Meet the 2014 fellows

Moriah Balingit

@MoriahBee

Media organization: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Destination country: Bangladesh

Moriah Balingit is the city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In her half-dozen years with the newspaper, she has held several positions, starting as a regional news reporter covering a handful of former mill towns in the Mon Valley. She later covered crime and breaking news, reporting on clashes between anarchists and police during the G-20, on the sexual abuse scandal that rocked Penn State University and on a mass shooting at a mental hospital. She has also written extensively on youth in the adult criminal justice system, gun laws and families impacted by violence. Since moving to city hall, she has covered the indictment of the former police chief, a federal probe into city business and shed light on lax accounting practices that led to new laws and procedures. A native of California, she holds a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and interned at the Oregonian, Sacramento Bee and Student Press Law Center before being hired at the Post-Gazette. She trains for triathlons and reads nonfiction and audits in her spare time.

Project Description: Moriah Balingit of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will travel to Bangladesh to examine the implementation of a new safety accord for garment workers that was signed by several clothing companies in the wake of the collapse at Rana Plaza, which killed more than a thousand people. She will also report on the role that unions -- which are parties to the contract -- will play in holding factories accountable to the accord.

Serena Maria Daniels

@serenamaria36

Freelance

Destination country: Mexico

Serena Maria Daniels is a freelance writer living in Metro Detroit. She moved to Michigan in 2011 to work at The Detroit News, where she helped cover the city's historic bankruptcy, the 2012 presidential elections, unrest in Lansing as Michigan became a right-to-work state and the Motor City's revitalization. Serena Maria has a particular passion for social justice. During her time at The News, she wrote about the experiences of undocumented immigrants granted deferred deportation under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but who were denied drivers licenses by the state of Michigan. Her series of stories helped reverse the state's stance. Serena Maria was a 2013 "Immigration in the Heartland" fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism. She has also been recognized by the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Press Sports Editors for outstanding work in breaking news. Prior to working in Detroit, she was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and The Orange County Register. She was a 2004 Chips Quinn Scholar for diversity in the newsroom, during which time she reported on immigrants living in fear of Department of Homeland Security raids in California's Central Coast. Serena Maria is a graduate of California State University, Northridge, where she studied journalism and political science.

Project Description: Serena Maria Daniels will report on the legacy of the North American Free Trade Agreement in Mexico and Michigan for Bridge Magazine.

Liz Jones

@KUOWLiz

Media organization: KUOW Public Radio

Destination country: India

Liz Jones is a reporter for KUOW Public Radio in Seattle, where she covers immigration and emerging communities. Her reporting has been heard on NPR and other national programs, including The World, Latino USA and BBC World Service. She’s won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for a cross-border documentary about immigration among indigenous Mexicans. Liz has lived in Spain and Peru, and previously worked as a producer for Oxygen Media in New York.

Project Description: This project will showcase the foreign worker pipeline between Seattle and India, and its benefits and drawbacks. The reporting will focus on how this immigration trend in the tech sector shifts some social, economic and cultural dynamics in both India and the US.

Victoria Macchi

@vmmacchi

Freelance journalist

Destination country: Mexico

After several years as a journalist in the Middle East and Latin America, she is now a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter, focusing on Latinos in the U.S., immigration policies, and human rights. As a Hispanic journalist, she hopes to continue documenting the evolution of the Latino community in the U.S., especially the effects of immigration laws on individuals and families. She received her B.Sc. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, did her M.A. work in Human Rights at Columbia University, and has a certificate in Political Journalism and Cultural Analysis from the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru. Victoria is also an alumna of the 2012 International Center for Journalists Immigration Training Program in Washington, D.C.

Project description: Victoria will explore the story of a Southwest Florida family pulled apart by multiple deportations, and the efforts of one teen to reunite everyone by going into the military.

Rod McCullom

@RodMcCullom

Freelance Journalist

Destination country: Kenya

Rod McCullom reports on politics, race, human rights and global health with a focus on HIV/AIDS. He has written and produced for ABC News, NBC Chicago, ABC New York City, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Ebony, Poz and others. He has received global health fellowships to report from Ethiopia, Spain and Zambia. Rod is also a contributor to the anthologies For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough and Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage. He has been nominated for four GLAAD Media Awards and won in 2013. Knight Science Journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology awarded him a science journalism boot camp fellowship in March 2014.

Project Description: Can Kenya lead Africa forward on gay rights? The East African nation has experienced some incremental advances which offer much promise—such as including gay men in its national HIV strategy, a proposal to decriminalize anti-gay legislation and the continent’s first openly gay political candidate outside of South Africa. But the calls for tolerance have also been greeted with anti-gay violence and political rhetoric.

Brenda Medina

@BrendaMedinar

Media organization: El Nuevo Herald

Brenda Medina is a staff writer at El Nuevo Herald, covering the cities of Miami and Sweetwater. She has worked in several public corruption investigations and is interested in stories about immigration, racial disparities, unfair labor practices and housing issues. Brenda previously reported for the Sun Sentinel’s Spanish weekly El Sentinel. In 2011 she interned at the Chronicle of Higher Education, in Washington D.C.

Project Description: Brenda will be traveling to her native Dominican Republic, to report on the nation’s Iraq war veterans.

Eyder Peralta

@eyderp

Media organization: NPR

Destination country: Nicaragua

Eyder Peralta currently covers breaking news for NPR's The Two-Way. It means that he's played a role in network's coverage of every major news event -- from the killing of Osama bin Laden to the reelection of President Obama to the Boston Marathon bombings. He used to a be a print guy, working for The Miami Herald, The Florida Times-Union and The Houston Chronicle. He was born in Nicaragua and raised Miami. He's based in Washington, D.C.

Project Description: Nicaragua sits smack in the middle of the drug trade corridor, yet, unlike all of its neighbors, including Costa Rica, it has not seen a spike in crime. We try to answer why.

Julian Resendiz

@ JulianDFW

Media organization: Al Día

Destination country: Mexico

Julian Resendiz is a veteran Texas journalist working for Al Día, a Spanish newspaper in Dallas, Texas. He was born in Mexico, raised in New Mexico and is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and Florida International University. He started his career as an intern with The Associated Press and worked for The El Paso (Texas) Herald-Post, a Scripps Howard publication, for 10 years. At the Herald-Post, Resendiz covered the Mexican border at a time when human-rights abuses and government corruption were rampant and the political opposition to the ruling party was gaining strength. He was among the first to report on the serial killings of women in Ciudad Juarez in 1993 and the drug-cartel wars the following years. He has been in charge of local news in newspapers in Ciudad Juarez, in Brownsville, Texas and currently in Dallas, where he spearheads coverage of Latino immigrant communities and issues. He also pursues international reporting projects and in the past three years has participated in special reports on the killing of civilians by the military in Colombia and immigrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border. Resendiz comes from an immigrant family – his parents came to the United States in 1974 as farm workers – and was the first in his family to graduate from high school, college and grad school. "Having so much in common with the community that I cover motivates me to serve them and to bring up their issues for discussion in general market and government circles."

Project description: Resendiz will travel to Chiapas, Mexico to report on how the Indian communities have fared during 20 years of autonomous rule since the Zapatista rebellion of 1994.

Janelle Richards

@Janelle_News Media organization: NBC News

Destination Country: Ghana

Janelle Richards is an associate producer at Nightly News with Brian Williams. Richards has produced stories about non-profit organizations across the country for the Nightly News 'Making a Difference' franchise. Prior to working at Nightly News, she was a participant in the "News Associates Program," a production talent development program at NBC News. She worked at Weekend Today Show and theGrio.com where she covered education and women’s issues within the African-American community. Richards is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Richards extensively covered Harlem as her beat at Columbia and her master's project focused on the lives of Egyptian halal street vendors in New York City. Richards received her B.A. in English from Spelman College. Richards is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Project Description: Janelle Richards will report on the rising demand of chocolate and the risks that exist for cocoa farmers in West Africa.

Rebecca Sanchez

@RBecksLee

Media Organization: GlobalPost

Destination country: Argentina

Rebecca Sanchez is the Deputy Editor of Special Reports at GlobalPost. She writes for and edits GlobalPost's human rights blog, RIGHTS, and is the editor for a new commentary series called VOICES, which aims to present the voices and opinions of those who are less frequently heard in the media including women, people of color, sexual minorities, citizens of the developing world and young people. She is a first generation Cuban-American from Miami, Florida and holds an M.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Her master's thesis focused on the ways in which the bodies of survivors of torture become storytellers. She earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Anthropology, from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. While at Sarah Lawrence, she spent a semester in Thailand conducting fieldwork for an ethnographic study on the Kingdom's sex tourism industry.

Project Description: Forty percent of pregnancies in Argentina end in abortion, and unsafe abortion is the country’s leading cause of maternal death. But even when the procedure is technically legal — in instances of rape or danger to the woman’s life — the roadblocks to a legal, safe abortion in deeply Catholic Argentina are often insurmountable. This project will look at the intersection of religion, health and human rights to investigate how the merging of law and religion complicate the moral and philosophical questions framing the debate about abortion in the new Pope’s home country — where contraceptives are "hard to come by," and approximately 500,000 women resort to "underground abortions" each year.

Aarti Shahani

@aarti411

Freelance

Destination country: Middle East/North Africa

Aarti Shahani is a technology reporter based in San Francisco. She contributes regularly to NPR, KQED, Marketplace and Al Jazeera. She has received a regional Edward R. Murrow award for her coverage of Silicon Valley; and an Investigative Reporters and Editors award, as part of a team reporting on the criminal justice system. Shahani was a Kroc Fellow at NPR. She also received a masters from the Harvard Kennedy School, with full funding from a university grant and the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship. Shahani got a BA in anthropology at the University of Chicago and hails from Flushing, Queens.

Project description: Mobile tech companies are now sprouting up where the Arab Spring revolutions began. Aarti will visit these start-ups and share the stories of the entrepreneurs and young people trying to use technology to create hope and opportunity.