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FOIA Fellows Program

FOIA Fellows 2019
Photo Credit: Jesus J. Montero
The FOIA Fellows program provides intensive hands-on training and mentoring for early-career journalists in the Chicagoland area and surrounding states who work at small news organizations, with a special focus on journalists from underrepresented backgrounds.

The fellows come to Chicago for two days to hear from leading Freedom of Information and investigative reporting voices. They’re also paired with mentors to receive personalized feedback on their current projects and FOIA records requests.

2024 FOIA Fellows 

  • Grace Kinnicutt, Multimedia Editor and reporter, Quad-City Times, IL
  • Amanda Brennan, Multimedia Journalist, WCIA 3, IL
  • A.J. Bauyatpour, Reporter, CBS 58 News, WI
  • Lucas Robinson, breaking news reporter, Wisconsin State Journal, WI
  • Abbey Machtig, Education Reporter, Wisconsin State Journal, WI
  • Drew Zimmerman, Journalist, The Pantagraph, IL
  • Claudia Levens, North Shore Reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WI
  • Vanessa Swales, local government reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and PolitiFact Wisconsin, WI
  • Frank Vaisvilas, Native American issues reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WI
  • Bryce Stopher, News Producer, ABC57, South Bend, IN
  • Madison Savedra, Pilsen, Little Village and Back of the Yards reporter, Block Club Chicago, IL
  • Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Bronzeville, and Near South Side reporter, Block Club Chicago, IL

2024  FOIA Fellows Program Mentors

  • ​Matt Topic, Loevy & Loevy's Freedom of Information Act, IL
  • Phil Rogers, Former Investigative Reporter, NBC5 Chicago, IL 
  • Rachel Hinton, Investigative Reporter, Block Club Chicago, IL
  • Lisa Parker, Investigative Reporter, NBCS Chicago, IL
  • Leah Bartelt, Illinois Assistant Attorney General, IL
  • Damon Dunn, Lawyer, IL 
  • Hank Sanders, Politics Reporter, Daily Southtown, IL
  • Greg Pratt, Investigative Reporter, Chicago Tribune, IL
  • Andrew Schroedter, Investigative Reporter, WGN, IL
  • Lauren FitzPatrick, Investigative Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times, IL
  • Curtis Lawrence, Block Club Chicago, IL
  • Shannon Leonard, Associate General Counsel, Governor's Office, IL
  • Tom Jones, TV News and Online Journalist, and Investigative Producer, ABC 7, IL
  • Claire Malon, Content Editor and Data Reporter, Chicago Tribune, IL
  • Ray Long, Investigative Reporter, Chicago Tribune, IL
  • Dave McKinney, State Politics Reporter for WBEZ, IL​

2023 FOIA Fellows 

  • Gabriella Bachara, CBS 58 Milwaukee, WI
  • Molly Devore, The Times of Northwest Indiana, Munster, IN
  • Olivia Doak, La Salle News-Tribune, La Salle, IL
  • Tara Gray, KWQC-TV Davenport, IA
  • William Ingalls, WREX-TV, Rockford, IL
  • Carley Lanich, South Bend Tribune, South Bend, IN
  • Madison McAddo, KWQC-TV Davenport, IA
  • Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago
  • Tahleel Mohieldin, WISC-TV, Madison, WI
  • Jake Norman, Northwest Herald Crystal Lake, IL
  • Jordan Smith, South Bend Tribune, South Bend, IN
  • Taylor Vidmar, Herald & Review, Decatur, IL
  • Jenny Whidden, The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, IL​

2023​​ FOIA Fellows Program Mentors

The center engages a wide range of professionals to serve as FOIA Fellows program mentors. 2023 program mentors include:

  • Leah Bartelt, FOIA Office, Office of the Illinois Attorney General
  • Shelby Bremer, Investigative Producer, NBC5 Chicago
  • Don Craven, Attorney, Illinois Press Association
  • Mick Dumke, Investigative Reporter, Block Club Chicago
  • Sgt. Peter Edwards, FOIA Officer, Chicago Police Department
  • Duaa Eldeib, Reporter, ProPublica
  • Shelley Geiszler, Attorney, FOIA Litigation, Loevy & Loevy
  • Bob Herguth Watchdog Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Rachel Hinton, Enterprise Reporter, Better Government Association
  • Jewél Jackson, Investigative Reporter, BGA 
  • Tom Jones, Consumer Investigative Producer, NBC5 Chicago
  • Lisa Parker, Former Consumer Investigative Reporter, NBC5 Chicago
  • Ann Pistone, Investigative Producer, ABC7 Chicago
  • Greg Pratt, Political Reporter, Chicago Tribune
  • Phil Rogers, Former Investigative Reporter, NBC5 Chicago
  • Stephanie Zimmermann, Investigative Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times​