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IRE Board bestows Founders and Service awards

Two Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporters who served on the IRE Board of Directors have been honored with Founders Awards: Jim Polk and the late Mike McGraw.

In addition, the IRE board also has presented Service Awards to outgoing board members Sarah Cohen, Andrew Donohue and Ellen Gabler.

"The impact these five individuals have had on IRE is profound," said Matt Goldberg, IRE board president. "We honor them for all the hard work, dedication and service they have given to our members."

In 2013, the IRE board created the Founders Award to recognize lifetime achievement, both for work in journalism and impact on IRE.

Polk is now retired after working more than 20 years for CNN as an investigative and documentary producer. Previously, he worked for the Associated Press in Washington, D.C., the Washington Star-News and NBC News for two decades as a national correspondent. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for national reporting on the Watergate scandal. For his TV work, he has won a national News Emmy, as well as DuPont and Peabody awards.

Polk was elected to the IRE board during its first national conference in 1976. He served as IRE board president in 1978-80 and helped run five of IRE’s early national conferences. In recent years, he has served as an IRE Awards judge.

"Jim Polk has been an inspiration to countless IRE members," Goldberg said. "He has helped mentor so many journalists and truly serves as an ambassador for IRE in the journalism community."

McGraw, who died in January, had retired from the Kansas City Star in 2014 as an investigative reporter. Previously, he had worked for The Des Moines Register and The Hartford Courant. After retiring from the Star, he joined KCPT as a projects reporter and covered agriculture for NPR and KCUR’s Harvest Public Media. He and reporter Jeff Taylor shared the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for a seven-part investigation of the U.S. Agriculture Department.

McGraw served on the IRE board from 1994-2000. In addition, he contributed to the IRE Reporter’s Handbook, mentored countless journalists, and taught investigative reporting at the University of Missouri, the University of Kansas and as a Ferris professor in residence at Princeton University.

"For three decades, Mike McGraw inspired, encouraged and guided IRE members to do top-notch reporting. His legacy as investigative reporter and impact on our membership is unmatched," Goldberg said.

The three recipients of the IRE Service Award served a collective 22 years on the IRE board.

"The hard work and dedication by these three board members is evident by the strength and growth they brought to the organization," Goldberg said.

Cohen was first elected to the board in 2010 and served as its president from 2014-16. She works as Knight Chair for Data Journalism at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Previously, she worked as the editor for computer-assisted reporting at The New York Times and as the Knight Chair in computational journalism at Duke University. Cohen has also worked as a database editor for The Washington Post and as a reporter at newspapers in Florida. She has shared in the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, an IRE medal and the Goldsmith Prize.

Gabler, the outgoing board secretary, has served on the IRE board since 2012. She works as an investigative reporter at The New York Times. Previously, she worked at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She received the 2013 Livingston Award for Young Journalists in National Reporting and in 2016 was a Gerald Loeb and IRE finalist, and winner of the Pulliam First Amendment Award. Her team's work in 2014 was honored with the Selden Ring, Loeb, and Scripps Howard Award for Investigative Reporting, as well as several other national honors.

Donohue, the outgoing board treasurer, has served on the IRE board since 2010. He works as the managing editor at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Previously, he helped build and lead Voice of San Diego, a leading local investigative startup. Donohue served as a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University. He's been a part of teams that have won the IRE award twice, the Online News Association's awards for Innovation in Investigative Reporting and General Excellence, and the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award.

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