Investigations

Exposés, reports
and analysis.

Outrages & Insights

Muckraking blog
by Jim Heaney

GreenPost

Environmental blog
by Dan Telvock

Tom Toles

Editorial cartoons
and commentary

Board of Directors

President: Dr. Michael Merrill is medical director, clinical performance management, with Independent Health. Mike considers Investigative Post “the most important charity in Western New York.” Before attending medical school he worked as a newspaper reporter for three years after graduating from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Merrill earned his medical degree in from the University at Buffalo and an MBA in business administration from the University of Liverpool. Prior to joining Independent Health, he served as chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Center, Rochester Regional Health.

Vice president: George Nicholas is senior pastor of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church. He is a member of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s Racial Equity Roundtable, a convener of the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York, and chair of the African American Health Disparities Task Force. He previously served as the CEO of the Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center and a legislative aid to Assembly Member Arthur O. Eve. Nicholas earned is undergraduate degree in sociology from Ohio State University, a master’s degree in public policy studies from the University at Buffalo and a master’s in divinity from Colgate Rochester Divinity School.

Treasurer: Susanne Francis is the vice president of finance at Spinneybeck | Filzfelt, a Buffalo-based importer and worldwide distributor of Italian upholstery leather and German design felt. A CPA, she previously worked as a senior auditor for KPMG and SUNY Geneseo, where she served as director of finance for the Auxiliary Services division. She formerly served as a director for The Park School of Buffalo. She graduated from Geneseo with a degree in accounting.

Secretary: Jody Kleinberg Biehl is a faculty member in the University of Buffalo English department and director of U.B.’s Journalism program.  She also serves as faculty adviser for The Spectrum, U.B.’s student newspaper.  She edited the 2016 local bestseller, “Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology,” a collection of more than 60 stories chronicling Buffalo life. Biehl has 15 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines and their respective web sites, including Der Spiegel, which is Germany’s leading newsweekly with a track record of investigative reporting, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has also appeared in USA Today, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Economist. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Sarah Cohen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has specialized in the use of data and computer-assisted reporting. A Buffalo native, she worked as a reporter and database editor for The Washington Post from 1999 to 2009, where she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for investigative reporting. She later worked as the editor for computer-assisted reporting at The New York Times. Cohen has a long affiliation with Investigative Reporters and Editors, first as training director and later as a board member, culminating with her serving as president of the organization. She presently holds an endowed chair at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and its Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, and previously taught at Duke University and Columbia University. Cohen, is a graduate of The Park School of Buffalo, where she served as a trustee and a member of the board of advisors. She  earned an undergraduate in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland at College Park.  

Bob Confer is president of Confer Plastics in North Tonawanda, a third-generation, family-owned and operated manufacturer with more than 200 employees. The company’s products include swimming and spa supplies, as well as kayaks and docks. Since 2005, Confer has written a weekly column for the Niagara Gazette, the Lockport Union Sun & Journal and Batavia Daily News. He serves the Boy Scouts of America as the president of the board of the Iroquois Trail Council, which oversees 2,500 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Explorers. Confer is a lifelong Gasport resident and a graduate of SUNY Brockport with a degree in business administration.

Danielle Judge-Freeman is a labor organizer for United  University Professions, which represents faculty and professional staff of the SUNY system. She is a board member of the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church and a member of the steering committee of the Empire State Campaign for Child Care. She previously served on the executive board of the Buffalo Central Labor Council and as director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo. She earned her bachelor of science degree in social work from  Buffalo State College and a master of business administration from Medaille College. 

Samuel Savarino is owner and CEO of Savarino Companies, one of Western New Yorks leading general contracting, construction management, property management and development firms. He is also the managing member of TSC Construction, which provides engineering and construction services to the telecommunications industry. Along with his wife, Anne, Savarino has twice served as chair of the annual campaign of the United Way of Buffalo and Western New York. He has also chaired capital campaigns for Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center and The Food Bank of Western New York. Savarino currently serves on the board of Friends of the Night People, the Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center and the Buffalo Legacy Foundation. He earned a degree in history from the University at Buffalo.

Christopher Smith is CEO and chief marketing officer of Community Beer Works. Previously, he was a lead engineer and project manager for Oracle Corp. He was a co-founder of Convergence Media Network and WNYMedia.net, the region’s first citizen journalism outlet perhaps best known for reporting on Carl Paladino’s circulation of racist and pornographic emails. An Air Force veteran, where he served as an intelligence analyst, he studied political science and international affairs at SUNY Fredonia.

Tom Toles is a Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist. A Hamburg native, he drew for The Buffalo Courier-Express from 1973-82 and The Buffalo News the following 20 years, winning the Pulitzer in 1990, before joining The Washington Post in 2002. He retired in November. His cartoons appeared in more than 200 newspapers. In 2016 he published The Madhouse Effect, a book co-authored with scientist Michael Mann, about climate change. Toles has also authored and illustrated a children’s book, My School Is Worse Than Yours. He is the recipient of the Herblock Award, the National Headliners Award, the Overseas Press Club’s Thomas Nast Award, the John Fischetti Award and the H.L Mencken Free Press Award. He also has been honored as Cartoonist of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine, The National Cartoonists Society and The Week magazine. Toles, a 1973 graduate of the University at Buffalo, maintains a second home in Hamburg.

Ex-officio: Jim Heaney is the founder, editor and executive director of Investigative Post. He was an investigative reporter with The Buffalo News for 25 years. Heaney has won more than 25 journalism honors and was a finalist for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting; more recently, he was a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow Award and the 2019 Nellie Bly Award for Investigative Reporting. Prior to The News, Heaney worked as a reporter and editor with The Orlando Sentinel and founded a weekly newspaper that served the Kensington-Bailey neighborhood of Buffalo. He is a graduate of Medaille College, where he earned a degree in communications.