Journalism is one of those rare professions that defines not just what you do, but who you are. We’re inquisitive. We’re skeptical. We like to take things a part to see if we can put them back together again.
I was a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune for five years, reporting on a wide range of topics – politics, education, crime, government and the environment. Over the years I evolved into a true multi-media journalist, working closely with our online media partners, appearing regularly on WGN radio and television, and occasionally making guest appearances on radio programs around the country, including NPR’s All Things Considered.
At the end of my time at the Tribune, I covered Chicago’s troubled public school system in a time of transition under Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The tension culminated in the city’s first teachers strike in a quarter century and led to a week-long shutdown of Chicago’s schools.
I left the Tribune soon after the strike and took a position in Chicago Public Schools’ communications department. I served a variety of roles while at CPS – chief spokesman, media relations director, chief speechwriter, and director of all internal communications. It was a challenging and immensely rewarding place to work. I learned from some of the sharpest minds in public education and together we sought to build the kind of school district that children and parents could be proud of.
I wrote speeches, talking points, letters and op-eds for the school district’s top personnel, from CEOs and departmental leaders to members of the Chicago Board of Education. I wrote or edited nearly all written correspondence to parents, elected officials and the public at-large to ensure the district was staying true to its mission and the vision of the CEO.
I grew up in a small college town in Northern California and majored in journalism at the University of Oregon. My professional career began as a prep sports writer at the Los Angeles Times in 2000 and continued with stints at the Modesto Bee and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel before arriving in Chicago. I’ve won a number of local and regional awards along the way, from environmental reporting to sports writing.
In Florida, I was fortunate to be part of team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2006 for its coverage of Hurricane Wilma and its aftermath. In Chicago, I was part of a team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2011 for breaking news coverage of the death of two city firefighters.