Our 2023 Contest Committee

Shawn is in his 9th year overseeing the Video Editing division. Shawn has a passion for video editing, storytelling and teaching. In 2018 he joined the University of Northern Colorado’s Journalism and Media Studies program. He teaches Video Production, Digital Storytelling, Media Writing & Media Management. In his 20-year career before teaching, he worked for KPHO in Arizona and all 5 major stations in Denver; KUSA, KMGH, KCNC, KWGN, and KDVR. He's won 5 Heartland regional Emmys, an Edward R. Murrow award and 3 Colorado Broadcasters Association awards. He is a four-time winner of the National Press Photographers Association Video Editor of the Year award. Shawn is much more than a professor. He’s a manager, counselor, work-force trainer, comedian, motivational speaker and friend. He tells his students they are on a journey; he’s just the guide.

Linda Epstein oversees the Still Photojournalism division. She’s a senior photo editor at Share America, a division of Global Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, Linda was a contract photo editor with The Washington Post, which included photo researcher for the Post database that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Linda spent 15 years as senior photo editor for McClatchy-Tribune (formerly Knight Ridder/Tribune), handling all the photos for the McClatchy Washington Bureau's regional, national and foreign correspondents. Before KRT, she worked as a picture editor and assignments editor during her three years at The Washington Times. Linda started her journalism career as a photographer for several newspapers in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Ohio. A graduate of Syracuse University, Linda is a member of the White House News Photographers Association and National Press Photographers Association. She served on NPPA’s Board of Directors as a regional director or associate director for over 10 years.

Ray Arzate oversees and helped create the Documentary Division. A storyteller at heart, Ray Arzate is the managing partner/owner of Storyville RD, a company that shares the skills he has acquired through the years with people, businesses and organizations whose story needs to be told. Ray is a veteran photojournalist and editor who won an “oscar” in high school. He carried his video camera everywhere. His church youth leader awarded him an “oscar award” for best documentarian. He still displays that small, plastic award on his desk. It now sits next to his dozens of real Emmy, AP Broadcasters, Edward R. Murrow, Promax, and NPPA Best of Photojournalism Contest awards. Ray served as chief photographer at the NBC & FOX affiliate stations in Las Vegas as well as creative services promotions manager of the latter. He has also worked in Atlanta, Nashville and El Paso, TX. Ray serves on the Executive Board of Governors for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences- Pacific Southwest Chapter.

Overseeing the Picture Editing division is Emily Jan. Emily is Deputy Director of Visuals at The San Francisco Chronicle, where she works with a team of multimedia journalists with the goal of making creative, critical, and moving visuals. Previously, she was a photo editor and art director at The Atlantic. Emily was a 2019 Women Photograph mentor and recipient of the inaugural John H. White Keep in Flight scholarship.

Bob Gould, overseeing the Video Photojournalism division, is beginning his 16th year teaching broadcast journalism at Michigan State University. His students have won hundreds of local, regional and national awards and they are working in television jobs all across the country. Prior to his teaching career, Bob worked in television news for 17 years, most of which were at WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as the station’s Chief Photojournalist. Bob is a former NPPA President, Vice President and board member and is very familiar with the NPPA BOP Contest; he has been a BOP-TV judge and hosted the video contest judging at MSU for five years. He has more than 40 awards for his work, including NPPA, Emmy, Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB), and Associated Press. In 2017 Bob received the Robin F. Garland Educator award from the NPPA, and in 2016, he was inducted in the Emmy Silver Circle for 25 years in the industry. In his spare time, Bob enjoys cooking and playing the trumpet (but not at the same time!). Bob and his wife of 28 years, Susan, have 2 children together; Ilene and Isaac.

A.J. Chavar is the contest chair for the Best of Photojournalism, and a Production Technologist for The New York Times Research and Development team, exploring and explaining emerging technologies in the pursuit of journalism, a role largely defined by his 10+ years of experience as a visual journalist and producer across many major newsrooms and storyforms. A.J. has worked with the BOP contest for several years, first as a judge, and then as contest chair for the Online Video, Presentation, and Innovation. A.J. began his career as a Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow documenting the lasting effects of war on veterans and families at home in rural America. Following that, as a field video journalist for The Washington Post he received an Edward R. Murrow award for his work reporting on the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and several emmys for local journalism projects. As The New York Times' dedicated Washington, DC video journalist, he was part of the team that filmed the newspaper's first ever video interview with a sitting President, Barack Obama, and went on to film several more exclusives with POTUS and earn several WHNPA awards. He has led video news coverage at Vox.com as a senior producer, helped develop visual guidelines with the editorial team at Apple News, and as a freelance director, cinematographer, and photographer his clients include the WSJ, NPR, Storycorps, IDEO, NYT, Visura, Vanderbilt, and many others. He has coached at the Syracuse Fall Workshop for longer than a decade, and his work has also been recognized by NPPA BOP, PoYI, WHNPA, and the Emmys.