Jennifer Whidden

Jenny Whidden reports on the effects of climate change on Chicago’s suburbs for the Daily Herald, based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. A second-year Report for America corps member, Whidden previously was a Statehouse reporter for New Hampshire’s Granite State News Collaborative, covering legislation related to racial justice. A native of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Whidden holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University. There, she was managing editor of the student paper, the Marquette Tribune, which won top honors in General Excellence from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Whidden enjoys going to the movies, reading fiction and spending time with Princeton, her cat.

Maria Gardner Lara

Maria Gardner Lara reports on the issues affecting the growing Latino community in DeKalb, Illinois for Northern Public Radio, a member station of NPR that’s based in DeKalb. Previously, Gardner Lara reported on state politics and policy for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. As an intern for the Laredo Morning Times, she reported on issues at the U.S.-Mexico border, international trade and immigrant rights’ protests. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield, and a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Illinois Chicago.

Melody Mercado

Melody Mercado is a reporter for Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit news site dedicated to covering the city’s neighborhoods. Previously, Mercado was the city government reporter at the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa, covering local policy and its effect on the community. She started her career as a reporter at WHO-TV, the NBC affiliate in Des Moines, where she played an integral role in covering the Iowa caucuses and the protests calling for racial justice in 2020. A native of Belvidere, Illinois, Mercado holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bradley University and a master’s degree in journalism from DePaul University.

Michael Loria

Michael Loria reports for the Chicago Sun-Times, covering the South and West sides of the city. Before moving to Chicago, Loria was a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C., where he covered undocumented restaurant workers for Washington City Paper, and child care for undocumented workers, housing for older adults and more for The Washington Post. In 2020, his feature on cottage industries that undocumented workers had established to survive the pandemic became one of the most-read Washington City Paper stories of the year; his reporting on food truck turf wars was an editor’s choice for one of the best Washington City Paper stories of 2021. Loria is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Monica Cordero Sancho

Mónica Cordero Sancho is an investigative and data journalist for the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, a news site based in Champaign, Illinois. Cordero’s work has been published by Univision, Bloomberg Businessweek, La Noticia, Radio Ambulante, NPR, openDemocracy and The New York Times. Born in Costa Rica, she is a graduate of the University of Costa Rica and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Cordero was the lead reporter, involving newsrooms from 12 Latin American countries, on the investigation into the evangelical movement’s political power in Latin America. Published in multiple outlets in the United States and in Latin America, this reporting won the 2020 Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award, the most prestigious journalism prize in the Spanish-speaking world, for best investigative reporting. Cordero is a member of a pub-run group in Brooklyn, New York and loves pastrami sandwiches and chocolate cake.

Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times is the legendary news voice of Chicago’s working class. The news organization was recently acquired by a diverse consortium of philanthropists, business leaders and Chicago area labor organizations.

Juanpablo Ramirez

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers drinking water quality for WNIJ Radio in Illinois. This multimedia reporter focuses on the quality of the rivers and groundwater, and how climate-driven rain and flooding pose threats to life in the region north of the Illinois River.  An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, Ramirez-Franco has been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, he produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois, He is a graduate of Knox College.

Investigate Midwest

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is an award-winning investigative news site based in Champaign, Illinois. It serves the public by providing in-depth journalism on agribusiness and related topics and issues. It also seeks to provide the education and training of journalists and students to improve the quality and breadth of news coverage of agribusiness.The Midwest Center predominantly covers issues throughout 12 states in the heartland of the U.S, with a frequent focus on Illinois and rural communities.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press is a global news agency that began 172 years ago as a cooperative of five New York City newspapers. With 263 locations in more than 100 countries, AP provides journalism to roughly 15,000 media outlets around the world. AP sets standards for ethics and excellence, and has won 52 Pulitzer Prizes, including the 2016 gold medal for Public Service for an investigation into labor abuses in the seafood industry, reports that freed more than 2,000 slaves. AP’s seven news bureaus in the northeast U.S. provide vital local and regional news to 378 newsrooms.

Northern Public Radio – WNIJ

Northern Public Radio, a member station of NPR, has a mission to enrich, inspire and inform listeners in northern Illinois through programs and services that share ideas, encourage thought, entertain and create community.