The year-long program is intended to prepare and support a journalist of color for a solid career in investigative reporting. The program also provides an opportunity for the fellow’s news outlets to benefit from the fellow’s investigative skill-building. An underlying goal of the program is to increase the range of backgrounds, experiences and interests within the field of investigative journalism, where diverse perspectives are critically important. The fellowship is made possible by the generosity of IRE members and news organization sponsors.
The fellow would:
The fellow would be encouraged to do the following after the fellowship concludes:
Individuals can make a secure donation online. Please put “JOC” in the text box.
To become a corporate sponsor, contact IRE Director of Partnerships Chris Vachon.
The fellowship was started with generous donations from IRE members Mike Gruss, Meghan Hoyer, Megan Luther and Mike Tahani. The funding for the program has grown through continued funding from Gruss, Hoyer, Luther and Tahani as well as from many other individual donors. At the IRE 2019 conference, the conference fundraiser was dedicated to the IRE JOC Fellowship.
Rowaida Abdelaziz is an enterprise reporter at HuffPost and has been with the organization since November 2016. Prior to that, she was HuffPost’s social media editor, and she served as Middle East North Africa Researcher for the Committee to Protect Journalists. She is a graduate of Rutgers University.
Carlos Ballesteros is a staff reporter at Injustice Watch and has been with the organization since June 2020. Prior to that, he was at the Chicago Sun-Times, and he also worked in New York for Newsweek. He is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College.
Terry Jones has been a staff reporter at The Advocate since April 2012. Prior to that, he was at the Hattiesburg American. He is a graduate of Southern University.
Ishan Thakore is an independent journalist and associate producer for the Emmy Award-winning show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. He was previously a Sundance Institute Grantee at BBC World Service and a National Geographic digital storytelling Fulbright Fellow. Thakore is a graduate of Duke University.
Sameea Kamal is a news desk editor currently working for the Los Angeles Times. She previously led digital strategy at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative newsroom. Kamal has served in digital and reporting roles at the Los Angeles Times, Times Community News and the Hartford Courant, and reported on economic development, green energy and school construction. She is passionate about making news accessible through engaging reporting, digital strategy and design. Kamal received her bachelor’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in mass communications with a minor in public policy, and her master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School.
Josh McGhee is an investigative reporter for The Chicago Reporter covering criminal justice, labor, politics, culture and the legalization of cannabis in Illinois. Prior to the Reporter, he produced a radio docu-series on the Great Migration, served as an executive producer of the Cliff Kelley Show on WVON and reported on neighborhood change and homicides for DNAinfo Chicago. In 2016, his “Chicago Homeless Get Left Behind” series was awarded Best Feature Series at the Peter Lisagor Awards.
Monica Velez has covered issues in minority communities across California’s San Joaquin Valley for the past three years. She currently is an education reporter at The Fresno Bee, with a focus on early childhood and K-12 education. Before that, Velez covered immigration for the Valley’s NPR member station, Valley Public Radio. She got her start in journalism covering health at the Merced Sun-Star, a daily newspaper in Merced County. While at the Sun-Star, Velez was awarded a year-long fellowship with the Center for Health Journalism at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, where she examined how doctor shortages affected low-income populations. In 2016, Velez won a first-place California News Publishers Association award for her coverage on doctor shortages. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing from California State University, Sacramento. Velez, who is a first-generation Salvadoreña, was born and raised in the Bay Area and grew up with her mom, dad, older brother and German Shepard, Koda.
Bracey Harris of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, is IRE’s first Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellow. Harris, an education reporter, has been at the paper since September 2015. She previously worked at WLBT News in Jackson as an associate morning producer. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. As part of her fellowship, Harris explored the effects of school integration on black families in Mississippi.
Read what Harris had to say about her fellowship:
Last year, I performed an audit of my work and identified missed opportunities where further digging could have created a greater impact. Going forward, I knew I wanted to approach my watchdog reporting with a hard focus on producing results rather than my previous “one-and-dones” that might have only caused a day of two or discomfort for their subjects, at best.
By providing me with a mentor network and training opportunities, the Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting Fellowship has helped me make that goal a reality.
From walking me through how to map out a long-term investigation and balance my education beat duties to recommending hands-on training to take advantage of during IRE events, my mentors have been a lifeline as I report on the most challenging project in my journalism career to date.
This support, coupled with the training opportunities I received through attending IRE’s boot camp and NICAR, has made what was once an elusive dream project attainable.