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

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 and issues impacting LGBTQ communities. She previously worked as a breaking news and crime reporter at DNAinfo Chicago.

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

Lee Edwards, Reporter

Lee covers Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chatham for Block Club Chicago. Previously, he reported for the Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader, the Times Republic, 22nd Century Media and the Chicago Citizen.

He studied journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Email Lee

Alisa Hauser, Reporter 

A resident of Wicker Park since 2005 and a graduate of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Alisa Hauser reported on Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Town for DNAinfo from 2012 until 2017. She continues that beat at Block Club Chicago. 

In addition to DNAinfo, Alisa’s reporting has appeared in Chicago Pipeline (her pre-DNAinfo blog), The Athens News, Lockport-Lemont Sun, the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Sun-Times, Eater and Cityscape. Prior to embracing journalism full-time, Alisa worked in sales. Email Alisa

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 

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 


Sarah Conway, Contributor

Sarah Conway is a contributing reporter at Block Club Chicago. She is a fellow at City Bureau, a civic journalism lab based on the South Side, and a reporter at 90 Days, 90 Voices, a storytelling project covering the immigration ban and beyond.


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.

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.

  

Troy Closson, Reporter

Troy Closson is an intern at Block Club Chicago covering Woodlawn and Hyde Park. He is originally from Laurel, Maryland, 20 minutes outside of Baltimore. Troy attends Northwestern University, where he is a managing editor at The Daily Northwestern.