About Us

NY City Lens illuminates the rich and varied life of New York City—borough by borough, neighborhood by neighborhood, one good story at a time. It is produced by students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. The Spring 2017 site is staffed by students in the City Newsroom class taught by professors Dody Tsiantar, Mike Hoyt, Simon Surowicz with teaching assistants Edward Robbins and Christine McKenna. In Fall 2017, contributors are in the Reporting course taught by June Cross and Kim Kleman.

Meet the Reporters of Fall 2017


Madeleine Ayer

Madeleine Ayer covers the Bronx for NY City Lens. She is pursuing a Master of Science in Journalism at Columbia University within the Toni Stabile Program for Investigative Journalism. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she graduated cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied political science and public policy.

Contact her at mma2233@columbia.edu



Kelsie Blazier

Kelsie Blazier covers Coney Island Avenue and its neighboring communities in Brooklyn for NY City Lens. She is a master’s candidate at Columbia University’s Journalism School and is a 2015 graduate of New York University. She would like to work at Gimlet Media, WNYC, or ProPublica post graduation.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter // krb2165@columbia.edu


Krista Bryant

Krista Bryant covers Brooklyn for NY City Lens. She is a student at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Before coming to Columbia, she interned for various online publications and worked in social services. She received her B.A. in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with a minor in Law.

Follow her on Twitter // kb2973@columbia.edu



Rahim Chagani

Rahim Chagani covers Jackson Heights Neighborhood for NY City Lens. He was born in India, where he completed his B.A. in Mass Communications and Journalism, graduating with summa cum laude honors. As an undergrad, he interned with The Times of India & The Hindu, and was named one of the youngest associate editors for City Lifestyle Magazine. Currently, he’s attending Columbia’s Journalism School and works as a volunteer copy editor for the.ismaili US website and magazine. Before attending journalism school, Rahim was a web producer and multimedia journalist for TED Talks, a senior correspondent at IT COMM Week and Journal, a contributing writer at Voices of New York, Gotham Gazette, Mott Haven Herald, and an investigative writer at www.adaptny.org. Rahim has published many stories on multiple platforms, including print, radio, and television. He loves spending time on discovering and mastering new softwares.

Follow him on Instagram and Twitter // rac2219@columbia.edu


Sherrell Dorsey

Sherrell Dorsey covers Corona, Queens neighborhood for NY City Lens. A native of Seattle, she is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before attending journalism school, Sherrell worked for Uber and contributed regular tech and equity stories to Fast Company, The Root, Next City, and City Lab. She is also founder of the daily tech newsletter ThePLUGDaily.com.

Follow her on Twitter  / / sd3169@columbia.edu


Vildana Hajric

Vildana Hajric covers Brighton Beach, Brooklyn for NY City Lens. She is a student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and is an alumna of Colgate University. She previously worked at CNBC’s “Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer” and as an NBC Page.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter // v.hajric@columbia.edu


Angelica Hill

Angelica Hill is a local reporter in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She is currently at Columbia School of Journalism. Raised in a diplomatic family, she spent much of my childhood overseas, giving her a global perspective and interest in diverse cultures. She has previously worked for BBC, Al Arabiya, Gulf News, Khalija Times, HERO Magazine, The Times London and The New York Times. She aspires to work for the New York Times.

Contact her at ah3506@columbia.edu


Aaron Leibowitz

Aaron Leibowitz is a native of Westchester, New York, who covers the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods and studies investigative journalism at Columbia. Previously, he worked as a local news reporter in the Boston area. His work has also appeared on MLB.com, Sports Illustrated and the Boston Globe.

Follow him on Twitter // ahl2166@columbia.edu


Sana A. Malik

Sana A. Malik covers immigration in West African communities around New York for NY City Lens. Sana was born in the U.K. and grew up in Canada. She completed her B.A. in Peace and Conflict studies at the University of Toronto. After finishing her Master’s in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Sana lived and worked in Tanzania. She is currently a student in documentary journalism at Columbia University. She is the founder of the visual storytelling platform, This is Worldtown. Aside from English, Sana is fluent in French and Urdu.

Follow her on Twitter // sana.malik@columbia.edu


Will McCollister

Will McCollister, a native of Ironton, Ohio, covers the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. He is a graduate of Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, where he majored in Religious Studies/Philosophy and played football. He is currently a master’s student studying journalism at Columbia University with hopes to eventually cover college football. Follow him on Twitter for satirical takes on life and sports. 

Contact him at wrm2125@columbia.edu


Kat Moon

Kat Moon covers Middle Eastern communities in Bay Ridge and is a student reporter in Columbia’s Data Journalism program. After spending the first 18 years of her life in Taiwan, she moved to New York City, where she completed her undergraduate studies at Columbia. Kat previously worked at the NBA and at The Muse, and her work has been featured in TIME, Forbes, and Business Insider. 

Follow her on Twitter or and her website // katherine.moon@columbia.edu


Jordan Obey

Jordan Obey is a reporter for NY City lens covering Queens. Raised as a military brat, Jordan has traveled the world living in countries like Japan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Before he picked up computer science skills and became a software teacher, he held a variety of odd jobs from selling lollipop-entombed scorpions at a Ripley’s Believe it Or Not to doing live science experiments at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. He’s currently a student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism where he’s thriving on a diet of Nature Valley bars and local beat assignments.

Contact him at jeo2138@columbia.edu


Ashley Okwuosa

Ashley Okwuosa covers West African immigrants in the Bronx for NY City Lens. Ashley was born and raised in Nigeria and is a 2015 graduate of Rutgers University-Newark, where she received a B.A in Journalism and Women’s Studies. Her work about immigration, sexuality and technology has appeared in OkayAfrica, aKoma, Ebony.com, Africa Is A Country, Latterly, and OZY.com.

Follow her on Twitter // aco2138@columbia.edu


Alena Saunders

Alena Saunders covers the Bronx for NY City Lens. She is currently a student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. After receiving her B.A. in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she worked at the Chicago Tribune as a writer and an editorial assistant for the features department.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter // ams2529@columbia.edu


Shreya Vaidyanathan

Shreya Vaidyanathan covers the neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn for NY City Lens. She completed her undergraduate engineering degree in 2017 from Anna University in Chennai, India, where she lead her campus magazine and was the chair of the ACM Student Chapter. She is currently in the dual M.S. program studying Computer Science and Journalism at Columbia University, exploring the intersection of the two fields.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter // sv2525@columbia.edu


Marrian Zhou

Marrian Zhou covers Queens for NY City Lens. She is a Master of Science candidate at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Originally from Beijing, she moved to Los Angeles in 2010. She later received her B.A. in communication and a B.M. in saxophone performance from California State University, Los Angeles. She hopes to become a foreign correspondent post graduation.

Follow her on Instagram // mz2643@columbia.edu


Meet the Reporters of Spring 2017

Anya Chapman

Anya Chapman covers Manhattan for NY City Lens. She came to the U.S. 13 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Finance and worked as a financial analyst for five years for several Fortune 500 companies. Aside from English, Anya also speaks Russian, Ukrainian, and Spanish.

@AnyaC_NYC // acc2203@columbia.edu


Keenan Chen

Keenan Chen covers Queens for NY City Lens and is a social media editor for the site. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015, where he studied journalism and political science, and wrote for the nonprofit investigative news site, CU-CitizenAccess.

@cytkeenan // yc3225@columbia.edu



Adriana Loureiro-Fernandez

Adriana Loureiro Fernandez covers Brooklyn for NY City Lens and is a photo editor for the site. She was born and raised in Venezuela, where she earned a B.A. in Media Studies at Andres Bello Catholic University. Adriana has worked as a freelance multimedia journalist in Venezuela for the last three years, covering human rights issues, violence, and social unrest.

@adriaventuras // al3599@columbia.edu


Natasha Frost

Natasha Frost covers the Bronx for NY City News and is an assistant editor for the site. She was the BBC’s Paris news intern in 2013. She received a B.A. with Honors from the University of Oxford in English and French in 2014, and has spent the last two years in New Zealand working as a digital journalist and producer for the public broadcaster RNZ’s news team and evening news show, Checkpoint.

@natashamfrost // Natasha.frost@columbia.edu


Cale Holmes

Cale Holmes covers the Bronx for NY City Lens and is a social media editor for the site. Based in Washington, D.C., he graduated from Randolph College in 2016 with a degree in Global Studies. He was a reporter at his college newspaper, The Sundial, covering campus politics. Before coming to Columbia, Cale interned for Washington’s We Act Radio and free-lanced for online publications, covering labor issues in the South as well as U.S. foreign policy.

@CaleHolmes // cah2240@columbia.edu


Allison Lau

Allison Lau covers the Bronx for NY City Lens and is a photo editor for the site. She is a multimedia journalist from California specializing in video journalism. She received her bachelor’s degree in literary journalism at the University of California, Irvine and wrote breaking news and feature stories for outlets in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties.

@AllisonJLau // Allison.Lau@columbia.edu


Nafisa Masud

Nafisa Masud covers Manhattan for NY City Lens. Originally from Salt Lake City, Nafisa received her B.A. in English, International Relations, and Spanish from the University of Utah. During this time she worked as a columnist for the Daily Utah Chronicle, contributor and editor for HerCampus Utah, and post-commencement as a content writer, Spanish/Arabic teacher, and interpreter for the Refugee Association of Utah. Her interest is in print and video feature journalism, and she’s pursuing a thesis on progressive millennial Muslim-Americans.

@nafisa_masud // nm2942@columbia.edu


Danish Mehboob

Danish Mehboob covers Brooklyn for NY City Lens and is a web editor for the site. He graduated from the University of Washington with focuses in economics, mathematics, and journalism. While studying in Seattle, he free-lanced for publications including the International Examiner and South Seattle Emerald. His reporting interest is in American-Islamic relations.

@dannylookman // dm3243@columbia.edu


Katryna PereiraKatryna Perera covers Queens for NY City Lens. She is from Washington D.C. and received her B.A. from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where she majored in communications and political science. During her undergraduate career she was the news editor for her campus newspaper, The Hawk. She is interested in topics ranging from American politics to international social justice.

@KatrynaJill // kp2701@columbia.edu


Nadeem Shad

Nadeem Shad covers Brooklyn for the NY City Lens and is a social media editor for the site. A graduate of the London School of Economics. Nadeem has worked as a producer for a wire service in London as well as brief stints at the BBC World Service and Sky News.

@nadeemomarshad // nadeem.shadx1@gmail.com


Patrick Ralph

Patrick Ralph
covers the Bronx for NY City Lens and is a web editor for the site. Patrick is from New Jersey and graduated from Villanova University in 2016, where he was a sports reporter for The Villanovan. Patrick has also written for Bloomberg News and AOL Sports.

@Pat_Ralph // pvr2107@columbia.edu


Tenzin Sangmo

Tenzin Sangmo covers Queens for NY City Lens and is photo editor for the site. She is a Tibetan, born and brought up in India. She studied media technologies and worked as a travel blogger before joining Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

@10zinsang // ts3034c@columbia.edu


Preeti Singh

Preeti Singh
covers Queens for NY City Lens and is an assistant editor for the site. She has an MBA and worked in pharmaceuticals, publishing, and executive search before venturing into journalism. Preeti has a guest column with the Scarsdale Inquirer, and contributes features to talkingcranes.com, Mid-day, The Quint, DailyO, and The Wire. Her interests range from healthcare and business reporting to human interest and general assignments.

@singps // ps2943@columbia.edu

Belen Smole

Belén Smole
 covers Manhattan for NY City Lens. She graduated in 2012 from Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her experience in journalism has been all digital, ranging from writing and editing a blog on disabilities, to producing, shooting, and editing video pieces for international news organizations as a “one-man-band.”

@belensmole // mbs2224@columbia.edu


Quincey Trigillo

Quincey Trigillo covers Manhattan for NY City Lens and is an assistant editor for the site. She has a B.A. from UCLA and previously taught high school English in Southern California. She recently completed an internship with Scholastic’s The New York Times Upfront, a news magazine for teens.

@quinceytrigillo // qat2000@columbia.edu


Elizabeth VanMetre

Elizabeth VanMetre covers Brooklyn for NY City Lens and is a social media editor for the site. She moved to New York after graduating from Western Carolina University in 2013. She began her career as an entertainment reporter for InTouch Magazine before joining the New York Daily News as an evening entertainment editor. Before coming to Columbia she worked at a reporter for Entertainment Tonight. She also has freelanced for YahooTravel.

@ElizabethRoseVM // erv2116@columbia.edu


Manuel Villa

Manuel Villa covers Queens for NY City Lens and is a fellow of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. Originally from Mexico, he spent six years in Japan, first as a student and later working there in the financial industry, where he remained for 11 years. He was transferred to NYC in 2007, just as the financial crisis exploded. This experience contributed to his interest in investigative journalism.

@manuelvilla1859 // jmv2104@columbia.edu


Courtney Vinopal

Courtney Vinopal covers the Bronx for NY City Lens. She graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and French from Denison University in 2013 before moving to Cluses, France to work as an English teaching assistant. From 2014-2016, she worked as a press attaché for the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C., where she oversaw the embassy’s English publications and social media accounts, and advised the press office on its digital communication strategy.

@CGlennVino // cgv2110@columbia.edu


Zhiming Zhang

Zhiming Zhang covers Queens for NY City Lens and is an assistant editor for the site. He graduated in 2016 with a degree in journalism and a minor in communication studies from the University of Florida. While in Florida, he became first international student to serve as an intern at the Gainesville Sun.

@stevenzzm1009 // zz2438@columbia.edu