Columbia Journalism Investigations Staff and Fellows


Photo of Kristen Lombardi

Director and Editor Kristen Lombardi

Kristen Lombardi heads Columbia Journalism Investigations, where she has the privilege of helping produce great investigative stories while training the next generation of investigative reporters. Under her editorial leadership, CJI fellows have dug into the neglect of those living in climate disaster zones, the mental-health toll of climate-fueled disasters and the unequal consequences of dangerous heat, among other stories, while winning accolades from the Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Peabody Awards and more.

Before joining the school in August 2018, Kristen spent 11 years as an investigative reporter at the nonprofit newsroom The Center for Public Integrity, covering environmental and social justice issues. She has been a journalist for more than 25 years and has received numerous national and regional awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Dart Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Trauma, the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service. In 2013, President Barack Obama signed a law addressing problems exposed by her 2009-10 Public Integrity investigation, “Sexual Assault on Campus.” She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an Ochberg Fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. She graduated from University of California at Berkeley and has a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University. She has taught investigative skills classes at Columbia and served as a master’s adviser for students in the Stabile investigative-reporting program.


Investigative Team

"Journalism is not an easy field to succeed in. CJI takes in young reporters who have shown promise and skill but need a few more nudges in the right direction. The program provides mentorship and advice that helps those eager journalists produce world-class, award-winning investigative reporting on par with some of the best stories in the country."

Brian Edwards, a 2020-21 CJI investigative fellow
Willow Higgins

Willow Higgins, '23 M.A. Politics

Before joining CJI, Higgins was an investigative reporter on Evangelical efforts to combat sex trafficking in Texas.

She has worked as a city council reporter and an editor at a fact-checking company, and was an editorial intern at Texas Monthly.




Ryan Kost

Ryan Kost, '23 M.A. Politics

Kost is an investigative and narrative journalist from Arizona.

He has more than a decade of experience working in newsrooms, including as a staff writer for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Associated Press.


CJI’s Global Migration Team

"The CJI program's editors are resistant to the quick-hit or quota, affording fellows the rare opportunity to earn deep trust with sensitive sources, craft compelling narratives and expose harm-causing systemic failures for maximum accountability."

Liz Donovan, a 2020-21 CJI global migration fellow
Jose Del Pino

Jose M. Del Pino, M.A. Politics ’23

Del Pino is a Chilean journalist who has worked in print, radio and TV for Clarin Group in Argentina, Canal 10 in Uruguay and Canal 13 and Bio Bio in Chile. He has also been an associate professor at Gabriela Mistral University.




Churchill Ndonwie

Churchill Ndonwie, '23 M.S.

Ndonwie is an immigration reporter based in New York City. His work has been published in New York Focus and Chalkbeat.





CJI’s Cross Border Data Team

"Working on the cross-border data team for Columbia Journalism Investigations gave me a unique opportunity as a young reporter. It provided a scaffold of mentors and continued learning that equipped me to dive straight into what I do best: digging deep into systems and structures and exposing wrongdoing."

Rebekah Ward, a 2019-20 CJI cross border data fellow
Jana Cholakovska

Jana Cholakovska, ‘23 M.S. Stabile

Cholakovska is an international investigative reporter covering the environment, public health, labor rights and politics.

She has worked with The Washington Post, Public Health Watch, Grist, The Guardian, VICE and at the Investigative Reporting Lab in her native North Macedonia.


Pooja Sarkar

Pooja Sarkar, '23 M.A. Business

Sarkar is a financial investigative journalist and served as a senior assistant editor at Forbes India, where she covered private equity, climate finance and government spending.

She also produced and anchored Forbes India’s book podcast.



Alec Gitelman

Alec Gitelman, ’23 M.S.

Gitelman has worked in IT, film production and broadcast news and has focused on marrying data journalism with documentary filmmaking. His goal is to turn every story into a multimedia story whenever possible.