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About

State policies directly affect people’s daily lives, and state-level political battles shape the national landscape. While traditional news coverage of national politics has increased in recent years, state coverage continues to shrink — leaving a void that is too often filled by partisan or unreliable sources. In 2019, Pew Research Center reported that newsroom employment in the U.S. fell 25% between 2008 and 2018, with a 47% decline at newspapers. As a result, important issues in the states are under-covered, with real consequences for real people. Ultimately, States Newsroom exists to provide the relentless stream of quality reporting and commentary that helps sustain a vibrant democracy.

Each States Newsroom outlet is led by a veteran local journalist with deep knowledge of the state’s political history and media landscape who oversees a staff of experienced capital reporters. Our Washington, D.C., bureau reports on congressional delegations and key Supreme Court and administrative decisions that affect the states. Read our ethics policy.

States Newsroom is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit with offices in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Washington, D.C. All donations to States Newsroom and its affiliates are tax-deductible.

Meet The Staff

Director and Publisher

Chris Fitzsimon

Chris oversees the content and themes of the organization, managing financial resources, and supervising the state editors. He also travels frequently to hire and visit editors and grantees and appears weekly on the TV political talk show NC SPIN.

From 2004 to 2017, Fitzsimon was the founder and original director of NC Policy Watch, North Carolina's leading online news and commentary outlet, where he led a team of seven journalists, hosted a weekly radio show and wrote a syndicated column on North Carolina politics and government.

Fitzsimon was also the founder and director of Common Sense Foundation, a progressive think tank in Raleigh. From 1991 to 1994, he was the spokesperson, speech writer and policy adviser for N.C. Speaker of the House Dan Blue. Before his stint with Speaker Blue, Fitzsimon was an award-winning television news reporter covering politics and government.

Deputy Director

Andrea Verykoukis

Andrea is the former Communications Director for Public Schools First NC, a statewide education advocacy organization, and a longtime contributor to NC Policy Watch’s blog. She and Chris worked together (many) years ago to quantify the dearth of state political coverage on capital area TV news, a project that helped inspire the creation of NC Policy Watch and later States Newsroom. She plays a long game.

Between stints in the political and journalism worlds, Andrea raised two kids and volunteered for auctions, boards, fundraisers, and as a reading tutor for underprivileged students in Durham and Chapel Hill. Supporting Chris’s work as publisher, Andrea travels regularly to develop leads for editors and reporters in the states and manages day-to-day functions in States Newsroom.

National Editor

Mary Cornatzer

Mary works with the state editors to plan coverage, maintain editorial standards, expand the reach of each state’s reporting and commentary, and advise on cross-outlet projects. She also provides editorial support and works with Chris and Andrea on States Newsroom's growth.

Before coming to States Newsroom, Mary was a longtime reporter and editor at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., where she was at various times responsible for business and political coverage. In another lifetime (before she became a mom), Mary was also The N&O's music critic.

Digital Director

Nelle Dunlap

Nelle oversees the online presence of States Newsroom’s state news outlets, working with the staff of each state on social media strategies, website modifications, audience development, and content delivery. She also provides graphic editorial content for the state outlets and explores new ways to expand the reach of each state’s reporting and commentary.

Before coming to States Newsroom, she spent a few years as the New Media Director for NC Policy Watch. She has also worked as an instructional designer for a kids tech company, an adjunct art professor, a performance space mananger, a digital storytelling fellow in India, and a freelance web, video, and graphic designer. Nelle currently serves on the boards of two NC-based arts organizations: the Durham Art Guild and School of the Alternative.

Nelle has an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BFA from the University of Iowa. As a student, she had a three year stint as the Graphics Editor of the Daily Iowan student paper and an internship at Bloomberg News.

Operations Director

Breanne Porter

Breanne oversees personnel, finance, and systems management for States Newsroom. Her responsibilities include interfacing with third-party vendors, arranging and managing lease agreements and contractors, conducting financial analyses, and maintaining monthly budget tracking.

Before coming to States Newsroom, she worked at Arabella Advisors, LLC, where she provided operational, programmatic, financial, and business development support for a portfolio of fiscally sponsored nonprofit projects. Her portfolio focused on policy and advocacy issues such as healthcare and tax reform, civic engagement, and access to education research and resources.

Breanne has a BA in political science from Yale University, where she earned distinction in the political science major and served on the executive board for the Yale Mock Trial Association.

DC Bureau Chief

Robin Bravender

Robin coordinates States Newsroom’s Washington, D.C., coverage. She keeps tabs on states’ U.S. congressional delegations and writes about how decisions made by federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts impact states across the country.

Before coming to StatesNewsroom, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV. She has been a guest on NPR, C-SPAN, WBUR and other outlets and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Science, Scientific American, Salon and other publications.

Robin has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in journalism from American University.

Full Stack Developer

Joe Wright

Joe supports States Newsroom by developing modern and responsive code for web, building custom software solutions to solve business needs, administering web servers and security, continuously implementing best modern practices in strategic SEO, and providing technical support and assistance.

Before joining the team at States Newsroom, he worked with a variety of tech startups in central North Carolina across several industries to build websites and software to make big ideas into realities.

Joe has a 20th Century Literature MA from North Carolina State University, as well as a BS in Engineering and a BA in English from the same.

Media Administrative Coordinator

Christine Heubusch

Christine provides administrative support to the States Newsroom headquarters and its affiliates, with focuses on invoicing, analytics tracking, document management, and research.

Prior to joining States Newsroom, Christine worked as an administrative professional at an association management company based in Charlottesville, VA. She served a wide variety of nonprofit clients in health care and trade industries through office management, email campaign oversight, conference planning, government relations support, and customer service.

Christine is a passionate volunteer and has special interests in ESL tutoring and outreach to the homeless. She holds a BA in Media Studies with a minor in Art History from the University of Virginia.

DC Bureau Reporter

Allison Stevens

Allison covers the nation’s capital for States Newsroom’s network of news outlets. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, campaigns and elections, and the Supreme Court.

Before joining States Newsroom, Allison spent two decades in journalism and nonprofit communications. She served as political editor at The Hill, Senate reporter at Congressional Quarterly, Washington bureau chief for Women’s eNews, and writer and editor at two D.C.-based organizations serving leading nonprofit groups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.