Board of Directors

The Board of Directors serves as the governing body of IRE.

  • Cheryl W. Thompson

    Cheryl W. Thompson, IRE Board President, is an investigative correspondent for NPR and teaches investigative reporting at George Washington University. Prior to joining NPR in January, she spent 22 years at The Washington Post, were she wrote extensively about law enforcement, political corruption and guns, and was a White House correspondent during Barack Obama’s first term. Her investigative series that traced guns used to kill more than 500 police officers in the U.S. earned her an Emmy, National Headliner, IRE and other awards. In 2015, her reporting found nearly one person a week died in the U.S. after being Tasered by police, and in 2017, her examination of Howard University Hospital revealed myriad problems with the storied facility, including that it had the highest rate of death lawsuits per bed than the five other DC hospitals. Her project published in May 2018 investigated the unsolved serial murders of six black girls in the nation’s capital nearly 50 years ago. She has won numerous other awards, including two Salute to Excellence awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, and was named NABJ’s Educator of the Year in 2017. She can be reached at cwthompson@npr.org or thompsonc@gwu.edu. (Originally elected 2015; current term expires June 2021.)

  • Lee Zurik

    Lee Zurik, Vice President, is an Evening News Anchor and Chief Investigative Reporter at WVUE-TV in New Orleans and director of investigations at Raycom Media. Lee has been honored with many of journalism’s top awards including two George Foster Peabody Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, the IRE Medal, three IRE Certificates, and eight National Edward R. Murrow Awards.  Before Hurricane Katrina, Lee was a sports anchor/reporter. He taught himself to be an investigative reporter by reading IRE resources (books and tipsheets) and attending IRE conferences. Lee can be reached at @leezurik and lzurik@fox8live.com. (Originally elected 2016; current term expires June 2020.)

  • Jodi Upton

    Jodi Upton, Treasurer, is the Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism at Syracuse University, where she is developing a data journalism program. Previously, she was Senior Database Editor at USA TODAY, where she led a team on stories from mass killings to Medicare fraud to football coach contracts.  She was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University and taught at Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center. Her team won many U.S. and international awards. She may be reached at jupton@syr.edu. (Originally elected 2018; current term expires June 2020.)

  • Jill Riepenhoff

    Jill Riepenhoff, Secretary, joined Raycom Media’s national investigative team in July 2017 as a producer. Prior to that, she worked at The Columbus Dispatch since 1985. She has investigated issues ranging from naughty teachers to naughty mortgage brokers to naughty landlords and naughty guardians – those charged with caring for mentally-incompetent adults. She also enjoys digging into sports and has written extensively about the dark sides of youth, high school and college athletics. For the past two years, she has been the chair of IRE’s contest committee. She can be reached at jriepenhoff@raycommedia.com and on Twitter at @JRiep. (Originally elected 2014; current term expires June 2020.)

  • Nicole Vap

    Nicole Vap, Executive Member (at-large), is the Director of Investigative Journalism at 9NEWS in Denver, and TEGNA Inc. Vap leads a team of award winning reporters and producers in Denver, and coordinates joint projects and training company wide.  Her team are winners of a 2018 National Edward R. Murrow award, a 2017 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Television Journalism, a 2011 DuPont Silver Baton for excellence in Broadcast journalism, multiple regional Edward R. Murrow and Emmy awards as well as being named a finalist for the IRE Freedom of Information award. She has also worked at television stations in Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kansas. She can be reached at @nicolevap and Nicole.vap@9news.com (Originally elected 2014; current term expires June 2020.)

  • Bethany Barnes

    Bethany Barnes is a reporter on the investigations team at the Tampa Bay Times. She came to the Times from The Oregonian, where her coverage of Portland Public Schools prompted the Education Writers Association to name Barnes the nation’s best education beat reporter in 2018. Before Oregon, Barnes wrote about prisons, courts and corruption in Las Vegas. Barnes is part of the team that produces Local Matters, a weekly newsletter that showcases local investigative journalism. Barnes has a bachelor’s degree in creative nonfiction and a master’s in journalism from the University of Arizona. Reach her at bbarnes@tampabay.com or @betsbarnes. (Originally elected 2019; current term expires June 2021.)

  • Matt Dempsey

    Matt Dempsey is the data editor at the Houston Chronicle. He worked on projects involving wildfires, state pensions, and the chemical industry. His passion for public records frequently leads to disclosure of data from all levels of government. His series Chemical Breakdown won the 2016 IRE Innovation award and the National Press Foundation’s “Feddie” award. His work was a key part of the Chronicle’s Pulitzer Prize finalist entry for Breaking News. Reach him at mizzousundevil@gmail.com. (Originally elected 2018; current term expires June 2020.)

  • Jodie Fleischer

    Jodie Fleischer joined WRC-TV in Washington as an investigative reporter in 2017. She’s earned several of journalism’s top honors including a duPont-Columbia Award, an IRE Award for Innovation, and numerous regional Murrow and Emmy awards. In 2015, she was recognized by the FBI director for her investigation of sovereign citizens that led to a dozen arrests and a change in state law. Her reporting on deadly police shootings helped change Georgia law to limit special treatment for officers. Jodie also exposed fraudulent activity which prompted the closure of a drug rehab run by the Church of Scientology, and her government corruption investigations have led to numerous indictments and resignations. Jodie previously worked for WSB-TV in Atlanta and stations in Orlando and South Carolina. She’s a graduate of the University of Florida. Jodie can be reached at Jodie.fleischer@nbcuni.com and @jodienbc4. (Originally elected 2019; current term expires June 2021.)

  • Cindy Galli

    Cindy Galli is Chief of Investigative Projects for ABC News in New York. She oversees a team of award-winning network correspondents and producers specializing in investigations ranging from government fraud and waste to corporate corruption and consumer issues. Cindy also heads up collaborative investigative projects between ABC News and network affiliates around the country. A member of IRE since 1994, her work has garnered regional and national awards over 25 years of reporting. She can be reached at cynthia.k.galli@abc.com and on Twitter at @mustangalli. (Originally elected 2019; current term expires June 2021.)

  • Jennifer LaFleur

    Jennifer LaFleur is data editor at The Investigative Reporting Workshop and teaches at American University.  She previously was a senior editor at Reveal/CIR, data editor at ProPublica, The Dallas Morning News, the San Jose Mercury News and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was NICAR’s founding training director and has won awards for her coverage of disability, legal and open government issues. She can be reached at jlafleur@irworkshop.org or @j_la28. (Originally elected 2018; current term expires June 2020.)

  • Steven Rich

    Steven Rich is the database editor for investigations at The Washington Post. He’s worked on investigations probing the National Security Agency, tax lien sales, asset forfeiture, police shootings and college athletics. Since coming to The Post in 2013, he has shared in several national awards, including a George Polk award, a Robert F. Kennedy award and a Gerald Loeb award. He has been a reporter on two teams awarded Pulitzer Prizes, in 2014 for Public Service and in 2016 for National Reporting. Steven is a graduate of Mizzou and Virginia Tech. He can be reached at steven.rich@washpost.com or @dataeditor. (Originally elected 2015; current term expires June 2021.)

  • Brian M. Rosenthal

    Brian M. Rosenthal is an investigative reporter on the Metro Desk of The New York Times. Before joining The Times, he covered state government for The Seattle Times and the Houston Chronicle. He was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for a series that exposed that Texas was secretly denying special education services to tens of thousands of children with disabilities. He also was part of the team that won 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of a deadly mudslide. He has won an IRE medal, a George A. Polk Award and the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting. He grew up in Indiana and attended Northwestern University. He can be reached at Brian.Rosenthal@nytimes.com or @brianmrosenthal. (Originally elected 2019; current term expires June 2021.)

  • Norberto Santana Jr.

    Norberto Santana Jr. is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than two decades reporting experience, largely focused on local government across Southern California. He’s worked as a staff writer for the Orange County Register, the San Diego Union Tribune, the San Bernardino County Sun, the Virgin Islands Daily News and Congressional Quarterly. Since 2009, he’s led the digital nonprofit newsroom, Voice of OC, covering civic life in Orange County, California. Reach him at nsantana@voiceofoc.org. (Originally elected 2018; current term expires June 2020.)