University Communications Professionals
This community brings together media and public affairs professionals from Columbia schools, institutes, and affiliates, providing a means for colleagues to share information and best practices, as well as a forum for discussion of issues common to the group. Email us to add a colleague to this list.
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 executive director 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. His team also builds, curates, and manages the content on the university’s home page, the 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 executive director of public affairs and communications at Columbia University. 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 Debate, The Conversation, and On Campus. Susan has also worked at the Committee to Protect Journalists, The Wall Street Journal, Brill's Content, The 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.
Robert joined Columbia in 2005 with twenty years of progressive 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.
Pete McHugh is the Director of Strategic Communications for Columbia University Human Resources. It is his second position at Columbia; he had previously worked in the University’s athletics communications office, serving as the media relations director for a majority of Columbia’s intercollegiate sports programs. Most recently, McHugh oversaw strategic communications and media relations at Manhattan College in the Bronx for seven years. He owns an M.S. from Columbia University and a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross.
Noreen 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. For examples of her work see: https://communications.news.columbia.edu/content/scientific-illustration-gallery
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 almost eighteen years ago, 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, and she attended Lehman College at the City University of New York (CUNY).
From Houston to Harlem, Loren Childress has worked in and transformed the educational and nonprofit space for the past decade. Loren comes to CSSW from Achievement First. Achievement First operates a network of 41 public charter schools in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford, CT, Brooklyn, and Providence, Rhode Island. Serving upwards of 15,000 K-12 students, they have been recognized for having "some of the best teaching and learning in the country." As Director of Digital Strategy, Branding, and Marketing, she leads the Communications Department, focusing on Student, Donor, and Teacher Recruitment. She is responsible for the budget, raising funds, cultivating a donor pipeline, the annual report, and a multitude of other initiatives working on expanding the organization's digital footprint at large.
Loren is proud to have worked within education reform for some of the nation’s largest charter networks and school systems. She has held executive positions at Rising Tide Capital, Zeta Charter Schools, and KIPP Texas Public Schools —illuminating each network’s mission through thoughtful, strategic content. Her thorough upkeep to their websites, social channels, multimedia presentations, and relationships with community members and patrons have been direct catalysts in building more awareness and opportunities for these incredible institutions.
Loren earned both her Masters and Bachelors of Arts with honors from Texas Tech University.
The threadline between all of Loren’s jobs has been her passion and precision in making a difference in education. She firmly believes that education is an indispensable human right–one of the most powerful tools at our disposal–and that wielding that tool wisely is critical for our evolution and elevation.
Kelly Moffit-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. 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.
Hailing 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 M.A. (Journalism), B.A. (International Studies), and B.J. (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 www.kmariemoffitt.com.
Kara D.V. Avanceña (she/her) is the director of social media in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. In her role, Kara leads Columbia’s efforts to promote the university on its social media channels.
A communications professional with experience in digital communications, social media, and public relations, Kara has served on communications teams across agency, government, and non-profit settings. Prior to joining Columbia's central communications team, Kara served as the media relations and social media officer for Columbia Law School.
Kara was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a B.A. in government and French from Georgetown University and speaks Filipino and French.
Junie 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 over twnety 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 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 NYC (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 eighteenth year. Jennifer joined Columbia's Office of Communications and Public Affairs in 2008 and is photo editor, managing and curating photos for our website, stories, and social media.
Bittel studied broadcast journalism at the University of Bridgeport where he was captain of the baseball team. He went on to work at WTXX-TV, an independent television station in Waterbury, Connecticut, and later moved to a post-production company, making videos for corporate and broadcast clients. He won five industry awards along the way, including multiple Tellys.
Bittel then worked freelance for the ESPN Digital Media Group for six years where he directed and produced remote events such as the winter/summer X-Games. He shot and produced more than 100 videos for ESPN.com, including the four-part series, “So You Wanna Be an Olympian?” and also produced videos with athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and NASCAR showing their lives on and off the job.
Before arriving at Columbia, he worked on virtual trade shows, linking vendors to customers for GlobalSpec, a search, information services and e-publishing company with six million users in the engineering and manufacturing fields.
In His Spare Time
Harry joined the Biomedical Engineering Team as the new Communications and Events Specialist in 2022. He is passionate about science communications, having worked with startups, national laboratories, universities, and international organizations. Harry graduated from Whitman College and is concurrently completing a graduate degree in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University.
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 from Columbia.
As a senior public affairs officer in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, Eve’s beat is arts and culture across campus, including 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 twenty-five years in publishing, as a magazine and newspaper editor, reporter and writer, working at Travel & Leisure, Art & 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.
It is Eileen’s job to memorialize every important event that occurs at the University. 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 worked for the New York Yankees as a freelance sports photographer for Yankee Magazine from 1999 to 2009. Since 1996 she has been 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 www.dustinfoote.com.
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 Shopping.com. Deb began her career working in politics and government. She has a BA from Pomona College.
Claire Levenson is the director of executive communications in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. She received her B.A. from Columbia University, Columbia College and her PhD in history from the University of Cambridge.
Christopher 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 bachelor's degree 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
A native New Yorker, Caroline 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 Experience, AMC, 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 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 & 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 penned 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 B.A. 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.
Alexis joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University as Communications and Events Manager in September 2019. Recently, she moved into a newly created role within the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science as Associate Director of Strategic Programs and Communications. With a focus on strategic initiatives and communications, her responsibilities include website maintenance, online content management, advertising, email marketing, collateral design, social media management, as well as all aspects of strategic event management, from conception to promotion to execution.