NCDJ Advisory Board

The following professionals are members of the board of advisers for the National Center on Disability and Journalism. The board helps chart the center’s course and serves as a source of advice and support.

Jerry Ceppos

CepposCeppos became dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University in July 2011. For three and a half years before that, he was dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Although Ceppos spent most of his career in newspapers, he has been interested in journalism education for years. He has been a member of the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, which sets standards and accredits journalism schools, for more than 20 years. For six of those years, he served as president of the council. In 2000, he was honored by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication with the Gerald M. Sass Award for Distinguished Service to Journalism and Mass Communication Education.

In the profession, Ceppos was vice president for news Knight Ridder, then the second-largest newspaper company; managing editor and executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News; assistant managing editor of the Miami Herald, and a reporter and editor at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

He served twice as president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors and was president of the Associated Press Managing Editors. He has been active with First Amendment issues and is a former board member of the Student Press Law Center and of the First Amendment Coalition in California. He was one of three winners of the first Ethics in Journalism Award of the Society of Professional Journalists. He also won the Knight Ridder Excellence Award for Diversity for diversifying the staff and pages of the San Jose Mercury News. He is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Maryland.

Nan Connolly

© Meredith Wilcke PhotographyConnolly is a longtime advocate for persons with disabilities. A former business editor with Knight Ridder, Connolly was a business and military affairs reporter at two Gannett newspapers and for The Associated Press. She won state news association awards for political coverage at the Maryland statehouse and began her career in the film lecture department at the National Geographic Society.

She teaches news reporting to print majors at the Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, in Orlando. Connolly is currently developing an online news site about health care in central Florida. She is a member and fundraiser for National Alliance on Mental Illness and for Special Olympics.

Connolly’s interest in the special needs community was sparked by volunteer work she did while in college at a respite clinic for family members of children with disabilities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She was a Poynter Institute for Media Studies fellow in media management and entrepreneurship as a graduate student. Connolly recently earned certification in K-12 exceptional education, with endorsements in autism, teaching non-native English speakers and reading. Her family endowed the new Pitt Hopkins Syndrome Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Becky Curran

Becky-CurranBecky Curran is the chapter president of Little People of America in New York City. She owns and manages DisABILITY In Media, which focuses on storytelling through social media. She also is a motivational speaker on issues related to inclusion. Since 2011, she has spoken at over 100 venues, including schools, corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. In 2013, she was the keynote speaker in Nairobi, Kenya, where she helped launch the little people organization of Kenya. She delivered her first TEDx Talk in 2014.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Providence College, Curran moved to Los Angeles where she worked for Creative Artists Agency, the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency. She then took a position at CBS Television Studios, assisting with the casting of pilots and television series. She also served as the marketing director and co-founding board member of the Catalina Film Festival.

Curran was born with achondroplasia, the most common type of short-limbed dwarfism. She stands 4 feet tall. Both of her parents and her sister are “average” height. When people ask her about whether or not she likes being a little person, she always has the same answer. “I never want to change, but I want the way the outside world reacts to my difference to change.” She now works to change negative perceptions of the 30,000 little people living in the United States.

Richard J. Dalton, Jr.

Richard J. Dalton, Jr.Richard J. Dalton, Jr. was a Wall Street computer programmer before obtaining his master’s degree in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After spending two years at The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, he returned to his hometown of Long Island, N.Y., to work for Newsday, where he covered technology, wrote a consumer column and worked as an investigative reporter.

Dalton also has taught advanced journalism and computer-assisted reporting at The State University of New York at Stony Brook and has conducted seminars at conferences on computer-assisted reporting.

He became interested in the topic of disabilities as an undergraduate when a student who used a wheelchair described difficulties getting around campus. Dalton, as a student counselor, launched Disabilities Awareness Day, in which able-bodied students, professors and administrators used wheelchairs for a day to experience firsthand the difficulties of wheelchair use on campus.

Dalton also has faced a disability himself – dysthymia, a chronic mild depression. The experience has cemented his desire to become an advocate for people with disabilities.

He created and has anchored a radio show on mental illness. Beautiful Minds Radio,www.beautifulmindsradio.org, airs on the third Monday of each month, at 7 p.m. Pacific time, on Coop Radio, 100.5 FM, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and also is available, live or recorded, via www.coopradio.org.

Dalton, who lives in Vancouver, Canada, owns Your Score Booster, which offers online classes and tutoring for university-entrance exams including the SAT and ACT.

Leon Dash

Leon DashLeon Dash was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on March 16, 1944, and grew up in New York City’s Harlem and The Bronx. He is currently a Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism and the Director of the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A former reporter for The Washington Post for 33 years, he is author of Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America, which grew out of the eight-part Washington Post series for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Dash’s younger daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was a student in the University of Illinois Disability Resources and Education Services (DRES) program and graduated with Bachelor of Science in Theatre Studies in May 2005.

Recently, Dash completed the research for a documentary film on the University of Illinois’s DRES program, the disability rights movement and what is left to be done in the United States for persons with disabilities, and is currently seeking funding for production of the film.

Steve Doig

Steve DoigDoig is the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Before joining ASU in 1996, he worked for 20 years as an investigative reporter and editor at The Miami Herald, where he became a specialist in computer-assisted reporting. Projects on which he worked at the Herald won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and other major awards.

Doig’s interest in the topic of disabilities in journalism dates back to his experience working with the late John Wolin, a Herald editor who had a stellar career there despite numerous surgeries necessitated by his particularly difficult condition of achondroplasia dwarfism.

Doig holds a degree in political science from Dartmouth College and graduated from, and later taught at, the Defense Information School. He spent a year as a combat correspondent for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.

He actively consults with print and broadcast news media outlets around the world on computer-assisted reporting problems and is an active member of IRE, serving on the 5,000-member organization’s board of directors for four years. Recently, he worked with IRE to organize a new journalism contest, called the Phil Meyer Award, to recognize the best journalism using social science techniques. In addition, he has been a speaker at many national meetings of journalism and other organizations. He also has traveled to Canada, England, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil and Indonesia to do training in precision journalism techniques. His research interests include newsroom diversity, demographics, public opinion polling and finding techniques used by other professions that can be developed into tools for journalists.

Beth Haller

Beth HallerHaller is Professor of Journalism/New Media at Towson University in Maryland. She is the former co-editor of the Society for Disability Studies’ scholarly journal, Disability Studies Quarterly (2003-2006), and currently maintains a blog on disability issues in the news, Media dis&dat, as well as a Web site on media and disability research.

Haller has been researching media images of disability since 1991 when she did a master’s thesis at the University of Maryland, College Park, on the coverage of deaf persons in The Washington Post and New York Times. Her Ph.D. dissertation at Temple University in Philadelphia investigated elite news media coverage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her media and disability research has been published in Disability Studies Quarterly, Disability & Society, Journalism Studies, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Research in Social Science and Disability, Journal of Comic Art, Journal of Magazine and New Media Research, Mass Comm Review and Journalism History. She is the co-author of the textbook “An Introduction to News Reporting: A Beginning Journalist’s Guide” (Allyn & Bacon, 2005).

Haller is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Baylor University. She worked as a print journalist for newspapers in Texas, New Mexico, Illinois and Maryland before becoming a college professor. She also serves on the advisory boards of DREDF’s Disability & Media Alliance Project and Disability Rights Promotion International’s Media Monitoring Project.

Jennifer LaFleur

Jennifer LaFleurLaFleur is senior editor for data journalism at the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit investigative newsroom based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Before joining CIR, LaFleur was director of computer-assisted reporting for ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization based in New York City.

LaFleur has held similar positions at The Dallas Morning News, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She is co-author of a book on computer-assisted reporting and has won awards for her coverage of disability, legal and open-government issues.

Tim McGuire

Tim McGuireTim McGuire is a professor emeritus of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is a frequent commentator on the challenges facing news media, ethics and problem-solving in media.

Prior to coming to the Cronkite School, McGuire was the James Batten Visiting Professor of Journalism and Public Policy at Davidson College in North Carolina and spent a semester at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., as the first Donald W. Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor.

He spent most of his career at the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, where he was editor and senior vice president. He joined the company in 1979 and retired in 2002. He was managing editor of the newspaper when it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

McGuire has been a Pulitzer jurist six times and is a past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

From 2002 until February 2006, McGuire wrote a weekly syndicated column for United Media called “More Than Work.” The column was purchased by 34 newspapers and covered ethics, spirituality and values in work. During that time he also spoke on disability and parenting issues.

McGuire was born with a congenital birth defect called Arthrogriposis Multicongenita. He had 13 surgeries before he was 16. He was always relatively mobile and resented the implication that he was disabled or handicapped in any way. That started to change when he was in his 40s. After a recent failed surgery forced him to use assistive mobile devices, McGuire now calls himself a “born-again” on disability issues. McGuire and his wife of 36 years, Jean, are the parents of three children including a 32-year-old Down syndrome son.

Amy Silverman

Headshot-AmySilvermanAmy Silverman is a Phoenix-based writer, editor and teacher. She’s managing editor at Phoenix New Times and a commentator for KJZZ, the National Public Radio affiliate in Phoenix. Her work also has appeared on the radio show “This American Life” and in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Lenny Letter. She co-teaches the long-running “Mothers Who Write”workshop in Phoenix and has taught at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Silverman holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. She lives in Arizona with her husband, Ray, and daughters, Annabelle and Sophie. Her book about Sophie, “My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome,” was published by Woodbine House in 2016.