I'm an independent writer, editor and multimedia journalist based in Durham, NC, currently working on a book and podcast about the history of journalistic "objectivity" and how marginalized people have pushed back on objectivity and changed journalistic ethics. I previously worked for Scalawag Magazine, and for public radio's Marketplace in the New York bureau, and I was the economics reporter and managing editor at WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I got my start in radio as a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ in Chicago. I focus on the voices of people who are geographically, economically and politically marginalized, and I enjoy stories about water, place and collective action (here's one I recently did that touches on all three).
I have a B.A. in religion from Northwestern University (summa cum laude), where I focused on gender variance in medieval Christianity. Before becoming a news hound, I spent many years as a community organizer around prison issues, a queer youth activist, a barista and a sex educator. I was born in Michigan and have family roots in South Carolina and New York.
My audio work has aired on the Nancy Podcast, NPR, Marketplace, WBEZ, WYSO, WKAR, Ohio Public Radio, Michigan Radio and in the 2015 National Queer Arts Festival, and my written work has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Scalawag, The Outline, Nieman Reports, Quill, and many others. I've published non-fiction writing in a wide variety of magazines, journals and anthologies, including Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora (2015, issues 41.1-41.2), The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (2014, Vol. 30, Number 1), Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline (2012, Harvard University Press), Why Are Faggots So Afraid Of Faggots (2012, AK Press), Unsquared; Ann Arbor Writers Unleash Their Edgiest Stories and Poems (2006, 826Michigan) and From the Inside Out; Radical Gender Transformation, FtM and Beyond (2004, Manic D Press).
I value truth, rigor, curiosity and humility, and I believe we make journalism to make meaning, build community and transform our surroundings. Right now I'm thinking and writing about journalistic ethics for the 21st century; my book on the topic will be out from University of Chicago Press in 2019. I'm also a poet and an accordion player, and I write a lot of real letters that I send in the mail. Go figure. I'm white and transgender, and my pronouns are "he," "they" or "ze." I'm agnostic on the Oxford Comma and believe it is a matter of personal choice.
"On scarcity, community and not being afraid," an interview with Hearken's Ellen Mayer, 2016.
fellowships, awards and honors
William P. Heidrich Research Fellow, University of Michigan (2018)
Recipient of the inaugural research fellowship in the Labadie Collection at University of Michigan for research on the history of "objectivity" in reporting on queer and trans communities.
Public Radio News Directors Incorporated: Best Long Documentary (2017)
Awarded first place (small station) for long documentary for "Women's Voices from Dayton Correctional Institution," a series produced with women incarcerated in a local state prison.
Radio Television Digital News Association Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary (2016)
Awarded regional prize for “A Matter of Seconds,” a radio documentary about Black Lives Matter in Ohio.
AIR New Voices Fellowship (2016)
Participated in Association for Independents' in Radio fellowship for individuals with a goal of diversifying public media.
Public Radio News Directors Incorporated: Best Use of Sound and Broadcast Writing (2015)
Awarded first place (small station) for use of sound, and second place for broadcast writing.
Ohio Associated Press: Best Journalist, Broadcast Writing, Feature Reporting and Continuing Coverage (2015)
Awarded first place (Radio II) for best journalist and best broadcast writing. Produced as well as edited features and spots for first-place best feature and best continuing coverage awards.
Public Radio News Directors Incorporated: Best Continuing Coverage and Feature Reporting (2014)
Awarded first place (small station) for continuing coverage, and second place for news feature.
Ohio Society of Professional Journalists: Best Feature and Health Care Feature (2014)
Awarded first place (all radio) for feature reporting and health care feature, and second place for spot news.
Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists (2013)
Studied science journalism for a week with the prestigious Metcalf Institute.
Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources Mining Country Institute (2013)
Studied mining and environmental reporting for a week in upper Michigan and Wisconsin.
Pritzker Journalism Fellowship (2012-2013)
Participated in competitive fellowship designed to train community workers in media skills at WBEZ/Chicago Public Media.
Graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa (Northwestern, 2010)
Received Northwestern University 2010 Perry Award for Best Undergraduate Paper in Religion for The Bearded Woman on the Cross: St. Uncumber and Medieval Women’s Religious Devotion.