New Fall Faculty: “Fun Facts” and More

When we recently gathered together new fall faculty joining the M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program, the conversation took quite an interesting turn! Sure, we talked about syllabus development, academic policies and the like. But things really got animated when we asked each of the high-powered publishing executives gathered around the conference table to reveal one “fun fact” that might not be apparent from their official bio. “Students like to know more about their professors,” we told them. And out poured some definitely surprising sidelines and hobbies. Heirloom tomatoes grown in backyard straw bales, anyone? How about championship hockey or Disney princesses? Read on to learn more about the new faces in the classroom this fall and what they’re passionate about—aside from teaching, of course!

Ben Berentson (Introduction to Digital Media) is Executive Director, Editorial Web Strategy for Condé Nast, working with all of the company’s brands on their web efforts. Ben was previously General Manager at Glamour, where he oversaw all web editorial and operations. Before joining Condé Nast, he helped launch the Forbes Newsletter Group and wrote for Ben earned his degree from Brown University.
Ben DJed an overnight blues music radio program in college.

Michael Elf

Michael Elf (Publishing and Internet Law) is Associate General Counsel at Macmillan, where he advises clients on copyright, trademark and defamation matters, as well as marketing and promotion; drafts and negotiates agreements relating to the acquisition, development and support of technology; and is responsible for all matters relating to privacy and data protection, as well as for protection of clients’ intellectual property rights. Prior to joining Macmillan, Michael held counsel positions at Hunton & Williams and CFX Incorporated, and associate positions at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed and Simeon Moquet Borde et Associes (Paris). He earned his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.
Michael is an enthusiastic home cook with a professional-level certificate from a New York cooking school.

Gary HoenigGary Hoenig (Introduction to Magazine Publishing) is currently a columnist for and a consultant for Magnum Photos and Electric Yarn, an interactive publisher and content developer. Gary began his twenty-year career with ESPN as ESPN the Magazine’s first employee; he served as its Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief before becoming General Manager and Editorial Director of ESPN Publishing, responsible for all aspects of the publishing division. In that role, he was also in charge of ESPN Insider, the company’s subscription web product, doubling its membership over a three-year period. Before joining ESPN, he was a partner and Editor-in-Chief of NewsInc., a publisher of magazines on the media business. He began his career at The New York Times, and served as Associate Editor of “Sports Monday” and Assistant Editor of “The Week in Review.“ Gary received his degree from Queens College.
Gary wrote a magazine piece on The Lord of the Rings that is currently torturing New Jersey high school students on their standardized reading test.

Mark Jannot (Introduction to Magazine Publishing) is Audubon’s Vice President of Content, responsible for a new integrated digital strategy for all of National Audubon Society’s communication channels, including Audubon magazine, and Immediately prior to joining Audubon in May 2013, Jannot was Chief Content Officer for Reader’s Digest Milwaukee, where he oversaw all brand expressions for publications including Taste of Home, Birds & Blooms, and Country Woman. Prior to that, he was Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science and Editorial Director at Bonnier’s Technology Group, where he oversaw all editorial operations of Popular Photography, American Photo, and Sound+Vision in addition to Popular Science. He led editorial development of Bonnier Group’s innovative Mag+ tablet publishing platform and launched the first custom-built iPad magazine edition, Popular Science+. Jannot has both a B.S. and an M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Mark is an avid and passionate poker player.

Kristin KiserKristin Kiser (Introduction to Book Publishing) is Vice President, Deputy Publisher for Trade Books and Director of Author Programs at Rodale, where she oversees sales, marketing, digital sales and production, rights, and creative, and helps to develop new product initiatives with current and new brands and authors. Previously she was Vice President and Associate Publisher of Hyperion Books at the Disney-ABC Television Group. Prior to joining Hyperion, she was Editorial Director at Random House’s Crown Publishers and held positions at Delacorte Dell, HarperCollins’ ReganBooks, and Penguin’s Grosset & Dunlap. Kristin earned her Master’s in Literature from New York University and her Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Kristin grows county-fair worthy heirloom tomatoes in straw bales in her backyard in Queens.

John LawtonJohn Lawton (Book Distribution, Merchandising, and Sales) is Vice President and Director of National Accounts for Hardcover Sales at Penguin Group (USA), Inc., where his account base includes Barnes & Noble,, Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and the suppliers that service these accounts including Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Readerlink, and Anderson Merchandisers. He has been at Penguin Group for more than 17 years and held a variety of positions there, including Director of Online Sales and Marketing. Prior to joining Penguin, he worked for Barnes & Noble, Inc. in many different capacities, including Regional Merchandise Manager, Senior Book Buyer and Director of Publisher Marketing. He received his degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Although he has hung up his skates, John is a two-time member of the Pearson Panthers championship ice hockey team.

Jake MorrisseyJake Morrissey (Introduction to Book Publishing) is Executive Editor of the Riverhead Books imprint at Penguin Group (USA), Inc., where he edits a wide variety of best-selling fiction and non-fiction, including books by Anne Lamott, Daniel H. Pink, Mary Pipher, Dolly Parton, Walter Mosley, Lewis Black, Lizz Winstead, and Jed Rubenfeld, among others. Before joining Riverhead, he was an editor at Scribner and at Crown Publishing’s Harmony imprint. Jake began his career at Universal Press Syndicate, where he edited a wide variety of opinion columnists and comic strips and panels, as well as publishing books through Universal’s Andrews McMeel Publishing. He is the author of The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome and the historical mystery A Weekend at Blenheim. Jake received his M.S. from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.
Jake knows a ridiculous amount about comic strips and architecture – he has written about both.

Patty RussoPatty Russo (Introduction to Multimedia Financial Analysis) is Director of Financial Planning for Penguin Group (USA), Inc., having previously been Manager and Director of Financial Reporting. She has also held positions at Ziff Davis Inc., Seventeen, New Woman, Brylane, and King Features Syndicate. She earned her M.B.A. in Finance from Rutgers University Graduate School of Management.
Patty loves Disney so much that her dogs are named after Disney princesses.

Mike Steele (Introduction to Magazine Publishing) has been Editor-in-Chief of Us Weekly and since July 2009, having previously been Deputy Editor and Executive Editor. Mike created and launched the magazine’s interactive iPad app, the website’s iPhone app and mobile WAP sites; under his leadership, total paid circulation and web audience traffic have grown to all-time highs. Before coming to Us Weekly, Mike was a Senior Editor at New York magazine, where he started as a fact checker in 1996. He received his degree from Fordham University.
Michael’s first job after college was as a social worker.

Katherine SurprenantKatherine Surprenant (Publishing and Internet Law) is General Counsel, National Media and Marketing for Meredith Corporation, where she is the principal attorney for Meredith’s East Coast-based magazine, online, mobile app, social media, and marketing businesses, including the following brands: Eating Well, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Family Circle, Fitness, Ladies’ Home Journal, MORE, Parents, Ser Padres, and Siempre Mujer. She also provides legal and strategic direction to MXM Digital, Meredith’s digital custom marketing division. Prior to joining Meredith, she was Deputy General Counsel for Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing, and an associate in the technology and intellectual property practice group of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. She clerked for the Hon. R. Lanier Anderson III, Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. Katherine earned her J.D. from Cornell Law School.
One of Katherine’s life goals is to be a featured caller on NPR’s “A Way with Words.”


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