Past Lipman Fellows | Columbia Journalism School

Past Lipman Fellows

2021 Fellows & Grantees

Kovie Biakolo headshot

Kovie Biakolo, Independent Journalist

Fellow Kovie Biakolo is a journalist and writer specializing in culture and identity. Her work, which has been featured in The Atlantic, the BBC, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Essence Magazine and elsewhere, includes critical analyses of race, nationality, and pop culture, among other subjects. Currently, she is a freelance writer focused on reporting, culture commentary and narrative essays.

Britney Martin

Brittney Martin, Independent Journalist

Fellow Brittney Martin is a journalist based in Houston. She has spent the last year writing about COVID-19 and its impact on Texans. An experienced investigative reporter, researcher and longform narrative writer, her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Texas Monthly, The Daily Beast, Cosmopolitan, Christianity Today, The Imprint and other publications. She spent five years as a staff writer at regional daily newspapers in Texas, first covering politics and policy for The Dallas Morning News and then health for the San Antonio Express-News.

She was a member of The Dallas Morning News staff named 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Breaking News Reporting for coverage of a mass shooting that left five police officers dead. Her magazine writing has focused on the long term effects of trauma following manmade and natural disasters.

Seyma Beyram

Seyma Bayram, Report for America Fellow, Akron Beacon Journal

Seyma Bayram is a Report for America Fellow at the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, where she covers Black and minority communities. She has covered a range of social justice issues in Ohio, from violence against LGBTQ+ communities and gun legislation to ongoing civil rights protests and the 2020 general election. Previously, Bayram covered criminal justice and local government for the Jackson Free Press in Jackson, Mississippi. Her reporting on Mississippi’s sentencing laws and efforts to prevent the state from demolishing a Jackson landmark earned Bayram two first-place awards from The Associated Press and a Green Eyeshade Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Before journalism, Bayram worked as a high-school writing teacher in Brooklyn, New York, and as a book editor for a European experimental arts organization. She is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School and the State University of New York at Binghamton. She is from the Kurdish region of Turkey and was raised in The Netherlands and upstate New York.

Brandi Kellam, Digital Journalist, CBS News

Brandi Kellam is a multimedia producer and reporter. As a journalist for CBS News, she covered the 2020 U.S. Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and spent five weeks on the ground in Minneapolis following protests over George Floyd’s murder by police. Brandi’s reporting for CBS News has also focused on criminal justice reform, including criminal record expungement for individuals with non-violent drug offenses and marijuana decriminalization.

Brandi joined CBS in 2017 after six years at MSNBC where her work involved securing exclusive and high-profile guest interviews for the network from newsmakers such as Julian Assange to industry stars such as Aretha Franklin. 

Her passion for meaningful storytelling and innovation has led to launching legacy projects at both networks, including an original political series for CBSN, CBS News’ digital streaming channel. 

Brandi has also been an instructor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University where she earned a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Virginia native currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Chris Gellardi headshot

Chris Gelardi, Independent Journalist

Chris Gelardi is a narrative, investigative, and opinion journalist based in New York City. He reports on violence in the United States — including policing, immigration enforcement, and military intervention — and the resistance to it. Recently, his work has focused on U.S. colonialism in the Caribbean and Pacific. His stories have appeared in several publications, most frequently The Nation, The Intercept and The Appeal. Gelardi wrote from Guam on why the U.S. territory was not used to relocate Afghan refugees and the indigenous resistance to a U.S. military buildup in Guam.

Madalyn Mendoza

Madalyn Mendoza, Reporter, My San Antonio

Madalyn Mendoza is a reporter for My San Antonio, an online extension of the San Antonio Express-News and the city’s leading news website. Her expertise and ability to pivot from reporting on critical national social justice issues to features amplifying local cuisine and culture have made her a champion for the city and a multifaceted authority in regional news.

2020 Fellows

Ann Marie Cunningham

Ann Marie Cunningham, Independent Journalist

Ann Marie Cunningham is a veteran journalist/producer for newspapers, magazines, books, broadcasting and the Web. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Technology Review, The Nation and The New Republic. Most recently, she has reported on domestic violence and the trafficking of young Native American women. She was an investigator for President Jimmy Carter’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, the only presidential commission with a task force of journalists.

She is co-author with the late Ryan White of The New York Times Best Seller List’s “Ryan White: My Own Story,” the autobiography of the boy infected with AIDS who sued for the right to go back to school in Indiana and won.

She was awarded a fellowship from Columbia Teachers College’s Hechinger Institute for Education and the Media and she has been a writer in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and elsewhere.

Through the story of one domestic violence victim, Cunningham's Lipman Center work investigated the deadly combination of abuse and guns, and how regulations could save lives for the Clarion Ledger and Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.

Clair MacDougal headshot

Clair MacDougall, Independent Journalist

Clair MacDougall is a journalist and writer who reports throughout Africa. Her recent work has focused on Liberia’s post-war reconstruction and imperfect attempts to reconcile with its brutal past. She is currently exploring the consequences of U.S. foreign policy in the Sahel, a region gripped by a security and humanitarian crisis that is being fueled by a jihadist insurgency. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, Smithsonian, Newsweek, Time, Businessweek, Foreign Policy, Quartz and others.

MacDougall reported on the Ebola outbreak and its aftermath, contributing to The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage and earning her the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund Award. She was a recent Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good and has been an Art of Journalism fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She is an alumna of Columbia Journalism School. For her Lipman Center project, MacDougall wrote about former Guantánamo detainees resettled in new countries with uncertain legal status for The Nation and interviewed a lawyer who worked in Guantánomo Bay for PassBlue.

2019 Lipman Fellows

Adam Serwer headshot

Adam Serwer, Staff Writer, The Atlantic

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, overseeing 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 politics, legal and race issues. He has also 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 and was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

As a Lipman Fellow, Serwer focused on free speech limitations on individuals from marginalized groups and how these prevent them from participating in debates over their fundamental rights. His story was published by The Atlantic.

Alice Speri

Alice Speri, Reporter and Writer, The Intercept

Alice Speri covers criminal justice, immigration, and civil rights for The Intercept. Originally from Italy, she has reported from Haiti, Colombia, El Salvador, Palestine, and throughout 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 that 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 developed further as a Lipman fellow.

Her fellowship story was published by The Intercept.

Dan Vock

Dan Vock, Former Staff Writer, Governing Magazine

Dan Vock was a staff writer for the now defunct Governing magazine, where he focused on transportation and infrastructure. For nearly 20 years, 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.

Vock was awarded a one-time Lipman grant that focused on how data presented by real estate agencies and local governments contribute to school and neighborhood segregation. His project was published by Mother Jones.

Maura Walz, News Editor for Southern California Public Radio

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. She previously worked at Chalkbeat, where she held several different roles including interim managing editor overseeing an editorial team of four local bureaus. Prior to Chalkbeat, she was the southern education desk reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Maura 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.

Walz was awarded a one-time Lipman grant for a story that examined racial segregation in Binford Middle School in Virginia. Her work was partly informed by her personal experience as an alumna of the school as well as deep reporting.

2018 Lipman Fellows

Monica Rhor headshot

Monica Rhor, Editorial Writer and Member of Houston Chronicle Editorial Board, Former Narrative Writer

Monica Rhor is an editorial writer and member of the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board. She is a former a narrative writer covering gender, sexuality, spirituality and race issues for the Houston Chronicle. She also has been a staff writer for USAToday, the Associated Press, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register. She's covered economic inequality and hurricanes in Houston and the impact of English-only education in Boston; exposed serious flaws in California’s restraining order system; and documented stalled investigations of serial killings in South Florida. Rhor, who was born in Ecuador and raised in New Jersey, has taught high school journalism and English.

Rhor’s work has won numerous awards, including honors from the Association for Women in Communications, the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, the Associated Press California-Nevada Newswriting Contest and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2008, she was named AP’s Texas Writer of the Year. One of her stories is included in “The Best American Newspaper Narratives of 2012,” an anthology published in July 2014. In 2016, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored her with a Presidential Award of Impact.

Rhor is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), IRE and the Journalism Education Association. She has served as a mentor on student projects for NAHJ, NABJ and UNITY for 15 years.

Her project as a Lipman Fellow was about the criminalization of Black girls in Houston and how the juvenile system contributes to high incarceration and poverty rates for Black women and their families and was published in USAToday.

Kira Lerner speaking into mic

Kira Lerner, Reporter, the Appeal

Kira Lerner is a reporter for the Appeal, a news website covering criminal justice based in Washington, D.C. She is a former pollical writer for ThinkProgress, where she covered elections and politics with a focus on voting rights. Her coverage of voting issues has helped to expose suppressive laws across the country, from Alabama and Georgia to the Native American reservations of South Dakota, Arizona and Nevada. She has covered elections since 2014, reporting from both Washington D.C. and the campaign trail on policy issues, including criminal justice reform, health care and immigration. Previously, she covered legal issues and in 2011, her investigative reporting helped to free a wrongfully convicted man from an Illinois prison where he was serving a life sentence. She graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and is a native of the Washington, D.C. area.

Lerner examined a Jim Crow-era disenfranchisement law in Florida that prevented hundreds of African Americans from participating in the voting process. Her story was published by ThinkProgress.