Our Team - North Carolina Health News
Rose Hoban (Founder, Editor, Reporter) spent more than six years as the health reporter for North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC, where she covered health care, state health policy, science and research with a focus on public health issues. She left to start North Carolina Health News after watching many of her professional peers leave or be laid off of their jobs, leaving NC with few people to cover this complicated and important topic.
Hoban took a circuitous route into journalism—after a decade of practicing nursing, she enrolled at UC Berkeley’s journalism school. While at Berkeley, she also earned a master’s in public health policy.
Hoban’s work has been recognized both regionally and nationally with numerous awards, including broadcast’s highest award – the Columbia-DuPont – a Gracie Award, an Edward R. Morrow award, and a Society for Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade award. In 2010, she was awarded a fellowship by the Association of Health Care Journalists to do in-depth reporting on North Carolina’s mental health system. She has also been a Knight Digital Media Fellow.
Liora Engel-Smith (Rural Health) joined NC Health News in July 2019 and covers policies, programs and issues that affect rural areas. She covered health, addiction and seniors issues at The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire for almost two years prior to moving to North Carolina, before that, she was a reporter at the Muscatine Journal in Iowa. Engel-Smith has a masters of public health degree from Drexel University and a masters of journalism degree from Temple University. Before she became a journalist, Engel-Smith was a scientist who briefly worked at the pharmaceutical industry. She grew up in Israel and immigrated to the United States in 2003.
Knopf previously wrote for The News & Observer as a politics and general assignment reporter from 2015-16. There she began covering mental health issues with an investigative series into the prison system called “Solitary to the Streets.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a journalism minor from Hillsdale College, a liberal arts school in Michigan.
Knopf lives in Raleigh with her baby boy and husband, Andy Specht, a reporter for WRAL.
Barnes was named Gatehouse Media’s News Writer of the Year in 2018 and Beat Writer of the Year in 2107.
Barnes has also won numerous North Carolina Press Association awards, included public service awards for projects on soldiers’ mental health, poverty, crime prevention and the state’s child welfare system. The Association of Health Care Jounalists awarded Barnes first place for a series on groundwater contamination.
Barnes is a graduate of Michigan State University. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Laurie. They have two grown children.
Thomas Goldsmith (Generations Beat) writes about aging issues, government health policy and other topics. A native North Carolinian with roots in Scotland County, Goldsmith attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and got his start in journalism at the Tennessean in Nashville in 1983, coming to Raleigh in 2003. He spent 33 years as an editor and reporter for daily newspapers before retiring as Wake County editor at the Raleigh News & Observer in May 2016.
During his tenure at the N&O, Goldsmith reported on aging issues in North Carolina, winning awards from Friends of Residents in Long Term Care, the North Carolina Council on Aging and the regional Area Agency on Aging for this work. Tommy has worked with NC Health News twice, taking time out in between his first and second stints with us to be a general assignment reporter for the Triangle-based Indyweek.
His work has also appeared in books published by the Illinois, North Carolina and Oxford university presses, as well as in a variety of trade and consumer publications including Garden & Gun, North State Journal, Billboard and the Journal of Country Music.
Yen Duong (Charlotte Reporter) covers health care in Charlotte and the southern Piedmont for North Carolina Health News. She has degrees from Yale, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Illinois-Chicago, where she earned a PhD in mathematics. Duong was a AAAS Mass Media Fellow, which puts math and science Ph.D.s into newsrooms around the country. She has also written for the Raleigh News & Observer. She lives in Charlotte with her family and spends her free time playing board games, doing crossword puzzles, and training for triathlons.
Sarah Ovaska (Generations Beat) is a freelance writer based in Orange County, who has called North Carolina home for well over a decade and is now the mother of twin toddlers. She’s reported on criminal justice, education, health and government issues at publications including the News & Observer, N.C. Policy Watch and is reporting on children’s health and tracking the state’s transformation of the Medicaid program for N.C. Health News. She can be reached at sarahovaskafew at gmail.
Anne Blythe has been a reporter in North Carolina for more than 30 years, writing stories from the state’s federal and state courthouses, city halls, college campuses, crime scenes, disaster areas and state halls of power. She focuses on general topics and oral health care for North Carolina Health Carolina News.
Steve Tell (Data Wrangler) is an electrical engineer/ computer scientist who helps out with interactives, mapping and keeping the website humming and secure.
Tell is an integrated circuit chip designer by day whose after hours hobbies include Linux programming and whipping data into interactive maps and graphics. He has participated in Google’s Summer of Code, is the mentor for a FIRST robotics team at East Chapel Hill High School and in the rest of his spare time, does the lighting for local theater organizations.
Josee Meehan (copyeditor) is an editor with nearly 20 years experience working for daily newspapers, including the Raleigh News & Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun, and a meat industry lobbyist in Washington, DC. Meehan also provides freelance writing and editing for nonprofits, websites, print publications, and small businesses.
For the past fourteen years, Anne has served as a nonprofit communications and fundraising professional. She has worked for various organizations including the North Carolina Housing Coalition and Saint Saviour’s Center.
Anne Ehlers holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of California, San Diego.
Former contributors to NC Health News
Mark Tosczak has worked as a writer and communications professional for more than 20 years, including stints as a newspaper reporter and editor, think tank communications director, marketing agency vice president and PR consultant. He has written for numerous North Carolina publications, The New York Times, Wired.com and other outlets.
He has a bachelor’s degree in English from N.C. State University and an MBA from Elon University. He also teaches as an adjunct instructor in Elon University’s School of Communications.
Mark is now focusing exclusively on his business consulting, but he’s still involved with NC Health News as a board member, lending his considerable business acumen to making our organization a long-term success.
Catherine Clabby is a science journalist and editor who has worked in newspaper, magazine, and digital book publishing. She is editor and co-author of An Evolutionary War: Humanity Versus Malaria, a digital, multimedia book under development. Catherine was senior editor of EO Wilson’s Life on Earth, the digital-only biology textbook series produced in 2014. Much of her written and multimedia content for LOE focused on ecology.
An alum fellow of the year-long MIT Knight Science Journalism Program, she is a former senior editor at American Scientist magazine in Research Triangle Park and a former science reporter at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.
She now an adjunct instructor at Duke University in the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, a program that’s part of the Sanford School of Public Policy.
Brenda Porter-Rockwell came to North Carolina Health News backed by a diverse background in print and online communications. Her experience spans more than a decade of writing, reporting and managing publications (for- and non-profit businesses and public relations agencies) on topics ranging from local government, natural products, small business, healthcare and more. Her byline has appeared in trade and consumer publications including INC.com and Black Enterprise as well as local newspapers including the Smithfield Herald, the Selma News and Raleigh Public Record.
Brenda left NC Health News to take a full time job – with benefits! But she still contributes stories when she can.
Nancy Wang is a North Carolina native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill’s joint MD-MPH program.
She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology-Neuroscience from Duke University. While at Duke, she worked as a staff writer and arts and entertainment editor for the student newspaper, The Chronicle, and spent a summer as a staff writer for The Charlotte Observer.
Wang is also very interested in medical and science journalism and hopes to incorporate it into her future career as a practicing physician. She headed to Stanford for her residency in urology in the summer of 2014.
Saja Hindi worked for various news organizations through jobs or internships in North Carolina, including the daily Wilmington newspaper, the Star-News; the Union County Weekly; and WUNC, the local NPR affiliate, among others.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English/Journalism from N.C. State University in 2010. During her tenure at N.C. State, she worked as editor-in-chief of the daily student newspaper, Technician, and was the radio station WKNC 88.1 FM’s public affairs director where she produced and hosted “Eye on the Triangle.” After graduation, Saja served a year and a half as an AmeriCorps service volunteer and continued to freelance.
She moved to Colorado in 2012, where she started at a small daily, the Loveland Reporter Herald and eventually moved to the Denver Post.
Hyun Namkoong came to NC Health News with a background in global and public health. She just graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings Global School of Public Health in the health behavior department and she worked as the NC Health News intern from Jan-Aug 2014. As soon as her internship was complete, we hired her!
Hyun is interested in health disparities and rural health issues. She is also interested in the intersection of politics, health literacy and the media and how they impact people’s decisions and knowledge of health topics.
Hyun is a fluent Spanish speaker and now works with the North Carolina Justice Center as a health care advocate.
Gabe Rivin is a freelance reporter and the owner of The Piedmont Pen, a writing and editing company. Gabe is a former editor of The Cooperative Business Journal, and a former reporter for Inside Washington Publishers, where he covered federal energy policy and climate change policy. His freelance writing has run the gamut, and includes video scripts for the Detroit Pistons, major portions of a karate history book, and feature stories about local nonprofits. Gabe graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan.
Gabe returned to his native California in 2016 to get involved in the television industry and be closer to his family. Look for his name in the credits!
Taylor Sisk is a writer, editor, researcher, producer and documentary filmmaker. He served as a managing and contributing editor of The Carrboro Citizen and an associate and contributing editor of the Independent Weekly and has contributed to a wide range of publications. Organizations with which he’s worked include: the Social Science Research Council, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Undersea Research Program and the UNC School of Public Health.
Sisk has won awards from the N.C. Press Association for enterprise and feature writing – including a series on the breakdown of the mental health care system in North Carolina – and has been cited for excellence in higher education reporting by the Chronicle of Higher Education. He now does freelance work for the publication 100 Days in Appalachia.
Amy Adams Ellis lives in Greenville, NC. She earned a writing and editing degree from N.C. State University in 1988, and over the past 25 years, has held a variety of marketing, public relations and writing positions in both the private and public sectors.
She has contributed to numerous medical, parenting and regional publications throughout Eastern North Carolina, and has received several prestigious feature-writing awards, including one from the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society, and another from Parenting Publications of America. Amy and her husband, a family physician with East Carolina University, lead short-term, medical missions annually in Nicaragua.
She’s now a public information officer covering health care topics at East Carolina University.
Judy Cole is a former Editor-in-Chief of Playgirl, Today’s Charlotte Woman, SexIs and Vibrant Living magazines. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, she’s interviewed everyone from homeless artists and street-soccer activists to entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, doctors, lawyers, business leaders, and major names in the fields of arts and entertainment.
Judy has conceptualized and created content across a broad range of subject matter that includes health/fitness/diet, dating/relationships, humor, gender equality, sex-positive education/legislation, DIY, home repair, fashion, finance, food, beauty, décor, gardening, going green, and pets/animal welfare.
Stephanie Soucheray is a medical, science and general interest reporter. Originally from St. Paul, MN, Soucheray graduated from St. Olaf College in 2007 with a degree in English and history. She received her MA in medical and science journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2012, and has written extensively for newspapers, magazines, public radio, and the web. Her work has been featured in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Northfield News, Minnesota Public Radio, the Raleigh News &Observer, Yale Medicine magazine, the Duke School of Medicine, and UNC-CH healthcare publications.
She left us when she followed her husband to Berlin, Germany, where he had an academic fellowship. Now they’ve returned to their native land in the Great White North where she works at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Whitney Howell is a seasoned reporter, writer, freelancer and public relations specialist with a master’s degree in international print journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C. She launched her journalism career as a stringer for UPI on Sept. 11, 2001, on Capitol Hill. That day led to a two-year stint as a daily political reporter in Montgomery County, Md.
She has covered healthcare, academic medicine, healthcare reform, women’s health, Medicare, and several medical specialties for a myriad of local and national consumer and trade publications.
Jennifer Ferris earned her reporting stripes on the Metro Desk at the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, FL. She moved to North Carolina in 2005, joining the daily reporting team at the Herald-Sun. Her writing work can be found across the web, as well as in several major print publications.
Interns (and yes, they receive pay)
Emily Davis was our summer intern in 2019, and found her bliss in getting out to wade around the Chowan River investigating one of the largest algal blooms in decades. She is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in environmental sciences and journalism and also found that she’s pretty good with spreadsheets while working with us.
Jared Weber was one of two summer interns in 2018, getting his feet wet covering the North Carolina legislature. He is currently a senior at UNC Chapel Hill where he’s majoring in journalism and global studies with a minor in Spanish. The other intern was India Mackinson who graduated from UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in environmental studies and getting a minor in visual communication. If our interns are the future of journalism, the profession is in good shape.
Leah Asmelash was a rising junior in the Journalism and Mass Communication program at UNC Chapel Hill, when she was NC Health News’ 2017 summer intern. She studied studying global studies with a focus on international politics, and reports she spent way too many hours at the Daily Tar Heel while at Carolina.
Our 2016 summer intern was the whip-smart Minali Nigam, who was completing a year of public health studies in among her time at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine when she joined NC Health News. She says she enjoyed her several months of getting an up-close look at how policy and politics intersect at the NC General Assembly. Now, Minali is wrapping up a journalism degree along with medical school and will be applying for residency in neurology.
In 2015, our summer intern was Rachel Herzog, who completed undergraduate journalism program at UNC Chapel Hill. Rachel is a quiet wonder, who can crank out some awesome copy. She remains cheerful and efficient, even when she’s been assigned to work on a spreadsheet for most of the day.
In 2014, our summer intern was Jasmin Singh, a rising senior in the Journalism and Mass Communications program at UNC Chapel Hill. Jasmin was an editor at the Daily Tar Heel during the 2014-15 school year and graduated in 2015. Jasmin said her experience with NC Health News left her more likely to watch CSPAN on Friday nights instead of trawling for cat videos on YouTube. She completed medical school in the Caribbean.
Our summer intern during 2013 was the incomparable Holly West, who, at the time, was a rising junior in the Journalism and Mass Communications program at UNC Chapel Hill. Holly returned to school to become an editor at the Daily Tar Heel and graduated in 2015.