Sharon McGowan, editor-in-chief of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, is a reporter, writer, editor and teacher. She has a master’s degree from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and started her career as an investigative reporter and managing editor of The Chicago Reporter, a monthly publication covering race relations and poverty issues. She later was managing editor/assistant news director at all-news WBBM-AM, and then assignment manager for WBBM-TV, both CBS stations in Chicago.
McGowan and her husband, Jim, founded Complete Communications, Inc. in 1986. She is currently a faculty member at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. McGowan directed the graduate Introduction to Journalism program at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University and was an adjunct lecturer for more than 20 years. She has received awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television News Directors Association, Women in Communications and others.
The McGowans have two adult children. Their daughter, Jennifer, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, works in the field of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Their son, Joshua, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and works for the Circle of Service Foundation.
Dwayne Burtin is a web coordinator at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and manager of the NNS Lindsay Heights Community Page. A native Milwaukeean, he began his career in online communication in 2001 as web designer/ creative director at Homeboyz Interactive,and has a wealth of experience in online journalism and social media, as well as other interactive and digital media.
Burtin has participated several times in the Fight for Air Climb at the U.S. Bank Center, climbing 47 floors, or 1,034 steps, to benefit the American Lung Association.
Adam Carr is a web coordinator at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, as well as a freelance media producer. A proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools, he worked between 2008-2011 at 88Nine RadioMilwaukee as the community initiative producer, producing nearly 1,000 short-form audio stories on different facets of the Milwaukee community.
His work has received numerous local broadcasting awards, including the Milwaukee Press Club and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Awards for Excellence.
He continues to find new directions for his passion for and love of Milwaukee.
Jabril Faraj is a staff reporter for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Raised in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, he is a graduate of MPS Riverside University High School and alumnus of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Prior to joining the NNS staff, Faraj wrote and reported for the Boulder Daily Camera, Colorado’s second-largest daily publication. He has also been published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Milwaukee BizTimes.
Since June 2014 he has explored the streets and neighborhoods of Milwaukee, meeting people and sharing their personal stories via milwaukeestories.org.
In 2013, he led a team in documenting Milwaukee’s street festivals, culminating in the launch of milwaukeestreetfestivals.com, the city’s first one-stop resource for summer culture and festival information.
Edgar Mendez is a beat reporter for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, covering Clarke Square, the neighborhood in which he lives. Prior to joining the team at NNS he was a feature writer for El Conquistador Newspaper in Milwaukee, and a web writer/reporter for Scene262.com in Racine.
Mendez, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, earned his undergraduate degree from UW-Milwaukee, with a double major in Journalism and Media Communications and Sociology, and his master’s degree in Communication from Marquette University. He won a 2014 award from the Milwaukee Press Club for his article headlined “Black men bear the brunt of unequal enforcement of marijuana laws.” In 2008, he won a Society of Professional Journalists’ regional award for social columns dealing with diverse issues such as poverty, homelessness and racism.
His interests include scholastic research, social networking and the Green Bay Packers.
Brendan O’Brien is a staff reporter for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. During his 15-year career as a reporter and editor, O’Brien has covered breaking news, politics and governmental affairs for several news outlets, including Thomson Reuters and the Racine Journal Times.
O’Brien has a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Robert La Follette School of Public Affairs, where he focused on social policy such as poverty, employment and housing.
O’Brien and his wife have three daughters.
Andrea Waxman is a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. A professional writer, she completed a graduate certificate in Digital Storytelling at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor for a community newspaper and taught English and Japanese in several area middle and high schools.
Waxman has lived in Milwaukee since 1981, but spent most of her early years living in Tokyo, where her father was stationed at the American embassy. She returned to Japan in 1986 and again in 1993 when her husband was there as a Fulbright scholar.
In her free time, Waxman enjoys theater, movies, music, ethnic food, cities, travel, reading — especially the news of the day — and all kinds of people. She is interested in working for social justice and contributing to the vitality of the city.
Sue Vliet is a volunteer photographer for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She attended Beloit College and UW-Madison, where she earned a B.A. in art history.
Vliet works as a freelance photographer specializing in portraits, especially of children and families, locations and art. She owns a small art card business featuring her photos of Milwaukee scenes, which are sold in area stores.
Vliet volunteers for a number of local organizations including Arts@Large; Riveredge Nature Center; MPS; Penfield Children’s Center; Schlitz Audubon Nature Center; and Extreme Moms Milwaukee.
Vliet and her husband have two adult children, Sally and Connor. Vliet is an avid gardener, reader, runner, cook and baker and also enjoys travel and her pets. She loves and is fascinated by the city of Milwaukee and is committed to working to support it.
Marlita Bevenue is a reporter and Public Policy Forum Fellow at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in journalism, and has worked in television newsrooms across the Midwest including Madison, Milwaukee, Detroit and Alexandria, Minn. She spent several years working in a corporate healthcare environment designing interactive multimedia content.
A Milwaukee native, Marlita is a proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools and is an advocate for quality public education for all children. Marlita is pursuing her master’s degree in Communication at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.
Outside of work, you can catch Marlita tailgating at Badger Football games, attempting to jog near Lake Michigan or perusing the bookshelves at the nearest Barnes & Noble or Half Price Bookstore.
Wyatt Massey is a reporter and Public Policy Forum Fellow at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. He is a senior at Marquette University, studying writing-intensive English and advertising. Prior to his current position, Massey worked as a features intern at CNN in Atlanta and a reporting intern for NNS. He is pursuing a career as a human rights journalist.
Massey, from Hollandale, Wis., is a co-coordinator of the student service organization Midnight Run. In his free time, he enjoys running, reading and cooking. He is passionate about issues of human rights, social justice and international relations.
Matthew Wisla is a reporter and past Public Policy Forum Fellow at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. He graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University, and has worked as an associate editor and editor for several trade and business publications.
Prior to joining NNS, Wisla worked in a range of corporate communications roles in the U.S. and overseas. Currently, he’s a master’s degree student at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.
Samantha Calabrese is a social media intern at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She will be a senior at Marquette University in the fall and is studying public relations and corporate communications. In the past she has done internships in event planning and graphic design. She has also worked in the restaurant industry for the last five years.
In her free time Calabrese likes to hang out with her friends and explore Milwaukee. She also enjoys going home to Chicago frequently to visit her family and friends. She really enjoys watching hockey, since she has been a Chicago Blackhawks fan ever since she was a kid.
Allison Dikanovic is a junior studying International Affairs and Journalism at Marquette University. She has been a news reporter for the Marquette Wire and was a global correspondent for the Marquette Center for International Education while she lived in Cape Town, South Africa. While abroad, she interned for the nonprofit agency Beautiful Gate documenting women’s lives under the apartheid government. She also has traveled to Ghana and Northeast India.
At Marquette, Dikanovic is on the coordinating team for Midnight Run, a student organization that advocates for those experiencing hunger and homelessness in the city and works as a communications assistant at the Center for Peacemaking. She also serves as an academic advisor and mentor at Urban Underground, a youth activism organization.
For fun, Dikanovic loves reading, going to concerts, being mediocre at yoga, and hanging out with her nine crazy roommates. She is proud to call Milwaukee home.
Estefania Elizondo is a social media intern at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She is a senior at Marquette University pursuing a major in communication studies and a minor in economics. In addition to her internship, Elizondo serves as the senator for the Diederich College of Communication as part of Marquette University Student Government (MUSG).
She also works as the program assistant for the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism at Marquette and as the social media and marketing specialist for the Caribe Girl Scouts Council in her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In her free time Elizondo travels throughout Milwaukee and Chicago exploring the city and the best city eats. She is an avid Instagram foodie and loves to cook.
Stephanie Harte is a reporting intern for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She is a junior studying journalism and digital media at Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication.
Along with NNS, Harte is interning for the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism where she assists Dave Umhoefer, an investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She is also an active member of student media and currently serves as the executive arts and entertainment editor for Marquette Wire.
During her free time Harte enjoys spending time with her family and friends, as well as checking out the latest concerts and shows in Milwaukee.
Emmy A. Yates is photography intern at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She is a senior studying journalism at Marquette University, where she hopes to combine her love for both photography and writing to become a photojournalist.
Emmy is an online representative and volunteer for Vulture Space, which is a nonprofit community bicycle collective in downtown Milwaukee. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
In her free time she enjoys cycling, bike tours, bicycle mechanics, reading, writing short plays and traveling.