2020 Fellows Sameea Kamal (left), Josh McGhee (center) and Monica Velez (right).

Sameea Kamal of the Los Angeles Times, Josh McGhee from The Chicago Reporter and Monica Velez of The Fresno Bee will serve as IRE’s 2020 Journalists of Color Investigative Reporting Fellows.

Kamal, a news desk editor, has been at the Los Angeles Times since November. Prior to the LA Times, she worked at the Center for Public Integrity as a digital editor. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 

McGhee, an investigative reporter, has been at The Chicago Reporter since October 2018. He previously worked at DNAinfo as a reporter covering neighborhood change and crime. He is a graduate of Culver-Stockton College.

Velez, an education reporter, joined the Fresno Bee in December. She previously worked at Valley Public Radio in Fresno, California. She is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento. 

IRE’s yearlong fellowship is designed to increase the range of backgrounds, experiences and interests within the field of investigative journalism, where diverse perspectives are critically important. The 2020 fellowship was open to U.S. journalists of color with at least three years of post-college work experience.

Fellows will investigate important issues in their communities. Kamal will investigate sexual assault on colleges and university campuses. McGhee will work on a project investigating hate crimes and the judicial system in Cook County, Illinois. Velez will dig into how the Fresno Unified School District’s failure to adequately desegregate six decades ago affects students of color today. 

Kamal, McGhee and Velez will receive a suite of IRE resources and training opportunities. These include complimentary registrations and travel assistance for an IRE data journalism boot camp and both annual conferences. Additionally, they will receive free IRE data services and a mentor network of IRE members.

“We’re thrilled to expand this critical program from one fellowship this year to three next year,” IRE Executive Director Doug Haddix said. “Generous donors and company sponsors have provided the financial support to bolster this effort. We applaud their commitment to supporting talented journalists of color.”

The IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship was initially made possible thanks to generous donations from IRE members Meghan Hoyer, Megan Luther, Mike Tahani and Mike Gruss. Additional funding was provided by the IRE community and company sponsors CNN, Gray Television and ABC News. More than $23,000 has been raised to support the program.

Applications for the 2021 IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship will be available in October 2020.  

If you’d like to donate to the fellowship, go here and indicate your contribution is for the JOC fellowship. 

If you are interested in participating in IRE training events, you can check them out here. If you are looking for financial assistance to attend any of these events, you can find the details here.