We’ve recently welcomed six talented journalists to the team here at The Center for Investigative Reporting, underscoring our investment in producing investigative reporting with impact, connecting deeply with audiences and telling gripping audio narratives. 

Meet the new members of the team:

Maryam Saleh, investigative editor: Maryam Saleh is joining us from The Intercept, where she was features editor, leading stories on immigration and criminal justice for its justice team. There, she earned a reputation for mentoring early-career journalists and, for lack of a better phrase, just being really good at a lot of things: digging deep into documents, seeing the big picture and always being available for reporters and colleagues. She also reported while juggling editing duties. As one of the lead reporters on Solitary Voices, a collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that uncovered the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention, she slowly built the rapport needed to secure the whistleblower key to the entire project. It was a finalist for a 2019 IRE Award and won the New York Press Club’s 2020 award for online political coverage. Saleh was previously a lawyer; she was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2016.

Ese Olumhense, investigative reporter: Ese Olumhense will be reporting on democracy and gender rights. She joins us from City Limits, a nonprofit investigative organization that covers New York City, where she was a senior editor/reporter for politics and investigation. Olumhense previously worked for Spotlight PA and THE CITY, two other nonprofit journalism outlets, and the Chicago Tribune. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She also has video experience, having worked as a producer on special editions of MTV’s “True Life” on the 2016 presidential election and “First and Last,” a 2018 original documentary series on a Georgia jail for Netflix. As part of a team at THE CITY, Olumhense won the Online News Association’s 2021 Knight Award for Public Service for Missing Them, a collaborative project to remember every New Yorker killed by COVID-19. For the project, she reported on the potential link between the poor air quality in neighborhoods near freeways and COVID-19 death tolls.

Kassie Navarro, director of audience development: Kassie Navarro has worked in digital and social strategy in the nonprofit and public-sector spaces for more than 11 years. Most recently, she was the founding social editor for The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom that reports at the intersection of gender, politics and policy, and ran digital operations for the LBJ Presidential Library. Navarro originally joined us as a part-time contractor in the fall, focusing on audience strategy. Now, as we’ve begun to invest more in audience development and impact, she will lead strategy and execution on our social and publishing platforms, impact outreach to communities and the Reveal Reporting Networks, which provide data, reporting and training to local journalists nationwide so that they can continue Reveal’s investigations in their communities. 

Cassandra Jaramillo, investigative reporter: Cassandra Jaramillo is covering democracy and police accountability for us after distinguishing herself as a relentless police reporter at The Dallas Morning News. Her coverage of the Dallas Police Department’s mistreatment of protesters during the George Floyd protests spurred an investigation by the district attorney; the Dallas police chief eventually resigned after the announcement of the probe. Her reporting on the protests also led to a deeper investigation about the impunity given to one officer over the course of his career. She showed how the Dallas Police Department allowed an officer who was a suspect in a capital murder case to continue to patrol the streets and how the police chief had lied about how long the department had been sitting on the investigation. Last fall, the top watchdog set up a new protocol with police to share information about criminal investigations involving officers following the series of investigative stories. She also uncovered the deadly costs of how the department handles people with mental illness. Jaramillo was D Magazine’s best reporter in its 2021 best-of list.

Kate Howard, investigative editor: Kate Howard joins us from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, where she was managing editor. Under her leadership, KyCIR continued to grow into an investigative reporting powerhouse, particularly in audio. The organization produces impactful, award-winning reporting and has been a frequent partner of ours, including as an early standout member of the Reveal Reporting Networks. She oversaw the first two seasons of KyCIR’s investigative podcast series, Dig. In the most recent season, a collaboration with Newsy, the team investigated how Louisville police had gone from a model for police reform after the Ferguson, Missouri, protests in 2014 to a poster child for the need for reform following Breonna Taylor’s killing in 2020 (and the first season grew out of our Case Cleared Reporting Network). KyCIR was been named a winner or finalist for an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award every year she was editor and earned three straight regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting. Before joining KyCIR, Howard spent 12 years as a newspaper reporter. She also is a trainer for the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting and an IRE mentor. 

Jess Alvarenga

Jess Alvarenga, associate producer: Jess Alvarenga helps produce the weekly audio show, including assisting on the production of feature stories. They have worked on award-winning investigative productions, most notably winning an Emmy and duPont Award with FRONTLINE. Most recently, Alvarenga worked as an associate producer for the Futuro Media Group, producing the “TransLash” and “Radical Imagination” podcasts. They have reported on mass incarceration in jails and immigration detention centers, as well as climate change and its effects on global migration patterns. Alvarenga has worked with FRONTLINE, NPR, Latino USA and The New York Times.

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