coordinates CPJ's campaigning efforts in 43 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Since joining CPJ in 2006, Keita has reported on and advocated for scores of journalists who have been censored, threatened, intimidated, unjustly prosecuted, imprisoned, attacked, forced into exile, or murdered. His writings on press freedom have appeared in The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Hill, The Christian Science Monitor, and Slate Afrique, to name a few, and he has given presentations at the World Bank, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Congress. Keita has been interviewed on press freedom in Africa by the BBC, Al-Jazeera's Listening Post, NPR, U.N. Radio, Radio France Internationale, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, and several other international outlets. Prior to joining CPJ, Keita volunteered as a researcher with the nongovernmental World Federalist Movement-Institute of Global Policy, which works to build international democratic institutions. He has helped organize workshops in West Africa to promote the U.N.'s "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine with local civil society and has monitored various U.N. reform consultations at the United Nations secretariat in New York. Keita is a graduate of the City College of New York.
>> @Follow him on Twitter @africamedia_CPJ >> Read Mohamed Keita's blog.
EAST AFRICA REPRESENTATIVE
Tom Rhodes began his journalism career in 2001 as a writer at NewsAfrica magazine in London and as a contributor to a local radio station. The following year he moved to Khartoum, Sudan, to work as a university professor and a contributor for the Integrated Regional Information Network. In 2004, Rhodes helped initiate southern Sudan's first independent newspaper, The Juba Post, in Juba. He was the editor of the paper for more than two years while also a contributor for the BBC. He wrote and edited several pieces for Small Arms Survey, UNICEF, and UNDP during his stay in Sudan. He is a history graduate from the University of Massachusetts and has a master's degree in African Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
>> Follow him on Twitter @africamedia_CPJ. >> Read Tom Rhodes' blog.
SENIOR AMERICAS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lauria began his journalistic career as a contributor to regional newspaper Diario La Unión, where he was promoted to managing editor. In 1991, he began working at Playboy Magazine Argentina and later became managing editor. In 1994, Lauria settled in New York City as U.S. bureau chief correspondent for the largest magazine publisher in Argentina, Editorial Perfil. In this position, he wrote and edited hundreds of stories that were published in the various magazines owned by the company, particularly Noticias, the world's largest Spanish-language newsmagazine. He has been invited to speak about the current crisis in Argentina by the American Jewish Committee (June 2002) and to discuss developments in the murder of photographer José Luis Cabezas, who worked for Noticias, by the Freedom Forum (April 1997). He is a journalism graduate of Universidad Católica Argentina.
>> Follow him on Facebook @ CPJ en Español. >> Read Carlos Lauria's blog.
AMERICAS RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Sara Rafsky joined CPJ in 2011. She previously wrote about culture and politics as a freelance journalist in South America and South East Asia. Rafsky also worked at ARTnews magazine and interned with The Associated Press in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2008, she was awarded a Fulbright Grant to research photojournalism and the Colombian armed conflict. Rafsky also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she worked with the Global Human Rights and Governance division of the Ford Foundation and interned with Human Rights Watch and the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE). She has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and is fluent in Spanish and proficient in French.
>> Follow her on Facebook @ CPJ en Español. >> Read Sara Rafsky's blog.
ASIA PROGRAM COORDINATOR
1977, Bob Dietz has worked as a journalist in Africa, the Middle East, Asia,
and the United States.
He started as a freelance journalist in Tanzania,
moving to Uganda after the
departure of Idi Amin, and then to Somalia in 1981. He was a cameraman
and bureau chief in Cairo and Beirut for Visnews, now Reuters TV, covering
the Israeli invasion
and its aftermath. He moved to Asia as a bureau chief for NBC News in Seoul and then in Manila,
where he opened the network's bureau shortly before the downfall of the Marcos
regime. In 1988, he was awarded a William Benton Fellowship for Broadcast
Journalists at the University
of Chicago, studying
He later served as interim general manager for a start-up PBS station in his
hometown of Philadelphia, before working for the
newly launched CNN International in Atlanta.
In 1995, Dietz moved to Hong Kong with his wife, Donna Liu, who opened CNNI's Asia Production
Center. After seven years
as a senior editor at Asiaweek
magazine, he returned to the United
States and worked with the World Health
Organization, handling media relations and risk communication during the SARS
and avian influenza outbreaks. WHO assignments took Dietz to Beijing,
Manila, Hanoi, Geneva, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, and Indonesia's Aceh province following
the December 2004 tsunami. While at WHO, he worked closely with local and
foreign reporters across Asia. Since starting
at CPJ in January 2006, Dietz has continued to travel widely in Asia, including
reporting trips and CPJ missions to Afghanistan,
China and Hong
Kong, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
>> Follow him on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.
>> Read Bob Dietz's blog.
ASIA PROGRAM RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Sumit served as CPJ's inaugural Paul E. Steiger Fellow. Prior to joining CPJ, he was awarded the prestigious Margaret Moth Fellowship at CNN International. He earned his dual master's degrees in journalism and human rights from Columbia University. His reporting has taken him to Israel, Palestine, India, South Africa, and the U.K. His work has appeared in CNN.com, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, as well as publications in India. Prior to his graduate studies, Sumit served as a William J. Clinton Fellow in Bangalore, India, where he worked on minority rights. He earned his undergraduate degree in international relations and journalism from New York University. Sumit has also interned at Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law. Sumit is an Indian-Afghan American from New York City with a focus on South Asia, human rights, and religion.
>> Follow him on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.
>> Read Sumit Galhotra's blog.
SENIOR SOUTHEAST ASIA REPRESENTATIVE
Shawn W. Crispin
Shawn W. Crispin was bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review in Bangkok from 1999 to 2004, where he wrote on a wide range of political, business, and social issues. From 2001, Crispin also served as bureau chief for the Review's sister publication, The Asian Wall Street Journal. His coverage of Asia's AIDS epidemic was part of a package recognized in 2004 for the "Excellence in Magazines" award of the Society of Publishers in Asia. In 2005, Shawn served as an investigative consultant with Human Rights Watch (Asia), where he researched and wrote a full-length report on press freedom issues in Thailand. His journalism has also appeared in the International Herald Tribune and Institutional Investor magazine and he is currently the Southeast Asia editor for Asia Times Online. Crispin received a master's degree in Southeast Asian Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington in 1999. He speaks fluent Thai.
>> Read Shawn Crispin's blog.
EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Since becoming coordinator of the Europe and Central Asia Program in 2006, Nina Ognianova has led fact-finding and advocacy missions to Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. Starting in 2007, Ognianova has organized and participated in yearly CPJ missions to Moscow and the European Union, focusing on the issue of impunity in Russian journalist killings. She is the lead author of two major CPJ special reports - Anatomy of Injustice, issued in September 2009, which exposes flaws in the official investigations of unsolved journalist murders in Russia; and Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis, issued in October 2012, which examines the anti-press campaign under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Ognianova previously worked as CPJ's Europe and Central Asia researcher. Prior to joining CPJ in December 2003, Ognianova was a staff writer for the International Journalists' Network, the media-assistance website of the nonprofit International Center for Journalists in Washington, where she covered Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Ognianova earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the American University in Bulgaria and a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism--Columbia. Her commentaries have appeared in the Guardian of London, the International Herald Tribune, and The Huffington Post, among others. Ognianova is a native Bulgarian speaker, fluent in English and Russian.
>> Read Nina Ognianova's blog.
EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Muzaffar Suleymanov joined CPJ in 2007. A contributor to Central Asia news Web sites, he holds a master's degree in international peace studies from the U.N. University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica, and a bachelor's degree in international and comparative politics from the American University-Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Prior to joining CPJ he worked for non-profits focused on Central Asia, including the Open Society Institute-sponsored Civic Education Project and American University-based East West Center. While in Costa Rica, he volunteered for the U.N. University for Peace and co-founded the Human Dignity Project, a nonprofit that promotes respect for human rights. As part of the Human Dignity Project, Suleymanov coordinated a two-week mission to Kyrgyzstan to explore possibilities for human rights training. He speaks Russian and Uzbek, and is proficient in Tajik.
>> Read Muzaffar Suleymanov's blog.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Sherif Mansour is an Egyptian-American democracy and human rights activist. Before joining CPJ, he worked with Freedom House, in Washington, D.C., where he managed advocacy trainings for activists from the Middle East and North Africa. In 2010, Mansour co-founded the Egyptian Association for Change, a Washington-based nonprofit group that mobilizes Egyptians in the U.S. to support democracy and human rights in Egypt. He has monitored the Egyptian elections for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and has worked as a freelance journalist. In 2004, he was honored by the Al-Kalema Center for Human Rights for his work in defending freedom of expression in Egypt. Mansour has authored several articles and conducted research studies on civil society and the role of the new media and civil society in achieving democracy. He was named one of the top 99 young foreign policy professionals in 2013 by the Diplomatic Courier. He received his master's in international relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and his bachelor's in education from Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He speaks Arabic fluently.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Jason Stern has dedicated his academic and professional career to supporting political reform and human rights in the Middle East. Before joining CPJ in 2013, he earned his master's degree in Middle East Studies from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. While at the Elliott School, Stern conducted field research for his master's thesis on political reconciliation in Bahrain. Stern also holds a bachelor's in government from Cornell University. His political commentary has appeared in Foreign Policy, BBC World Service, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other news outlets. Stern speaks Arabic proficiently.