After more than 5 years with CIR, CEO Joaquin Alvarado to pursue outside ventures

EMERYVILLE, Calif. – Today, The Center for Investigative Reporting announced that CEO Joaquin Alvarado has left the organization. He served in leadership positions at CIR for more than five years, first as chief strategy officer and then as CEO starting in 2014. Christa Scharfenberg, a 14-year veteran of CIR, will serve as acting CEO.

First at CIR and now on his own, Alvarado is pursuing a strategic opportunity to support high-impact journalism in the premium cable and online streaming space.

“CIR is strong and in good hands with Christa as its leader; since I arrived at CIR, Christa has been my partner, and her vision and capacity to execute made so much of our success possible,” Alvarado said. “I’m deeply proud of all the work that’s happened at CIR over the last five years and hope to continue to support the organization’s goals as I pursue my own venture.”

Phil Bronstein, executive chairman of CIR’s board, said: “Joaquin led a wide range of forward-thinking initiatives that transformed both CIR and our reach. We’ll always be grateful for his commitment, his vision and his hard work. We all wish him great success as he pursues his documentary film studio project.”

During Alvarado’s tenure, CIR reinvented itself, becoming the organization it is today: a leader in the nonprofit journalism field, with the Reveal radio show and podcast, groundbreaking media impact work, Reveal Labs and numerous creative partnerships to deliver high-impact reporting in new ways and to new audiences.

“When we created Reveal with PRX, we had a sense that our community of investigative reporters could deliver a transformative public radio show and podcast,” Alvarado said. “I now feel compelled to meet the same challenge in premium cable and streaming platforms. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to collaborate with CIR and the committed network of journalists as this develops.”

Scharfenberg worked alongside Alvarado and will provide leadership continuity on all the organization’s initiatives, including in the documentary video sphere.

“I am honored to step into this role during a period of extraordinary growth and creative evolution for CIR,” Scharfenberg said. “I look forward to working with our leadership team and network of partners and collaborators to ensure that CIR continues to deliver on its commitment to innovation and investigative reporting that changes lives.”

Scharfenberg served as CIR’s interim executive director from 2007 to 2008 and as associate director from 2008 to 2015, and she was a 2014 fellow in the Punch Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University’s journalism school. When Robert J. Rosenthal came on board as executive director, she worked hand in hand with him on development, governance, finance and partnerships.

Scharfenberg has been deeply involved in all of CIR’s most ambitious innovations – from launching Reveal to producing documentaries, including the recent Glassbreaker Films series. She also spearheaded a staffwide diversity assessment out of which grew the Reveal Investigative Fellows program, aimed at expanding the ranks of investigative reporters of color.

During the past few years, CIR’s mission to make a difference through journalism has exposed problems and prompted tangible solutions, from safer conditions for women working in the fields and cleaning our offices, to tens of thousands fewer veterans being prescribed opiates by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the past year alone, CIR published the first and most complete map of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, uncovered philosophies and finances fueling the rise in hate and extremism in America and investigated ways in which a growing anti-science mindset in Washington threatens public health and crucial research.

We have collaborated with more than 100 media partners since launching Reveal, ranging from small local nonprofits to large national newsrooms. Our work has drawn national recognition, ranging from the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions to a George Foster Peabody Award and several News Emmys and Edward R. Murrow awards.


Founded in 1977, The Center for Investigative Reporting has long used the power of investigative reporting and multiplatform storytelling to help catalyze positive change. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, we leverage our proximity to Silicon Valley to pioneer creative and technological innovation with the highest standards for journalism. Our forward-facing platforms are our website,, and Reveal – produced with PRX – the nation’s first one-hour public radio show and podcast showcasing investigative stories in the public interest.

For more information , contact Hannah Young (510-982-2953 x363).

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