Health Journalism Fellows

contact: Liz Seegert, program director


Six Reporters Selected as Inaugural Journalism & Women Symposium

Health Journalism Fellows

Grandville, MI, Dec. 5 – The Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), the premier not-for-profit organization dedicated to professional growth and empowerment of women journalists, is pleased to announce the inaugural group of reporters selected to participate in its new Health Journalism Fellowship.

These emerging journalists bring diverse professional and personal experiences to the beat that will inform the untold stories about health care that they want to tell, in particular those about people who are marginalized as a result of discriminatory practices rooted in race, class, and disability. They will also focus on potential solutions to these challenges. The health journalism fellowship program was created through the generous support of The Commonwealth Fund.

“I’m so excited about this fellowship and the role it will play in furthering JAWS’ mission to advance the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and advocate for more inclusive coverage of the diverse experiences and cultures that comprise our society,” JAWS President Jennifer Kho said. “This fellowship will bring more women journalists into health care reporting, an essential coverage area still dominated by men, and will help them succeed by giving them more tools to tell meaningful stories about diverse experiences and cultures affected by health issues. The importance of this beat – and of diverse reporting within this beat – can hardly be overstated.”

“By training more journalists in this coverage and by diversifying the reporting pool, we’re certain to get better and more inclusive health care reporting for our communities,” said veteran health journalist Liz Seegert, who will direct the program.

The six reporters selected as inaugural fellows for this program are:

Annabel Rocha, IL Latino News
Project: A series on period poverty and the Chicago public school system, including local mandates, education about the issue and the role of higher education in helping the cause.

Cecilia Nowell, freelance
Project: A series on maternity deserts across the U.S and how the closure of rural hospitals result in the growing distance many Americans must now travel to give birth – or seek prenatal or postpartum care – through the lens of three facilities in different regions of the U.S.

Chandra Bozelko, The National Memo
Project: A  series on how states are using 1115 waivers to bring Medicaid coverage to incarcerated people and how these waivers can provide oversight to correctional healthcare systems and improve outcomes.

Dana James, Black Iowa News
Project: A series on Black maternal disparities in Iowa, including state-wide efforts to address Black maternal health through the use of a community-based doulas, as well as state policy, legislative and cultural changes needed to reduce maternal inequities.

Lygia Navarro, freelance
Project: A  series on the intersections of racism and sexism in COVID long haulers of color, the federal government and health system responses, and the mental health consequences of long COVID on mothers of color raising young children.

Michele Baruchmann, The Seattle Times
Project: A series on insurance issues facing Washingtonians seeking mental health care including scope, consumer resources, systemic barriers and opportunities for improvement to enable more timely and necessary care.

About the JAWS Health Journalism Fellowship

The fellowship includes a reporting grant to cover project-related time and expenses along with ongoing mentoring from two experienced health journalists: Naseem Miller, senior health reporter with The Journalists Resource, and Margarita Birnbaum, independent journalist and core topic leader for health equity at the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Additionally, fellows receive a one-year complimentary membership to JAWS and travel to the JAWS annual conference in fall, 2023, to present their published projects. They will also attend the 2023 Association of Health Care Journalists conference to deepen their knowledge about the many facets of health reporting.

Fellows were selected from a pool of diverse applicants, based on their knowledge and depth of understanding of their proposal issue; the proposed project’s contribution to public discussion and debate; its potential impact on the intended audience; challenges to conventions or stereotypes; and ability to meet high journalistic standards.

About The Commonwealth Fund

The Commonwealth Fund — among the first private foundations started by a woman philanthropist, Anna M. Harkness — was established in 1918 with the broad charge to enhance the common good. Today, the Fund supports independent research on health care issues and makes grants to promote an equitable high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for people of color, people with low income and the uninsured.

About the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS)

JAWS has been for working journalists, journalism educators and researchers from across the country since 1985. Members meet in person and online to share resources, support, training and information about the issues that affect women in the industry. JAWS advances the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and advocates for more inclusive coverage of the diverse experiences and cultures that comprise our society.