The Columbia Journalism School Announces 2019 Lipman Fellows: Adam Serwer of The Atlantic and Alice Speri of The Intercept | Columbia Journalism School

The Columbia Journalism School Announces 2019 Lipman Fellows: Adam Serwer of The Atlantic and Alice Speri of The Intercept

The Ira A. Lipman Center led by Prof. Jelani Cobb is awarding
two additional fellowships for proposals centered on public school education

The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights at the Columbia Journalism School announced the 2019 Lipman Fellows today. Adam Serwer, staff writer for The Atlantic, and Alice Speri, criminal justice reporter for The Intercept were awarded this year’s fellowships. The center will also award two special grants to Daniel Vock, staff writer at Governing Magazine, and Maura Walz, news editor for Southern California Public Radio (KPCC) for their education-focused proposals.

“This year’s fellows will advance and expand the range of civil and human rights coverage produced by the center including issues of free speech and race, the policing of black activists and the racial segregation of public schools, a topic that is profoundly personal to Ira A. Lipman, the center’s founder,” said the selection committee consisting of Professors Dolores Barclay, Jelani Cobb, June Cross, Bill Grueskin and Alisa Solomon.

Serwer, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, has written a number of essays on immigration and racial issues that draw on historical and quantitative research, and reporting. During his term as a fellow, Serwer will focus on free speech limitations on individuals from marginalized groups and how these prevent them from participating in debates over their fundamental rights. Speri, also a graduate of the J-School, covers criminal justice, immigration and civil rights and will examine the FBI’s policing of black activists, and its impact on local law enforcement agencies across the country.

In addition, Vock and Walz, who were each selected for a special one-time grant, will focus on school segregation. Vock, who covers state and local government for Governing Magazine, will research how data presented by real estate agencies and local governments contribute to school and neighborhood segregation. Walz, a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, writes about K-12 and higher education for KPCC, she will examine racial segregation in Binford Middle School in Virginia. Her work will be partly informed by her personal experience as an alumna of the school as well as deep reporting.

Serwer and Speri will each receive $10,000, Vock and Walz, as the recipients of the one-time special grants, will each be awarded $5,000. The four fellows will work with a faculty member throughout the duration of their fellowships and are expected to conduct a public presentation of their work for Columbia Journalism School students.

The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights was created in 2017 with a gift from Ira A. Lipman to recognize and support the vital role of journalism in democracy, particularly as it relates to civil and human rights.

The 2019 Fellows:

Adam Serwer is a staff writer for the Ideas section of The Atlantic, where he manages politics writers and critical essays. Previously, he was the national editor at BuzzFeed News, where he was responsible for the national desk, the features-investigative desk staffed by six reporters covering race, criminal justice, drug legalization, sexual assault and immigration. He was national reporter for MSNBC covering national politics, legal and race issues. He has also previously reported for Mother Jones, The Washington Post and served as a writing fellow for The American Prospect. He was the recipient of the 2019 Hillman Prize for Opinion Journalism. Serwer is currently a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


Alice Speri is a journalist currently covering criminal justice, immigration, and civil rights for The Intercept. Originally from Italy, she has reported from Haiti, Colombia, El Salvador, Palestine, and from across the United States.

Alice first wrote about police violence while a student at the J-School (Class of 2010), when she interviewed the parents of Sean Bell, a young man killed by NYPD officers in Jamaica, Queens. While a reporter at VICE News, she covered the police killings of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as the nationwide movement for black lives they inspired. Since then, Alice's writing has largely focused on policing, protest, and racial justice. At The Intercept, her work has included investigations about the FBI’s monitoring of white supremacists’ infiltration of law enforcement, systemic sexual abuse in immigration detention centers, and the widespread use of gang databases and mass prosecutions. Alice has also written about state and corporate surveillance of activists from Standing Rock to Puerto Rico, and more recently, about the targeting of black activists and the history of the FBI’s fictional “Black Identity Extremist” label, reporting which she plans to develop further as a Lipman fellow.


Dan Vock is a staff writer for Governing magazine, where he focuses on transportation and infrastructure. For nearly two decades, Vock has distinguished himself for in-depth reporting on often-overlooked topics dealing with states and local governments. Earlier this year, for example, he led a team of governing reporters in exploring the ways local governments reinforce racial segregation in housing, in a project called "Segregated in the Heartland." Vock has covered a variety of beats for Stateline (a reporting project of the Pew Research Center and, later, the Pew Center on the States) and worked as a statehouse reporter for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He has a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield and a bachelor’s degree in English and German from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He lives in Washington, D.C.


Maura Walz is the news editor for Southern California Public Radio, where she manages a team of five reporters that cover K-12, higher education, early childhood, homelessness and the social safety net. Previously, Walz worked at Chalkbeat from 2009-2015 where she held several different roles including interim managing editor overseeing an editorial team of four local bureaus. Prior to Chalkbeat, Walz was the southern education desk reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Walz often produces features, photography and multimedia packages for NBC News, NPR, WNYC and FastCompany. She was a Carnegie-Knight Initiative for the Future of Education Journalism Fellow in 2009.  She holds an M.S. from the Columbia Journalism School and an A.B. from The University of Chicago.

To apply for the fellowship visit:



About Columbia Journalism School

For more than a century, the Columbia Journalism School has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened in 1912 and offers Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science in Data Journalism, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communications.  It also houses the Columbia Journalism Review, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Meyer “Mike” Berger Awards. 


Chantal De Soto