2018 First Decade and Founder’s Awards | Columbia Journalism School

2018 First Decade and Founder’s Awards

Dean Steve Coll and the Alumni and Development Office of the Columbia Journalism School are proud to announce two award winners who will be honored at Alumni Weekend on April 20-21.

Gene Gleeson ’73 will receive the Founder’s Award and Janelle Richards ’10 will receive the First Decade Award.

The Founder’s Award is given to an alum who has demonstrated a continued support for the school’s mission to educate the next generation of journalists.


Gene Gleeson '73
Gleeson, who spent 30 years as news anchor of ABC’s Eyewitness News in Los Angeles, has the longest continuous giving record to the Annual Fund of any J-School graduate. Gleeson retired from KABC-TV in 2010, after a long career in broadcasting that started when he worked as a disc jockey during his teenage years while growing up in Riverside, Calif. Later, as a student at Riverside City College, he found work at three different radio stations. He transferred to San Diego State University and had plans to go to law school, but then he was drafted into the military. He was stationed at the network headquarters of Armed Forces Radio in Frankfurt and hosted a twice weekly radio show and then was transferred into the news department as a writer, producer and on-air news reader.  “On the spot, I decided news was my future, not law,’’ he recalls. After graduating from the J-School, he returned to California, and in 1980, he was hired as a reporter at KABC, where he covered everything from the space shuttle program, to the L.A. riots, O.J. Simpson and even the fall of the Berlin Wall.


The First Decade Award is awarded to an alum in recognition of contributions to the profession during the first 10 years after graduation from the Journalism School.


Janelle Richards '10
Richards is an Emmy-nominated producer at Nightly News with Lester Holt. She has covered Hurricane Irma, the Pulse Orlando shooting, the Charleston church shooting, the U.S. Embassy opening in Cuba, and the Amtrak train derailment. Prior to working at Nightly News, she was a participant in the "News Associates Program," a production talent development program at NBC News. She worked at Weekend Today Show and the Grio.com where she covered education and women’s issues within the African-American community. As a fellow with the International Center for Journalists, she traveled to Ghana to report on how America's chocolate industry impacts cocoa farmers in the region. Earlier this year, Richards was awarded a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and traveled to Kenya to produce multimedia projects on the emerging technology industry. She graduated from Spelman College before attending the J-School. Richards is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.


The two will be honored, along with four Alumni Award winners, at a luncheon on Saturday, April 21. To read more about the other award winners, and see a list of winners from past year, please go here.


Maria Newman is the director of Alumni Relations. To learn more about alumni weekend 2018 visit: https://journalism.columbia.edu/alumni