December 9, 2016 at 12:10 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Comings & Goings
Comings & Goings, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at

Congratulations to Jen Christensen who has been awarded the 2016 CNN Diversity Ovation Award. Christensen is the current president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalism Association and exemplifies NLGJA’s commitment to diversity and its mission to ensure fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues and people.

When announcing the award, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said, “In her leadership roles, Jen consistently helps newsrooms around the country better understand how they can create more inclusive newsrooms in which people of diverse backgrounds can thrive.”

Christensen said, “One of the most important jobs we have as journalists is to create opportunities to give a voice to those who may not otherwise have a voice. Winning this award for recognizing the importance of including those voices in our stories, as well as an additional recognition of all the important work that NLGJA does to make all newsrooms more inclusive, means the world to me.”

Christensen is a producer and video editor for CNN’s health, medical and wellness unit, and is also a writer and producer for She has been a member of NLGJA since 1996 and has served as president since 2013. She helped to launch NLGJA’s mentorship program and serves on the board of Unity Journalists of Diversity. She has previously received Peabody and Alfred I. DuPont–Columbia University Awards.

She oversaw the expansion of NLGJA’s Excellence in Journalism Awards program to 30 categories. NLGJA offers awards in a diverse and inclusive assortment of categories including book writing, podcasts, daily and non-daily news and feature writing, multimedia, social media, HIV coverage and local television, among others.

Congratulations also to Tony Varona, a professor of law at American University Washington College of Law who has just been given the title of Vice Dean at the College. Prior to joining the WCL faculty in 2005, he was an associate professor of law at Pace Law School in New York. Before that, he served as general counsel and legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization. He built HRC’s legal department, directed the department’s legislative and regulatory law and appellate amicus work, launched national law fellow and pro bono attorney programs and served as counsel to HRC’s board of directors and the organization’s corporate, educational and media initiatives.

Varona practiced communications law at the Washington offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, PC. He began his legal career as an honors program attorney for the Federal Communications Commission. His scholarship has included articles concerning media and communications law, civil rights, employment discrimination, and hate crimes, and he’s been published in a variety of notable law journals. He serves on the Faculty Review Board of the Administrative Law Review, and as faculty adviser to the Latino/a Law Students Association (LaLSA). He is currently on the board and co-chair of the National Advisory Council to the Stonewall National Museum and Archives.

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