Julia Sclafani

Searchlight New Mexico

Reporter Profile

Julia Sclafani reports for Searchlight New Mexico, an independent investigative news organization, where she focuses on health issues in the state including behavioral health. Most recently, Sclafani covered city government and public safety for her hometown paper, The Daily Pilot, in Orange County, California. While there, she produced award-winning reporting on the legacy of racism in Huntington Beach following the federal indictment of four members of a local white supremacist group. Before making her way home, Sclafani completed stints covering breaking news and wildfires for the Sacramento Bee and reporting on human rights topics across Latin America for publications in the U.S. and abroad. She was a field coordinator and videographer for St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church’s SEED Academy in Migori, Kenya. Sclafani earned a B.A. in Human Rights and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Columbia University and an M.A. in Journalism from the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, where she was an inaugural member of CUNY’s Spanish-language journalism program.

Beat: Healthcare including mental healthcare for the state's poorest residents

Health, without any question, is the most important gap in coverage we face. High on the agenda: the rebuilding of NM's behavioral health system. In 2013, the former governor Susana Martinez froze Medicaid payments to 15 nonprofit community mental health and substance use treatment providers based on what turned out to be baseless allegations of fraud. Those agencies provided critical mental health, suicide counseling, and addiction services to 30,000 New Mexicans. Twelve of those agencies had to stop operations completely, and families and communities all over New Mexico are still reeling from a manufactured crisis that decimated the behavioral health system. We need a smart, energetic reporter to collaborate with our photographer and videographer, while crisscrossing the state and writing about the problems of rural communities, where residents lack information and ability to have their stories told.