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Three journalists receive IRE's 2023 Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship

Halima Gikandi of The World, Leslie Rangel of KTBC-TV, Austin and Kaylee Tornay of InvestigateWest will serve as IRE’s 2023 Journalists of Color Investigative Reporting Fellows.

Halima Gikandi is the Africa Correspondent for The World radio program, the largest international news program on American public radio. Based in Nairobi, Gikandi reports on current affairs in Africa, with a focus on politics, security, and human rights. In 2019 and 2021, she served on the board of the International Press Association of East Africa (IPAEA), which advocates for hundreds of journalists working in the region.

Gikandi’s project will investigate allegations that certain U.S. citizens are taking advantage of Uganda’s weak social and legal protections to exploit minors.

Leslie Rangel is an award-winning morning anchor at KTBC’s Good Day Austin. Before landing in Austin, Rangel's work took her across the south, covering oil refinery explosions in Beaumont, Texas, chasing tornadoes and earthquakes in Oklahoma City, covering the Austin Police department and helping to launch the first local Fox affiliate in Waco.

Rangel’s project will focus on the reported lack of accessibility of mental health services for communities of color in Texas. She will be looking at the intersection of mental health access, community impact and systemic racism in Texas communities.

Before her role as an investigative reporter with InvestigateWest, Kaylee Tornay was an award-winning education reporter at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the Medford Mail Tribune. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon.

Tornay’s project will take a deep dive into Oregon’s child care and early education system to determine whether it is perpetuating inequities for students and their families in regard to supply, quality and affordability of child care and early education options.

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 2023 fellowship program was open to journalists of color with at least three years of post-college work experience.

Gikandi, Rangel and Tornay were selected based on the projects they pitched in their applications. They will continue in their current professional roles while receiving a suite of IRE resources and support. These include training at an IRE data journalism bootcamp and both annual conferences, and they will receive IRE data services. Most importantly, they will each receive a mentor network of IRE members who will guide them through their year-long project.

The IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship was initially made possible thanks to generous donations from IRE members Mike Gruss, Meghan Hoyer, Megan Luther and Mike Tahani. Additional funding was provided by the IRE community and company sponsors ABC News, CNN, ESPN, Gray Television and Hearst Foundations. More than $115,000 has been raised to support the program.

Applications for the 2024 IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship will be available in October 2023.

If you’d like to donate to the fellowship, visit the IRE donation page and indicate your contribution is for the JOC fellowship.

If you want to participate in IRE training events and need financial assistance to attend, check out our fellowships and scholarships.

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