Advisory Board

NECIR’s advisory board is made up of a diverse group of community and business leaders, media experts, prominent national and local journalists and Boston University College of Communication professors. The board provides NECIR staff with advice in several areas including: strategic planning, sustainability, management, partner relationships, identifying community needs and fundraising.

Francine Achbar has enjoyed successful careers both as  a non-profit leader and as a television producer and executive. As Executive Director of the New Center for Arts and Culture, she lead a nascent organization to become Boston’s leading presenter of Jewish arts, culture and ideas. Prior to the New Center, Achbar was, for more than twenty years, an award winning producer and programming executive at WBZ-TV, CBS Boston. A graduate of Boston University, she was honored by its College of Communication as a Distinguished Alumna. She is also a regular panelist on the nationally syndicated public radio program “Says You.”

Bill Ambrose is the Managing Director of Stone Silo Advisors, a management consulting firm that works closely with start-ups and growth companies providing industry research and analysis. Prior to Bill starting that company, he was the founder and CEO of Emerging Energy Research (2002-2010) and the Founder and CEO of Pyramid Research. Both companies specialized in market research. Bill has an MBA in International Business from Columbia University’s Business School and a BA in Economics & Intercultural Studies from Trinity College. He resides with his family in Acton, MA.

Jim Barron, CEO, Barron Associates Worldwide, a communications strategies firm. Attorney, journalist, consultant, educator, and organization president, Jim has twenty-five years in business and public affairs, government, marketing and international collaboration. He is founder of the award-winning International Boston Initiative and Atlantic Rim Network, which have brought together business leaders, policy makers, and non-governmental groups for international programs in trade, tourism, transportation, environment, education, new technologies and health care. As lawyer and business consultant, Jim has represented clients on six continents, taught opinion research issues at MIT and Harvard and directed the Massachusetts Privacy Commission.

Joshua Benton is director of the Nieman Journalism Lab. Before spending a year at Harvard as a 2008 Nieman Fellow, he spent 10 years in newspapers, most recently at The Dallas Morning News. His reports on cheating on standardized tests in the Texas public schools led to the permanent shutdown of a school district and won the Philip Meyer Journalism Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has reported from 10 foreign countries, been a Pew Fellow in International Journalism, and three times been a finalist for the Livingston Award for International Reporting. Before Dallas, he was a reporter and rock critic for The Toledo Blade. He is a big nerd who started blogging when Bill Clinton was still president.

Tom Fiedler is the Dean of the Boston University College of Communication (COM). He began his tenure on June 1, 2008 following a distinguished career in journalism. Tom joined the Miami Herald after graduating from COM and worked there for almost 30 years as an investigative reporter, a political columnist, the editorial page editor and finally, the executive editor, from 2001 to 2007.In 1987, after presidential hopeful Gary Hart told journalists asking about his suspected marital infedelity to follow him around, Fiedler and other Herald reporters took him up on the challenge and exposed Hart's campaign-ending affair with a Miami model. The next year, Fiedler received the Society of Professional journalists' top award for his coverage of the 1988 presidential election. Three years later, his investigative reporting on a religious cult, earned the Herald a Pulitzer Prize. The Herald's entire staff won another Pulitzer in 1993 for the paper's coverage of Hurricane Andrew. As the newspaper's executive editor, Fiedler was a stickler for journalism ethics, particularly after reporters working for the Herald's Spanish-language sister publication El Nuevo Herald, were found to be on the payroll of a U.S. government-owned anti-Castro news service in 2006. Fiedler also pushed his reporters and editors to embrace the Internet as a critical means of news delivery, rather than just an appendage of the newspaper. He also embraced new media as a visiting Murrow Lecturer and Goldsmith Fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, where he investigated the impact of the Web on the presidential primary system and taught a graduate course on the intersection of media, politics and public policy. In addition, Fiedler co-directed a project, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation, exploring the future of journalism education. In 2003, Fiedler received the College of Communication's Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2005, the college presented him with the Hugo Shong Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. In 2006, he was elected a member of BU's Board of Overseers.

Bob Giles has been curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University for the past decade. He has overseen the oldest midcareer fellowship for journalists during a turbulent time for media worldwide. Under his leadership, the foundation created the Nieman Journalism Lab to foster collaboration on creating and promoting quality journalism in the internet age. In addition, Nieman Reports, the foundation’s quarterly magazine, has expanded its online reach. Bob spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business. His career included stints as editor and publisher of the Detroit News, which he left in 1997 to become senior vice president of The Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan, international foundation dedicated to freedom of speech and of the press. Two newspapers won Pulitzer Prizes under his editorship: the Beacon Journal in 1971, when he was managing editor, and the Detroit News won in 1994, when Giles was editor. Giles won the Scripps-Howard Foundation's Distinguished Journalism Citation in 1978 for "outstanding public service in the cause of the First Amendment" and is the author of "Newsroom Management: A Guide to Theory and Practice."

Brant Houston is the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches and works on special projects for working journalists. For the previous 11 years, he was the head of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting, and also was a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is co-founder of the Global Investigative Journalism Network and also serves on the board of the Fund for Investigative Journalism.Brant has conducted more than 250 professional workshops and lectures on investigative and computer-assisted reporting for journalists around the world. He is the author of "Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide," and co-author of "The Investigative Reporter's Handbook." Brant worked as an award-winning investigative reporter for 17 years at newspapers in Hartford, Kansas City, and the Boston area.

Georgia M. Johnson is a partner in the small management consulting firm, Johnson & Lawrence, Inc. Her firm analyzes and develops operational administrative processes, organizations, and systems, assessing the different, sometimes conflicting, business needs and work flows in order to develop a consensus approach to resolving operational issues.Prior to forming Johnson & Lawrence, Johnson led the department responsible for the development of all operational and administrative policies and procedures for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as it grew from a $30 million to $5 billion organization. Johnson worked as a project manager in the management consulting practice of Price Waterhouse Coopers before joining HHMI and received her BA in history from Wellesley College and MBA in finance from the University of Chicago.In addition to her professional experience, Johnson has served on a variety of boards, including the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, the Brookline Community Mental Health Center, the Brookline High School 21st Century Fund, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, and the Corporate Partnership for Managerial Excellence for Montgomery County Schools.

Bill Ketter is a veteran journalist, news executive and journalism educator. He has served as editor-in-chief and vice president/news of the Lawrence, Mass., Eagle-Tribune, which won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 2003; vice president and foundation president of the Boston Globe; vice president and editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., and chairman of the Boston University Journalism Department. He was also a reporter, editor and vice president with United Press International for 16 years. He has served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University, and a national director of the Society of Professional Journalists.Ketter was the first chairman of the international editors forum sponsored by the World Newspaper Association in Vienna, Austria, in 1994 and has traveled to more than 25 countries on behalf of a free press. He was a co-founder of the Massachusetts Judiciary-Media Committee, and serves as chairman of the New England Academy of Journalists, the organization that annually awards the “Yankee Quill” award to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to New England journalism. Ketter received the award in 1987. He was appointed vice president of news for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which owns and operates 90 dailies and 50 nondailies in 26 states, in the fall of 2006 after it purchased the Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co.

Charles Lewis is a professor and founding executive editor of the new Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. A national investigative journalist for nearly 30 years, Lewis is a bestselling author who has founded or co-founded three nonprofit organizations in Washington including the Center for Public Integrity. Lewis left a successful career as a producer for the CBS News program 60 Minutes and began the Center, which under his leadership published roughly 300 investigative reports, including 14 books, from 1989-2004.

David B. Musket has been following developments in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries for over 25 years. From May 1984 to May 1989, Musket was an Associate Analyst and then Vice President in the Equities Research Division of Goldman Sachs & Co. sharing responsibility for research and investment banking coverage of the pharmaceutical industry. While Musket was at Goldman, this team was consistently ranked among the top in the industry polls conducted by Institutional Investor and the Greenwich Survey. In 1991 he founded Musket Research Associates, a venture banking firm focused exclusively on financing and investing in emerging healthcare companies. In 1996 he co-founded ProMed Partners, a healthcare-focused investment fund. He is still actively involved with both of these entities.Musket's scientific training included over four years in a doctoral program in Pharmacology and Neurobiology at Cornell University Medical College before he joined Goldman Sachs & Co. His undergraduate education was completed at Boston College (Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude). He has served on the Boards of several private and public companies and is currently on the board of TherOx, Inc. Since 2002 Musket has also served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Harvard/MIT Health Sciences and Technology program as well as its Biomedical Enterprise Program.

Elizabeth Ritvo is a Partner in the Litigation and Media and Publishing groups at Brown Rudnick. Ms. Ritvo has more than thirty years of broad experience in complex commercial litigation, and regularly counsels and represents newspapers, television stations, publishers and other media in libel, invasion of privacy, access, First Amendment and copyright matters.Her legal victories include: defending a newspaper against a defamation claim brought by the Islamic Society of Boston against a client newspaper; defending a non-party newspaper’s assertion of privilege in litigation brought by a libel plaintiff against an insurer; defending a television station in a defamation claim brought by a father who was the focus of nationwide manhunt during a custody dispute and became subject of television broadcast; and others. Ms. Ritvo has also served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association for business and construction disputes.

Barbara A. Simonetti is an independent consultant specializing in developing the capacity of professionals and organizations to create share and use knowledge to meet emerging challenges. She has extensive experience in meeting design, presentation and facilitation skills coaching, group facilitation, training designand delivery, strategy implementation, and building networks and communities of practice.Her background includes consulting, and management experience at Chase Manhattan Bank, Citicorp, Rhone Poulenc Rorer, Pfizer, Microsoft, Communispace, Lever Brothers, Merck, Fibar, C.I.T, Calvary
Hospital, The Forum Corporation, DuPont, City University of New York, The City of New York, Police Athletic League, EMC, the Longwood Cricket Club and The Princeton Center for Leadership Development. She has served as faculty for the train-the-trainer programs at Cornell University. She initiated the Knowledge Management Interest Group for CAM-I, a collaborative research organization whose members include Fortune 100 manufacturing firms and the big six consulting firms. She was the principal designer of Forum’s leadership capability on strategic implementation. She has also served as master facilitator for a number of on-line corporate communities She has done extensive work on the design and facilitation of international meetings of senior and functional managers and the creation of communities of practice and networks across functional groups and geographies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Fordham University, a Master of Science degree in
Education from Columbia University, and a Master of Business Administration from New York University. She has completed course work at Harvard University in Microcomputers and the New Technology. She has a continuing interest in learning in both the educational and corporate setting and in the architecture of collaborative conversations and networks.

Doug Struck is Journalist in Residence and associate chairman of the Journalism Department at Emerson College in Boston. He has been a journalist for more than 30 years, most of that on the foreign and national staffs of the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun. He has reported from six continents and all 50 of the United States He ran bureaus in the Middle East, Tokyo and Toronto. Struck reported from Iraq on more than a dozen assignments over 14 years, and reported on conflicts in Afghanistan, the West Bank, Lebanon, East Timor, the southern Philippines and Sudan. From Canada, he specialized in global warming issues, roaming from the Arctic to Greenland icecaps to glaciers on the Andes mountains, and now writes on environmental issues. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2003-2004, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2002 and shared the Overseas Press Club Award in Investigative Journalism in 2000. He was a fellow at George Washington University in 1998-1999, worked at the Harvard Center for the Environment in 2008 and taught journalism at Boston University in 2008 and 2009.

Benjamin Taylor is a former executive editor and publisher of the Boston Globe where he worked for 28 years before leaving the paper at the end of 1999. His career at the Globe included a four-year stint in the Globe Washington Bureau where he covered Congress and the Reagan White House. Mr. Taylor is chairman of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, a non-profit organization that advocates for Boston's park system created by Frederick Law Olmsted. He also chairs the board of Living on Earth, an environmental news program on National Public Radio. Mr. Taylor also is a board member of: the American Prospect, a non-profit political and public policy magazine; Demos, a non-profit think tank that focuses on public policy; and Discovering Justice, a non-profit organization that focuses on civic education and its crucial role in our democracy. Tutoring under-served high school students in writing at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, MA is the most rewarding endeavor of his career. Born in Boston, Mr. Taylor graduated from Harvard College in 1969 with a BA in American History. He and his wife, Kate, live in Brookline, MA. They have three adult children.

Win Treese is a principal with the consulting company Serissa Research, Inc. He is the former program director of the Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering at Boston University, and has previously led software team at startups, including high-performance computing company SiCortex and Internet commerce pioneer Open Market. Win also chaired the working group at the Internet Engineering Task Force that standardized the widely-used Secure Sockets Layer protocol universally used on the Web. He is the co-author of the book Designing Systems for Internet Commerce, and is now working on a new book.

Bill Wheatley is a journalism consultant and former executive vice president of NBC News. He serves as an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. At NBC, Mr. Wheatley had executive responsibility for the network's domestic and international news gathering and for its hard-news programs. He also served for five years as executive producer of NBC Nightly News and was closely associated with NBC's coverage of U.S. politics, overseeing the network's efforts in a half-dozen Presidential elections. He interrupted his career at NBC twice to study at Harvard University, as a Nieman Fellow studying American social history and as a Shorenstein Fellow studying Presidential leadership. Mr. Wheatley is a former president of the advisory committees of the Nieman Foundation and a member of the visiting committee of the Boston University College of Communication. He is the chairman of the jury of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University awards in broadcast and digital journalism. Mr. Wheatley holds a bachelor's degree in History from Boston College and a master's degree in Broadcasting from Boston University. He was born and raised in New York City.

John Willson is a nationally recognized expert in corporate environmental, health and safety (EHS) management, with 32 years consulting experience. He leads John Willson Associates, Inc. based in Lexington, Massachusetts.Prior to forming John Willson Associates in January 1999, he spent the previous 13 years (1986-1998) at Arthur D. Little Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a Vice President of EHS Consulting and led the firm’s global EHS Management Practice.John specializes in helping companies strengthen their environmental performance while aligning EHS strategy more closely with business goals; developing and/or redesigning EHS work processes and management systems; improving EHS organizational effectiveness; reducing unnecessary EHS-related costs and liabilities; building better EHS performance measurement capabilities; and gaining added business value by integrating EHS considerations directly into corporate planning and decision making.While at Arthur D. Little his clients included more than eighty Fortune 500 companies as well as other leading multinationals across a wide range of industry sectors --- oil, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and health care products, aerospace and defense, computers and electronics, telecommunications, food products, consumer goods, electric and gas utilities, and solid and hazardous waste treatment and disposal services.John received his MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1968) and holds an A.B. degree cum laude from Harvard (1963).

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