Board of Directors


Kenneth Burns is WHYY’s South Jersey reporter. He joined the station in 2018 as an anchor. He also contributed stories and won a 2020 Keystone Media Award for one of them.

Prior to WHYY, he covered city government and urban issues for WYPR in Baltimore, his first stop in public media. His coverage of the Freddie Gray police trials won a 2017 National Headliner Award. Burns began his career shortly after high school as an intern and later news assistant at WTOP in Washington, D.C. He would go on to work for several commercial broadcasting outlets as a reporter, anchor, and producer in the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas.

The native Marylander and recently adopted New Jerseyan is a graduate of Towson University and Anne Arundel Community College.

Immediate Past President

Bob Schapiro has reported from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Afghanistan.  His most recent documentary won an Emmy Award in New York City, where he has written and produced newscasts for WCBS, WPIX and WNBC.

Vice President

Melanie L. Burney is an award-winning journalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

A 1984 cum laude graduate of Glassboro State College, now Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., Melanie began her journalism career at the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, N.J.

She spent 14 years at the Associated Press as a newswoman in Philadelphia and later as one of the AP’s first black correspondents, covering five counties in southern New Jersey.

In March 2000, Melanie joined the Inquirer as an education reporter, covering the Camden, N.J. school system and education issues and trends. She anchored a three-member Inquirer investigative team that uncovered a culture of cheating in Camden schools. She served five years on the Inquirer’s editorial board. Currently, she is an Education reporter based in New Jersey.

Born in Akron, Ohio, Melanie grew up in Burlington County, N.J. She began reading her local newspaper when she was about 10 years old and knew early on that she wanted to become a journalist.

She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She served two terms as Parliamentarian on the NABJ Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

Melanie is a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is a member of Theta Pi Omega Chapter in South Jersey. She has served as President, Second Vice-President, Parliamentarian, Sergeant-at-Arms and Graduate Advisor. She is a member of the International Communications Committee.

She served two terms on the Rowan University Alumni Board of Directors. She is a member of the Representative Assembly of Local 10 of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia and serves on its Executive Board as First Vice President.

Melanie is also an active member of North Baptist Church in Woodbury, N.J., where she serves on the Ushers Board, Publicity Ministry and Hospitality Ministry.

She resides in Deptford, N.J.


Steve Lubetkin is the news director for State Broadcast News. Steve has reported for several print and broadcast news organizations in New Jersey, and currently produces a daily radio-style newscast for “Radio Jersey,” a streaming Internet radio show.

In 2021, Steve received SPJ’s Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for his contributions to NJ-SPJ’s website and Press ID Card program.

From 2014 to 2019, he covered commercial real estate news in New Jersey and Philadelphia as a regional editor for ALM Media’s Steve also has reported on-camera and produced seminar/conference videos for, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry. Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey since 1996. Earlier in his career, he was a general assignment reporter for the Red Bank Register, covered rock music for the Asbury Park Press, and was a news anchor for WJLK-AM & FM in Asbury Park.

Steve is co-author, with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, of the book, The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional.


Steven Tettamanti is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Historical Society and, as many of you know, he worked on NJ-SPJ events for many years before joining in our February membership drive.  Steven brings an expertise in seeking grants and not-for-profit funding, drawing on his business experience and his training as an accountant.  He has run many educational events and campaigns at the Society’s exhibit hall in Newark, where he instructs and consults on New Jersey history.  In addition, he continues to build-up the archive of NJ periodicals housed at the Society’s research library, a facility that includes newspapers dating back to the American Revolution.

Board Members

Isaac Avilucea is a reporter for Axios covering Philadelphia. He covered New Jersey’s scandal-plagued capital city for The Trentonian for eight years, utilizing public-records laws for award-winning accountability reporting. He’s a member of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government’s Board of Directors.

Robert Bugai

Mary Ellen (M.E.) Cagnassola is an award-winning journalist and writer based in Queens, NY. She is currently on staff at, where she writes service-driven stories for everyday consumers. When she’s not digging for scoops, you can probably catch her exploring the local history, politics and culture of wherever she happens to land.

Terrence T. McDonald is editor of New Jersey Monitor. He has covered everything from Trenton politics to the smallest of municipal squabbles, exposing public corruption and general malfeasance at every level of government. One politician forced to resign in disgrace because of Terrence’s reporting called him a “political poison pen journalist.” (Photo: Mary Luvone)

Claire Regan is national president of the Society of Professional Journalists for 2023-2024. She is also president of the New York City Deadline Club.  She has served on the club’s executive council for more than 20 years. She is an assistant professor of journalism and faculty adviser to the student newspaper at Wagner College on Staten Island.

In loving memory: Past President John Ensslin (1953-2019)

John Ensslin was the consummate journalist. At the time of his death, he was working as a reporter for Colorado Politics in Denver. Over the course of his career, he worked as a multimedia reporter for The Record as well as for newspapers in Denver, Colorado Springs, Union City and Middletown, N.Y. He was a past national president of SPJ and served as NJ chapter president from July 2017 – June 2019.