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Far from home, S'Newsers reunite to restart SNAA

Washington, D.C. meet-up first step in restoring alumni association

February 12, 2020
<p>2019-20 State News editor-in-chief Madison O&#x27;Connor (front row, far left) joins alumni at the Washington, D.C. meet-up on Nov. 1, 2019.</p>

2019-20 State News editor-in-chief Madison O'Connor (front row, far left) joins alumni at the Washington, D.C. meet-up on Nov. 1, 2019.

Photo by Omar Sofradzija | The State News

The location was far from the banks of the Red Cedar, but the feeling couldn’t have been any closer to home.

S’Newsers of various generations gathered in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 1, 2019 for the first of what is hoped to be a series of State News Alumni Association meet-ups, as SNAA begins to resurrect itself after a de facto decade-long dormancy.

The meet-up, held at the Renaissance Washington Downtown Hotel, came as current State Newsers were in the nation’s capital for the annual Associated Collegiate Press-College Media Association convention, where the newspaper was honored for its most recent work. 

Event attendees included Dante Chinni, ’91 (Wall Street Journal and NBC News); Zack Colman, ’10 (POLITICO); Bill Frischling, ’93 (FactSquared); John Hudson, ’09 (Washington Post); Ian Kullgren, ’14 (POLITICO); Lance Lagoni, ’69 (retired); Michelle Martinelli, ’12 (USA Today); Jim Mitzelfeld, ‘84 (U.S. Department of Justice); Eric Morath, ’04 (Wall Street Journal); Brittany Shammas, ’11 (Washington Post); Emily Wilkins, ’14 (Bloomberg Government); and Lisa Zagaroli, ’84 & ’86 (Federal Aviation Administration).

Alums were able to mingle with each other and some members of the 2019-20 staff, including editor-in-chief Madison O’Connor and reporters Maddie Monroe and Chandra Fleming. Also in attendance were multimedia adviser Wesley Herold and newsroom adviser Omar Sofradzija, who also serves in the newly-created role of alumni engagement director.

"The alumni event was a really fulfilling event, just because it was a great opportunity to meet former State News employees and to see what they're doing now and where life has taken them past their time at The State News," O'Connor said. "It was a really informational and rewarding experience to talk to people who know exactly what we're going through now as student-journalists at The State News."

The meet-up was seen as a test case for new alumni programming, which is expected to include other alumni meet-ups in Metro Detroit, the Chicagoland area and other places with a concentration of State News alumni. The SNAA is also hoping to host events at newspaper offices in East Lansing and during Homecoming Weekend in 2020.

Other possibilities include the resumption of an alumni-student mentoring program; the creation of an alumni experts’ directory where today’s S’Newsers could call for advice in expert subject areas involving both media and career direction; and having alumni speak to the current staff about various professional and career issues.

The hope in 2020 is to rebuild SNAA as an active community through in-person and online engagement. Once that is done, plans are to restore the alumni-led Board of Directors; resume activities surrounding the SNAA Hall of Fame; and find other ways to help alumni connect with each other, help today’s State Newsers and set SNAA’s future course.

In the meantime, SNAA hopes to keep alums abreast of the latest developments and plans via a digital email newsletter that was launched in Feburary 2020, and an alumni news page at, the latter of which will be periodically updated with SNAA news and alumni notes. SNAA news and alumni engagement are also available on social media on SNAA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

During this time, SNAA is looking for input, ideas and inspiration in restoring itself as a vibrant, active community for S’Newsers of all eras. Please feel free to share your thoughts by sending SNAA an email at


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