Sharon McGowan, editor-in-chief of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, is a reporter, writer, editor and teacher. She has a master’s degree from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and started her career as an investigative reporter and managing editor of The Chicago Reporter, a monthly publication covering race relations and poverty issues. She later was managing editor/assistant news director at all-news WBBM-AM, and then assignment manager for WBBM-TV, both CBS stations in Chicago.
McGowan and her husband, Jim, founded Complete Communications, Inc. in 1986. She also directed the graduate Introduction to Journalism program at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University and was an adjunct lecturer for more than 20 years. She has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television News Directors Association, Women in Communications and others.
The McGowans have two adult children. Their daughter, Jennifer, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, works on implementing health care reform in the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Their son, Joshua, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and works for Snow City Arts, a Chicago nonprofit that brings the arts to hospitalized children.
Amber Flanagan is the Sustainability and Engagement Director for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.
She comes to NNS with nearly 10 years of experience in strategic planning, volunteer management, peer-to-peer fundraising through events, securing sponsorships, grant research and writing as well as annual campaign management.
Prior to joining the team at NNS she was the development director at Make A Difference – Wisconsin, the director of special events at the American Lung Association and a senior community relations staff partner at the American Cancer Society.
Flanagan has a love for philanthropy, international cultural exchange, enriching her community and serving others. She serves on the board of directors for Inhabit, an organization dedicated to renovating foreclosed homes and placing individuals in under-resourced neighborhoods. She is also very active in the Type 1 Diabetes community, serving on local and statewide parent advisory boards as well as the Young Leadership Committee for JDRF Wisconsin.
In her free time Amber enjoys reading, traveling and everything food. A Milwaukee native, she studied Business Leadership and Management at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is the proud mother of two sons, Ahmad and Eyan.
Dwayne Burtin is a web coordinator at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and manager of the NNS Lindsay Heights Community Page. A native Milwaukeean, he began his career in online communication in 2001 as web designer/ creative director at Homeboyz Interactive,and has a wealth of experience in online journalism and social media, as well as other interactive and digital media.
Burtin participated in the 2012 Fight for Air Climb at the U.S. Bank Center on March 17, climbing 47 floors, or 1,034 steps, to benefit the American Lung Association.
Adam Carr is a web coordinator at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, as well as a freelance media producer. A proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools, he worked between 2008-2011 at 88Nine RadioMilwaukee as the community initiative producer, producing nearly 1,000 short-form audio stories on different facets of the Milwaukee community.
His work has received numerous local broadcasting awards, including the Milwaukee Press Club and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Awards for Excellence.
He continues to find new directions for his passion for and love of Milwaukee.
Raina J. Johnson is a reporter at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, a freelance writer and a part-time barista at Starbucks. Johnson has worked in corporate public relations and as a career coach. She has a blog on metroparent magazine, titled I SAID YES!
Johnson graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in 2010 with a degree in English. While at Stritch, she was the managing copy editor of the student-run newspaper. Johnson resides in Milwaukee and has a 4-year-old son named Elijah. In their spare time, they enjoy playing at the parks and reading at the public library. They also adopted their cat Lilly on Dec. 24, 2013.
Edgar Mendez is a beat reporter for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, covering Clarke Square, the neighborhood in which he lives. Prior to joining the team at NNS he was a feature writer for El Conquistador Newspaper in Milwaukee, and a web writer/reporter for Scene262.com in Racine.
Mendez, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, graduated from UW-Milwaukee, with a double major in Journalism and Media Communications and Sociology. In 2008, he won a Society of Professional Journalists’ regional award for social columns dealing with diverse issues such as poverty, homelessness and racism. Currently, he’s a master’s degree student at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.
His interests include scholastic research, social networking and the Green Bay Packers.
Brendan O’Brien is a staff reporter for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. During his 15-year career as a reporter and editor, O’Brien has covered breaking news, politics and governmental affairs for several news outlets, including Thomson Reuters and the Racine Journal Times.
O’Brien has a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Robert La Follette School of Public Affairs, where he focused on social policy such as poverty, employment and housing.
O’Brien has three daughters, who are 5, 7 and 12 years old.
Andrea Waxman is a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. A professional writer, she is completing a graduate certificate in Digital Storytelling at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor for a community newspaper and taught English and Japanese in several area middle and high schools.
Waxman has lived in Milwaukee since 1981, but spent most of her early years living in Tokyo, where her father was stationed at the American embassy. She returned to Japan in 1986 and again in 1993 when her husband was there as a Fulbright scholar.
In her free time, Waxman enjoys theater, movies, music, ethnic food, cities, travel, reading — especially the news of the day — and all kinds of people. She is interested in working for social justice and contributing to the vitality of the city.
Sue Vliet is a volunteer photographer for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She attended Beloit College and UW-Madison, where she earned a B.A. in art history.
Vliet works as a freelance photographer specializing in portraits, especially of children and families, locations and art. She owns a small art card business featuring her photos of Milwaukee scenes, which are sold in area stores.
Vliet volunteers for a number of local organizations including Arts@Large; Riveredge Nature Center; MPS; Penfield Children’s Center; Schlitz Audubon Nature Center; and Extreme Moms Milwaukee.
Vliet and her husband have two adult children, Sally and Connor. Vliet is an avid gardener, reader, runner, cook and baker and also enjoys travel and her pets. She loves and is fascinated by the city of Milwaukee and is committed to working to support it.
Molly Rippinger is a reporter and Public Policy Forum Fellow at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. A Midwest native but Milwaukee transplant, Rippinger brings a fresh perspective to the NNS team with professional experience writing for food-based publications in St. Louis.
Rippinger attended Saint Louis University, where she earned a degree in communication with an emphasis on journalism and media. Currently, she is a master’s degree student at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.
Matthew Wisla is a reporter and Public Policy Forum Fellow at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. He graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University, and has worked as an associate editor and editor for several trade and business publications.
Prior to joining NNS, Wisla worked in a range of corporate communications roles in the U.S. and overseas. Currently, he’s a master’s degree student at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.
Arthur Jones is a social media intern for Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. A junior in the Diederich College of Communication, Jones is majoring in Advertising. He has interned for WUWM as a marketing and social media intern. Arthur is actively involved with the Marquette Alumni Association as a student “alumni ambassador.” He also sits on the executive board of the Marquette chapter of the NAACP as a member of the public relations team.