Skip to main content
Merrill College

Merrill College Expands Board of Visitors, Welcoming Seven New Members

COLLEGE PARK — The University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism will add seven new members to its distinguished board of visitors on July 1, Dean Rafael Lorente announced Thursday. 

Joining the board are Lori Beecher ’87, Sara Bernstein (RTVF) ’95, Angela Davis ’90, Ron Nixon, Michelle Singletary (RTVF) ’84, Jennifer Gilbert St. John and Andréa Vieira ’98. Bios for each new member can be found below.

“Expanding our board of visitors adds valuable new perspectives and insight as we look toward a future where journalism is vibrant, sustainable, and speaks for and to everyone in our society,” Lorente said. “We are thankful to this impressive group of professionals for offering their time and expertise to help make Merrill College the best journalism school it can possibly be.”

Established in 1983, the board provides a source of professional support and guidance by experienced journalism and media professionals, and the new members will continue that tradition.

They bring a diverse set of backgrounds and professional experience to the BOV — including a member of The Associated Press’ leadership, an 11-time Peabody Award-winning producer, a longtime Baltimore broadcaster, a syndicated Washington Post columnist, a Minnesota radio host, an expert communications leader and a successful business owner. 

Five are University of Maryland alums — three from Merrill College, two from the former UMD Radio, Television and Film program. Three are members of the Merrill College Hall of Fame.

Learn more about the new members of the Merrill College board of visitors:

Lori BeecherLori Beecher

Lori Beecher is senior vice president and head of Wells Fargo’s media team. In this role, she manages the centralized team of communications professionals responsible for supporting all bank lines of business and enterprise functions with their proactive and reactive media relations, both nationally and regionally. 

Before joining Wells Fargo, Beecher was a partner at Ketchum, a global communications consultancy. At Ketchum, she led the agency’s specialized team for earned media as well as Ketchum Studios, the agency’s full-service video production business. She also secured highly visible top-tier earned media coverage, counseled many of the firm’s largest North American clients on their media strategy and executive thought leadership, and supported clients through crisis communications and media training. 

Prior to her roles in corporate communications, Beecher spent 28 years as a television producer at ABC, NBC, CBS and in syndicated TV. She has produced compelling television stories in every part of the day — including “60 Minutes,” the “CBS Evening News,” “Good Morning America,” “TODAY Show,” “Nightline,” “Dateline” and the “KATIE Show.” She is the recipient of Emmy and duPont-Columbia awards for her work in journalism. 

Beecher is a University of Maryland graduate and has been inducted into the Philip Merrill College of Journalism Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the National Advisory Board of Elon University’s School of Communications and previously served on the board of her town’s public school foundation, including a year as its chairperson. Beecher lives in New York.

Sara BernsteinSara Bernstein

Sara Bernstein is an award-winning producer and president of Imagine Documentaries. Recent projects include “Jim Henson Idea Man” (Disney+), “Stormy” (Peacock), “Frida” (Amazon Studios), “Choir” (Disney+), “The Dynasty: New England Patriots” (Apple TV+), “The Super Models” (Apple TV+), “Judy Blume Forever” (Amazon Studios), “Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman” (Disney+), “The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari” (Netflix), “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues” (Apple TV+), “Downfall: The Case Against Boeing” (Netflix), “Lucy & Desi” (Amazon Studios), “We Feed People” (NatGeo Films), “Leave No Trace” (ABC/Hulu), “Julia” (Sony Classics/CNN Films), “Who Are You Charlie Brown?” (Apple TV+), “DADS” (Apple TV+), “Rebuilding Paradise” (NatGeo Films), “D. Wade: Life Unexpected” (ESPN Films), “Gossip” (Showtime), “Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine” (Showtime), “On Pointe” (Disney+), “We Are The Brooklyn Saints” (Netflix) and “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” (Netflix). 

Prior to joining Imagine, Bernstein was senior vice president of HBO Documentary Films overseeing award-winning nonfiction programming for the network, including Emmy winner “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling,” Academy Award and Emmy winner “Citizenfour,” Emmy winner “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” Academy Award winner “Music By Prudence,” Emmy-nominated “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” Emmy-nominated “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” and “Mommy Dead and Dearest.” 

Over the years, Bernstein has garnered 11 Emmy wins and 34 Emmy nominations, along with 11 Peabody Awards. The films she has supervised have won two Academy Awards and received 13 Academy Award nominations. In 2024, she was featured on Variety’s New York Women’s Impact Report.

Angela DavisAngela Davis 

Angela Davis is the host of “MPR News with Angela Davis,” a weekday talk show that airs at 9 a.m. on Minnesota Public Radio. She joined MPR News in November 2018 after more than 25 years of television reporting and anchoring in the Twin Cities and other cities throughout the country.

Davis leads conversations on a wide variety of topics, including how Minnesota is changing, the state’s persistent racial disparities, economic issues, education, mental health and the climate crisis. The award-winning program includes insight from experts as well as listeners who call in during the live broadcast. 

Before joining MPR News, Davis anchored morning and evening newscasts and worked as a reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis and KSTP-TV in St. Paul. She has won five regional Emmy Awards for anchoring and covering breaking news. Her television career included jobs at CNN in Atlanta and local stations in Washington, D.C.; Dallas; and Lexington, Kentucky. She is also a Gracie Award winner for her work in public media.

Davis graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She was inducted into the Philip Merrill College of Journalism Hall of Fame in 2024.

She grew up in southern Virginia and is a member of the local and national chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

She frequently emcees community events and moderates panel discussions in Minnesota. She also regularly speaks to students. In 2013, she was honored with the Widening the Circle Award by ThreeSixty Journalism, for her work mentoring young journalists.

Davis is married and has a son and a daughter. 

Ron NixonRon Nixon

Ron Nixon is vice president, news and head of investigations, enterprise, partnerships and grants at The Associated Press. 

Nixon received the inaugural 2021 News Leader of the Year award from the News Leaders Association. He has overseen investigations that have won a number of awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, a Pulitzer finalist in investigative reporting and a George Polk Award. He has won a News and Documentary Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, a national Edward R. Murrow Award and a Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism, among others. 

Nixon joined the AP in 2019 from The New York Times Washington bureau, where he was homeland security correspondent, covering border and aviation security, immigration, cybercrime and cyber security, transnational crime and violent extremism. He has reported from Rwanda, Uganda, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mozambique, Burundi, Kenya, El Salvador, the United Kingdom, Peru, Brazil, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

He is a visiting associate for Journalism and Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa), and the author of the book “Selling Apartheid: Apartheid South Africa’s Global Propaganda War.” Nixon is a U.S. Marine Corps infantry veteran who saw combat in the 1990 Persian Gulf War. 

Michelle SingletaryMichelle Singletary

Michelle Singletary is a personal finance columnist for The Washington Post. Her award-winning column, “The Color of Money,” is syndicated by The Washington Post News Service and Syndicate and appears twice weekly in dozens of newspapers nationwide. 

Singletary is the author of four professionally published books: “What To Do With Your Money When Crisis Hits: A Survival Guide;” “The 21 Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom,” a perennial Amazon bestseller; “Spend Well, Live Rich: How to Live Well With the Money You Have;” and “Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich.”

Singletary frequently appears on national television and radio programs, including NBC’s “TODAY Show,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN and NPR.

In 2023, she received the Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. She is the recipient of the 2022 Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021, she won the Gerald Loeb Award for commentary for “Sincerely, Michelle,” a 10-part series on race and money. The series also won the 2021 NABJ award for commentary.

In 2020, The Washington Post celebrated her long and distinguished career at the newspaper with the Eugene Meyer Award, its highest journalistic honor.

Singletary earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland and a master’s in business and management at Johns Hopkins University. In 2024, she was inducted into the Merrill College Hall of Fame.

Jennifer Gilbert St. JohnJennifer Gilbert St. John

Jennifer Gilbert St. John is a former television news journalist whose career spanned three decades and earned her multiple awards, including seven Capital Emmy Awards and numerous honors from The Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the broadcast industry for 25 years or more.  

St. John spent most of her career as a news anchor at FOX45 (WBFF-TV), in Baltimore, Maryland. Before coming to Baltimore, she worked at WGAL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She began her journalism career through a college internship, reporting for Florida Today, a newspaper in Melbourne, Florida.

St. John is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland. She served as an affiliate instructor of communications at Loyola University Maryland. 

St. John has worked extensively with various organizations and charities. She is privileged to partner with her husband, Edward St. John, to support efforts of the Edward St. John Foundation. She is the proud mom of her son, Michael, and is a native of Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Andrea VieiraAndréa Vieira

Andréa Vieira is founder of nailsaloon, a small chain of luxury nail salons/cocktail parlors in the DMV. As CEO, she shapes the team and client experience, leads the business' growth plan, oversees its operational performance, and sets a philanthropic strategy that — since the company’s founding in 2014 — has contributed more than $200,000 to local organizations and endowed a university scholarship. 

Formerly a journalist and TV/film producer, Vieira spent 20 years creating documentaries for networks such as the Discovery Channel, TruTV, HGTV, Animal Planet and National Geographic, and for organizations such as the MacArthur Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she was also a speechwriter. 

As a reporter, she covered stories of Latin American interest for Globo TV in New York; Telemundo in Washington, D.C.; and CNN in Atlanta. Vieira has worked in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Central America and South America. In 2018 and 2019, she received Silver and Bronze Awards from the NY Festivals for her work on the documentaries “Overdose,” “The Landing Strip,” and “The Lost Children of Tunisia.” 

A native of Brazil, she speaks fluent Portuguese, English and Spanish, and holds a Global Executive MBA from Georgetown University and Esade (Barcelona), and a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Maryland. Currently, she serves on the boards of advisors of the DC Coalition for the Homeless, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the Friends of the Art Museum of the Americas.

For more information, contact:
Josh Land

Back to Top