Our Team

Shamus Toomey, Editor-in-Chief and co-founder

Shamus previously served as Managing Editor of DNAinfo Chicago, the award-winning news site that covered Chicago’s neighborhoods. Before that, he was Metro Editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he supervised the team that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting.

Shamus started at the Sun-Times as a general assignment reporter. He previously worked at the Daily Herald and the City News Bureau of Chicago.

He graduated from Syracuse University and Evanston Township High School. Email Shamus

Jen Sabella, Director of Strategy and co-founder 

Jen was Deputy Editor and Director of Social Media at DNAinfo Chicago, a site she helped launch in 2012. Before joining DNA, Jen was HuffPost’s Chicago Editor and a breaking news reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times.  Jen also co-hosts The Girl Talk, a monthly conversation series and podcast featuring influential Chicago women.

Jen grew up in Chicago, attending Columbia College Chicago and Mother McAuley High School. Email Jen

Stephanie Lulay, Managing Editor and co-founder

Stephanie previously served as Senior Editor and reporter at DNAinfo Chicago, where she covered the West Loop and Pilsen neighborhoods for the award-winning site. Before joining DNA, Stephanie spent four years at the daily Aurora Beacon-News, covering City Hall, education and housing issues in the state’s second largest city.

Stephanie was born in Milwaukee, Wis., raised in Quincy, Ill. and now lives in Beverly on the city’s South Side. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008 and completed her Masters degree at the university in 2009. While at U of I, she served as managing editor of The Daily IlliniEmail Stephanie

Maple Walker, Director of Development and Community Engagement

Maple came to Block Club Chicago from the MacArthur Foundation, where she was team coordinator for its Journalism & Media program. Maple is also a weekend news anchor for WGN Radio.

She now works with subscribers, foundations, individual donors and corporations to expand Block Club’s support base. Email Maple

Hannah Alani, Reporter 

Hannah is a reporter for Block Club Chicago, where she covers Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Town. She previously worked as a reporter at The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

She studied journalism at Indiana University, where she was the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student. Email Hannah

Kelly Bauer, Reporter and Video Producer

Kelly is a reporter and video producer for Block Club Chicago, where she covers a little bit of everything — including Downtown neighborhoods. She previously worked as a breaking news and crime reporter at DNAinfo Chicago, where she won awards for her photography and coverage of crime in the city.

She studied journalism at Northern Illinois University, where she was the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, the Northern StarEmail Kelly

Mina Bloom, Reporter 

Mina covers Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Avondale for Block Club Chicago — the neighborhoods she tirelessly covered previously at DNAinfo Chicago. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Eater, Belt and Chicago magazines.

She studied magazine journalism at Columbia College Chicago. Email Mina

Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Reporter

Jamie covers Englewood, Chatham and Auburn Gresham for Block Club Chicago.

A lifelong South Sider currently living in Hyde Park, Jamie’s work has appeared in TimeSalonxoJane and Ebony. When she isn’t chasing stories, she co-hosts the Elevated Podcast, where she interviews Chicago people doing Chicago things. Email Jamie

Maxwell Evans, Reporter

Maxwell covers Hyde Park, Woodlawn and South Shore for Block Club Chicago. Hpreviously wrote for Gongwer News ServiceCapital News Service and City Pulse, all in Lansing, Mich.

Hailing from Kalamazoo, Mich., Maxwell studied journalism at Michigan State University and served as city desk editor for the student newspaper The State News. Email Maxwell

Alex V. Hernandez, Reporter

Alex V. Hernandez covers Lincoln Square, North Center and Irving Park for Block Club Chicago.  The Chicago native has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Chicago magazine, City Bureau, In These Times and is one of the founders of 90 Days, 90 Voices.

Alex was a 2016 Peter Lisagor Watchdog Award finalist for his work on an interactive Chicago Reporter database that shows where, how and when police misconduct happens in the city of Chicago and a 2017 Peter Lisagor Award winner for Best Start-Up for his work with 90 Days, 90 Voices. When not reporting he’s either riding his Vespa or camping. Email Alex

Mauricio Pena, Reporter 

Mauricio Peña covers Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop and Back of the Yards. Before joining Block Club Chicago, Peña was an Associate Digital Editor at Chicago magazine. He previously worked as a breaking news reporter at DNAinfo, and an investigative reporter covering immigration and equality at the Desert Sun for the USA Today Network. His investigative, data-driven series on heat deaths and illnesses among farm workers won state and regional awards for highlighting the plight of California farmworkers.

Peña was a Staff Research Associate at the UCLA School of Nursing where he managed a research laboratory before getting his master’s from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Email Mauricio 

Pascal Sabino, Reporter

Pascal Sabino covers North Lawndale and Austin. He was previously the Environment, Health & Wellness Editor for the Real Chi, a West Side local news lab with a mission of providing equitable, accountable news coverage for Chicago communities misrepresented by traditional media narratives.

As part of the City Bureau Reporting Fellowship, Pascal reported on the impact of Section 8 vouchers on affordable housing in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. Before returning to his hometown, Pascal worked as an editor for international business publications in Turkey, the UAE, Oman and Indonesia. Pascal is a 2015 graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. Email Pascal

Joe Ward, Reporter

Joe covers Uptown, Rogers Park, Edgewater and Andersonville for Block Club Chicago. Prior to joining the team at Block Club, Joe worked at DNAinfo Chicago as a breaking news reporter and later as the Bridgeport reporter. His work has also appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, Belt Magazine and elsewhere. He studied journalism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

Joe is a native of the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood. Despite his South Side roots, Joe has come to love the North Side. In fact, his (and his dog, Scout’s) favorite place in the city is the Montrose Dog Beach and his favorite place to grab a bite, Chicago Joe’s, is in North Center. Email Joe.

Hannah Boufford, Intern

Hannah Boufford is an intern for Block Club Chicago.

She previously interned at The Oregonian/OregonLive and CBS News in London. Hannah studies journalism at Indiana University where she also works for the college newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student.

Bob Chiarito, Contributor

Bob Chiarito is a contributing reporter at Block Club Chicago.

A resident of the Northwest Side, Bob’s work has appeared in DNAinfo Chicago, Chicago Magazine, Reuters, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NME, Vice, Daily Beast and the Daily Herald. In addition, Bob runs The Chicago Ambassador which earned a 2017 Peter Lisagor Award for best continuing blog.

Jonathan Ballew, Contributor

Jonathan formerly covered Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park full-time for Block Club Chicago. He’s previously written for South Side Weekly and 22ndCentury Media and interned at NBC 5 Chicago and the Chicago Justice Project.

He studied journalism at DePaul University where he was the News Editor of the student-run paper, The DePaulia.

Jonathan lives in Uptown and is a Marine Corps veteran (Sgt.) and a proud citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Email Jonathan

He previously worked at the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and the City News Bureau of Chicago.

Patty Wetli, Features Contributor

Patty is an award-winning features writer and Block Club Chicago contributor. The DNAinfo alum smells flowers, rides transit, shops small, loves sugar, hates litter, wears glasses and drinks tap water.

Tatiana Walk-Morris, Contributor

Tatiana Walk-Morris contributes stories from the Gold Coast, River North and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. The Chicago-based independent journalist seeks to educate the public through in-depth reporting and highlighting diverse communities.

Her writing has appeared in dozens of national and local media outlets, including The New York Times, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, DNAinfo, The Chicago Sun-Times and many more. 

The Detroit native spent her childhood on the city’s Eastside and in the metro Detroit suburbs of Taylor, Mich. and Belleville, Mich. She attended Columbia College Chicago.

Linze Rice, Contributor

Linze Rice is a writer and former DNAinfo reporter who covered Chicago’s Far North Side, as well as stories specializing in LGBT+ and women’s subjects. She is currently the owner of communications and photography firm Pink House Media, a photographer for The Girl Talk, and an adjunct journalism professor at Loyola University. Linze is from a rural farm town and believes a well-fed and well-informed public is a force to be reckoned with.

She is married and lives in the Edgewater neighborhood with her pit bull Bruce Wayne.