Class of 2018 Corps Members

After an intense competition, these talented journalists were selected to join the Class of 2018 of Report for America. Most joined their local newsrooms in June. The last three have been working in Appalachia since January.

Note: Applications for the class of 2020 will open on December 2, 2019 and close on January 30, 2020.

Carlos Ballesteros | Chicago Sun-Times


Carlos Ballesteros is a former reporter for Newsweek, where he covered politics, foreign policy, labor and immigration. He has also written about his hometown of Chicago for the Chicago magazine, South Side Weekly, Nation, and In These Times. He was editor-in-chief of Claremont College’s Student Life for which he led a team of more than one hundred student journalists.

Ballesteros returns home to join the Chicago Sun-Times,where he reports on the city’s south and west sides, including the neighborhood where he was raised. Check out his work.

Mallory Falk | KRWG


Mallory Falk is a two-time Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winner, a 2016 USC Annenberg National Health Reporting Fellow, and a radio journalist whose stories have aired on All Things Considered, Here & Now, and Texas Standard. She was an education reporter for New Orleans’ NPR-affiliate WWNO and a producer of “What My Students Taught Me,” an education podcast from The Atlantic and Columbia Journalism School’s Teacher Project. Earlier she served as communications director for Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools. Originally from Pittsburgh, Falk is a graduate of Middlebury College and the Transom Story Workshop.

Falk has joined KRWG in New Mexico as a multimedia reporter covering education, healthcare, economic development and sustainability. Her work can be found here.

Sarah Anne Hughes | The Incline / Billy Penn


Sarah Anne Hughes has worked as an editor and reporter in Washington, DC and her home state of Pennsylvania. She began her career at The Washington Post, where she blogged about pop culture and national news. Hughes has worked as a reporter for The Incline, editor-in-chief for DCist, and managing editor of Washington City Paper. In the past year, Hughes returned to her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she has been working as a freelancer.

She joins The Incline / Billy Penn as their first statehouse reporter in Harrisburg. Check out her work for Billy Penn and The Incline

Michelle Liu | Mississippi Today


Michelle Liu was a reporting intern for The Toledo Blade, and a general assignment intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As a reporter for the Yale Daily News and a contributing reporter for the New Haven Independent, she shadowed canvassers in New Hampshire and covered labor unions in Connecticut. She was also a program coordinator for Yale’s Summer Journalism Program for high school students.

Born and raised in Texas, Liu has joined Mississippi Today as a statewide reporter focused on criminal justice and the environment. Check out her work at Mississippi Today.

Samantha Max | The Telegraph


Samantha Max was an investigative reporting intern for the Medill Justice Project and a bilingual multimedia news intern at Hoy, Chicago Tribune’s Spanish-language daily. She returned to her hometown of Baltimore in 2015 and again in 2016 to work as a newsroom intern for NPR-affiliate WYPR. She has written on immigration and the criminal justice system.

She has joined the Telegraph in Macon, Georgia, where she works with local residents to select issues of significant public interest in a unique partnership with the News Co/Lab of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Check out her work.

Eric Shelton | Mississippi Today


Eric Shelton is a photojournalist whose work has been published in The Boston Globe, LA Times, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post. He first left his home state of Mississippi to intern with the Associated Press in Boston. He has since worked across Texas and Mississippi as a photojournalist for Texarkana Gazette and the Natchez Democrat, a multimedia journalist for the Abilene Reporter-News, and digital reporter and chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American. For the past four years, he has worked as photo editor of the Killeen Daily Herald, managing photo and video for five publications., Shelton has won awards from the Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors and the Arkansas Press Photographers Association.

Shelton has returned to Mississippi to work as the first photojournalist at Mississippi Today.

Ciara McCarthy | Victoria Advocate


Ciara McCarthy has worked as an intern for the Marshall Project and a researcher at The Guardian U.S, where she contributed to “The Counted,” an Emmy-nominated project on police killings.  She later worked as a staff community reporter for Patch, covering neighborhoods in Manhattan. In college, she was the editor-in-chief of the Daily Northwestern, the respected student-run daily of Northwestern University.

McCarthy has joined the Victoria Advocate where she’ll cover local government and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  Check out her work.

Obed Manuel | Dallas Morning News


Until recently, Obed he was an associate editor at Central Track in Dallas, where he was focused on city news/politics and social change movements. He previously worked as managing editor of Latina Lista, where he launched a weekly podcast and wrote on immigration and technology. A graduate of the Mayborn School of Journalism at University of North Texas, Manuel was a staff writer for the North Texas Daily and a two-time intern at the Dallas Observer. In 2015, Manuel assisted former Dallas Observer editor Joe Tone with research for “Bones,” a book about money laundering through the quarter horse racing industry.

A native of the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, Manuel has joined the Dallas Morning News to report on the growing population of second-generation Hispanic immigrants and the issues they face. Check out his work.

Manny Ramos | Chicago Sun-Times


Ramos is a two-time Fellow at City Bureau, a civic journalism lab based on the South Side, for which he covered the Chicago Police Department’s community-policing initiatives and worked as a public health multimedia reporter in collaboration with WBEZ’s Curious City. He also served as a journalism mentor for underserved youth via Free Spirit Media. Prior to this, Ramos reported on city politics and Chicago Public Schools for Gaper’s Block and covered municipal elections for the Daily Line. He was an editorial intern for the Chicago Reader and The Depaulia’s first podcast producer and political reporter.

Ramos has joined the Chicago Sun-Times, where he will focus on Chicago’s south and west sides, including the neighborhood where he was raised.  Check out his work.

Alexandra Watts | Mississippi Public Broadcasting


Alexandra Watts was a 2017 Next Generation Radio Fellow with NPR in 2017. While at Arizona State University, she became the first ever audio and podcast editor for The State Press, and she worked on podcasts/audio with the news division of Arizona PBS. Watts has a BA & MMC from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She had internships with KJZZ and worked in community engagement with the Public Insight Network (PIN) Bureau, where she was part of the team who won the Associated Press Media Editors’ Innovator of the Year Award for College Students.

Watts has joined Mississippi Public Broadcasting to cover the Delta region. Examples of her work (“MS Delta” tag).

In January, the following three corps members were placed in newsrooms across Appalachia:

Molly Born | West Virginia Public Broadcasting


Molly Born, a native of West Virginia, worked for six years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she covered crime, local government, and education. In pursuit of the story, she spent the night at a palatial Hare Krishna commune, reported on location from the middle of a four-lane highway, and (politely) commandeered a passing car to hear the verdict in a murder trial. She’s a graduate of Fairmont State University and has a masters in journalism from Northwestern University. She has long carried a bit of West Virginia everywhere she goes — in the form of a tattoo of the state’s motto on her back.

As an RFA corps member and Galloway Fellow, Molly now reports for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. She has already investigated the plight of a town whose water was contaminated by a coal mine owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and explored how a lack of reliable internet access is hurting rural economies.  More Molly.

Caity Coyne | Charleston Gazette-Mail


Caity Coyne was the editor-in-chief of West Virginia University’s award-winning, independent student newspaper, The Daily Athanaeum, and a reporting intern at the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Coyne is originally from San Diego, CA, but she found a home in West Virginia as a student.

As a RFA corps member and Galloway Fellow, Caity reports on the state’s southern coalfields for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. She has tenaciously covered a statewide teachers’ strike and featured a once-booming coal town that may be forced to dissolve as a municipality.  More Caity

Will Wright | Lexington Herald Leader


Will Wright covered the environment and government accountability during internships at The Sacramento Bee, the Lexington Herald-Leader the and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. He was editor-in-chief of University of Kentucky’s independent student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel. After graduating from University of Kentucky in December 2016, Wright completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He grew up in Eighty Four, PA, a small town outside Pittsburgh.

Since joining RFA as a Galloway Fellow, Wright has reopened the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Pike County Bureau in Kentucky. He already put a spotlight on Kentucky’s “worst water district” where some residents went without water for weeks. The district’s business manager retired shortly after publication, and the state committed $3.4 million to fix water issues in eastern Kentucky. Will also collaborated with veteran reporter Bill Estep to break a story about $3 million in back taxes owed by Kentucky-based coal companies linked to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice. More Will.