Matters host Mike Easterling is an accomplished
national television and video producer, with more
than 30 years of experience with CBS, PBS and ABC
affiliates in Boston and Baltimore, including seventeen
years at Baltimore's WJZ-TV where he was responsible
for such programming as Evening Magazine and People
Are Talking, among others. In 1991 he was awarded
an Iris Award for the documentary, Not In Our League,
a story on the Negro Baseball League.
A member of AFTRA and the Screen Actor's Guild, he
has made numerous guest appearances on television,
including The Wire, Homicide, Something the Lord Made
and America's Most Wanted. A graduate of Howard University
with a degree in Marketing, Easterling also holds a
certificate in Television Management from the Kellogg
School of Business at Northwestern University.
An energetic and dynamic public speaker,
he formed the Easterling Group, Inc. in 1998 and is
now a media consultant specializing in corporate training.
Easterling continues to produce small television and
corporate video projects, as well as providing public
relations services. A Columbia resident since 1988,
he views his volunteer involvement with the show as
an opportunity to give back to his community. Easterling
lives in Columbia with his wife and son. Mike is an
Althoton Raider and Baltimore Ravens fan.
Deneitra Hutchinson, co-host of Columbia Matters, has a background in performing and visual arts, as well as modeling. She has appeared in television and print media in Texas and Hawaii. As a writer, Deneitra published short, humorous stories in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper and the “Texas Journey” AAA Magazine. She holds a Certificate of Completion from the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut and has exhibited original pastel drawings at the Barnes-Blackman Gallery in Houston, Texas.
Deneitra first studied the planned community of Columbia while pursuing a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning, from the School of Architecture at the University of Texas. Her professional career includes working as an Environmental Consultant for the international engineering firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, headquartered in New York.
The wife of an Army officer and mother to three sons, Deneitra has visited more than 15 countries and called several places home, including her native Texas, Germany and Hawaii. The Hutchinsons relocated to Columbia, Maryland in June of 2005, where Deneitra worked as the Event Programmer for the Village of Harper’s Choice before realizing her passion as a television personality.
Host, Columbia Amenities
Dennis Mattey, segment host of Columbia Amenities, has been with CA for more than 30 years, and is CA’s assistant division director of Open Space. Mattey holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s Degree from John Hopkins University in Information Technology. He has used his construction skills as a volunteer for the “Christmas in April” program, an organization that repairs the homes of low-income and/or physically challenged senior citizens. In 2008, Mattey was appointed by the Howard County Executive to serve on the Mid Maryland Workforce Investment Board as the vice chair, eventually becoming the chair of the Board.
Mattey has lived in Howard County for the last 35 years and was an early member of CA’s recreational facilities. He shares his passion for Columbia with his wife and two children, and can frequently be seen walking around the lakes or other CA amenities keeping an eye on projects throughout Columbia.
Harry A. Oken
Host, Health with Dr. Oken
Doctor Harry A. Oken, segment host of Health with Dr. Oken, is CA’s first Medical Director, providing consultation assistance to CA on a variety of medically-based programs, including Fit Beginnings, WINN, Ask the Expert and other programs currently under development. Dr. Oken is board certified in internal medicine and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Oken served as chairman of medicine at Howard County General Hospital for 14 years.
Dr. Oken earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Maryland and graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1983. He completed his residency and internship in internal medicine at University of Maryland/Baltimore VA Hospitals and served as chief resident there from 1986-87. He has been a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland since 1987.
In addition to serving as CA’s Medical Director, Dr. Oken heads CA’s Medical Advisory Board (MAB). His vision is to have an MAB whose members are “thought leaders” from a variety of medical disciplines and who are personally committed to a lifestyle of physical activity. Dr. Oken’s special interests also include Cardioprotection/ Human Performance Lab; Skin Cancer awareness and prevention; Lyme disease treatment and prevention; and ongoing cardioprotection, hypertension and cholesterol/3-omega fatty acid research.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Dr. Oken is married with three children.
Host, Explore Columbia
Barbara Kellner, segment host of Explore Columbia, moved to Columbia in 1982 and soon became absorbed by its history. Intrigued by the tidbits of information she gathered at the Columbia Exhibit Center, she answered a call for volunteers at the newly organized Columbia Archives. Once there, she started reading about Columbia and has never stopped.
As the long-time manager of the Columbia Archives, Kellner is charged with collecting and preserving the history of the planned “new town” and the career of its founder, James Rouse. Sharing Columbia’s history and vision with residents and visitors alike has become Kellner’s mission. She continues to develop unique ways to explore Columbia’s past through biking, walking and bus tours and through other special events.
In 2004 Kellner was named the first host of Columbia Matters, a position she held until 2006. She continues to offer a historical perspective for Columbia Matters as host of the Explore Columbia segment.
Kellner has a son and daughter and three grandchildren.
Host, 50 Plus
Kathy Marshall, segment host of 50 Plus, has extensive theatre experience. She hails from the small town of Monogah, West Virginia. In the 1970s, Marshall received an Associate Certificate in General Studies from Catonsville Community College, and she became a Paralegal/Assistant in Columbia, Maryland in 1983.
Upon retiring, Marshall became more involved in the Arts, with theatre being her true passion. She began focusing on acting and music, appearing in many local stage productions. Among her many roles, Marshall has recently portrayed Ma Strong in Urinetown; Hannah Ferguson in The Spitfire Grill; Julia in Lend Me a Tenor; and Reverend Mother in Nunsense II. Marshall has also appeared in several local commercials.
When she isn’t performing, Marshall enjoys spending time with her three granddaughters.
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Special Events Correspondent
Lana, special events correspondent on Columbia Matters, graduated from the University of Maryland, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication.
Most recently, Lana was the assistant to the program director at WGTS 91.9, a radio station featuring contemporary Christian music. While there, she created strategies for station progression and improvement, and she was also extensively trained in on-air hosting.
Lana has had a vast array of training in the communication field and possesses great leadership and performance capabilities, a positive attitude, an upbeat personality and, above all, a passion for excellence.
While at the University of Maryland, Lana served as President of “The Impact Movement,” a nationwide Christian campus ministry. She also emceed and spoke at many social events and was a Bible Study teacher for over 50 college students.
Currently, Lana is on staff as a leader for Student Ministries and the Women’s Ministry. She also will be going back to school in the near future to Hillsong International Leadership College where she plans to further her studies in television and media.
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Host, Spotlight on Howard County Teens: High School Edition
Ana Maria, segment host of the High School edition of Spotlight on Howard County Teens, is 18 years old and an accomplished model and actress.
As a child, Ana Maria’s father always encouraged her to act, but she preferred the modeling industry. Then, at a modeling showcase in mid-2008, Columbia Matters Producer Mary Weeks saw her and asked if she would be interested in hosting a local segment on CA’s television show. After Ana Maria’s first appearance on the program, she caught the “acting bug,” and she hasn’t looked back since. She has appeared in numerous print ads; runway and fashion shows; and commercials. She also appeared in two films: Jr. ROTC and Seeking Closure. In 2008, Ana Maria won the coveted title of Miss Maryland Teen USA.
Between her busy work schedule and demanding college courses, Ana Maria doesn’t have a lot of spare time; however, she enjoys working out, shopping and spending time with her family.
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Host, Spotlight on Howard County Teens: Middle School Edition
Barbara, segment host of the Middle School edition of Spotlight on Howard County Teens, is 11 years old and an active member of her school’s Drama Club. She is interested in dance, theatre and sports. During her spare time, you can find Barbara practicing volleyball and golf, or simply relaxing.
Barbara is interested in television because it allows her to express herself and communicate with others. She has appeared in a print ad for the National Education Association, a music video for “You’re Not Alone,” and a Musical Theatrix production of “The Wizard of Oz,” playing the role of Auntie Em.
Barbara is very happy to be a part of the award-winning Columbia Matters program and hopes to continue contributing to its ongoing success.
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Host, Spotlight on Howard County Teens: Middle School Edition
Gary, segment host of the Middle School edition of Spotlight on Howard County Teens, is 14 years old and attends the Baltimore School for the Arts/Theatre Program. Gary loves acting because it allows him to become another person. In addition to print ads, he has appeared in numerous commercials including spots for Campbell’s Soup and Bank of America. He also landed a guest role on television’s Law and Order: SVU.
While acting is his passion, Gary also enjoys building objects out of Lego’s and putting together puzzles. During his free time, Gary loves going to the movies, playing games, hanging out with friends and working with his father.
Gary is very determined to become the next Denzel Washington.
Jalen, segment host of KidsKorner, is 8 years old. A member of Savage Dance Company, Jalen rehearses his dance moves with the troupe six days a week. Jalen is also an actor, appearing in numerous television shows including PBS Kids Block. He has also appeared in several commercials including ads for “Juicy, Juice” and “Rita’s Italian Ice.”
While he doesn’t have much free time, Jalen loves to spend time with his mom, read books, play video games, practice football and skateboard.
When Jalen was only one, he won Baltimore’s Most Photogenic Baby Contest, and shortly thereafter, he started doing print ads. He later auditioned for a part on Sesame Street and landed his first television role on the show at the age of five.
Jalen loves hosting the KidsKorner segment because he gets to meet a lot of interesting people.
He currently lives at home with his mom in Columbia, Maryland.
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A Columbia resident for more than 35 years, Mary Weeks has been the producer of Columbia Matters since April 2007. Dedicated to producing a show with informative, enriching and high-quality content for Columbia and Howard County residents, Weeks loves writing and seeing her visions come to life. She holds an A.A. degree in TV Production and Multimedia Design from Howard Community College, and she earned a B.S. degree in Film, Video and Theatre from Villa Julie College. She also earned her Master’s degree in Communication Arts at NYIT in Manhattan.
Throughout her career, Weeks’ goal has been to write and produce shows with positive messages. Her first play, “Changing Hands” debuted in 2005 at the Greenbelt Art Center to great reviews, and her first short film, “Justin’s Prayer,” is now in post production. In addition, Weeks is working on a short book of poems titled, Pieces of My Soul.
The mother of an eight-year-old son, Weeks aspires to work with young people in the community to teach them all aspects of the production process and introduce them to all areas of the arts.
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