Cronkite Leadership

Battinto Batts Jr.

Battinto Batts Jr.
Dean

Battinto Batts Jr., dean of the Cronkite School, is an award-winning journalist and journalism educator with deep experience in philanthropy and nonprofit administration. As the school’s top leader, he supervises approximately 170 full-time and part-time faculty, 50 staff members and 2,300 students. He also oversees 15 intensive full-immersion professional programs as well as all undergraduate, graduate and online curriculums.

Batts began his journalism career as a reporter and worked for 18 years at several newspapers in Virginia and Florida. He later became a professor at Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications and eventually the director of the University’s William R. Harvey Leadership Institute, an interdisciplinary program that awards a minor in leadership studies. After four years at the institute, he returned to the journalism school as the assistant dean for academic affairs. He most recently served as director of journalism strategies for the Scripps Howard Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Batts holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University, a master’s degree in media management from Norfolk State University and a doctorate in higher education management from Hampton University. Battinto.Batts@asu.edu

Rebecca Blatt

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. rebecca.blatt@asu.edu

 

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. jepucci@asu.edu

Dawn Gilpin

Dawn Gilpin

Assistant Dean for Research
Ph.D., Temple University

As assistant dean for research, Dawn Gilpin supports research by faculty and students, fostering a culture of rigorous scholarly inquiry at all levels. She also directs the doctoral program, mentors research faculty and builds relationships with other units and organizations to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations.  Prior to coming to the Cronkite School, Gilpin spent more than 15 years working in Italy in strategic and organizational communication. She completed her Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication at Temple University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Gilpin also is an associate professor whose research focuses on identity construction and power dynamics within complex mediated systems. She teaches courses in mass communication theory, public relations, and social media and is a member of the Interdisciplinary Solutions for Social Impact lab faculty at the Graduate College. dgilpin@asu.edu

Melanie Alvarez

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. Melanie.Alvarez@asu.edu

 

Liz Bernreuter

Liz Bernreuter
Director of Student Services

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. elizabeth.bernreuter@asu.edu.

Karen Bordeleau

Karen Bordeleau
Director of Communications/Visiting Professor

As the communications director, Bordeleau oversees communications for the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS. As a visiting professor, 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. kbordel1@asu.edu

Amber Back

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. amber.back@asu.edu

 

Mary Cook

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. mary.cook@asu.edu

 

 

Brett Kurland

Brett Kurland

Director of Strategic Initiatives and Sports Programs
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.

Sandy Mancilla Rannow

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. smrannow@asu.edu

 

Vanessa Ruiz

Vanessa Ruiz
Director for Diversity Initiatives and Community Engagement and Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor of Practice

As director for diversity initiatives and community engagement, Vanessa Ruiz leads Cronkite’s strategy and tactical planning for recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty and staff as well as first-generation college students. She serves as the lead instructor for the school’s ethics and diversity courses, works with 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 a Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor of Practice, Ruiz also helps lead strategic transborder initiatives and special projects. An Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist, she also serves as news anchor and host for Arizona PBS and PBS NewsHour West. Her bilingual career began with Telemundo Network’s national newscast, before transitioning into the English-speaking market at WSVN-FOX Miami. Ruiz also has 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. vanessa.ruiz.2@asu.edu

TJ Sokol

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. tsokol@asu.edu

 

Lindsay Walker

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. lindsay.d.walker@asu.edu.

Mike Wong

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. mike.wong@asu.edu

 

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. sincorva@asu.edu