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The Skanner News
Published: 28 April 2014

The Skanner News partners with The Associated Press (AP) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to deliver breaking news, analysis and opinion. We also work with freelance columnists.

Our Staff and Contributors








Bernie Foster: Co-founder and Publisher

A native of St Louis, Illinois, Bernie served in the US Air Force, spending six months in Vietnam in 1963. He started out in journalism taking photographs for The Crusader, an African American newspaper in East St. Louis. Stationed in Seattle, Bernie took photographs of the Seattle Super Sonics for The Facts. He took journalism classes through a University of Western Washington program in Seattle and was inspired by the words of Black Publisher John Russworm. Launching Freedom’s Journal in 1827 Russworm said, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

With Bobbie Foster, in 1975, Bernie launched The Skanner, a weekly newspaper based in Portland that aimed to cover African American and underserved communities in the Pacific Northwest. The Skanner was designed to produce high-quality professional journalism, and has won numerous awards, including the West Coast Black Publishers Association’s Publisher of the Year in 1986 and 1993. Bernie says his proudest moments include, helping change the street where the paper had its first office to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and seeing leaders and community members take action to right wrongs after the paper covered the issues.  For example, hair stylists organized a training on styling and grooming Black hair, after the paper ran a story about White moms who struggled to care for their daughters’ hair.

In 1987 Bernie worked with Wayne Branch to create a website for The Skanner.  Now in its third redesign our website offers 24/7 news and entertainment with a focus on African Americans and African immigrants and refugees in the Pacific Northwest. [email protected]








Bobbie Foster: Co-Founder and Executive Editor

Bobbie was born in Abbeville, LA, a Creole-speaking town. She attended a segregated high school and graduated valedictorian of her class.  As a young married woman she moved to the Northwest, and while raising her children took liberal arts and business courses at University of Washington and Western Washington University. 

Bobbie moved to the Northwest living first in Seattle then in Portland. She co-founded The Skanner newspaper while taking journalism courses at Portland State University.  She later graduated in Communication with honors, from the University of Portland, and took post-graduate course at City University, Seattle. A lifetime member of the NAACP, Bobbie is an advocate for social justice and created The Skanner to support that mission. During the last 22 years The Skanner Foundation has provided more than half a million dollars to help students attend college.

The paper played a pivotal role in the struggle to rename Union Avenue for Martin Luther King, including going to the Oregon State Supreme Court after the city council’s decision to rename the street was challenged.  Bobbie is active in many professional and community organizations including: the National and Portland Associations of Black Journalists, the Association of Women in Communications, Inc., the Urban League, Rotary Club of Albina and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Bernie and Bobbie Foster have been recognized by many community organizations in Portland. The Oregon Historical Society named them History Makers in 2013. In 2014, Volunteers of America awarded them the Vic Atiyeh Lifetime Achievement Award, for their work on behalf of underserved communities. [email protected]

    Jerry Foster: Sales and Advertising Manager

Jerry has lived in Portland for close to 35 years. He started out at The Skanner in 1977, creating award-winning layouts and photo spreads and managing circulation. Jerry loves photography and theater and has been a producer, actor  and director with Passin’ Arts Theater Company.  Passin' Arts last month recognized his 16 years of service with a leadership award. [email protected]

 Foster-Monica-staff    Monica Foster: Sports Photographer

Monica Foster is a gifted sports photographer as well as a key administrator and newspaper distribution agent at The Seattle Skanner. Her dynamic shots of the Seattle Seahawks historic run for the Superbowl are unforgettable.  [email protected]

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Christen McCurdy:  News Editor

Christen McCurdy has written and edited for publication since 1999, and has won awards from the Oregon Society of Professional Journalists, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and the national Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has appeared in a host of local and national outlets, including The Lund Report, The Oregonian, The Portland Mercury, Street Roots, Narratively, Pacific Standard and RH Reality Check.  [email protected]

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Lisa Loving:  Reporter

 [email protected]

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Patricia Irvin:  Product Manager

Patricia Irvin began in graphics working as a production artist for a group of weekly publications. She has since worked for commercial printers, magazines and advertising agencies in creative and managerial positions. Patricia earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City, she has done graduate work at California State University, Fullerton and has participated in several industry workshops. Her designs have won numerous awards, including NNPA Merit Awards, Addys and a Gold from the Florida Print Awards. [email protected]

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Helen Silvis: Contributing Editor

Helen graduated from Keele University in England with joint honors in History and Psychology. After working with youth in care and homeless women, she moved to Portland and spent six years as a crisis mental health counselor. While studying at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Helen reported from Washington DC for Medill News Service and interned with Dow Jones in Paris. Helen worked as deputy education editor at The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh, then as a freelancer in Portland and Barcelona, Spain. Since joining The Skanner News in 2005, her role has included: news editor; multimedia editor and web editor. Helen has won awards for her reporting on economic and social justice issues.  


Naomi Pierce:Administrator North Portland Multimedia Training Center

Naomi Pierce began her work with The Skanner News Group in 1996. She earned a Masters in Education at Montana State University. Originally from Southern California, she saw in Portland a gentle mix of the urban and the rural reflecting her past experiences living in Los Angeles and Billings, Montana. In 2006 she became the administrator of the North Portland Multimedia Training Center (NPMTC), an educational project of The Skanner Foundation. [email protected]


Rick Gustafson, Accounts Manager [email protected]


Susan Fried: Seattle Photographer

Susan Fried has worked as the chief photographer for The Seattle Skanner for more than 20 years. She has documented popular movements, business development, community institutions and youth activities -- as well as the Dalai Llama's historic meeting with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. She mounted her first art showing of her documentary work and art images in 2013

 Denyse Peterson  

Denyse O. Peterson: The Skanner MLK Breakfast Coordinator

Denyse Peterson was born in Portland and graduated from Jefferson High School. She worked in the Oregon State Senate Legislation session for Senator Avel Gordly, mediating with agencies on the challenges of affordable housing, employment and food. She currently works at Portland Community College and serves on the Executive Council for the college’s union, the A.F.T., and is the V.P. of Political Action. She also serves on the board of directors for Multnomah Education Service District. Denyse has been an active volunteer with community organizations since she was a child. She has helped coordinate The Skanner Foundation Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast for more than 20 years.


Julie Keefe: Contributing Photographer

Julie Keefe has contributed photos to The Skanner News for two decades. The main photographer at our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, Julie's work has included creation and development of the pivotal "Hello, Neighbor" photography project, considered to be one of the largest public art projects in the history of the state. A longtime youth arts educator, Julie works with Caldera, and currently serves as Portland's first Artist Laureate. 


 Kam Williams, Entertainment columnnist and film critic

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the world. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the Black Film Critics Circle, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee and Rotten Tomatoes. 

In addition to a BA in Black Studies from Cornell, he has an MA in English from Brown, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD from Boston University.




Harry C. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Website:  www.nationalbcc.org. Email: [email protected]


Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union is a Hip Hop Analyst who investigates the trends and behaviors of the community and delivers programming that solves the Hip Hop Dilemma. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.


Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. See more about this work at Dr. Chavis’ website.


Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.


Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at [email protected]. 


Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.


Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.


Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.  He can be followed on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.


Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. is founder and president of the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition. You can keep up with his work at www.rainbowpush.org.


Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.


Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.



The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast