Cronkite Leadership

Kristin Gilger

Interim Dean

Kristin Gilger is the interim dean and Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Cronkite School. She leads a team of more than 330 faculty and staff and more than 2,500 students across 10 degree programs. As interim dean, she also has responsibility for Arizona PBS.  In addition, she serves as executive director of two centers at the Cronkite School – the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and the National Center on Disability and Journalism. Gilger is co-author of the well-regarded book on women leaders in the news media, “There’s No Crying In Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned About What It Takes to Lead.” She served in assistant dean and associate dean roles for 15 years at Cronkite before being named interim dean in June 2020. Before coming to ASU, Gilger served as deputy managing editor for news at The Arizona Republic, managing editor of the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, and in several editing roles at The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Nebraska.


Rebecca Blatt

Senior Associate Dean

As senior associate dean, Rebecca Blatt directs Cronkite School master’s programs, online student services, academic advising and new program development. She also oversees some of the school’s signature programs: Cronkite News, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Reporting Initiative. Blatt served in two faculty positions before joining the Cronkite School leadership team. As director of the Cronkite News Digital Production Bureau, she led a team of undergraduate and graduate students who produced and managed digital content for Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS. She also previously directed the Cronkite Public Insight Network Bureau, which was awarded the prestigious ASU President’s Award for Innovation and the Associated Press Media Editors College Innovator of the Year award under her leadership. Blatt began her career in public radio at NPR, North Carolina Public Radio and WAMU 88.5 FM in Washington, D.C.


Jessica Pucci

Jessica Pucci

Associate Dean

As associate dean, Jessica Pucci leads the Cronkite School’s undergraduate recruitment, online degree programs, Los Angeles expansion, and strategic communications programs, including the school’s Digital Audiences degrees and oversight of the Digital Audiences Lab and PR Lab. She also leads the school’s executive education programs and synergies that leverage the school’s expertise in audience growth, engagement and measurement, including partnerships with the NCAA Final Four, and the award-winning Electionland project. Prior to her current role, Pucci served as director of Digital Audience Programs and director of the Cronkite News social media team. She began her career as a food and travel journalist, and later held editorial posts at various consumer magazines before working as a digital strategist for national retail clients.

Melanie Alvarez

Assistant Dean

Melanie Asp Alvarez is a longtime broadcast news manager and educator now serving as an Assistant Dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her focus is on the first-year Cronkite experience, with leadership in undergraduate orientation, events and student success. She also chairs the Cronkite Academic Standards Committee.

Previously, Melanie created and instructed a special topics course dedicated to training the next generation of broadcast news producers at the Cronkite School. She served as Executive Producer of Cronkite News (formerly NewsWatch) for a decade, which was consistently named the best collegiate newscast in the nation by the Broadcast Education Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Prior to joining Cronkite, Melanie worked as a producer and executive producer for broadcast news, special projects and documentaries at stations in Los Angeles, Colorado, Florida and Arizona.


Liz Bernreuter

Executive Director for Special Initiatives

Liz Bernreuter focuses on a variety of student service initiatives at the Cronkite School including undergraduate advising, career services, online student services and scholarship programs. She joined Cronkite in 2010, initially as director of development, and led the school’s $55 million fundraising campaign that more than doubled the number of privately endowed scholarships. She also has worked for several arts and culture organizations including the Phoenix Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music/business from DePauw University and her master’s in nonprofit administration from NYU.

Karen Bordeleau

Director of Communications/Professor of Practice

As the communications director, Bordeleau oversees communications for the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS. As a professor of practice, Bordeleau team-teaches the master’s in investigative journalism bootcamp through the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism. Bordeleau is the retired executive editor/senior vice president of The Providence Journal and is the only woman in The Journal’s 191-year history to hold the top editor’s position. Under her leadership, The Journal won numerous state, regional and national reporting awards. The news organization was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in Public Service in 2004, which Bordeleau co-edited.

In 2014, Bordeleau was honored with the Yankee Quill -- the highest individual journalism honor in New England – and in 2016, she was presented with the Judith Brown Spirit of Journalism Award, given annually to one woman who has made a significant impact on journalism in New England. Bordeleau is president of the board of directors of the New England First Amendment Coalition. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island. She was a Sulzberger fellow at Columbia University in 2011..


Amber Back

Director of Events

Amber Back manages signature events for the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS, including the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism Luncheon, PBS KIDS Festival, convocation ceremonies and the weekly speaker series Must See Mondays. Prior to joining Cronkite, Back was at the ASU Foundation, where she served as events program manager, planning and executing donor engagement events. She also has worked for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Milwaukee Brewers and Phoenix Suns Charities. She holds a bachelor’s degree from ASU and a professional certification in events management.


Mary Cook

Director of Student Success

Mary Cook is the director of Student Success at the Cronkite School. She manages course and classroom schedules and works on retention and recruitment programs. Cook joined the Cronkite School in 1987 as an academic adviser. She earned her bachelor’s degree in management and her master’s degree in higher and adult education from ASU.



Dawn Gilpin

Dawn Gilpin

Director of Research and Doctoral Studies, Associate Honors Professor
Ph.D., Temple University

Dawn Gilpin spent more than 15 years working in Italy in organizational communication and public relations, including crisis management and internal communication. She completed her Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication at Temple University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Gilpin’s research focuses on the interactions between organizations, media and public policy, particularly in terms of organizational and issue identity and the dynamics of knowledge and power. She teaches public relations and social media at the Cronkite School.

Brett Kurland

Brett Kurland

Director of Sports Programs, Director of Cronkite News – Phoenix Sports Bureau, Professor of Practice
M.B.A., Northwestern University

Brett Kurland leads the Cronkite News – Phoenix Sports Bureau where students cover professional and intercollegiate sports. He is an Emmy Award-winning sports producer and multimedia entrepreneur with more than 16 years of experience producing content across a variety of platforms, ranging from mobile phones to broadcast television networks. Kurland’s work has included documentaries, features, live events and studio shows for numerous networks, including ESPN CBS, FOX and NBC.

Anita Luera

Director of the Cronkite Institute for High School Journalism

Anita Luera is the director of the Cronkite Institute for High School Journalism, a consortium of national and local programs designed to support and train high school journalism teachers and students. Luera was the first woman news director at a Phoenix television station, running the news department for Spanish-language Univision affiliate KTVW-Channel 33. She worked at KPNX, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, and KOOL-TV, now Fox 10. She is a former president of the Arizona Latino Media Association.


Sandy Mancilla Rannow

Director of Fiscal and Business Operations

Sandy Mancilla Rannow is the school’s chief budget officer. Her responsibilities include administering the budget and business operations; directing personnel matters such as payroll, recruitment, selection and new hire actions; and preparing strategic financial analyses and projections. Rannow started her business management career in 1990 with Arizona State University and has worked in the College of Design and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She joined the Cronkite School in January 2013.


Vanessa Ruiz

Director for Diversity Initiatives and Community Engagement
As director for diversity initiatives and community engagement, Vanessa Ruiz leads Cronkite’s strategy and tactical planning for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff and students, as well as first-generation college students. She also serves as the lead instructor for the ethics and diversity courses, works with our student clubs and organizations to ensure they are diverse and inclusive and designs ongoing professional development and leadership pathways for faculty and faculty associates in diversity, equity and inclusion. As an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist, Vanessa also teaches on-air skills to Cronkite News students, preparing them for professional success while leading the charge on changing industry standards relevant to what journalists should look and sound like on air. Ruiz also serves as news anchor and host. Before coming to Cronkite, Ruiz was the main evening news anchor for KPNX, the NBC affiliate station in Phoenix. Her career began with Telemundo Network’s national newscast, before transitioning into the English-speaking market at WSVN-FOX Miami. Ruiz has also worked at the NBC station in Los Angeles and the U.S. Agency for Global Media. She has been recognized by the National Academy of Arts & Sciences and received the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award. She is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

TJ Sokol

Director of Information Technology

TJ Sokol manages the Cronkite School Information Technology team, which handles the day-to-day technology needs of Cronkite faculty, staff and students. Prior to joining the Cronkite staff, he served as a technology support analyst at ASU Student Media from 1998-2005 and the ASU Biodesign Institute from 2005-2011. Sokol, a 1992 graduate of the Cronkite School, worked as a photojournalist in Vail, Colo., and Phoenix before beginning his career in information technology.


Lindsay Walker

Director of Development

Lindsay Walker leads fundraising for the Cronkite School, raising private philanthropic support for scholarships, programs, and special initiatives. Prior to joining Cronkite, she served as assistant vice president at CCS Fundraising, where she partnered with organizations to design and implement transformational fundraising campaigns. She previously held fundraising positions at Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and across the ASU enterprise, including at the W.P. Carey School of Business and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Lindsay is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University’s Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive, the profession’s leading credential for fundraising professionals.

Mike Wong

Director of Career Services

The Cronkite School’s long-time TV/Radio news director, Wong is now the school’s first full-time director of career services. He is the school’s chief liaison between students and the profession. As news director, Wong was responsible for the award-winning student-produced newscast ASU NewsWatch. He has coordinated television reporting workshops for the Voice of America-hosting journalists from Bosnia, Macedonia and Slovakia and has trained journalists in Kosovo.


Samantha Incorvaia

Samantha Incorvaia

Recruitment and Admissions Coordinator

Samantha Incorvaia leads the Cronkite School's undergraduate student recruitment efforts. As a Cronkite School graduate, she aims to bring a positive and personable experience for prospective students and their families like the one she experienced as a student. She works to create and initiate plans to best support students through their journey to Cronkite, including their entire application process. Samantha earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University, and she worked as the Cronkite School's professional programs coordinator. She was also a journalist with The Arizona Republic.