National Press Club

Member Spotlight

Every month the National Press Club turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their professional field and around the Club. These members exemplify the mission of the National Press Club to make it the place where news happens. If you are interested in being highlighted or nominating another member for the spotlight, please contact Sarahanne Driggs at sdriggs@press.org.


Michael Fletcher Fall 2016

NPC member Michael Fletcher

Michael Fletcher, senior writer at The Undefeated. Fletcher has been an NPC member since March 2016.

What's your current job?
Senior writer for ESPN's The Undefeated.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I joined the press club earlier this year, although I have been there numerous times through the years for news conferences, Newsmaker lunches, and even drinks. But my favorite experience at the club was moderating a discussion on race with Skip Gates and Ken Burns earlier this year.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
I turn on NPR. I drink coffee. I drink more coffee. My wife and I go walking or to the gym. Then I drink more coffee and read the paper.

What was your childhood dream job?
As a high schooler, I thought I would be an electrical engineer. What a joke.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
So many good moments. Covering the Million Man March when I was at The Washington Post. Covering race relations provided a window into the nation's continuing fault lines. Covering the second term of the Bush White House was a great experience at the paper. Covering national economics helped me understand the big issue underlying many big issues.

What was your first real job?
In high school, I spent summers working as a laborer for plumbing contractor based in Manhattan. The job got me all around the city and taught me a thing or two about what is behind the walls of a home or apartment building. Later, on I was able to appreciate the privilege of working at a newspaper.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
Drinking a weekend mojito or two while reading on my back yard deck.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Danny Glover or Wendell Pierce. Or Denzel Washington, in a pinch.


Martin Bialecki Summer 2016

NPC member Martin Bialecki

Martin Bialecki, USA bureau chief of the German Press Agency dpa. Reid has been an NPC member since 2015.

What's your current job?
I’m the USA bureau chief of the German Press Agency dpa (Deutsche Presse-Agentur), a German newswire with round about 1000 employees round the globe and some 20 guys in the US.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
Since my family and I moved to DC in August 2015. There are two best experiences: Having a cold beer at the nice old fashioned bar up there with a very good friend - and our annual meeting with the whole US-dpa-Team and our editor-in-chief in the McClendon room. These two days were very important and just perfect.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
Getting up at 4:45am (the time lag, the German news market...), cereals in front of my computer, checking WP, NYT, Politico, several sources in my Tweetdeck and the requests from the newsroom (Berlin), going by bike to the Metro and imploringly hoping for the Red Line… Picking up a coffee at Peet’s, opening the office at 6.30 am. Liftoff.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
Being a reporter in New York City starting on September 15th 2011. And it was a great honour being appointed to my current position.

What was your childhood dream job?
Being a writer.

What was your first real job?
Close to being a writer: Laborer in a factory for screws and bolts.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
Some rest of independency, my diary, cold beer from time to time and I would really miss the Sunday NYT one fine day...

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Hmm. Helmut Berger is dead [note: actor Helmut Berger is alive at time of publication - Ed.]. So Gabriel Byrne! (That would ensure my wife would see the movie...)


Paula Reid Spring 2016

NPC member Paula Reid

Paula Reid, Justice Reporter for CBS News. Reid has been an NPC member since 2015.

What's your current job?
Justice Reporter for CBS News, based in Washington DC.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I have been a member for less than a year, but I am already getting so much out of the NPC. My favorite activity is the Young Members committee "Piano Talks" series where news veterans share insights from their careers.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
I get up at 6am and look for any news on my beat that broke overnight. I watch the first half of “CBS This Morning” from 7am-8am and then head to CBS where I try to read at least one major newspaper and watch CBSN to get caught up on all the news before our 9:30am editorial meetings. I spend most of my day talking with sources and reporting out all the justice and legal affairs news of the day for CBSN, CBS Radio, CBS This Morning and CBS Newspath. Anyone in this business knows, there is no typical day - I could be attending a press conference with the Attorney General, waiting for big decision from SCOTUS, reading an indictment, or racing to court after a big arrest.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
Getting my first job at CBS News. I was so determined to get a job at CBS News that I took a bus from Philly (where I was living) to NYC every day for six months to intern at the CBS Broadcast Center. I knew if I could just get a staff job – any job - that I could eventually work my way up and make a career as a legal affairs reporter. After about six months of interning I was offered a job as a production secretary/fact-checker for the CBS Evening News. I was so incredibly happy to get that job because it meant that I was an official part of the best news organization in the business. I received that offer exactly six years ago and I have subsequently worked very hard to achieve my goal of becoming a legal affairs reporter.

What was your childhood dream job?
I wanted to become a lawyer... and I graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 2008. I passed Bar Exams in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. After clerking for year, I decided to take a shot at my dream job, being a legal journalist.

What was your first real job?
I was a papergirl. I delivered "The Beverly Times" (now "The Salem News") when I was about ten years old.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
I love country music from the 80s and 90s. Dolly Parton... Travis Tritt... Garth Brooks. LOVE IT.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
I would want it to be a Pixar movie. They are such incredible storytellers and I think it would be a good girl-power allegory about following your dreams, despite student loans...


Michele Salcedo Winter 2016

NPC member Michele Salcedo

Michele Salcedo, Text and social media editor for The Associated Press. Salcedo has been an NPC member since 2009.

What's your current job?
Text and social media editor on the General Desk in The Associated Press’ Washington Bureau

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I’ve been a member since 2009. Hands down, I love the newsmaker luncheons. Not only do they give you a chance to hear policymakers and change agents, but we also have a chance to ask them questions. And the others at the table are generally very interesting. I try to attend them whenever I can. Of the luncheons I’ve attended, two stand out, and I had the privilege of sitting at the head table for both: Chris Evert, whom I’ve adored since I started playing tennis, and Venus Williams, whom I’ve adored since she started playing at the U.S. Open.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
At home, I get up around 7 a.m., do some stretches and some strength exercises, do some chores around the house, eat breakfast, pack my lunch, hop in the shower, dress and head to the X2 bus stop. On a nice day, I’ll walk to the Stadium-Armory Metro stop, about 20 minutes away from my house in Carver-Langston. At the office, I read the wire to see what stories have moved overnight, catch up on the important emails (from the news editors and senior editors), the most important of which is what the preview of the days stories will be, and update the @AP_Politics Twitter feed and AP Politics Facebook page with stories that should have been sent out or posted but haven’t been. Then I’m ready for whatever the day throws at me.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
The resignation of a Bexar County, Texas, business development director after reporting on conflicts of interest she had. I was working for the San Antonio Light at the time. It was my first newspaper job. Also in San Antonio, reporting a not-guilty verdict in a murder case involving a teacher who had an affair with a male high school student who committed suicide. The verdict came in the middle of our press run, and they actually stopped the presses to re-plate with my story. There are others. But those two are pretty special.

What was your childhood dream job?
I couldn’t decide between journalism or law. So I’m blessed to have my dream job.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
Good food, good wine and hot jazz.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Salma Hayek. She’s an amazing actress.


John Welch Fall 2015

NPC member John Welch

John Welch, Account Supervisor, Public Affairs at Edelman PR. Welch has been an NPC member since 2013.

What's your current job?
Account Supervisor, Public Affairs at Edelman PR.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
Nearly two years, after a compelling pitch from Donna Leinwand Leger! Participating on the speakers committee has been great. I’ve enjoyed setting up our luncheons with CVS CEO Larry Merlo, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and others. I also loved the dinner with Carla Hall from The Chew – although I have failed to attempt anything from her cookbook, which I had autographed and gave to my mom anyway.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
Usually up by 6am, check work email for any urgent matters, scroll through Facebook for a few minutes and head to the gym in my building and watch CNN. Then I walk to Metro, where more often than not I will tweet my frustrations over delays and jam-packed cars. #unsuckDCmetro

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I get to do a lot of exciting work being in crisis and public affairs that’s high-profile in nature but of course can’t spill the beans in this forum due to client confidentiality. But I did get to pitch and secure a segment for one of my university clients on CBS This Morning about a senior engineering student that was creating prosthetic limbs for disabled children…using a 3D printer! I joined the CBS crew on campus to coordinate the interviews and locations, then watched donations pour in to this student’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign after the segment ran that’s going to help a lot more kids get these prosthetics. Media can do a lot of good.

What was your childhood dream job?
Being completely transparent, my first dream job was to be a cashier at the grocery store (I was five!). Then I wanted to become a teacher, like many of my relatives. Then it was a journalist, or a diplomat. I guess it makes sense I’m in public relations – it’s a combination of all my life-long interests! Exchanging goods and [professional] services for money, teaching my interns the ropes of media relations, media writing and public affairs campaigns, and being as diplomatic as possible with and for my clients!

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
When I’m eating lunch, you can usually catch me reading The Onion.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Seth Rogen – a funny guy, but can play serious parts when he needs to.


Lisa Matthews June 2015

NPC member Lisa Matthews

Lisa Matthews, Vice President, Hager Sharp. Matthews has been an NPC member since 2014.

What's your current job?
Vice President Hager Sharp.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
About 6 months, participating in speaker’s committee meetings and broadcast committee functions. I’ve especially enjoyed the challenge of finding folks to speak at the NPC.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
Check Facebook, check Twitter, scan the headlines, check work email, walk my dog and have a dirty chai latte.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I can't narrow it down to a single moment. I've had several fantastic opportunities, including my recent career change from journalism to public relations. I now work with clients ranging from the National Alliance on Mental Health to the Leadership Conference Education Fund. It’s been quite an experience finding ways to make a difference for Hager Sharp clients in just about every facet of health care and education. Some moments I will always remember from my time at the AP include running radio row coverage for Associated Press Broadcast during the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions, election week/night in Boston with the Romney campaign in 2012 and attending the White House Christmas party when Bill Clinton was in office (pre-Monica, great party!).

What was your childhood dream job?
Replacing Dan Rather as the anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
An annual trip to Aruba and heated seats in my SUV during the winter.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Sanaa Lathan.

What’s the best career advice you've offered?
I've offered a ton of career advice over the years and find myself assisting quite a few folks with resumes and interview prep. My advice includes be yourself, believe in yourself, trust in God and once you get the job – help others get one too. Each one of us is here to do great things and that includes helping others.


Natalie DiBlasio May 2015

NPC member Natalie DiBlasio

Natalie DiBlasio, Reporter & Senior Editor at RunHaven. DiBlasio has been an NPC member since 2012.

What's your current job?
Reporter & Senior Editor at RunHaven.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I've been a member at the National Press Club since 2012. It's so hard to pick a favorite moment — I ate lunch two seats away from Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU, sat at the head table during Donald Trump's luncheon, ate the best lobster risotto in the world at the Fourth Estate, loved every second of two Beat The Deadline 5Ks and have had more than my share of free tacos at the Club’s famous Friday Taco Night (they are delicious!)

Tell us about your morning ritual.
Snooze, snooze, run, coffee.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
Before I left to work at RunHaven I was a reporter at USA TODAY. Every day in that newsroom I was surrounded by amazing mentors who gave me advice on everything from comma placement to life goals. I learned more about news, reporting and being a person in each day of my career there than I could have learned in years in a classroom. Now, I am loving my new journey leading a team at the running publication, RunHaven. I get to spend every day meshing my work with my passion and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. That being said — I have no idea what my favorite moment was through any of this. My favorite part of my career journey has, without a doubt, been the mentors I’ve met along the way. Everything built on everything else to bring me where I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Doesn't that make even my least favorite moments worth it?

What was your childhood dream job?
I always wanted to be a teacher or a professional tree climber/fort builder.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
Running, Cheez-Its and gummi bears.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Amy Poehler.

What’s the best career advice you've offered?
The best advice I’ve ever offered is a compilation of the best advice I've received from my many mentors: Read everything you can get your hands on. Always bring a pencil (pens freeze in the cold). You'll never regret taking the high road. No matter what, it's always a beautiful day for a run.


Debra Alfarone February 2015

NPC member Debra Alfarone

Debra Alfarone, Reporter/Fill-in Anchor at WUSA9. Alfarone has been an NPC member since February 2014.

What's your current job?
Reporter/Fill-in Anchor at WUSA9, the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I've been a member of NPC for a year, and by far the best experience has been sitting at the head table, just 3 people away from the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, as he addressed a packed luncheon crowd.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
Always coffee. Sometimes exercise. Always read local papers and blogs, and watch Nightline from the night before on my DVR. Then I get ready for work and underestimate how much time that will take, even though I do it every day.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I was honored to cover the Hannah Graham story for WUSA9. I was in Charlottesville for 3 weeks and learned so much about the area, the people, the searchers, the police officers, and the community. There was so much speculation and misinformation and worldwide attention to this story, and so many questions, that I spent every waking hour, when I wasn't preparing a report, answering questions on Twitter and separating fact from speculation. It was very rewarding to be so embedded and knowledgeable about a story that you could play an expert role and help people understand the case better.

What was your childhood dream job?
Honestly, I don’t know that I ever dreamt I'd be doing this. The reality of my life has far surpassed what I could have dreamed up.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
The guilty part of me says chocolate chip cookies. The practical yet fashion-oriented-side says a well-tailored sheath dress.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Hmm... Kate Hudson? But that’s only if Beyonce isn’t available.

What’s the best career advice you've offered?
Never complain. Be grateful. Thank everyone for their time, advice and energy. Never take anything personally. And ask for what you want, politely. And often. And then... once more.


Ursula Lauriston January 2015

NPC member Ursula Lauriston

Ursula Lauriston, Editor in Chief at Capitol Standard. Lauriston has been an NPC member since July 2014.

What's your current job?
Editor in Chief at Capitol Standard.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I joined late this year so it has only been a few months; but I already think it's the best money I've ever spent. I loved going to the Embassy of Bangladesh. The food was so good and I took a selfie with the Ambassador.

Tell us about your morning ritual.
I usually go to sleep with lots of ideas flowing through my head so when I wake up I write immediately. I do my best writing before I even get out of bed. Then I spend some time in prayer. The calmness it brings to the day is like exercise for the mind.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I do not have an all-time favorite moment yet but I did get to interview Akon when he came to the Press Club. That was an incredible day.

My entire career has involved interviewing people. The best stories I've heard have been from ordinary people who for some reason have a new lease on life. Their energy is intoxicating.

What was your childhood dream job?
I always wanted to be a news anchor or talk show host. In college I majored in broadcast journalism but soon changed it to business communications. I thought I would be more useful behind the camera. But as I get older and become more confident, I'd love to get back in front of the camera.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
I most certainly can live without it, but fortunately I won't ever have to. I hate to admit it, but I watch horrible reality television. Shows like 'Naked Dating' can easily rob hours of my life. The more ridiculous, the better. They make me giddy.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
I am one of seven children and I have a twin sister. Every one of my siblings is a natural entertainer so I think it would be crazy not to have one of them play me. My seven-year old sister Laura is a burst of energy and sharp as a whip. She's absolutely insane so I think she'd be a perfect fit.

What’s the best career advice you've offered?
Work is life. So I think the best career advice is life advice. I'm a perfectionist like many other people in DC, and when I make a mistake it can seem like the world is ending. Then someone said to me "be kind to yourself." So simple yet powerful. When we are kind to ourselves we are kind to those around us. And when people like us walls come down and doors open up.


Jennifer Dart October 2014

NPC member Jennifer Dart

Jennifer Dart, Digital Media & Special Projects Manager | Office of Communications & Public Affairs. Dart has been an NPC member since April 2014.

What’s your best experience thus far?
As a new member, I’ve enjoyed everything - I never miss an email from NPC Wire and especially appreciate the various Journalism Institute classes on digital media.

I've already begun brainstorming costume choices for the Reliable Source Halloween party.

What’s your favorite moment of your career so far?
After spending more than a decade in the PR agency world, I've fulfilled my goal to focus my communications expertise at an association.

Mental health is my passion both professionally and on a personal level since my father, a journalist and former NPC member, died from suicide a few years ago.

Watching Vice President Biden speak at the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting last May was a proud and profound moment for me.

What was your childhood dream job?
I started ballet when I was three and fantasized about being a professional dancer until I found my dance classes were coming in between me and my play dates.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
80s everything: music, movies... and Hello Kitty.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Sarah Michelle Gellar or Alicia Silverstone - two of my favorite actresses I really miss seeing at the movies.

What social media network can you not live without?
Twitter! I recently read a tweet calling Twitter the 6th network (there’s ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, and Twitter).

It’s been exciting watching our members and leadership embrace social media; Twitter is definitely the favorite platform being used to engage with the public/patient communities.

If you could provide one piece of professional advice, what would it be?
No matter where you are in your career, take the risks you need to take in order to achieve a fulfilling professional life.

But also strive for balance. Life is definitely too precious for nonstop stress and job burnout.


Paul Shinkman September 2014

NPC member Paul Shinkman

Paul Shinkman, National Security Correspondent, U.S. News and World Report. Shinkman has been an NPC member since 2011.

What's your current job?
National Security Correspondent, U.S. News and World Report.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I joined in February 2011 as a reward for finally landing a paying job in journalism, covering something I enjoyed and with compensation enough to pay for rent and beer. I have loved every minute of being a member, not in the least in treading the same marble and polishing the same 3-feet of mahogany as my father and grandfather.

I had a really good time at last year's Press Club Standup Comedy competition. But sitting in a wing-back chair with a glass of good scotch or gin (depending on the season), catching up on the news or a good book, and drinking in the Press Club scene is a fine way to pass the time.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
Embedding in Afghanistan was probably the biggest career changer for me. Seeing how policies (which make sense at home) shake out on the battlefield (where they seem to make no sense) reshaped the way I view covering defense issues, particularly in the comfortable halls of the Pentagon.

One of the most poignant moments came while covering the joint Pentagon/congressional group that is currently studying how the military handles sexual assault cases. I received some of the most memorable reader feedback after a string of stories, largely from military sexual assault survivors who finally felt they could talk about their own experiences.

What was your childhood dream job?
To do something that would one day inspire outlandish stories told to subsequent generations. I had a steep curve to fulfill, but journalism could just be the right medium.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
New pens. I'm starting to think that my supposed search for the ultimate writing utensil is actually just my desire to continually buy new ones. Japanese "Le Pens" had been the winner until I bought my first German "LEMY" fountain pen a few weeks ago. It might be a keeper.

That, and cheese. I can’t have enough.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Well clearly Brad Pitt, right? Can’t we all agree on that? In truth, probably someone like Benedict Cumberbatch, though he’d have to dull down his usual quick witticisms.

If you could provide one piece of professional advice, what would it be?
Go for broke, every time. If you’re asking someone for something, such as a job or an inside scoop, they’re already not giving it to you. Most of the time it pays off to act boldly.

What's your favorite city to travel to for business?
Charleston, S.C., if only for the food. It’s without comparison to anywhere else I’ve been in the States. Guantanamo Bay is also an absolutely fascinating and completely bizarre place. But the island of Cuba has an unparalleled mystique, at least for me.

What would be your ideal job, if not in PR?
National Park ranger, far and away. Probably in Shenandoah, Yosemite, or Grand Tetons. Anywhere I can climb.


Thomas Sanchez August 2014

NPC member Thomas Sanchez

Thomas Sanchez is the CEO & founder of Social Driver. He has been an NPC member since 2011.

What's your current job?
CEO + Founder of Social Driver, a digital innovation agency based in Washington, DC. We're focused on using technology to help people and companies reach their biggest goals. I started the company in 2009 and since then, we've become one of the fastest growing agencies in the United States.

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I've been a member for almost five years. The typical response might be a well-known speaker or world leader who comes to the club to discuss pressing issues but for me, it's meeting and learning more about my fellow members. Each member has their own story and pathway in life. Having a place like the National Press Club to gather and form bonds and friendships with one another is invaluable.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I would have to say my first big international business trip. It's something I'll never forget because it makes you feel like you've been called up to the "Big Leagues."

What was your childhood dream job?
When I was a child, I always wanted to be an architect. I loved bridges and the idea of connecting two objects that were previously foreign to each other. It's funny looking back now and seeing how closely it now links to our work at Social Driver, connecting our clients with their audience.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
Nespresso.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
James Franco - I would love to see him host a session at the National Press Club one day. He's a Renaissance man - an actor, painter, writer and an academic. It would be an interesting discussion to say the least. Plus, we are exactly the same height!

If you could provide one piece of professional advice, what would it be?
Do something your grandchildren will tell stories about.


Katy Steinmetz July 2014

NPC member Katy Steinmetz

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter for TIME Magazine based out of San Francisco. She has been an NPC member since 2010.

What's your current job?
TIME Magazine Correspondent

How long have you been a member of the NPC? What’s your best experience thus far?
I've been a member since 2010. My best experience was, hands down, the National Press Club Centennial Spelling Bee in 2013, when we pit lawmakers against journalists---and winner Sen. Tim Kaine dedicated his victory to "poor male spellers everywhere."

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
Taking selfies in the Air Force One bathroom. Unless that's frowned upon. In which case, speaking truth to power!

What was your childhood dream job?
In first grade, they asked that question and I said that I wanted to be a "motel check-in lady." Seemed like the coolest job in the world, meeting mysterious travelers, being the keeper of keys. I clearly had very high aspirations from early on.

Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
Puppies and nachos, in equal measure.

If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
I'd LIKE it to be, you know, Mila Kunis. But if we're being honest, it would probably be Janeane Garofalo.

If you could provide one piece of professional advice, what would it be?
Be interested in everything and everyone.