New America Announces National Class of Fellows 2023

Press Release
Sept. 20, 2022

Washington, D.C. — Today, New America announced its newest class of National Fellows.

Since 1999, the Fellows Program has been home to over 250 Fellows, supporting creative storytellers whose projects have produced 141 books, 13 films, and more than 25 longform reporting projects. After receiving more than 200 applications this year, the New America Fellows Program selected 15 immensely talented individuals for our Class of 2023.

New America supports changemakers—journalists, educators, filmmakers, and researchers working to shape the conversation on the critical issues of today. The Class of 2023 will pursue book, film, and multimedia projects on a wide range of subjects including the rise of global cryptocurrency, the colonial origins of global mental health, the civil rights movement, wealth inequality through the experience of service workers, endangered languages, and more.

“The Class of 2023 is an exciting group of thinkers and problem-solvers who reflect the voices of an emerging new America,” said New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter. “They are telling stories that America and the world need to hear and are shaping our understanding of ourselves. New America was founded on a commitment to find and support a new generation of public intellectuals. Over two decades later, each new class of National Fellows delivers on that promise.”

“I am thrilled to announce this new cohort of 15 New America Class of 2023 Fellows. These dynamic storytellers are pushing the boundaries of storytelling in new ways as they develop their book, film, and multimedia projects. I am excited to see their work take shape this coming year,” said Fellows Program Director Awista Ayub.

For more, read our “Who Applied?: Class of 2023 National Fellows Program Applicants” report.

New America’s Fellows Program thanks New America’s Board of Directors, Emerson Collective, the Center for the Future of Arizona, Arizona State University's Center on the Future of War, and the Digital Impact and Governance Initiative program at New America for their support this year.

The 2023 Class of New America National Fellows:

Philip Bennett, ASU Future Security Fellow, is a journalist, documentary film producer and teacher. He has produced 20 films on American politics and national security for the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE, including America After 9/11 (2021), America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump (2020), and the Emmy award-winning The Choice 2016 and The Choice 2020. Bennett is a former managing editor of the Washington Post, and was the Post’s assistant managing editor for foreign news. He was a foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe in Latin America in the 1980s. Until 2020, he was the Patterson Professor of journalism and public policy at Duke University. Bennett is writing a biography of the journalist Anthony Shadid, who died in Syria in 2012. The book, co-authored with Steve Fainaru for Celadon Books, explores how Shadid’s reporting on civilians during wars and upheaval in the Middle East after 2001 provided an alternative history of the region. Bennett, Fainaru, and Shadid were colleagues at the Washington Post.

Eula Biss, National Fellow, is the author of four books, the most recent being a critique of American homeownership titled Having and Being Had. Her book On Immunity was named one of the “Ten Best Books of 2014” by the New York Times Book Review, and her collection of essays, Notes from No Manʼs Land, won the National Book Critics Circle award for criticism in 2009. Biss teaches nonfiction writing for the Bennington Writing Seminars, a master of fine arts in writing program at Bennington College, and is a member of the Penny Collective, a communal workspace for writers. She recently edited a folio on the theme of ownership for the Yale Review. Biss is currently working on a collection of essays for Riverhead Books about the politics of land ownership in settings ranging from medieval England to contemporary South Africa. This book will explore how private property has shaped our lives and how we might reimagine property rights in the future.

Mona Chalabi, Emerson Collective Fellow, is a data journalist. She is also a writer, artist, producer, presenter, and (occasionally) an actress. Using words, color, and sound, Chalabi re-humanizes data to better help us understand our world and the way we live in it. Chalabi works beside windows, usually in Brooklyn but sometimes in her hometown, London. Her writing and illustrations have been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Guardian where she is currently their data editor. Her video, audio, and production work has been featured on Netflix, NPR, the BBC, and National Geographic. Her work has earned her a fellowship at the British Science Association, an Emmy nomination, and recognition from the Royal Statistical Society. In recent years, her work has been exhibited at the Tate, the Design Museum, and the House of Illustration. She studied international relations in Paris at Sciences Po and Arabic at the University of Jordan.

Zeke Faux, National Fellow, is a senior reporter for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek, where he has spent a decade profiling and exposing the hustlers, scammers, and hedge fund managers who populate the shady side of Wall Street. He has won the Gerald Loeb award for explanatory business journalism and the American Bar Associationʼs Silver Gavel award, among others, for his reporting on predatory lending. He was also a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Faux is working on a book about the murky financial machinery behind the global cryptocurrency mania and the larger-than-life personalities who are upending the world of money for Crown Publishing.

Tanisha C. Ford, Emerson Collective Fellow, is a professor of history at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). She has written extensively on social movements, the global economics of fashion, and Black philanthropy. She is currently writing a new book, Our Secret Society: Americaʼs Forgotten Black Powerbrokers, which uncovers the secret webs of money, power, and social influence that bolstered the Civil Rights movement. It will be published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. Ford is the author of the award-winning Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul, and Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girlʼs Love Letter to the Power of Fashion, and co-author of Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful. Her feature stories and reviews have been published in the Atlantic, the New York Times, ELLE, and Harper's Bazaar, among others. In 2019, she was named to the Root’s “100 Most Influential African Americans” list for her innovative, public-facing scholarship. Her research has been supported by multiple institutions including: the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), Harvard Radcliffe Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She is working with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on a multi-year initiative that aims to redefine U.S. philanthropy by centering non-Western forms of generosity and mutual aid. Ford received her Ph.D. in 20th century U.S. history from Indiana University-Bloomington.

Emily Kassie, New Arizona Fellow, is an Emmy and Peabody nominated investigative journalist and filmmaker. She covers conflict, human rights abuses, and fracture points in the United States and internationally for PBS Newshour, the New York Times, Netflix, FRONTLINE, TIME Magazine, and the Guardian, amongst others. Reporting from the Syrian border to the Saharan desert, her work spotlights criminal justice, corporate corruption, radicalization, refugee crises, war, and climate change. Recently, she reported on the ground in Afghanistan for PBS Newshour where she was smuggled into Taliban territory and met with commanders and regional warlords before Kabul fell. Her work has garnered three Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Deadline Award, two Overseas Press Club Awards, two World Press Photo Awards, the Peabody Future of Media Award, two Front Page Awards, and eight National Press Photographer Awards. She's the youngest journalist to ever receive a National Magazine Award, of which she's won two. Kassie oversaw visual journalism at Highline, the Huffington Post's investigative magazine, and then again as the Director of Visuals at the Marshall Project. In 2019 she was named Multimedia Journalist of the Year by Pictures of the Year International (POYI) and was a Livingston Award finalist. In 2020 she was named in Forbes “30 under 30.” She was awarded the Academy Award for student documentary for her film I Married My Family’s Killer after graduating from Brown University and was a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge where she completed her master's in international relations. Her fellowship will focus on her first feature documentary following a search for unmarked graves of indigenous children at a residential school in British Columbia. The film is also supported by the Sundance Institute.

Khameer Kidia, ASU Future Security Fellow, is a writer, anthropologist, and global health physician on the faculty at Brigham & Womenʼs Hospital and Harvard Medical School. A Rhodes Scholar from Zimbabwe, Kidia has worked on mental health research and advocacy in his home country for the last decade. His research and writing on medicine and global health have been published in outlets such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet Psychiatry, Slate, the Yale Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is working on a book, Empire of Madness, which explores the colonial origins of global mental health, for Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Jennifer Medina, National Fellow, is an award-winning national political reporter at the New York Times. In her two decades at the New York Times, she has written extensively about politics, education, immigration, poverty, and violence. Most recently, her work has focused on chronicling Latino voters as a political force. She is currently working on a book tracing modern Latino politics and identity in America, exploring how bruising battles beginning in the 1990s shaped a tenuous collective identity and contributed to the rising influence of Latino voters.

Ross Perlin, New Arizona Fellow, is a linguist, translator, and writer from New York City, currently serving as co-director of the non-profit Endangered Language Alliance and teaching linguistics at Columbia University. He is the author of Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy, which jumpstarted an international conversation about unpaid work and youth economics. He is currently writing a book that explores New York City as a last improbable refuge for endangered languages in an age of linguistic loss, centered on six speakers from around the world and their communities.

Jessica Pishko, National Fellow, is an independent journalist and lawyer who has been writing about the criminal legal system for a decade with a focus on the political power of law enforcement officials. Since 2018, she has been focused on American sheriffs and their role—past and present—in perpetuating mass incarceration and white supremacy as well as how sheriffs present a growing threat to democracy in this country. Previously, Pishko was a fellow at the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina, researching sheriff accountability. She has received grants from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and Type Investigations. Her work has appeared in the New York Times op-ed section, Politico, Slate, the Atlantic, and the Appeal. In addition, her newsletter on sheriffs and their political power has been recognized by the NYU American Journalism Online Awards.

Joe Posner, National Fellow, is a filmmaker, motion designer, musician, and creative leader. He co-founded Vox Video in 2014, building their award-winning YouTube channel and creating Emmy-nominated streaming series like Level Playing Field on HBO, and Explained on Netflix, which has now published 70 episodes. Posner previously created the National Magazine Award-nominated series Op-Video, and the animation for documentary films such as Freakonomics, the Oscar-nominated If a Tree Falls, and Point and Shoot. He is currently helping launch Semafor as their founding head of video. His project, 2084, is a new approach to documentary filmmaking inspired by science fiction.

Albert Samaha, New Arizona Fellow, is an investigative journalist at BuzzFeed News and author of two books. His latest book, Concepcion: An Immigrant Familyʼs Fortunes, was a finalist for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award in autobiography. His first book, Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City, was winner of the New York Society Libraryʼs 2019 Hornblower Award, a finalist for the 2019 PEN/ESPN Literary Sports Writing Award, and was adapted into the Netflix docuseries We Are: The Brooklyn Saints. Samaha’s work has had significant public influence and has led to institutional change: his story on a narcotics unit in Mississippi spurred a police captainʼs resignation, his piece on a Bronx murder helped get a wrongfully convicted man freed from prison and his 2018 story about a teenager who accused two NYPD detectives of rape led Congress and six states to pass bills strengthening police sexual misconduct laws. In 2020, his reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic forced more than a dozen companies to implement additional safety protocols for food and retail workers. He is currently working on a book examining the root causes of wealth inequality through the experiences of service workers.

Rebecca L. Spang, National Fellow, researches, writes, and teaches about money, revolutions, consumption, and politics from 1750 to today. A Ruth N. Halls Professor of History at Indiana University, she is the author of two prize-winning books: The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture (2020) and Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution (2015) both published by Harvard University Press. Her co-authored article, “Individuals, Institutions, and Innovation in the Debates of the French Revolution” (2018) won a Cozzarelli Prize from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Spang regularly reviews books about money, food, and the French Revolution for the Times Literary Supplement and has also written for the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times. She is currently working on The Money of the Poor, a book which will tell the social, cultural, and political history of monetary multiplicity and its effects on ordinary people.

Xinyan Yu, National Fellow, is an award-winning video journalist and filmmaker based in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Wuhan, China, Yu began her journalism career in 2012 working as a producer for BBC News in Beijing covering the Asia-Pacific region. In 2018, she moved to New York to launch the North America video team for Hong Kongʼs flagship newspaper South China Morning Post as its senior video producer. She returned to BBC News in 2020 as a senior video journalist reporting on the United States and producing its weekly news show Cut Through the Noise from Washington D.C. Xinyan’s BBC documentary, China’s Science Revolution won the 2015 BBC Storytelling Fund and was Highly Commended for Excellent Online Production at the 2016 Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) Awards. Her 15-min short film for South China Morning Post, Fighting Fentanyl: the Drug from China Destroying American Lives, won the Gold Prize for Best Use of Online Video at the 2019 World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) Asian Digital Media Awards. Her BBC News video feature, Are America's unvaccinated changing their minds? won a White House News Photographers Association Eyes of History Digital Storytelling award in 2022. She is a Firelight Media Doc Lab fellow, and a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Asian American Documentary Network, Video Consortium and the Documentary Cinematographer Alliance.

Jason Zengerle, National Fellow, is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, where he covers politics and national affairs. He is currently at work on a book for Little, Brown about Tucker Carlson and conservative media. Zengerle previously worked at GQ, New York Magazine, and the New Republic. His writing has been anthologized in several books, including The Best American Political Writing, The Best American Medical Writing, and Next Wave: Americaʼs New Generation of Great Literary Journalists. He is the winner of the 2019 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.