Cronkite Leadership

Christopher Callahan


Christopher Callahan is the founding dean of the Cronkite School, leading a team of nearly 400 faculty and staff and 2,500 students across 10 degree programs. He is the architect of the school’s signature professional immersion programs that provide deep experiential learning for students and important news and information to the state, region and nation. He also serves as vice provost of the 13,000-student, seven-college Downtown Phoenix campus, and is CEO of Arizona PBS, the nation’s seventh-largest PBS station. Callahan is chair of the Hearst Awards Steering Committee, has led 13 accreditation teams to review the nation’s top journalism schools and won the Scripps Award for Journalism Administrator of the Year. Prior to joining ASU, Callahan was associate dean at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and senior editor of the American Journalism Review. Before entering journalism education, Callahan was a Washington correspondent for The Associated Press. He is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the author of "A Journalist’s Guide to the Internet."


Kristin Gilger

Senior Associate Dean

Kristin Gilger is senior associate dean and Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Cronkite School. She oversees professional programs, adjunct faculty, curriculum development and grant programs, among other things. She also 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.


Mark Lodato

Associate Dean

Mark Lodato leads undergraduate recruitment, admissions and retention efforts and supervises the Cronkite School’s broadcast and sports curriculum. His duties also include leadership of academic services and student success, establishing new media partnerships and development. As associate general manager for innovation and design at Arizona PBS, Lodato works to establish new strategies for integration, engagement and collaboration between the Cronkite School and the leading PBS affiliate. He is the recipient of the 2014 ASU Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Curricular Innovation and a member of the Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy class of 2013. His journalism career includes more than 16 years as a television reporter in Washington, D.C., Arizona and Florida. Lodato holds a master’s in higher education administration from Arizona State University and bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri.

Rebecca Blatt

Assistant Dean

As assistant dean, Rebecca Blatt leads recruitment and retention of the school’s master’s degree programs. She also drives the school’s assessment of learning outcomes, oversees online degree and certificate programs and coordinates student awards and new summer high school programs. Prior to her current role, Blatt served as director of the Cronkite Public Insight Network Bureau, which was awarded the prestigious ASU President’s Award for Innovation under her leadership. She also served as director of the Digital Production Bureau. She 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

Assistant Dean

As assistant dean, Jessica Pucci leads the school’s Digital Audiences programs, including curriculum development across the Digital Audiences degree programs and oversight of the Digital Audiences 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.

B. William Silcock

Assistant Dean

A two-time Fulbright Scholar, Bill Silcock researches global television news cultures, most recently in the Balkans. He joined the faculty in 2001 after a career as a TV news director, producer and anchor/reporter. He has won national awards for his documentaries “Backstage at a Presidential Debate: The Press, the Pundits and The People,” “Fortress of Faith” and “Woodstock: Back to the Garden.” Silcock’s research examines newsroom culture, particularly news values. Silcock has led the school’s European study abroad program. He has also conducted media training for international broadcast journalists through the U.S. State Department. He is uniquely positioned to direct the Cronkite School’s Global Initiatives and Humphrey Fellowship Program, one of only two journalism Humphrey programs in the world.


Liz Bernreuter

Senior Director of Development

Liz Bernreuter is responsible for securing significant philanthropic investments from individuals, foundations and corporate partners in support of the school’s priority programs and activities. Liz came to the Cronkite School from the ASU Foundation, where she served as associate director of corporate and foundation grants. She has also worked for a variety of arts and culture organizations including the Phoenix Symphony 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.


Janet Coats

Janet Coats

Executive Director for Innovation and Strategy

Janet Coats leads training and oversight of the adjunct faculty and focuses on curriculum innovation and entrepreneurial efforts for the Cronkite School. She leads sponsored research initiatives and plays a key role in assessment, including leading the ACEJMC accreditation processes. She has oversight of the News Co/Lab, which works to advance digital literacy through journalism, education and technology. She also works with Carnegie-Knight News21, a national reporting initiative for journalism students headquartered at the Cronkite School. Janet came to Cronkite after 10 years running her own media consulting firm. Prior to that, she spent 25 years in newsrooms, including stints as executive editor for multimedia newsrooms in Sarasota and Tampa, FL.

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.



Chris Fiscus

Director of Communications

As director of communications, Chris Fiscus leads the creation of printed, digital and visual materials that tell the story of the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS. Prior to his current role, Fiscus worked for marketing and advertising agencies in Phoenix as vice president of public relations and social media. Before that, he worked for about 17 years as a journalist for The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Gazette and the Arizona Business Gazette. He has been recognized with 20 PRSA “Copper Anvil” awards for excellence, as well as national, regional and local ADDY awards. He was a finalist for the Livingston Award for his international reporting from Kosovo.


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 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.


Ian MacSpadden

Chief Technology Officer

Ian MacSpadden joined the Cronkite School/Arizona PBS technology staff in 2015, and has served as director of broadcast engineering and operations since his arrival. As director, MacSpadden is responsible for the team that oversees all aspects of the school’s technical operations, including planning, design, installation and maintenance of innovative broadcast and IT systems. Previously, he was the lead for the technology teams that built YouTube’s and Meredith Corp’s New York City production facilities. He has spent more than 25 years working for local, national and international news and broadcast organizations such as ABC News, NBC Universal and Reuters.

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

Vanessa Ruiz is the Emmy Award-winning director of the Borderlands bureau reporting team at Cronkite News. She also helps lead the Spanish-language newscast, Cronkite Noticias, works on special productions at Arizona PBS and is a Cronkite ambassador for diversity and inclusion. 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, becoming Telemundo International’s youngest news anchor before transitioning into the English-speaking market at WSVN-FOX Miami. Ruiz has also worked for KNBC in Los Angeles and the U.S. Agency for Global Media for TV Marti. 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.


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.


Alisha Bradford

Alisha Bradford

Recruitment & Admissions Coordinator

Alisha Bradford leads the student recruitment efforts for the Cronkite School, serving as the undergraduate recruitment and admission coordinator. Alisha is a Cronkite School graduate and works to provide a positive, individualized and memorable experience for prospective students and their families. As the head of recruitment, she works to develop and execute initiatives to best support students throughout their entire application process. Prior to joining the Cronkite team, Alisha earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Arizona State University and has worked as a special education teacher and a high school assistant principal.