Founders and Board


PHOTO CREDIT: Karsten Moran

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, where she investigates the way racial inequality is maintained through policy and official action. Prior to joining The Times, Hannah-Jones spent three and a half years reporting on civil rights and segregation at ProPublica, a nonprofit, investigative reporting firm based in New York City. A journalist for more than 13 years, she’s also covered various beats for The Oregonian in Portland and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., as well as reported on race in Cuba and Barbados.

Hannah-Jones’s reporting across platforms on school and housing segregation and federal failures to enforce civil rights law has earned her numerous national awards. In 2016, she won a Peabody Award and George Polk Award for her reporting on school segregation in the district where Michael Brown graduated. Her 2014 investigation into school resegregation won two Online News Association awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service, the grand prize for national education reporting, and was a National Magazine Award finalist. She’s earned numerous other awards, including a Deadline Club Award, Columbia University’s Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award and the Gannett Foundation Innovation in Watchdog Journalism Award. Hannah-Jones is also the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2015 Journalist of the Year.

Corey Johnson

Corey Johnson is an investigative reporter at the Tampa Bay Times.

Before joining the Times, Corey was a staff writer at The Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization dedicated to covering the U.S. criminal justice system.

Previously, he worked as the Center for Investigative Reporting’s lead reporter for “On Shaky Ground,” an 18-month investigation that uncovered widespread systemic weaknesses in the earthquake protections of California public schools. That work was a finalist for a 2012 Pulitzer Prize, won the prestigious Gold Medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors, a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Public Service and the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism.

His work has also exposed scores of unauthorized and forced sterilization surgeries on incarcerated women, prompting two criminal investigations and California’s first-ever law banning the practice. That reporting was honored with the James Madison Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Ron Nixon

Ron Nixon is an author and veteran journalist, with more than 28 years at publications such as The New York Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Roanoke Times.

He is currently a Washington correspondent for the New York Times covering homeland security issues. He has reported from Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Canada, Belgium, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nixon is the author of “Selling Apartheid: South Africa’s Global Propaganda War.” He has been a TedX speaker and taught investigative reporting to journalists around the world. He is currently the visiting associate for Journalism and Media Studies at The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa

Nixon has been honored with numerous awards for investigative reporting, including awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, a Unity Award from Lincoln University, and a Page One Award from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. He received the Defense of the First Amendment Award from St. Cloud State University in 2012 and shared a 2015-16 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education award as one of the co-founders of Howard University’s Department of Media, Journalism and Film fact-checking website,

Topher Sanders

Topher Sanders is a reporter covering racial inequality for ProPublica.  He has been at the investigative news organization since August 2015.  Prior to ProPublica, Sanders was a reporter with The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla. There he covered education and city government for the paper and was named to the paper’s investigative team in 2013.

His 2015 story on a man who spent 589 days in county jail only to have the charges against him dropped led to a rare investigation by the state bar association into the actions of the case’s prosecutors.  The story also led to the local police revealing they had violated public records laws for years by deleting all emails after just 90 days.

Sanders’s data-driven reporting on juvenile plea deals and the time Jacksonville juveniles spend in pre-trial detention facilities was a finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award in 2015.

Board Members

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine and author of “Between the World and Me,” which won the National Book Award. His work exploring the issues impacting African-Americans have earned him other highly coveted honors, including the George Polk Award and a ‘genius grant’ from the MacArthur Foundation.

Renee Ferguson

Renee Ferguson is a retired reporter for Chicago’s WMAQ-TV. Over Ferguson’s more than 30- year career, her work has earned seven Emmys, the DuPont Award, the Gracie Award and the Associated Press Award for Best Investigative Reporting.

Lawan Hamilton

Lawan Hamilton is the executive producer at Scripps Howard’s Washington bureau, where she directs an investigative team was honored with a George Polk Award for its hard-hitting investigative reports. She joined Scripps in 2003 and is a former board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Melvin Claxton

Melvin Claxton is a veteran reporter and author with stints at the Virgin Island Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, Detroit News and the Tennessean. His investigations have racked up dozens of national awards including the historic Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Hank Klibanoff

Hank Klibanoff serves as director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University, where he is the James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism. In 2007, Klibanoff and co-author Gene Roberts won a Pulitzer Prize for the book, “The Race Beat.” He is a former managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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