Board members share a commitment to public service and a belief that vigorous coverage of government and public policy is essential to the common good. It is that belief, rather than commitment to any particular cause, that has led them to contribute their time and expertise to the Connecticut News Project.
The Board of Directors sets overall organizational direction and has the fiduciary responsibility to sustain the organization financially, legally, and ethically. The Board of Directors has no role in shaping news coverage.
Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens is the Director of Operations at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, a legal nonprofit focused on the preservation and enforcement of federal and state civil rights laws. Before joining the Center in 2017, Fionnuala implemented and ran new developmental education programs within Connecticut’s Community College System, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She has spent most of her career researching disparities in housing and education. Fionnuala earned a B.A. from Trinity College and an MPA from the University of Connecticut. She lives in Norwich with her spouse and two children.
Jeannette de Jesús (Board Chair)
Ms. de Jesús has spent her career improving the health and social well- being of people within diverse communities and who may experience challenges due to inequity. She is currently Managing Director of West Hartford-based management-consulting firm Strategic Moves. Previously, Ms. de Jesús held leadership positions at a Federally Qualified Health Center, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Hospital Association, and at a community health organization. In addition, she served as Special Advisor to the Governor on Health Reform. She has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University and a Master of Social Work from New York University.
Shelley Geballe, JD, MPH (Board Secretary)
Attorney Geballe is on the faculty of Yale School of Public Health and Yale Law School, where she teaches courses in public health law, health disparities, and legislative advocacy. A co-founder of CT Voices for Children and its President until 2008, Attorney Geballe now serves as its distinguished senior fellow. A former civil rights attorney, she was a founding member of Yale’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) and has done national and international consulting in the areas of public health and AIDS law. Her publications include “Forgotten Children of the AIDS Epidemic” (Yale University Press, 1995). Attorney Geballe is a founding Board member of The Connecticut Mirror. She received her BA from the University of Michigan, and her law and public health degrees from Yale.
Mr. Hudson is Executive Director of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation. Previously, he was a vice president of the National Audubon Society, executive director of the state office, Audubon Connecticut, and president of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation with successful philanthropic investment in clean energy and climate protection policies, including the creation of the first-in-the-nation Green Bank in Connecticut. His experience also includes service as executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute and as a vice president at the National Wildlife Federation. He began his career as a senior legislative aide to then-U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker.
Mr. Janowski is the Director of Mission Advancement for the Brotherhood of Hope, a community of religious Brothers who represent the Catholic Church on college campuses. Prior to joining Brotherhood of Hope in September 2017, Zach was Director of External Affairs and an investigative reporter at Yankee Institute for Public Policy over seven years. Other journalism roles that Zach has held include founding RaisingHale.com, a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship, and six months as a visiting member on the Hartford Courant editorial board.
Mr. Kendall is a serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Don’s prior career as a for-profit founder spanned four start-ups. Today, Don’s work centers on finding and supporting scalable solutions to close the glaring gap in educational achievement and employment opportunity for low-income families in Connecticut. Don is the Co-founder and Chair of 4-CT, a non-profit founded at the suggestion of Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont in March 2020 to coordinate the statewide philanthropic response to COVID-19. Don is also the Co-Founder and Chair of Social Venture Partners Connecticut (SVP-CT), a group of entrepreneurs, executives, professionals and leaders who pool their time, expertise, and resources to strengthen the capacity and impact of nonprofits and drive systemic change. Don is a certified and practicing volunteer EMT in the town of Weston, where he lives with his wife and three children.
Mr. Kruger is an attorney in the Corporate practice of Paul Hastings in New York City, where he focuses on corporate finance, securities law matters, and mergers and acquisitions. Tom has lived in Connecticut since 1981 and has served on a number of local community boards. From 2011 to 2019 Tom was a member of the board of trustees of the University of Connecticut, serving as Chairman of the Financial Affairs Committee from 2013 to 2017 and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2017 to 2019. He also has served on a number of private sector boards. He has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.
Kica Matos is the Vice President of Initiatives at the Vera Institute of Justice. She is a national advocate for racial justice, criminal justice and immigration reform issues and has extensive experience as an advocate, community organizer, and lawyer. She is also very involved in social justice issues in New Haven, CT, where she lives. She has a B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, an M.A. from the New School and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Albertus Magnus College in 2017 and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of New Haven in 2019.
Joseph McGee (Board Treasurer)
Until his recent retirement Joe McGee was the long-time Vice President, Public Policy and Programs at The Business Council of Fairfield County where he focused on economic development, transportation, housing, energy conservation, the environment, and tax and fiscal policy. His prior experience includes serving as Staff Director to Congressman Stewart McKinney, Vice President at People’s Bank, and Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic Development under Lowell Weicker. Joe was the founding board member of the Bridgeport Neighbor Fund, Co-Chair of The Commission on Economic Competitiveness, and a member of the state Commission on Judicial Selection.
Attorney Pearlman is executive director emeritus of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission. He is currently a lecturer in law and journalism at the University of Connecticut. During his career, Mr. Pearlman has been a consultant to government and civil society leaders in more than 20 countries on six continents. The author of Piercing the Veil of Secrecy, he is a much sought-after speaker throughout the United States and internationally on Freedom of Information, privacy, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and related topics.
Ms. Penders is the Executive Director of Career and Professional Development at the University of Hartford. Before joining UHA she served six years as Vice President of Advancement at Goodwin College. Brooke’s other experience includes Director of Development at Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity, Consultant for the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, and Major Gifts Consultant at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Program Officer at the Aetna Foundation, and Deputy Finance Director and Assistant Press Secretary for US Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Brooke graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Journalism, currently lives in Wethersfield, where she serves on several town commissions, and is on the boards of the National Conference for Community and Justice and the iQuilt Partnership.
Ms. Pritzker is the President of the Seedlings Foundation, which supports programs that nourish the physical and mental health of children and families as well as institutions that foster an educated and engaged citizenship and is co-founder of KPJR Films. Karen has produced five documentaries. She serves on the board of the National Archives Foundation and Grameen America. A mother of four grown children, Karen lives in Branford.
Mani Seetharama is Hartford Healthcare’s Chief of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Medical Director of Rehabilitation Network and THOCC Spine Center. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. His areas of interest include Sports Medicine, Adolescent Concussions, and Spinal Cord Injuries. Dr. Seetharama graduated from the Armed Forces Medical College in India in 1981, completed his Internship at the Ohio Valley Medical Center and completed his Residency at the St. Francis Medical Center (PA).
Bilal Dabir Sekou, PhD. (Board Vice Chair)
Dr. Sekou is associate professor of political science in Hillyer College at the University of Hartford. His research interests are race and politics, urban politics, and campaigns, elections and voting behavior. He is chair of the Governing Board of Common Cause in Connecticut, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy.
Marie Shanahan (At-Large Member of Executive Committee)
Ms. Shanahan is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut, where she specializes in digital journalism and interactive communications, including reporting, writing and editing; web site content management, production and usability; social media; SEO; aggregation; web metrics; photo, audio and video editing; data visualization; and audience engagement. Her academic research focuses on trends in online commenting, digital discourse, digital reputation, and the future of journalism. Ms. Shanahan has worked as a professional writer, digital news producer and journalist for more than 20 years.
Dr. Jonathan L. Wharton is associate professor of political science and urban affairs. His teaching and research centers on state and local government, public policy, economic development as well as identity and coalition building politics. He currently serves on the New England Political Science Association and Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation boards as well as volunteers for tristate area university chapters of his Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He served as a New Haven City Plan commissioner (2016-2020), deacon and moderator at New Haven’s First Congregational Center Church on the Green (2017-2021), New Haven Republicans chairman (2016-2018) and elected to the Republican State Central Committee (2018-2020).
Dudley Williams, Jr.
Mr. Williams was Vice-Chair of the Board of CT Mirror when he passed away in May 2021. His professional career included roles as Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Diversity at GE Asset Management in Stamford, Assistant to the Commissioner at the Connecticut State Department of Education, Charter School Program Manager, and 15 years in the publishing industry. His considerable public service roles included the Chairmanship of the Connecticut Center for School Change, elected member on the Stamford Board of Finance, President of the Stamford Board of Education, Chairman of The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Treasurer of the Connecticut Science Center, Director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, and member of the board of the United Way of Western Connecticut. Mr. Williams was also a member of the Connecticut Commission on Educational Improvement and was appointed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to the Education Cost Sharing Task Force.
Ms. Chambers was a founding board member of The Connecticut Mirror, and continued to serve as a board member until her death in July 2018. She was a highly accomplished and respected reporter at the Associated Press and New York Times and was a columnist for The National Law Journal. Most recently she was the editor of the award-winning online news site, the Branford Eagle. She was a member of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information and a former member of the Poynter Advisory Board at Yale.
Mr. Hohler was executive director of the Melville Charitable Trust at the time of his death in June, 2011. He was a civil rights activist who marched on Selma, Ala., with Martin Luther King Jr., then helped produce an acclaimed television history of the movement, “Eyes on the Prize.” As head of the Melville Charitable Trust, he led efforts to combat homelessness and shape public policy. He was the 2009 recipient of the national Grantmaker of the Year Award from the Council on Foundations. He also headed a consulting company focused on enhancing the effectiveness of nonprofits, and he wrote and produced 20 film, radio and TV programs, among many other endeavors over his long career.
We remain forever grateful to Marcia and Bob for their vision and support in launching and growing The Connecticut Mirror and to Dudley for his steadfast leadership during our recent period of growth.