James Brown


Before coming to WXXI News, James spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for Rochester City Newspaper. While at City, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.

James cut his teeth in journalism as an associate producer and weekend assignment editor at WHEC-TV.

A Rochester native and an East High School graduate, James earned a Bachelor of Communications degree from Niagara University where he won awards for his poetry and resurrected the school’s radio station.

James Brown / WXXI

A federal grant aimed at helping Rochester’s children is coming to the region. 

Congressman Joe Morelle said Friday that the $1.5 million grant will help a local initiative called Grow Rochester, which focuses on children’s health issues.


The initiative currently offers screenings for 3-year-olds, and it plans to use this grant along with state, local, and private fundraising to expand their reach to children between the ages of 1 and 5. 

Morelle said the goal is to alert parents to medical, social/emotional and cognitive problems before they hamper a child’s development.

New York State Education Department


Interim New York State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe announced Thursday that Rochester had the biggest year-to-year increase in graduation rates among the big five school districts. These numbers are based on August 2019 graduates, which Tahoe said the department bases its metrics on.

A Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate is switching races and is now eyeing an Assembly seat. 

Jen Lunsford is suspending her campaign for the 55th District Senate seat and is now running against Republican Mark Johns in the 135th Assembly District. The switch was a surprise to many, including Johns.

“I expected a challenger, but everybody thought she was running for the Senate seat, so something behind the scenes went on,” said Johns. “But I welcome whoever the challenger might be. Maybe they’ll have a primary, who knows?”

WXXI photo

Rochester City Council announced the members of the first nine-member Police Accountability Board on Wednesday. 

Voters in November approved a referendum that created the controversial board that would have the power to investigate and punish police officers they deem guilty of misconduct. 

Whether the board will ultimately get to exercise that power is still up in the air. Lawyers for the city and the Rochester Police Locust Club are in a fight over the legality of the measure. 


Three busloads of people headed from Rochester to Albany on Tuesday to demand an increase in education funding.

Rochester City School student Maya Adams led a chant,“Whose money! Our Money! Our Schools! Our Schools!” from the well of the state Capitol. She’s part of a group including students, teachers, and Rochester residents hoping to prevent further layoffs in the district. The district laid off about 100 teachers mid-year because of an estimated $65 million budget shortfall.

East High School/Facebook

East High School is honoring leaders of color with the help of local artist Shawn Dunwoody. 

Dunwoody painted public portraits of historical figures like President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and 27 others as part of The Legacy Project: The Eyes of Our Ancestors. 

The 10-by-4 portraits are hanging in the school's courtyard on East Main Street. 

Organizers like Dr. James Willis, the director of African and American studies for the Rochester City School District, hope these images can be inspirational for students and the community at large.

Photos Provided

Ernest Flagler-Mitchell is the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for the 137th District State Assembly seat

David Gantt has held the seat for nearly 40 years, but it's not clear if he'll run again. Gantt, 78, is dealing with health concerns and has not yet declared his intentions.

Flagler-Mitchell, 41, is a former firefighter who has been in the Monroe County Legislature for five years. He was just re-elected as assistant minority leader. He also trains future firefighters at East High School.

James Brown / WXXI

With school back in session, Rochester City School District teachers are dealing with the aftermath of mid-year layoffs. 

Teachers union President Adam Urbanski said about 150 teachers needed to switch classrooms Monday because 105 were laid off last month. But Urbanski said that the displaced teachers all face challenges, but the ones who had to move into different buildings are in the tougher situation.

James Brown / WXXI

At a rally Friday announcing the first Republican candidate for office in Monroe County this year -- Elena Cariola for Surrogate’s Court judge -- the chairman of the county Conservative Party took the stage to show his support.

“It’s going be a tough race," said Tom Cook. "There are 60,000 more Democrats in Monroe County than Republicans. It’s going to be a tough race, but I think she can win.”

Provided photos

Rochester City Board of Education Commissioner Natalie Sheppard is a candidate for the 137th District Assembly seat now held by Democrat David Gantt.

Gantt is one of the longest-serving members of the Assembly, having first been elected in 1982.

Sheppard, who was elected to the school board in 2017, is a licensed master social worker, and for more than 15 years has worked with individuals and families in areas that include education, mental health and criminal justice. She said her goals include improving “the mental, fiscal, physical and emotional health for every person in our community.”