The GroundTruth Project is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Preserving Democracy & Voting Rights Fellowship.
With support from the Jesse and Betsy Fink Charitable Fund, Solutions Journalism Network, MacArthur Foundation and Henry Luce Foundation, GroundTruth has selected 11 fellows to report on the 2020 United States Presidential Election.
The new fellows will continue the work of the Democracy Undone Fellowship by shining a spotlight on issues affecting voting rights, and focusing on people and organizations fighting to preserve democracy. Let’s meet our fellows:
Megan Botel was previously a reporting intern on the COVID-19 team at the Los Angeles Times, contributing to “The Pandemic’s Toll: Lives Lost in California” in partnership with the Pulitzer Center and USC. Her print and audio work has been featured in Religion News Service, L.A. TACO, Pasadena Weekly and PRX’s Remix. A San Francisco Bay Area native, she holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s in journalism from USC Annenberg.
Cassie Conklin is a freelance journalist from rural Western Maryland who investigates the stories closest to home. She is a former Managing Editor of The Bottom Line, Frostburg State University’s independent student newspaper, and is a regular contributor to Allegany Magazine. Conklin’s coverage of Frostburg’s campus has received widespread recognition. Her sustained commitment to journalistic activism is apparent as she frequently explores issues related to police accountability, transparency, and the protection of civic rights. Outside of writing, Cassie attends as many film festivals as her schedule allows and raises a nine year-old daughter in Appalachia.
Chiara Eisner is a multimedia investigative journalist who has reported on criminal justice for The Marshall Project in New York City, the 2019 Argentine presidential elections for Clarín in Buenos Aires, and science and technology for The Economist in London. As a freelancer, her reporting on environmental science, healthcare, and election technology has been published by The Intercept, The Boston Globe, Scientific American, and Jalopnik. Eisner is Argentine-American and speaks Spanish and Portuguese. Her training is in public health and investigative journalism.
Madeline Gunderson is a journalist and documentary filmmaker born and raised in a log cabin in the Pacific Northwest. Her work focuses on portraying both the struggle and beauty of the human experience. Her research interests include immigration, women’s rights and Latin America.
Iliana Hagenah is a journalist and filmmaker. She was a news producer for CBS News’s streaming channel and the Foreign Desk. At BBC, she produced several shorts for the English, Arabic, and Persian services. She regularly freelances for publications such as POLITICO, Teen Vogue, Elle Magazine, and worked with ProPublica’s Electionland in 2018.
A lover of complexity above duality, she is currently working on her first feature documentary about Eritrean musicians in exile, where she uses rare archival footage and musical scenes to visualize war and trauma without relying on typical images of affliction.
Aysha Khan is a Boston-based reporter covering U.S. Muslim communities for the Religion News Service, a non-profit national wire service partnered with the Associated Press. She has reported from London to Las Vegas, covering stories such as a federal anti-extremism program targeting Boston’s Somali youth, Muslim women confronting spiritual abuse and a Uighur woman’s battle to release her father from Chinese imprisonment.
Her reporting has been recognized by the Religion News Association and South Asian Journalists Association. She has previously held fellowships with the Journalism & Women Symposium, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and the Muslim Women & the Media Training Institute.
Carlisa Johnson is a multimedia journalist based in Atlanta. Her work focuses on race and gender politics, specifically highlighting experiences within the African Diaspora.
She is a graduate student at Georgia State University, where she serves as the editor of The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Podcast. Carlisa is an alumna of Agnes Scott College and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
As a journalist, she seeks to tell stories that amplify the voices of grassroots organizers, community activists, and those working to promote equity around the world.
La Risa Lynch, a Chicago-based award-winning independent journalist, is known for blending community reporting about racial inequity with sophisticated data analysis. She covers transportation, employment, economic justice and other social justice issues.
Her work has appeared in the Austin Weekly News, NAACP’s The Crisis Magazine and The Final Call where she wrote extensively on Chicago’s gun violence and on former Chicago police commander Jon Burge torture victims. Her reporting on inconsistencies in voter access for detainees in Illinois jails and scams targeting low-income minorities by energy resale supply companies led to changes in state law.
Those changes include creating uniform procedures to allow eligible jail inmates to vote and tougher oversight of the state’s energy resale supply companies that prevents them pocketing federal energy assistance dollars. Miss Lynch enjoys traveling,jazz, reading, reporting on Africa and is an avid Trekkie. She is currently studying French, but speaks it badly.
Isaiah Murtaugh was previously a reporting intern at the Los Angeles Times contributing to “The Pandemic’s Toll: Lives Lost in California.” His audio and print work has featured in Religion News Service, 91.3 KPCC, Christian Century and PRX’s Remix. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Riverside, he is wrapping up a master’s degree in journalism at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Nik Popli is a rising fourth-year student at the University of Virginia studying Media Policy & Ethics, Government and Social Entrepreneurship. At UVA, he serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Cavalier Daily – the independent, student-run newspaper serving the University and Charlottesville communities since 1890 – where he manages a staff of 400 student volunteers. He is also the recipient of the 2019 Virginia Press Association’s first-place award in investigative reporting.
Emily Previti is a reporter covering election security and voting procedure for WITF-FM and statehouse accountability news organization PA Post. She previously reported for statewide public media collaboration Keystone Crossroads, PennLive/The Patriot-News, The Press of Atlantic City and the Northwest Herald. Her work has been recognized by PMJA, RTDNA’s Edward R. Murrow Awards, Pennsylvania Bar Association, NJ Press Association and Illinois Press Association. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.