Meet The Journal’s Editorial Staff and Management
Chris Green, Executive Editor of The Journal
Chris Green blends the techniques of investigative, data, civic and solutions journalism to provide trustworthy information that fuels impactful dialogue. He began his career with Kansas newspapers, first covering local government and then the Kansas Legislature. As the executive editor of The Journal, a civic issues magazine published by the Kansas Leadership Center, he draws on a wide range of influences to shape a nationally award-winning publication that productively tackles hot-button issues.
A native Kansan and graduate of Baker University in Baldwin City, Chris also earned a master’s degree in international politics from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh. He and his wife, Sarah, enjoy exploring both inside and well beyond Kansas and have begun a quest to visit all 50 U.S. state capitols. They are the parents of a son, Calvin, born in 2018.
Maren Berblinger, Journal Engagement Manager
As Journal Engagement Manager, Maren serves KLC alumni to further their impact and leadership development. She has a passion for helping communities and organizations build upon their strengths and a personal commitment to make Kansas a healthier and more equitable place.
Maren earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in non-profit leadership studies from Kansas State University. Learning at the Staley School of Leadership Studies was a highlight of her time at K-State. After graduation, she took on a new adventure in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but her love for the Sunflower State drew her back home. She has experience in social media, website content management, email marketing, volunteer coordination and event planning.
Outside of work, Maren is an aspiring gardener and breakfast food enthusiast. She enjoys the great outdoors, running, and spending time with friends and family.
Stefania Lugli, Civic Engagement Reporter
Stefania serves as the KLC Journal’s civic engagement reporter, with a primary focus on supporting news coverage for the Latino community in Kansas in collaboration with Planeta Venus, a Spanish-language newsroom based in Wichita. She is KLC’s first-ever staff reporter.
Stefania returns to Wichita after reporting for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a newspaper and USA TODAY/Gannett property in Sarasota, Florida. There, she wrote on a range of topics, including an investigation on how state laws fail to properly invest in mental health and how Southwest Florida renters fall victim to ambiguous contracts. She also took part in national USA TODAY coverage reporting on Hurricane Ian’s devastation as well as the overturn of Roe vs. Wade.
Prior to her Florida stint, Stefania worked as the inaugural watchdog reporter for The Wichita Beacon, a nonprofit newsroom in Wichita, The Boston Globe and the GBH News Center for Investigative Reporting in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a former criminal justice fellow for the National Press Foundation as well as a past data fellow for Investigative Reporters & Editors.
Stefania is a second-generation Venezuelan-American — a proud daughter and baby sister to Venezuelan immigrants. She grew up in Cape Coral, Florida and attended college in Boston. She is also a (very) proud mom to Kenji, her rescue dog. Stefania enjoys reading, fun podcasts and shopping secondhand. For those interested, she frequently posts pictures of Kenji to her Twitter @steflugli.
Julian Montes, Creative Services Manager
Julian Montes works to elevate learning in and outside the classroom through emerging technologies as a Creative Services Manager. Whether producing programs virtually through ZOOM, or live in person in KLC’s Konza Hall or through the YouTube and Facebook live platforms, Julian aims to bring unusual voices to the front of the room. When not in the tech host chair – he operates as KLC’s onsite photographer and videographer and offers support to the Avanzando Juntos and Journal Live programming. Julian holds that technology can open doors for others to engage in leadership in different ways which could bring out new ideas and new experiments.
Julian is a graduate of Newman University, holding a degree in psychology and a minor in information technology. He has championed the hosting of new conferences at KLC in his time as an undergrad, including the first Hispanic American Leadership Organization Regional Conference event in 2014 and the inaugural Multicultural Student Leadership Conference in 2017. He currently sits as a technical advisor to the Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission for the state of Kansas and volunteers time with the Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation. Julian is also the Communications Team Lead for the Young Latino Professionals of Wichita.
Shaun Rojas, Senior Director of Civic Engagement
As Senior Director of Civic Engagement at the Kansas Leadership Center, Shaun oversees the organization’s Civic Engagement Initiative tasked to equip Kansans in public life to build civic trust on the most pressing issues. Shaun works with the Civic Engagement Team to develop resources for those in elected and appointed office and partners with organizations who are facing a civic challenge.
In his free time, Shaun is having double the fun with his wife Ana and twins, Lexi and Leah.
Sam Smith, Director of Communications
Sam Smith is responsible for communications, marketing and public relations at the Kansas Leadership Center. Before joining KLC, he directed marketing and communications for Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita and served as director of communications at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and was a publicist for the San Francisco International Film Festival. The son of a city employee, Sam considers public service a high calling and shows up to work each day believing his job is to contribute to the greater good of his community.
Cindy Kelly, Communications Manager
As the Kansas Leadership Center’s communications manager, Cindy Kelly is responsible for executing communications and marketing efforts to advance key organizational initiatives, including leadership training, civic engagement, community partnerships, business development, research and publications. The KLC maintains a presence on many online platforms to engage with a broad audience, and Cindy keeps up with them all, synchronizing each one with a rhythm that keeps pace with our constant stream of activities and news.
Before joining the KLC, Cindy was an independent contractor managing online communications for clients in the non-profit, senior living, hospice, and hospitality industries.
Claudia Yaujar-Amaro, Contributing Editor
Also a teacher at KLC, Claudia founded AB&C Bilingual Resources, a bilingual marketing company in 2017 to close the communication gap in her community. She founded Planeta Venus, an online Spanish radio station and Podcast. She has played a significant role in the communication and engagement with the Hispanic community.
For Claudia, her son and her husband are her greatest treasure, and she feels blessed to be surrounded by her mother, her four sisters and their families in Wichita, and friends who respect and love her. Claudia’s goal is to inspire, teach, and motivate more people to exercise leadership in their homes, communities, and places of employment, to build a better society together. When she is not busy with work, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, and traveling.
Craig Lindeman, Art Direction + Design
Over the years, Craig has written, designed and creative directed countless marketing campaigns for clients in industries ranging from agriculture and health care to education and hospitality. During that time, he has won numerous industry awards including being named “Best Print Copywriter” by the Advertising Federation of Wichita as well as taking home the organization’s “Overall Best in Show” for his work on a large-scale, multi-media campaign. In addition to his creative work, Craig has extensive experience in brand development and the creation of in-depth strategic marketing plans.
Jeff Tuttle, Photography
A Kansas native, from Augusta, and a journalism graduate from Kansas State University. A staff photographer for the Wichita Eagle for 20 years and for two years at the Dubois County Herald, in Jasper, Indiana.
Currently a freelance photojournalist and married to Laura Tuttle, an interior designer, two children, Erin and Zach, and a grandchild, Calvin. Jeff loves camping, fishing, brew pubs and bluegrass music.
Bruce Janssen, Copy Chief
Bruce spent more than 30 years working in various capacities in the newspaper business, a career that took him from The (Larned) Tiller and Toiler to The Wichita Eagle to The Kansas City Star. The books he has edited include “Borne on the South Wind: a Century of Kansas Aviation” and “Most Dangerous, Most Unmerciful; Stories from Afghanistan.” At other times, he survived a hitch in the Army, worked as a mechanic and served a term as a district magistrate judge. He and his wife, Ellen, have been married more than 50 years.
Since retiring, Bruce has had more time to go fishing, hunt pheasants, dote on his grandsons and perfect his curmudgeonly attitude. His outlook on prose can be reduced to: “Don’t write awkwardly.”
“I’m a readers advocate who shapes stories in style, tone and structure while eliminating awkwardness and ensuring clarity and terseness according to the vision of the managing editor. I edit all copy for accuracy, grammar, punctuation, syntax and spelling to assure that published stories are informative and understandable. I also write all photo captions, explaining what the reader sees while supplying information that is not visible. Working with the proofreader and fact checker, we continually update and revise The Journal’s style guide.”
Stan Finger, Contributor
Stan is an award-winning journalist who twice earned nominations for the Pulitzer Prize over the course of a distinguished career at the Wichita Eagle. A native Kansan who grew up on a farm near the hamlet of Rozel, Finger has also written two books: “Into the Deep,” a look at the deadly flash flood in the Flint Hills in 2003, and the novel “Fallen Trees.”
“I write for the Journal because it’s an opportunity to do the kinds of stories that we see less and less of in modern journalism: in-depth pieces that not only identify challenges but offer solutions – or, at least, shine a light on efforts to address them. Accuracy and integrity are essential elements of my work. Sources and readers alike need to know they can trust what the Journal produces. Because the Journal isn’t driven by clicks, it can produce impactful journalism not driven by the fad of the moment.”
P.J. Griekspoor, Contributor
P.J. retired in February of 2021 after 13 years as editor of Kansas Farmer magazine. She was a page designer, copy editor and reporter for the Wichita Eagle for 18 years prior to that.
She enjoys writing about agriculture and rural issues and is passionate about history, conservation and gardening. She has won multiple national writing awards, is a past president of the North American Agricultural Journalists and an American Agricultural Editors’ Association Master Writer.
“When I took my first full-time newspaper reporting job, I was a college freshman, the Vietnam War was raging and weekend protests were routine. The Civil Rights movement was at its height along with the turmoil that came with it. I wanted to find a way to tell stories that would spotlight issues and make a difference.
Today, I write for the Journal because I still want to tell the stories that spotlight issues and make a difference. I appreciate the opportunity to do in-depth journalism that looks at different viewpoints and helps people with differing opinions come together to find the best solutions to the very serious challenges America – and the world – face today.
I think the stories that spotlight success are also important because they inspire efforts to replicate that success and maybe improve on it.
Sources need to trust reporters to tell their story without embellishment or agenda and readers need to know they can trust in what they read. I believe the Journal has the kind of integrity and commitment to accuracy that forges that trust. And that is why I am proud to contribute to the Journal.”
Kim Gronniger, Contributor
Kim has a master’s degree in journalism and has an MFA in creative writing from KU. Gronniger writes articles for KANSAS!, Kansas Alumni, Topeka Magazine and other publications. She is presently director of marketing | Wholesaled Business at Security Benefit.
“I love writing stories about innovative leaders in our state making strides in addressing complex issues like gun violence, climate change and health care access. I strive to capture their perspectives, passions and personalities in my profiles. I appreciate The Journal’s commitment to tackling tough topics from multiple angles. I always learn new things through the interviews I conduct and the articles I read from other contributors. The Journal is a positive force for change in addressing concerns compromising Kansans’ quality of life, and it’s a privilege to participate in the dialogue.”
Jerry LaMartina, Contributor
Jerry has been a journalist in the Kansas City area for more than 30 years. He started his career at The Kansas City Star and later worked for several news websites and the Kansas City Business Journal. He’s been a freelance reporter and editor for the past 10 years. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He started writing for The Journal in late 2018.
“As a freelance reporter and contributor to The Journal, my mission is to get the facts right and put them in proper context. Be fair by setting aside my biases and seeking to include all sides in controversial stories. Maintain the highest ethical principles in all aspects of my work. Write with clarity and power.”
Joel Mathis, Contributor
Joel is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence with his wife and son. He is both a reporter and opinion writer who covers topics that include technology, politics and popular culture. He currently blogs at joelmathis.substack.com.
“Journalism in Kansas — and in America — is in a transition phase from what it used to be to what it will be next. I write for the Journal because it’s one of the few places left for Kansans to do deep-dive reporting on issues that affect Kansans. My goal is to hear and reflect a range of voices on a range of issues, with the intent of making them comprehensible to each other and to the public at large.”
Mark McCormick, Columnist
A former editor of The Journal, Mark is a New York Times best-selling author with over 20 years of experience as a reporter, editor and columnist. A collection of his columns, “Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings: Dispatches from Kansas,” was published by Blue Cedar Press in 2017. He served as executive director of The Kansas African-American Museum in Wichita before becoming director of strategic communications for the ACLU of Kansas in 2018.
“I’m a justice advocate committed to the least and the lost and to the unseen and the unheard. I’m a juror in the court of last resort. I am an analog dinosaur in this new digital landscape. I hear the world in all-Black surround sound. I am a believer, not a doubter.”
Amanda Vega-Mavec, Columnist
Amanda Vega-Mavec, Ed.D., is the director of the El Centro Academy for Children, a Spanish/English dual-language preschool in Kansas City, Kansas. Originally from San Antonio, she has also lived in Austin, Texas, and Boston and now lives in Overland Park. When not working, she can usually be found reading a book, gardening or watching superhero movies and musicals with her husband and 7-year-old daughter.
Dawn Bormann Novascone, Contributor
Dawn is a freelance journalist who lives in Lenexa with her husband and two small children. She grew up in rural Iowa and was responsible for feeding the chickens and cleaning the hog houses. She spent 15 years working at The Kansas City Star covering everything from the military to education to crime to politics.
“I choose to work for The Journal because the editors, reporters and organization as a whole push and inspire me to produce my best work. The Journal allows me to overlook horse race journalism even in an industry where competition is key. It gives me a chance to tell deeper, more meaningful, stories about Kansas lawmakers and residents to understand about what shapes their decision-making. Building trust with my sources is paramount to my coverage and I do that by old-fashioned listening and letting people be heard regardless of ideology, religion or viewpoint.”
Michael Pearce, Contributor
Eight generations of Michael Pearce’s family have called Kansas home. He’s a lifer raised in Tonganoxie, educated at KU and lives in Lawrence with his wife, Kathy.
This is his 40st year as a journalist, including a 17-year stint as a writer/photographer for the Wichita Eagle. Prior to that he was a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal and had a masthead position with Outdoor Life. His favorite topics have always been in the Kansas outdoors.
Laura Roddy, Copy Editor
Laura Roddy is the chief advancement officer at Exploration Place, Kansas’ premier science center. She was previously director of development and marketing at Mark Arts, a nonprofit arts center. She is also a former president of the Junior League of Wichita and has worked as a copy editor for the Dallas Morning News and public information officer for the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature. Roddy earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in communication from Wichita State University.
“I have been involved with the Kansas Leadership Center and The Journal since 2009, and the reason I stay connected is because of its focus on leadership for the common good in Kansas. Although I write stories from time to time, these days my primary role is as a fact checker and proofreader for each issue. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere — I agree!“
Barbara Shelly, Contributor
Barbara is a veteran journalist and writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. She specializes in reporting on education and health care. Her work has appeared in the Kansas City Star, where she worked on staff as a reporter, columnist and editorial writer, and more recently KCUR public radio, Flatland, The Pitch, The Huffington Post, The Week and the Community College Daily.
“I am passionate about journalism that seeks a variety of voices and perspectives when looking at complicated issues and controversies. The Journal provides writers with the time and space to look for those voices. Kansas issues are unique, yet in many ways reflective of the American experience. I find them fascinating to write about.”
Mike Sherry, Contributor
Mike’s journalism career has taken him to the White House, small-town courtrooms, and a lot of places in between. His experience includes time at publications in Washington, D.C., and at papers in the Northeast and Midwest. Mike has also worked in public media, and holds a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. He lives in suburban Kanas City with his wife and two children.
“I enjoy writing for The Journal because of the breadth and depth of its content. The Journal’s focus on civic leadership issues gives contributors latitude to explore a range of topics, providing readers a smorgasbord of stories in each issue. Working on The Journal’s long-form stories is challenging (and rewarding) — with the in-depth reporting being a blessing and a curse when it comes to sitting down at the keyboard. The quarterly publication schedule provides a welcome opportunity to ponder story ideas, and then allows time to flesh out those concepts into articles. Freedom from shorter deadlines also allows me plenty of time to double check information with sources, ensuring accuracy in both facts and context. Longer lead time also allows for the enjoyable coordination with our photographer, which facilitates the terrific photos that accompany stories in The Journal.”
Beccy Tanner, Contributor
Beccy has been a journalist for the past four decades, specializing in telling the stories and history of Kansas. She currently teaches classes on Kansas history at Wichita State University and, in her spare time, leads bus trips on the backroads of the state.
“I contribute to The Journal because I’m passionate about Kansas and the issues of the Sunflower State. My approach is to dive deep on the who, what, when, where and why of a story, including the history of how Kansans came to their beliefs . I believe it is essential to talk with many sources, ask tough questions and get the story right. Accuracy and integrity are essential. Working on a Journal story is the type of journalism that is both old-school, engaging and the future of Kansas.”
Keith Tatum, Columnist
Keith is a native Kansan, born in Manhattan and raised in Topeka. Tatum has dedicated his career to public service and in empowering every voice within our community. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washburn University. He and his wife, Teresa, live in Topeka and have a blended family of 10 children and one grandson.
“I’m an advocate for unusual voices. I want to listen to our readers in order to tell powerful and impactful stories. I help readers find points of commonality between themselves and the folks they meet in the pages of the Journal. I believe in lofty, visionary goals but I also believe in deadlines.”
Mark Wiebe, Contributor
Mark is a former reporter for The Kansas City Star. After leaving The Star in 2009 he worked as director of public affairs for Wyandot Behavioral Health Network, where he advocated for stronger mental health policies in Kansas, often joining his father, David Wiebe, former executive director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center, on trips to Topeka. He has reported for The Journal since 2019.
“I was very fortunate to begin writing for The Journal in 2018, and since then have grown to love the space and time I have to tease the nuance out of the issues I get to write about. Most Journal stories, I have found, do not settle for easy answers but instead tap the complexity of the topics they explore. I love being part of that venture.”
Monica Springer, Contributor
Monica Springer works at the K-State Alumni Association as an assistant editor and designer of the alumni magazine, the K-Stater. She has a degree in journalism from Southwestern College. She is originally from Dodge City and worked as an education reporter in Garden City and Emporia and also worked in agricultural marketing in Dodge City.
“As a writer, my goal is to help people tell their stories, including those people who wouldn’t take take out of their day to tell their own stories. I want to dig deeper, beyond what community leaders, elected officials, and others in the spotlight. I want to tell the stories of every day, ordinary people, who do extraordinary things.
I think my approach to contributing is unique because of that. As an agriculture and education reporter in my younger years, I always tried to dig deeper, beyond face value, to find the real story that was happening behind the scenes. I think people need to know the unique (and weird) things happening around them.
As far as building trust, spending time in coffee shops and donut shops is something I used to do as a reporter. It never hurts to stop by, say hello to folks, and hand out your business card.
The Journal is completely different from any publication I’ve ever worked on. I was always hyper focused on local news, whereas The Journal takes a more broad approach to news throughout the state.”