Columbia Journalism School’s Sarah Stillman Receives a MacArthur "Genius Grant"

September 22, 2016

Sarah Stillman, director of the Global Migration Program, is among those named 2016 Fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She joins a distinguished group of 23 talented people in a variety of fields who received fellowships this year for creative work that demonstrates notable originality, dedication and self-direction.

“I’m truly stunned, and incredibly grateful for the MacArthur Foundation's vote of confidence—both in my work, and in the discipline of immersive, deeply reported journalism,” said Stillman. “I'm so lucky to have found a community of editors and fellow reporters who care passionately about complex investigative work—at The New Yorker and also at Columbia Journalism School. I'm eager to use the fellowship to take big risks with some ambitious long-form stories."

Stillman, whose work at Columbia Journalism is focused on publishing stories on women, girls and migration, teaches the course “Gendering Migration: An Intensive Course on Women and Girls Crossing Borders.” A staff writer for The New Yorker, she is also a visiting scholar at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

She won a National Magazine Award in 2012 and Overseas Press Club Award in 2011 for her reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan on labor abuses and human trafficking on U.S. military bases there. Her reporting on the high-risk use of young people as confidential informants in the war on drugs received a George Polk Award in 2012 and the Molly National Journalism Prize in 2013. She has written on topics ranging from civil forfeiture to amateur drone-builders, Mexico's drug cartels to Bangladesh's garment factory workers.

Before joining The New Yorker, Stillman wrote about America’s wars overseas and the challenges facing soldiers at home for The Washington Post, The Nation, The New Republic, Slate and The Atlantic. She co-taught a seminar at Yale University on the Iraq war, and also ran a creative-writing workshop for four years at the Cheshire Correctional Institution, a maximum-security men’s prison in Connecticut.

"Sarah Stillman has emerged as one of the most important public service journalists of her generation, building a body of work that is unflinching, original and essential,” said Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Journalism School. “We are thrilled for her and for our students who have been privileged to work with her.”

The MacArthur “genius grant” is awarded annually and comes with a $625,000 stipend that is given with no conditions—fellows may use the money as they see fit.