Strategic Communications collaborates with partners across the university to tell Mason’s story internally and externally.
Our team of writers and editors works with leadership, faculty, staff, students and community partners to align the university around core themes and messages and spotlight our success through news stories, features and other forms of communication. We share those stories through online and print publications, as well as through media outreach. The team also assists leadership with university-wide communication, presidential communication and crisis communication.
If you have a question about a story on the website, please reach out to the writer. If you have a general media inquiry or a question about the university, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Sandler - Director of Strategic Communications
Michael Sandler is the Director of Strategic Communications. He oversees external and internal communication for the university and leads a team that handles news, media relations, internal communications and crisis communications. Prior to joining Mason in 2014, Sandler spent nearly two decades as a reporter and editor in Washington, D.C., and Florida, covering government, politics, and policy. He has been a reporter or editor at the Associated Press, Congressional Quarterly, The Hill, the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times) and The Washington Post.
Melanie Balog - Managing Editor
Melanie Balog is the Managing Editor. She supervises the communications officers, oversees content for the Newsdesk and The George, and works with media to tell Mason’s story externally. She came to Mason in September 2014 after more than 18 years as a newspaper reporter, columnist, and editor, including at the Northwest Herald newspaper in suburban Chicago and the Charleston, S.C.-based Post and Courier newspaper.
Preston Williams - Presidential Communications Manager
Preston Williams is the Presidential Communications Manager. He works with university officials on internal and external communications and serves as a liaison between the President’s Office and the Office of Strategic Communications. He joined Mason in 2013 as a communications officer. He previously worked for 15 years as a staff writer at The Washington Post, and prior to that wrote for other newspapers in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
Damian Cristodero - Senior Communications Manager
Damian Cristodero is a Senior Communications Manager who covers the School of Business, the College of Education and Human Development, the Honors College and University Life. Cristodero also works closely with media to help tell Mason’s story externally. A graduate of Hofstra University, he joined Mason in 2015 after a long career as an award-winning sportswriter for organizations including the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) in Florida, the Gannett News Service and Newsday in New York.
John Hollis - Communications Manager
John Hollis is a Communications Officer who covers the Volgenau School of Engineering, the College of Science and social sciences in the College of Humanities and Social Science, as well as sustainability and military issues. He joined Mason in April 2017 and comes with 16 years of daily newspaper experience, including nearly 10 at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a correspondent stint with Time Magazine. He is the author of an upcoming novel chronicling the life and tragic death in Vietnam of his wife’s uncle, U.S. Marine Medal of Honor recipient (posthumous) Sgt. Rodney M. Davis.
Mary Lee Clark - Mobile Journalist
Mary Lee Clark is the Mobile Journalist/Communications Officer who covers the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She tells the Mason story through photo, video and social media. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, interned at the Richmond Times Dispatch, worked as a photographer for the Page News and Courier in Luray, Va., and worked as a Virginia state politics reporter before coming to Mason in 2018.
Lathan Goumas - Videographer/Photographer
Lathan Goumas is a Videographer and Photographer for the Strategic Communications team, producing visual storytelling from across the university. He joined Mason in June 2018 after spending eight years working as a photojournalist at newspapers in Michigan, Illinois and Virginia, most recently at The News & Advance in Lynchburg. His work has been published by The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, CBS News and NBC News.
Mariam Aburdeineh - Communications Officer
Mariam Aburdeineh is a Communications Officer/Mobile Journalist who covers the Schar School of Policy and Government, the Antonin Scalia Law School, and the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the Arlington Campus. A Mason graduate, she has more than five years of professional experience writing, editing, and creating multimedia content for national magazines and renowned nonprofit organizations.