Meet Our Leadership and Staff

Meet Our Leadership

Office of Communications and Public Affairs at Columbia University

Shailagh J. Murray

Executive Vice President for Public Affairs

Ben Chang

Vice President for Communications

Susan Ellingwood

Associate Vice President of Public Affairs

Wilson Valentin

Associate Vice President, Columbia News and Columbia Neighbors

Sheri M. Whitley

Associate Vice President for Digital Strategy

Meet Our Staff

  • Yulia is a senior financial analyst in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Her main responsibilities include analyzing financial statements, preparing budgets and variance analysis reports, processing financial transactions, and helping with human resources and payroll tasks.

    Yulia earned a master’s degree in economics from Ternopil National Economic University and a bachelor’s degree in financial management from Utrecht University. She is currently pursuing a master of science in applied analytics at Columbia University. She is also a classical violinist and has a music degree from a Soviet music school.

  • Wilson Valentin is associate vice president of Columbia News and Columbia Neighbors. He directs the team that produces a suite of e-newsletters on every aspect of learning, work, and life at Columbia University and the surrounding community. His team also helps to build, curate, and manage the content on the university’s home page, Columbia News and Columbia Neighbors websites, and collaborates on content for the university’s main social media channels.

    A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he has a multifaceted background in journalism and digital media production, including stints managing the national copyreading desk at The Wall Street Journal, overseeing science and technology coverage at Fox, crafting financial news at CNN, and working both on-set and behind the scenes at HBO and PBS. When not on campus at Columbia, he teaches undergraduate writing at CUNY City College, where he earned an MFA in creative writing. His play, The Actons, won the David Dortort Prize.

  • Susan Ellingwood is the associate vice president of public affairs at Columbia University, where she is the editorial director of the university’s home page, news outlet, and social media channels. She overseas a social media director and a team of videographers and public affairs officers who liaise with communications staff at three undergraduate schools and 14 graduate and professional schools.

    Prior to joining Columbia in 2019, she spent more than 25 years in journalism, most recently at The New York Times on the Books desk for three years, and in Op-Ed and Opinion for 15 years, where she was a founding editor of Room for DebateThe Conversation, and On Campus. Susan has also worked at the Committee to Protect Journalists, The Wall Street Journal, Brill's ContentThe New Republic, and The New Yorker. She holds a BA in Russian and international studies from Dickinson College and did her graduate work at St. Antony's College, Oxford University. She is the editor of two books (What We Saw and America At War) and a producer of the Times-HBO documentary, Last Letters Home.

  • Spencer Snyder is a videographer for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Spencer’s responsibilities include filming, editing, and occasional 3D work for the small but powerful video production team. His video background is predominantly in politics where he crafted campaign ads for candidates running for state, local, and national office. Before going into video Spencer was a full-time piano and guitar teacher.

    Spencer holds a BFA from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in drum set performance and an MA from The City College of New York in classical composition.

  • Sheri completed her undergraduate studies at Columbia University, Columbia College, where she studied architecture and anthropology. After working for Robert A.M. Stern Architects, she switched professions, moving to magazine publishing. She memorized the major style guides at Black Enterprise and Ms., where she was managing editor. She joined Columbia’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs in 2004 and, having added quantitative data gathering to her skill set with a master’s degree in sociology from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is now associate vice president of digital strategy, helping set editorial and branding guidelines and leading university-wide digital projects and advertising. In her spare time, she loves sailing, kayaking, and trying to turn her hydrangeas blue. She also really wishes Simon Kinberg would make a movie about Roque and Mystique.

  • Shailagh Murray was appointed executive vice president for public affairs in September 2018. She oversees the Office of Communications and Public Affairs and the Office of Government and Community Affairs. She spent nearly six years shaping communications strategy inside the Obama White House, most recently serving as senior advisor to President Obama from 2015 to 2017. Previously, she was Vice President Biden’s deputy chief of staff and communications director. Prior to that, she worked as a journalist for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She has a BA in humanities from University of Missouri-Columbia and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University.

  • Samantha joined the Office of Public Affairs from Columbia World Projects where she was director of communications. Prior to coming to Columbia in 2018, she spent nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, serving as a communications director in both the Senate and House of Representatives and as executive director of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. A native New Yorker, Samantha graduated from Brandeis University and received a master's in public administration from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College. She started her career as a journalist for Politico.

  • Robert Hornsby joined Columbia in 2005 with 20 years of business, management, and cultural experience with diverse organizations, such as universities, art galleries, museums, technology companies, and public relations agencies. His PR clients included IBM, General Electric, Tyco, Intel, and General Motors. Previously, he held senior positions at the Illinois Arts Council, the American Craft Museum, and the Aperture Foundation.

  • Robert Branch is the director of video production for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs and manages the video production team. A videographer, video director, and consultant with more than twenty years of video production experience, Robert directed the award-winning short documentary Manhattanville: A New York Nexus Sheffield Farms, The Milk Industry, and The Public Good. He holds a BFA from The Cooper Union Advancement of Science and Art and has an EdM in instructional technology and media from Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a long time member of Tim Rollins and K.OS. art collective, whose work is exhibited internationally and is a part of the MOMA and Tate Modern collection. Before joining Columbia, he worked as a public school teacher in the Bronx. 

  • Noreen Mangan is a seasoned office manager and executive assistant with more than seventeen years in the field. She has extensive experience with administrative tasks and a track record of strong performance in high-volume, fast-paced environments.

    She is also active in many organizations in her community. She is a member of the steering committee of her local League of Women Voters chapter and a hospice volunteer for Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

    Noreen loves to play bridge and she is an oenophile.

  • Nicoletta works with Columbia faculty and staff to create complex illustrations, digital paintings, animations, and info graphics that support and enhance ideas, vision and research. Before joining the Columbia University communications staff, she worked as a staff illustrator and graphic designer at Raven Press Medical publishers, Wolters Kluwer Health, and Oxford University Press. With over 20 years of experience in graphics and illustration, she believes that there is no greater challenge and no more satisfying reward than taking research ideas and transforming them into impactful, striking images. 

    Nicoletta has a master of education degree in visual art from Columbia University, Teachers College and a bachelor's degree with a major in studio art, from Sarah Lawrence College, and studied graphic design, illustration and animation at the School of Visual Art. Nicoletta is a member of the guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

  • Monique is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in theater. She also holds a master's degree in media management from Metropolitan College of New York. Before coming to Columbia, Monique worked in healthcare, managing credentialing for hospitals and other medical practices. Her favorite spot on campus is the new Manhattanville campus, where she embraces her love of the arts by visiting the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery. When she's not building websites, Monique loves watching professional basketball, reading, and sight-seeing.

  • Marisol Estevez manages media strategy, publicity, and advertising at Columbia Creative. Prior to joining the team, Marisol worked in media production for educational institutions including Columbia, New York University, The New School, Parsons, Fordham, and Yeshiva. Marisol is a native New Yorker, born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She attended Lehman College at the City University of New York (CUNY).

  • Kelly Moffitt-Hawasly is a passionate storyteller who works at the intersection of digital media and storytelling and serves as the director of digital content strategy for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, working on Columbia News, Columbia Neighbors, and the homepage. Previously, she worked as a producer at StoryCorps, traveling the country recording stories from everyday Americans and editing those recordings for broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition. While there, she was the recipient of the MJ Bear Fellowship, which identifies and celebrates three digital journalists under 30 whose work represents the best of new media, for her creation of a newsletter dedicated to podcasts produced between the coasts. She also teaches classes in digital media, personal branding, and podcast creation at institutions like NBCUniversal LIFT Labs and IFP.

    Originally from St. Louis, she loves to explore the quirky side of New York and is a proud mentor with Girls Write Now. She holds an MA (Journalism), BA (International Studies), and BJ (Magazine Journalism) from the University of Missouri, where she wrote her master's thesis on how engagement editors assess success in their work. You can find her work at

  • Junie Lee is responsible for the overall output of Columbia Creative, leading the team and its processes, and focusing on building and maintaining collaborative partnerships throughout the university. With more than 20 years of experience in university and nonprofit settings, Junie has consulted with multiple nonprofits and publishers including Mount Sinai Health Systems, International House, and Penguin Books. Junie oversees university branding and is the creative lead for Columbia Creative. She has received numerous awards for her work, including several Circle of Excellence awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. A native New Yorker, Junie received a BFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

  • Jennifer Pellerito grew up in Italy before earning a BA at Colorado College, where she majored in French and minored in German. After several years of fashion merchandising for Ralph Lauren in New York City (with travel to Asia and the Americas), she earned an MFA at Columbia School of the Arts, wrote two feature-length screenplays, produced three award-winning films, and co-founded the New York City Short Film Festival, now in its nineteenth year. Jennifer joined Columbia's Office of Communications and Public Affairs in 2008 and is associate director of photos and digital communications, managing and curating images for the university's website, stories, and social media. 

  • Jason Cummings has worked and studied at Columbia University for many years. Most recently, he was director of budget and administration in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. In fall 2022, he received his MBA from Columbia Business School. Jason is an experienced consultant, entrepreneur, and small business owner. He excels at thinking strategically, leveraging his analytical skills, and calculating risks to support his and his clients’ ambitions. Highlights of his professional accomplishments include: creating a departmental surplus over five years and growing his team to four members and purchasing a distressed retail store and continually increasing its profitability after rebranding, revamping marketing, and regaining community and customer support. Jason values honesty, reliability, and integrity, all of which he demonstrates himself. 

  • Janrey Serapio serves as the communications officer on the Columbia Neighbors team for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Previously, Janrey managed the digital content and communications strategy at Urban Design Forum, an organization convening civic leaders to confront the defining issues in New York City’s built environment. His passion for community-based storytelling has also led him to become the co-host and producer of “At the Moment,” a news podcast committed to uplifting narratives in the Asian-American community that has been featured in BuzzfeedVanity Fair, Audacy, and Apple Podcasts. Janrey holds a BA in international studies from Vassar College. 

  • Geoffrey is responsible for developing the strategic direction and managing the art department at Columbia Creative. His past experience includes positions as the art director of Columbia Creative and senior art director at the digital agency of record to Rémy Cointreau USA brands and New York University (Tandon School). Geoffrey’s work spans over 15 years and has been featured in Communication Arts and by the Art Directors Club of Houston and the Dallas Society of Visual Communications, among others. He holds a bachelor of fine arts in communication design from the University of North Texas (magna cum laude) and a master of science in strategic communication and an MBA from Columbia.

  • As the director of arts and humanities communications in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, Eve’s portfolio includes art history and archaeology, English and comparative literature, music, philosophy, oral history, and classics. She also serves as liaison to School of the Arts; the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia Libraries, Miller Theater, Wallach Art Gallery, and the Arts Initiative. Before arriving at Columbia in 2013, Eve spent more than 25 years in publishing, as a magazine and newspaper editor, reporter, and writer, working at Travel & LeisureArt & Auction and The New York Times, among other publications.

  • Eileen Barroso joined Columbia in 1985 as a photo lab assistant and darkroom technician, where she developed black and white film and printed black and white photos for The Record, the university's newspaper for faculty and staff. In 1998 she was promoted to university photographer, a job she still holds, where she is responsible for photographing all aspects of campus life for Columbia’s worldwide audience. She supervises a group of professional freelance photographers who provide their services to the University community and news media, as well as Columbia faculty, staff and students. In addition to covering 23 commencements (so far), she has photographed the campus visits of world leaders such as Barack Obama, Vaclav Havel, Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Muhammed Ali, Joe DiMaggio, to name only a few.

    Beyond Columbia, Eileen has worked for the New York Yankees as a freelance sports photographer for Yankee Magazine and is the official photographer for Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, which helps young people turn from drugs and alcohol and follow healthy lifestyles. Eileen is a native of New Jersey.

  • Dustin Foote is a video producer for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. In his role, he records, edits, and produces video content for the university. Before Columbia, he worked in sports media as an associate producer and journalist. Outside of the office, he directs independent documentaries. His films have been screened at festivals across the country.

    Dustin holds a MFA in documentary filmmaking from Wake Forest University and a BA in American Studies from Skidmore College. You can view his work at

  • Before joining Columbia in 2007, Deb was acting vice president of institutional advancement at Hunter College and executive director of the Hunter College Foundation. Prior to Hunter, she worked in the for-profit sector as vice president of marketing communications at MasterCard International and DealTime, which is now owned by eBay under the name Deb began her career working in politics and government. She has a BA from Pomona College. 

  • Dan is the Digital Content Strategist for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. He received his BA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Columbia, he worked in digital content production and digital marketing for Major League Baseball, the Institute of International Education, and WebMD. He is a four-time Jeopardy! champion.

  • Claire Levenson is the director of executive communications in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. She received her BA from Columbia University, Columbia College and her PhD in history from the University of Cambridge. 

  • Christopher Shea joined the Office of Communications and Public Affairs from Columbia World Projects, where he was assistant communications director. Before joining Columbia in 2018, Christopher was a Bosch Foundation Fellow based in Berlin. Prior to that, he worked for The New York Times in London and reported for the paper on academic findings and disputes, arts leaders in London and Berlin, and major cultural events across Europe. He has a master's degree from Humboldt University of Berlin and a BA from the University of Chicago.

  • Cecile Alexis is the production editor for digital and print projects at Columbia Creative. Cecile previously worked at the cultural nonprofit Paley Center for Media, where she developed strategic fundraising content and directed communications with corporate, foundation, government, and individual donors. She holds a bachelor of arts in French literature from Columbia College and graduate degrees in psychology and counseling from Columbia’s Teachers College

  • Cassandra Nathan is the assistant director of internal communications in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. In her role, Cassandra manages workshops, professional development training, and programming for communications employees. Prior to joining Columbia's communications team, Cassandra served as a community center administrator, human resource manager and database analyst.

    Cassandra was born and raised in Brooklyn. She holds an MSSW from Columbia University. 

  • A native New Yorker, Caroline Harting comes to Columbia with a multifaceted background in marketing, communications, and documentary film production. Prior to joining the Columbia communications team, she was director of communications and marketing at Global Kids, a nonprofit educational organization that works with students in underserved communities in New York City and Washington, DC. At Global Kids, she revamped its email marketing tools, expanded its core audience through targeted media outreach, and spearheaded a branding language overhaul. For nearly ten years, she worked in the film industry, both in the camera and production departments. She helped produce documentaries for PBS’s FRONTLINE and American ExperienceAMC, and The History Channel. She received a BA in foreign affairs from University of Virginia and an MA in American studies from Columbia University.

  • Carol Balistreri has been an account manager at Columbia Creative since 2014 and manages the production of marketing, digital, and print publications. With more than 15 years of project management and editorial experience, Carol has focused her time in the academic and nonprofit sector. Formerly an English teacher in Japan, Carol returned to the United States to become an editor of EFL textbooks at Oxford University Press. She honed her client and team management skills at the College Board, where she managed the Marketing Services project management team. Carol received a bachelor of arts in English literature from Barnard College.

  • Brandee Sanders is a multimedia storyteller who serves as the associate director of communications for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Born and nurtured in Harlem, she uses her work—which intertwines content, community, and culture—as a vessel to amplify the voices of underrepresented and diverse communities. Channeling her passion for service, she’s dedicated her career to leading marketing and communications efforts for mission-driven organizations centered on advancing diversity and inclusion, gender equity in the workplace, and social and economic justice. 

    Prior to joining the Columbia University team, she served as the marketing and communications lead at Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit that has a mission rooted in eradicating socioeconomic barriers that impact accessibility to STEM education. She has also served as a writer for NewsOne where she wrote uplifting narratives related to entrepreneurship and community impact. Her work has been featured on The Root, Fast Company, Hello Beautiful, and several other outlets. 

    Brandee is a proud member of New York Cares in which she participates in volunteer projects focused on combatting hunger and food insecurity in Harlem. She holds a BA in journalism from SUNY Purchase College.

  • Ben Chang is the vice president for communications and spokesperson for Columbia University. He joined Columbia from Princeton University, where he served as deputy vice president for communications and university spokesperson. Ben brings with him experience grounded in public service as well as the private sector. For almost two decades, Ben was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, with postings overseas and domestically, including as the director for press and communications for the National Security Council in the White House under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and as deputy spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. He also served as the associate administrator for communications and public liaison at the Small Business Administration. Before entering higher education, Ben was a managing director in the public affairs and crisis practice of global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. He is currently as a member of the Communications Advisory Board for the American Talent Initiative, co-chair of the Rising Leaders Council for the Meridian International Center, and a member of the board of directors for the Council for a Livable World. Ben is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

    In a personal capacity, he has addressed international relations and politics on CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, al-Jazeera, CCTV, and BBC News, and delivered closing remarks at TEDxAix in 2014. He was named to POLITICO's 50 to Watch list and as one of PAPER magazine's "Beautiful People" for his pursuits in diplomacy, DJing, and photography.

  • April Brazil is the administrative coordinator to the executive vice president of communications and public affairs. She manages multiple communications databases, provides research support to senior management, and plans and executes University-related programs and other collaborative projects. Before joining Columbia in 2017, April’s employment experiences included companies such as Nordstrom, Integral Ad Science, and Full Beauty Brands, serving as a human resources assistant and analyst. April has also worked for the Cardiovascular Research Foundation as a program coordinator.

    A native New Yorker, April holds a BS in business administration from Nyack College. In her spare time, April writes and sketches.