The staff of The Waterbury Observer is largely a family affair with Publisher and Editor John Murray, left, and his daughter, Chelsea Murray, right, forming the backbone of the newspaper. Additional help is provided by Quajay Donnell in graphic design, Kevin Zak in sales and marketing, Maureen Griffin in billing, and Carl Rosa, Sondra Harman, Kevin Zak, Reggie Beamon, Jim Szynkiewicz, Shelly Frome and Raechel Guest with monthly columns and historical articles.

Publisher and Editor – John Murray

   After graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1981, Murray worked for six years as a commercial salmon fisherman in Ketchikan, Alaska. The seasonal job lasted four months and filled Murray’s pocket with enough cash so he could travel and explore the world. During his twenties he spent two winters in Europe, wandered through India, Nepal and East Africa, and most significantly, hitchhiked 40,000 across North America, where he learned to connect with people living in the shadows of American society. The travel experiences triggered Murray’s career in journalism, which began shooting dramatic images from Southeast Alaska. Returning east, Murray worked at the Litchfield Enquirer, the oldest weekly newspaper in Connecticut, from 1987 to 1989, and then the Register-Citizen in Torrington, Connecticut, where he was the chief photographer from 1989 to 1993.

   Murray joined Marty Begnal, a fellow Register-Citizen journalist, in co-founding The Waterbury Observer in October 1993. Begnal left the Observer in 1996 to pursue other interests, and Murray continued on alone. In the past 18 years the Observer has won numerous awards from the New England Press Association and from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for feature stories, photography, columns and investigative journalism.

  In April 2007 Murray was featured on NBC Dateline for his coverage of a controversial rape case that occurred in Waterbury in 1993. Murray’s coverage helped trigger a two hour NBC special highlighting Donna Palomba’s courageous battle against sexual assault, police corruption and media insensitivity.

   In addition, Murray’s coverage of the bizarre disappearance of Billy Smolinski was honored as one of the top investigative stories in New England, and triggered federal legislation, “Billy’s Law”, which seeks to change the way police officers respond to the report of a missing adult.  Murray’s work has appeared in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times. Murray can be reached at 203-754-4238 or at

Sales and Marketing and Travel Editor – Chelsea Murray

   Chelsea Murray literally grew up inside a newsroom. When she was five years old the Observer was launched in the dining room of her father’s home. Eighteen months later the newsroom moved into her living room when the Observer expanded to five employees.

   Chelsea has experienced every facet of the newspaper business. She began writing youth columns at the Observer when she was 11 years old. Chelsea won first place in the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists 2002 competition for a column she wrote about a 14 year old dying of cancer. Her column was chosen over 35 entries submitted by seasoned, professional journalists. Chelsea was 14 years old.

   Chelsea has written a hundred columns and written feature stories about activist Julia Butterfly Hill, writer Elizabeth Gilbert, and the UConn womens basketball team. In addition to writing, Chelsea is an excellent photographer and an enthusiastic salesperson.

   After graduating from Marist College in 2010 with a degree in International Communications, Chelsea returned to Connecticut to accept a position as the Observer’s free-wheeling travel editor. She has travelled extensively throughout the world, including Guatemala, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia and India.

   Chelsea is currently volunteering on a Heifer Farm in Massachusetts until August 2013, and is planning an indefinite exploration of Europe beginning October 1st, 2013. While traveling Chelsea will be reporting about her adventures, and trying to stay in contact with her accounts via e-mail.

  Chelsea can be reached by e-mail at

Chelsea Murray breaking down barriers at the Tibetan Village in McLoud Ganj, India.

Graphic Artist – Quajay Donnell

   Quajay joined The Waterbury Observer in the Spring of 1995 when the newspaper moved out of John Murray’s apartment and into its first office on Baldwin Street, in the South End of Waterbury. Quajay was 16 years old and lived in the neighborhood. He asked if he could answer the phone and within a few weeks he started writing a column called Brass City Youth, which zeroed in on positive accomplishments of Waterbury teenagers.

   When the newspaper nearly imploded in December 1995 Quajay assumed the role of graphic designer. At the time – remarkably – Quajay was a junior at Kennedy High School and his school bus would drop him off at the office every afternoon.

   Quajay’s 16 year relationship with the Observer has seen him wear many hats – receptionist, columnist, photographer, graphic designer, production manager, and for three years he was editor of Young Voices.

   For the past decade Quajay has branched out to work in youth programs in New Haven and Washington D.C., but continued to provide graphic design to the Observer via the internet. During the Observer’s two biggest publications each year – the annual City Guide, and the Best of Waterbury issue, Quajay, who now lives in Rochester, N.Y., returns to the Observer to produce many of the high quality ads we create for our clients.