Student Press Law Center names new Board officers, directors to start 2015


Contact: Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Student Press Law Center

202.872.1704 /

A prominent media attorney and a leader in corporate philanthropy are joining the Board of Directors of the Student Press Law Center effective Jan. 1, along with a new slate of officers to lead the nonprofit advocacy group as it relocates to Washington, D.C.

The SPLC Board has unanimously elected two new members to three-year terms:

Sherrese Smith is a partner in the Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (“TMT”) and Privacy and Data Security practices at Paul Hastings LLP and is based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. Before joining Paul Hastings, Smith served as Chief Counsel for Chairman Julius Genachowski at the Federal Communications Commission. In this position, she managed the overall policy agenda for the agency and developed the FCC’s positions and key messages for all media, telecommunications, and mobile policy issues and specialized in the areas of media, Internet, video, broadcast, cable, broadband, IP, mobile and wireless spectrum issues, telemarketing issues, and data privacy and security. Prior to joining the FCC in 2009, Smith was Vice President and General Counsel of Washington Post Digital. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and holds a law degree from Northwestern University.

Matthew Pakula is senior manager for corporate social responsibility for Tyson Foods, Inc., based in Chicago. He began his role after the August 2014 merger of The Hillshire Brands Company and Tyson Foods. Before assuming his current role, Pakula was senior manager, communications and corporate contributions for The Hillshire Brands Company. He also served as director of the Hillshire Brands Foundation. Previously, Pakula served as the director of the Playboy Foundation, Playboy Enterprises’ public affairs division, where he implemented the company’s First Amendment, civil rights and civil liberties initiatives and served as director of the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation. Pakula began his career at Random House, Inc. with roles in corporate affairs, corporate contributions and publicity. He holds a B.A. and J.D. from Michigan State University.

Pakula fills an existing vacancy on the Board, while Smith takes over for Patrick Carome, the Board’s outgoing chairman and a partner with the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Washington, D.C., who leaves Dec. 31 after serving the maximum two terms.

“With the additions of Sherrese and Matt, the SPLC adds decades of high-level expertise in philanthropy and in broadcasting law. This is a terrifically diversified and well-rounded Board, and we know from their enthusiasm that Matt and Sherrese, who have both been longtime advocates for the First Amendment, will be immediate contributors from Day One at this critical time for the organization,” said Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the SPLC.

The SPLC Board unanimously selected the following slate of officers from among sitting Board members to serve two-year terms beginning Jan. 1:

Board Chair Mark Stencel is an Arlington, Va., author and journalist who most recently served as managing editor for digital news at NPR. A veteran reporter at The News & Observer and The Washington Post, Stencel has also held senior positions at Congressional Quarterly and CQ’s Governing magazine. Stencel replaces outgoing Chair Pat Carome.

Vice Chair Geanne Rosenberg is an attorney and journalist who is the founding chair of the Department of Journalism and Writing Professions at the City University of New York-Baurch College in Manhattan. She also teaches the law and ethics in journalism course at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Treasurer Kevin Corcoran is strategy director of the Lumina Foundation based in Indianapolis, where his work focused on supporting the design of new higher education business and finance models. He joined Lumina in 2007 after a 19-year career in journalism in Indiana, where he worked as an investigative reporter for the Indianapolis Star.

The SPLC’s 15-member volunteer Board includes representatives from the journalism, legal, education and nonprofit management fields, as well as a student member.

“Pat Carome has been one of the hardest-working and most successful chairs our Board has ever had, helping us flawlessly pull off an ambitious 40th anniversary celebration in this milestone year in SPLC’s history,” LoMonte said. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have the depth of talent in Mark Stencel, Geanne Rosenberg and Kevin Corcoran to keep the organization strong and growing as we launch new initiatives to improve the climate for high-quality student journalism. The SPLC is dedicated to helping young people navigate the legal complexities of digital publishing, so it’s especially meaningful for our organization to be led at this crucial time by Mark Stencel, a recognized innovator in digital media.”

Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been devoted to educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment, and supporting the student news media in covering important issues free from censorship. The Center conducts workshops on media-law developments across the country and provides free legal research and educational materials for student journalists and their teachers on its website at

After 10 years in Arlington, Va., the SPLC is relocating to Washington, D.C., effective Jan. 1, where the Center began 40 years ago as a project of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. The SPLC’s new address is 1608 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Suite 211, Washington, D.C. 20036.