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FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

The LJJP fellowship program provides journalists at the beginning of their career with regular advising on story development, investigating cases, finding sources, and navigating a complex topic on often tight reporting schedules.

 

Each fellow will be paired with an experienced journalist as a mentor, who will be on call for brainstorming, advice, and more through the year. The program also includes an in-person gathering, hosted at American University School of Communication, in the Spring. 

For more information, please check out our 2022-2023 Fellowship FAQs

2022-2023 FELLOWS

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ELENI BALAKRISHNAN

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LEZLA GOODEN

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RILWAN BALOGUN

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BRITTANY HAILER

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JOSIAH BATES

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RANDI HILDRETH

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BILLY BINION

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PHOEBE PETROVIC

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MINA CORPUZ

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JEANINE SANTUCCI

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CHRIS DAMIEN

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REBECCA SPIESS

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DANIELLE DAVIS

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CAMILLE SQUIRES

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NOAH GOLDBERG

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VICTORIA VALENZUELA

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BILLY BINION

Reason Magazine
Connect at @billybinion  

Billy Binion is an associate editor at Reason magazine, where he covers criminal justice and government accountability. He has been published in Newsweek, the San Francisco Chronicle, HuffPost, and the Washington Examiner, among other publications, and his work has been cited in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, National Review, Fox News, and The Daily Beast. He was recently named a winner of the yearlong Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship. Prior to his career in journalism, Billy worked as a contractor at NATO and as a professional performer, appearing with such companies as the Virginia Opera and Virginia Musical Theatre. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

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DANIELLE DAVIS

KCRG ABC

Connect at @dddanielle5

 

Danielle Davis is the Morning Anchor at KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has worked in newsrooms in Marquette, Michigan; Sioux City, Iowa; and Omaha, Nebraska. 

She loves community stories that deal with social issues and social justice. She loves giving a voice to the voiceless and those that are underserved and neglected by society. She looks forward to one day drafting new and rewriting old policies and laws that are outdated and that inadvertently harm citizens more than it helps them.

A Chicago native, Danielle is a graduate of Columbia College. She is currently enrolled at the University of Nebraska, Omaha pursuing a master's degree in Legal Studies/Criminology. 

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LEZLA GOODEN

WFSB - Hartford

Connect at @LezlaGoodenTV

Lezla is a Maryland native, Connecticut-based on-air reporter and multi-media journalist for WFSB News. She has served as a reporter in Virginia and in California and has built an extensive journalistic portfolio, becoming a leading voice in her communities. She never imagined that she’d one day have a combined 2.5 million views through broadcast television and social media platforms. She knows that journalism holds incredible responsibility, one that allows her to inspire others while showcasing her unique vision and voice.

 

Gooden is a 2022 recipient of the NBCU Academy and a current mentor for the Urban Journalism Workshop. She is an alumnus of Hampton University (B.A.), Georgetown University (M.A.), and the Emma Bowen Foundation.

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RANDI HILDRETH

WOFL FOX 35 - Orlando

Connect at @RandiH_Fox35

Randi joined the FOX 35 team as the education reporter in October 2021. She most recently worked as a reporter with WBRC in Birmingham, AL where she received an Emmy Award and an ABBY Award for breaking news coverage of riots in Birmingham.

 

Before transitioning to news, Randi worked as a teacher for the nonprofit Teach for America. For two years, she taught ninth grade English at Wilson High School in Florence, South Carolina. Randi graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a degree in Digital and Broadcast Journalism. She also received her master’s in Education Policy and Leadership from American University in May.

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PHOEBE PETROVIC

Wisconsin Watch

Connect at @PhoebePetrovic

Phoebe Petrovic (she/they) is an investigative reporter at Wisconsin Watch, a nonpartisan and nonprofit outlet covering government integrity and quality of life issues.

 

As a Report for America corps member from 2019-2022, Petrovic reported, produced, and hosted "Open and Shut," a podcast series from Wisconsin Watch and Wisconsin Public Radio examining the power of prosecutors. Petrovic has previously worked at WPR as a Lee Ester News Fellow, “Reveal” from the Center for Investigative Reporting as an editorial intern, and NPR's "Here & Now" as a temporary producer. Her work has aired nationally on all of NPR's flagship news magazines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Yale University.

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JEANINE SANTUCCI

USA TODAY

Connect at @JeanineSantucci

Jeanine Santucci is a national news reporter on the breaking news team at USA TODAY, where she was previously a politics reporter covering the Department of Justice. Originally from Southern California, Jeanine is a graduate of Georgetown University where she majored in justice and peace studies and minored in journalism and gender studies. Jeanine has interned at CBS News Radio, NPR, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. She has experience covering poverty, education and local D.C. politics and entertainment. She lives in Northern Virginia with her family and cat.

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VICTORIA VALENZUELA

ScheerPost

Connect at @Victoriaevalenz

Victoria Valenzuela is an investigative reporter based in California covering issues in criminal justice. She is particularly interested in investigating abuse of power in state prisons, wrongful convictions, and the death penalty.

 

She currently oversees the criminal justice coverage as a reporter at ScheerPost, an independent daily news site which covers human rights issues, and is an intern with the National Association of Hispanic Journalism, where she also writes for Palabra about the intersection of the Latino community and criminal justice issues.

 

In the past, Valenzuela has also worked with ProPublica as an emerging reporters fellow and with BuzzFeed News as an inequality desk intern and contract writer. As an undergraduate, Valenzuela studied English and started the Wrongful Convictions Club at the University of Southern California, where she is also finishing up her graduate studies in investigative and social justice journalism.

 
 
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ELENI BALAKRISHNAN

Mission Local

Connect at @miss_elenius

Eleni is a staff reporter at the San Francisco news site, Mission Local, where she covers policing, crime, and the courts — as well as anything else happening in SF's Mission District. Prior to finding her way to journalism, Eleni worked at the genetic testing company 23and Me, then spent a couple years traveling around the world. Eleni earned a B.S. in biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University.

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RILWAN BALOGUN

KPRC2 Houston

Connect at @RilwanReports

Rilwan Balogun is a journalist at KPRC2 in Houston, Texas where he has told the story of victims of the AstroWorld Festival tragedy, crime victims, and other stories impacting the community. The Nashville, Tennessee native started his career in Lansing, Michigan, and most recently covered the New Orleans community in Louisiana. During his time there, Rilwan's investigation into the EMS work shortage revealed the slowdown in response time, the partial collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel killing three employees, and hurricane storms including Ida and Zeta.

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JOSIAH BATES

TIME Magazine

Connect at @JosiahBates

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Josiah developed a passion for writing and storytelling during his childhood years. Though initially interested in pursuing a career in sports journalism, he shifted his focus to criminal justice issues while at Penn State University. After a year at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, he spent a couple of years in fellowships at NBC News and ABC News before being hired as a news desk reporter at TIME. Now as a staff writer, Josiah has the privilege of writing about some of the most important topics around the criminal justice system.

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MINA CORPUZ

Mississippi Today

Connect at @mlcorpuz

 

Mina Corpuz is the justice reporter for the nonprofit newsroom Mississippi Today. She covers the criminal justice system, immigration and other issues with an eye for equity and helping people understand how things work. Mina is from California and began her career as a local reporter in Massachusetts after graduating from Boston University. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and USA Today. When not on deadline, Mina enjoys walking her dog, trying new food and planning road trips.

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CHRIS DAMIEN

The Desert Sun

Connect at @chris_a_damien

 

Chris Damien reports on criminal justice and public safety for The Desert Sun, a newspaper in California’s Coachella Valley, where he covers some of the nation’s largest sheriff’s departments and several city police departments. He has covered law enforcement’s intersection with Big Tech, the cash bail industry and Southern California’s troubled county jail system. He lives in the desert, where he’s building a small farm in his free time.

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NOAH GOLDBERG

Los Angeles Times

Connect at @Noah__Goldberg

Noah started as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times’ new Fast Break Desk in the summer of 2022 and splits his time between covering breaking news stories throughout California and writing longer enterprise articles for the paper.

Before the Los Angeles native returned home, he spent five years in New York, most recently covering Brooklyn courts for the New York Daily News. At The News, he covered the pervasive issues that incarcerated people face at city and federal jails, decades-old wrongful convictions, and allegations of police misconduct while also handling major media events like the R. Kelly trial. He came to The News from the Brooklyn Eagle, where he covered criminal justice.

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BRITTANY HAILER

Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

Connect at @BrittanyHailer

Brittany Hailer is an award-winning investigative journalist and educator based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the director of the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (PINJ) and Assistant Teaching Professor of Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Her memoir and poetry collection Animal You'll Surely Become was published by Tolsun Books in 2018.


As director of PINJ, Brittany has investigated how the pandemic has impacted the Allegheny County Jail, including the jail's kitchen, its use of solitary confinement, isolation of the sick, and the deaths of those in custody.

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REBECCA SPIES

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Connect at @RebeccaSpiessL

Rebecca Spiess is currently the social services reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reporting on jail oversight boards, food bank operations and the housing shortage. Prior to moving to Pennsylvania, Rebecca was a radio reporter for Colorado’s NPR affiliate station. She has also worked for The Arizona Republic and Arizona PBS, and completed a Fulbright reporting fellowship in Berlin.

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CAMILLE SQUIRES

Bolts Magazine

Connect at @CamilleSquires

Camille Squires is a story editor at Bolts Magazine, where she edits stories about criminal justice and voting rights around the country. She previously reported for Quartz, New York Magazine, City Monitor, and Mother Jones, where she covered cities and urban planning, racial justice, and immigration. Camille is based in New York City.

MENTORS

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KERI BLAKINGER

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J. BRIAN CHARLES

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LINDA COOMBS

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MENSAH DEAN

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SHAILA DEWAN

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CHRIS HALSNE

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JEFF PEGUES

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NEENA SATIJA

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KERI BLAKINGER

Staff Writer, The Marshall Project

Connect at @keribla

Keri Blakinger is a Texas-based investigative reporter for The Marshall Project, where her work focuses on prisons and jails. She previously covered criminal justice for the Houston Chronicle, and her work has appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, VICE, the New York Daily News and The New York Times. She is the organization's first formerly incarcerated reporter. Her memoir, "Corrections in Ink," published in June 2022.

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J. BRIAN CHARLES

Deputy Editor, Baltimore Beat

Connect at @JBrianCharles

J. Brian Charles is Deputy Editor of Baltimore Beat, a black-led nonprofit print and digital news outlet focusing on stories about Baltimore's Black community. Previously, he was a staffer at The Trace, The Hill, Chalkbeat, Governing, and Pasadena Star-News. 

 

His work has appeared in Slate, Vox, Wired, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore City Paper, and many other publications. Brian’s recent reporting has been about violence interrupters in Baltimore City for The Guardian, police reform in Newark, New Jersey, for The Trace, and the murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle for Playboy.

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LINDA COOMBS

Journalist
Connect at ljcoombs1020@gmail.com   

Linda J. Coombs is an award-winning journalist with 40 years of radio news experience. Coombs began her career as a summer relief anchor at WFAS in Dobbs Ferry, New York. After a brief stint as the “Contest Lady” at WDRC in Hartford, Connecticut, Coombs moved on to anchoring, reporting, and editing positions in Monticello, New York and Charlotte, North Carolina. Coombs next worked at RKO Radio Networks before making the move to CBS as a per diem writer. During her time at CBS News Radio, Coombs did everything from writing and editing network broadcasts to producing special programming and coordinating breaking news coverage. Coombs was a staff editor when she was tapped for a management position in 2001. As Director of Operations, Coombs managed a staff of domestic and international anchors and correspondents as well as writers, editors, and news desk associates. She was an integral part of a team that dominated the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards across all categories, including Overall Excellence, for several years. A graduate of Emerson College, Coombs served on its Alumni Board of Directors recruiting and mentoring aspiring journalists. She was also a member of the Journalism Advisory Board at York College. Coombs retired from CBS Radio News in 2018.

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MENSAH DEAN

Justice & Injustice Staff Writer, Philadelphia Inquirer

Connect at @MensahDean

 

Mensah M. Dean is a staff writer on the Justice & Injustice team at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he focuses on gun violence, corruption and wrongdoing in the public and private sectors. This September will mark his 25th anniversary with the company.

During the first decade of his career in Philadelphia Dean covered the city's financially and academically-challenged school district for the Philadelphia Daily News, the Inquirer's sister publication. During these years, Dean was a regular panelist on, "Reporter's Roundtable," a program on the school district's public television station. In 1999, he covered the federal government's sweeping Welfare Reform Act's impact on Philadelphia. Twice, in 2000 and 2015, Dean covered the inner workings of Philadelphia's government as a City Hall reporter. From 2009 through 2014, he reported exclusively on criminal justice as the Daily News' courthouse reporter. In January 2016, Dean's work began appearing in the Inquirer and Daily News after the staffs merged.

A native of Washington, D.C., Dean began his career at the Washington Times, where he was a staff writer from 1993 to 1997. His freelance work has appeared in People, Vibe and the World & I magazines. In 1999, Dean spent a month at Duke University as a fellow at the De Witt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism. In 2022, Dean and four colleagues were Pulitzer Prize finalists for explanatory reporting for their year-long chronicling of the impact of gun violence on Philadelphia.Among his other honors was being named the 2019 print journalist of the year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and receiving the 2017 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence and $10,000 prize from Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication.

In 1993 Dean earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from Bowie State University, where he served as editor of the student newspaper for two years. As a student, he worked as a summer intern at the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Times.

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SHAILA DEWAN

National Criminal Justice Editor, The New York Times

Connect at @shailadewan

 

Shaila Dewan is the National Criminal Justice Editor for the New York Times. Shaila is from Houston, where she attended Rice University and began her career at the Houston Press, an investigative weekly.

 

She joined the Times in 2000 and has covered a variety of beats including the NYPD, the South and the economy, always with a special affinity for criminal justice issues. In the South, she wrote about all-white juries and prosecutors who refused to accept evidence of innocence, as well as civil rights-era cold cases and efforts to restore voting rights to those convicted of crimes. As a BizDay reporter, she wrote in depth about the case of Shanesha Taylor, charged with child abuse for leaving her children in a car while interviewing for a job. After Ferguson, she wrote a series of articles focusing on the vastly damaging effects of even low-level involvement with the criminal justice system, particularly for poor people, and an investigative project on a pay-to-play scheme known as pretrial diversion.

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CHRIS HALSNE

IR Professorial Lecturer, School of Communication, American University

Connect at @chalsne

 

AU’s first Investigative Broadcaster in Residence, Chris Halsne has been on television for 30+ years. He’s managed special projects units in Seattle, Denver, and Oklahoma City. Honors include the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting, multiple National Press Club awards, and a national Regional Edward R. Murrow for investigative reporting.

 

A documentary filmmaker, fiction author, and podcast creator, he takes a multi-media approach to every investigative news idea. Halsne is married to an accomplished ultra-runner who sells virtual-reality surgical teaching simulators. They have two adult daughters.

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JEFF PEGUES

Chief National Affairs & Justice Correspondent, CBS News

Connect at @jeffpeguescbs

In 2021 Jeff Pegues was promoted to CBS News Chief National Affairs and Justice Correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He joined CBS News in July 2013 and reports for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Since joining CBS News, Pegues has led the Network’s coverage of some of the biggest stories of the last decade. From the January 6 th Insurrection, the Russia investigation to recent active shooter events and terrorist attack, Pegues is often at the top of the CBS Evening News. Pegues has also become one of the most visible and informed journalists on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His latest book Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy investigates how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hackers poked into U.S. voter databases and what is happening now to shore up election systems in states across the country. 

 

Pegues has more than two decades of experience covering stories of national and international magnitude, including presidential elections, Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.  His breadth of experience covering the news of the day is often called upon for radio interviews and speaking engagements. Prior to joining CBS News Pegues spent nearly 10 years at WABC-TV in New York. Previously, Pegues was a weekday anchor and reporter at WBAL in Baltimore. He also anchored the top-rated evening newscasts at WSVN in Miami in the late 1990s. He is a proud graduate of Miami University of Ohio where he was a scholarship football player and starting wide receiver in the early 1990s. In January 2020, he was named to the Miami University Board of Trustees.

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NEENA SATIJA

Investigative Reporter, Houston Chronicle

Connect at @neenareports

Neena Satija is a reporter on the Houston Chronicle's investigative team. She has worked at The Washington Post, The Texas Tribune, and Connecticut Public Radio. Her work has won a Peabody Award, two National Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative reporting, and two National Magazine Award nominations. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their son.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

GET IN TOUCH

Questions about the Law & Justice Journalism Project or our Team? Send us a message and we'll get back to you soon!

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