Reporting Staff 2020-2021

Sara Badilini is an Italian journalist based in the United States. She’s currently a reporting intern at the Block Club Chicago, where she covers local news, and a fellow journalist for Religion News Service and Interfaith Youth Core. She’s also a freelancer for NewsGuard, Previously, she worked as a local reporter in Italy. She has a Master’s degree in law from the University of Trento and a Master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School.

Kate Cammell writes about gender and sexuality, religion and the literary arts. Before attending Columbia, she studied creative writing at the University of Michigan and worked in publishing. She’s currently interning at PEN America. In her free time, she loves practicing yoga or reading. She covers Progressive Evangelicals.

Zoé Chevalier is a French reporter who graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science and Spanish. Previously, she wrote for U.S. News and World Report and The Buffalo News. She covers Pentecostals.

Zoe Chiriseri is a lawyer by profession and before coming to Columbia Journalism School she was a filmmaker and advocate for women’s rights in the South African film industry. She produces visual and print stories on issues of race and gender, mental health and poverty. She covers Hispanic Christians.

Ella Creamer graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2021. Currently, she is an intern at Washington Monthly magazine in DC. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Kelly Davis received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA, where she studied communication and African American studies. She wrote for the UCLA Daily Bruin newspaper and was an intern at C-SPAN. She covers mainline churches.

Eric Fan is a dual-degree Journalism and Computer Science graduate student at Columbia University. With a focus on data journalism and investigative reporting, Fan’s work has appeared in Forbes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Chicago Sun-Times. He is graduating from Columbia in May 2022. Website:

Marissa Guiang is a finance professional and freelance journalist based in New York City. She graduated from Cornell University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Administration with a minor in Real Estate and concentration in Law. She recently received her Master’s at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and will be receiving her MBA from Columbia Business School in May 2022. Marissa’s professional interests span the intersection of media, technology, business strategy, and policy. She is originally from Chicago and hopes to take her career internationally in the near future.

Ammal Hassan is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School. Born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised all over the world, Ammal is now based in New York City. Beats that interest Ammal include: music, pop culture, dating and relationships, beauty and fashion. Ammal is a practicing Muslim, who views her religion as a large part of her identity.

Meenketan Jha, an Indian journalist who lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, is a broadcast student at Columbia Journalism School. His reporting interests are South Asian politics, religion, and sports. He is an ardent football follower and Liverpool FC is his favorite club. He covers Dharmic religions.

Annick Laurent is a journalist and photographer from New York. Before studying documentary filmmaking at Columbia Journalism School, she earned a degree in Biology from Spelman College. Laurent’s interests include race and gender relations, culture, politics and the environment. She covers African American churches.

Lily Lopate is a writer, journalist, and communications strategist. She recently graduated with a Master of Science from Columbia Journalism School and is currently working as a communications coordinator for ClayHouse Brooklyn while freelancing for a variety of magazines. As a native New Yorker, she frequently covers stories of suffering and resilience particularly at the intersection of arts, culture, and business. Before graduate school, Lopate worked at HarperCollins publishers, Finn PR, People Magazine and WNYC Radio. She’s written from all sides of the media equation and her work has appeared in the anthology Every Father’s Daughter (McPherson & Co), Columbia News Service, People Magazine, Honeysuckle Magazine, and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.  Her range of professional experiences in media have helped her to think critically, creatively and, above all, stay adaptive.

Jessica Mundie is a journalist interested in writing about the intersection of religion and popular culture. She is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism where she focused on narrative and investigative reporting. Prior to coming to New York City, Jessica studied journalism, English, and drama studies at Carleton University in her hometown of Ottawa, Canada. This fall, Jessica will be interning at Religion News Service as a reporter.

Rita Omokha graduated from Northeastern University and has worked for CNN, NBC and Viacom in sales and marketing. Before coming to Columbia Journalism School, she was an independent public relations consultant. She covers Native American traditions.

Esohe Osabuohien graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Spanish and Communication Studies. Before Columbia Journalism School, she reported from Havana, Cuba courtesy of a Pulitzer on Crisis Reporting Fellowship. She is passionate about topics at the intersection of race and culture. She covers Voodoo.

Kaitlyn Martin is a journalist from Brooklyn. A Bachelor of Arts graduate from Stony Brook University, where she studied journalism and public affairs, her reporting interests include politics, social justice, and arts and culture. She covers Judaism.

Neha Mehrotra studied literature at Ashoka University in India and has covered religious and casteist violence around New Delhi. She interned at various nonprofits and newspapers, including the Wire and Indian Express before coming to Columbia Journalism School. She covers Islam.

Ricardo da Silva, S.J., was born in Portugal and raised in South Africa. He studied theology at Faculdade Jesuíta, Brazil and philosophy at Heythrop College, London. A Jesuit and ordained deacon of the Roman Catholic church, he was acting editor of before Columbia Journalism School. He covers Roman Catholicism.

Madeline Simpson graduated from Bethel University (MN) with degrees in journalism and finance. She is a proud Minnesotan native and loves anything deep-fried. Before journalism school, where her reporting focus is on religion, she worked at a consulting firm as a financial analyst. She covers Conservative Evangelicals.

Lucy Soucek is an associate producer at Orbit Media, a podcast production company based in Brooklyn. She recently graduated with a Master of Science degree from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Before coming to grad school, she was an announcer and producer at Maine Public Radio for two years. She’s passionate about collaborating with other reporters and producers to tell unique stories and forward intercultural understanding. She grew up in Maine, but now lives in the East Village with her cat, Luna. Contact her at or check out her other work at

Nidhi Upadhyaya is an architect and journalist from Mumbai, India. When not working on assignments, she can be found binging on DIY videos, curating her dream home on Pinterest or making a serious dent in her to-read fiction list. She has previously worked as Features Writer for Elle Decor India, Assistant Editor for India Inc and Art Director for the print edition of Bombay Binge and is currently writing for Religion News Service and Architizer. Contact her at or check out her work on



Professor Ari L. Goldman, a former religion correspondent for The New York Times, has been teaching the “Covering Religion” seminar at Columbia since 1993. This year’s study-tour is the 18th he’s led with Columbia students. In past years, the class has gone to Russia, Ukraine, Italy, India, Ireland, Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. Professor Goldman was born in Hartford, Conn., and was educated at Yeshiva University, Columbia and Harvard.  He is the author of four books, including the best-selling The Search for God at Harvard. His new book, The Late Starters Orchestra, was published in June 2014.

Gregory Khalil is the co-founder and President of Telos, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that equips American leaders and their communities to better engage seemingly intractable conflict. Much of Telos’ work has centered on the role of faith leaders and culture shapers in  America’s relationship to Israel/Palestine and the broader Middle East. Prior to founding Telos, Greg was a legal and communications adviser to Palestinian leaders on peace negotiations with Israel. Greg is also a founding member and chair of the board of directors of Narrative 4, a global non-profit that seeks to use story and media to cultivate empathy across divides. He has lectured internationally and his writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Review of Faith & International Affairs. Greg is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale Law School. He co-teaches “Covering Religion” with Professor Ari Goldman.

Melanie Huff is the Associate Dean of Students at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. This is her fourth time accompanying the Covering Religion class on its annual study tour. She has been to India, Ireland, Jordan, Israel and Palestine with the class.  Dean Huff has degrees from Barnard College and Teachers College, both of Columbia University.

Professor Duy Linh Tu is a journalist and documentary filmmaker, focusing on education, science, and social justice. His work has appeared in print, online, on television, and in theaters. He is also the author of “Narrative Storytelling for Multimedia Journalists” (Focal Press). Professor Tu is also a graduate of the Journalism program.

Cynthia Betubiza, this year’s teaching assistant, is a Ugandan-American journalist and writer. She’s a Columbia Journalism School graduation specializing in the audio and radio fields and writes across many subjects. She has worked with NPR, Marketplace, Vox, TED and more. Outside interests include film, world cultures, and socioeconomics.