New America Announces Second Class of Us@250 Fellows

Press Release
Meet the Class of 2024
July 9, 2024

As the United States prepares to celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2026, the Us@250 (pronounced “us at 250”) initiative proudly announces its second class of Us@250 Fellows.

Focused on reimagining the American narrative, Us@250 centers around three core themes: pride in the nation’s progress from its origins; reckoning with historical and contemporary wrongs that have caused the nation to fall short of its ideals; and aspiration for a multiracial, inclusive democracy.

The Us@250 Fellowship plays a pivotal role in this mission by empowering storytellers with funding, resources, and a supportive community. These storytellers are dedicated to telling a fuller, more comprehensive American narrative, fostering connections across differences, and expanding our understanding of American culture and identity.

Throughout their fellowship year, our fellows will actively engage the public in reinvigorating and reshaping the American story. They will receive a stipend to support their work, along with valuable networking and partnership opportunities.

“The future of America is found in its communities and the people who bring them to life,” said Ted Johnson, Director of the Us@250 initiative. “This year’s class of local journalists are covering compelling stories that chronicle a diverse nation in action - complete with all the challenges and successes that come with it. Their reporting will show there is much to be proud of, and much work left to be done.”

“Our Us@250 fellows are incredible, talented voices who are part of the foundation of a vibrant democracy,” said New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter. “We are proud to support this exciting group of local journalists as they explore key themes and stories that define the country we are becoming.”

The Us@250 initiative is committed to fostering a deeper understanding of our nation’s past, present, and future through storytelling that reflects our shared values and aspirations.

Thirteen talented individuals were selected to join the second Us@250 fellowship class. Their projects this year focus on engaging local human-interest stories that explore the themes of pride, reckoning, and aspiration. Spanning 13 states, from bustling cities to rural landscapes, our fellows—ranging from emerging journalists to seasoned reporters—will cover a wide array of topics. These include sports and fitness, immigration and economic development, civic engagement and friendships, and the confronting of local histories.

Additionally, we welcome two senior fellows from our inaugural cohort who will continue their impactful work on youth engagement and the presidency.

2024-2025 Class of Us@250 Senior Fellows

Alexis Coe is one of the nation’s foremost presidential historians and the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of, most recently, You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George of Washington. Her next book, Young Jack: A Biography of John F. Kennedy, 1917-1957, will be published in 2025. Coe frequently appears on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, History, PBS, and many others, and has been featured in and published by most major publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Coe, now a senior fellow, was a member of the original Us@250 cohort. Last year, Coe asked “How Should a President Be” during a yearlong, 13-stop discussion tour across the country, and this year, she will be reflecting on what she learned.

Caroline Klibanoff is the Executive Director of Made By Us where she helps hundreds of museums and historic sites engage younger generations and creates avenues for Gen Z empowerment and input. Innovative, nationwide initiatives like Civic Season, held from Juneteenth – July 4th, since 2021, and Youth250, which includes regional workshops, toolkit, media and national youth bureau, formalize and amplify youth voice in how we commemorate the U.S. 250th anniversary.

2024-2025 Class of Us@250 Fellows

Jamaal Abdul-Alim is a longtime journalist who is based in Washington, D.C. As founding editor of, a website that aims to use sneakers as an educational tool, Jamaal plans to edit and produce a series of articles and videos about DC Run Crew, an inclusive fitness club that stages public workouts at iconic sites throughout the nation's capital. Jamaal is an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Maryland. In his spare time he enjoys chess, travel and collecting or creating novelty T-shirts.

Natalia Alamdari is a senior reporter at the Flatwater Free Press based in Omaha, Nebraska. There, she covers rural Nebraska, driving around the state finding unique and unexpected stories where no one else is looking. She's taken readers inside crypto mining farms and prairies filled with bison; and even overseas to a hotel of Ukrainian refugees and Nebraska volunteers in Warsaw, Poland. She is a Mizzou grad and a native Texan. Her fellowship project will highlight immigrants moving into rural Nebraska communities, managing life alongside their long-standing, mostly White neighbors.

Calvin Krippner is a solutions-based, investigative journalist who studied at the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism. His work brings to light and analyzes solutions to complex issues in various communities, and he extends local analysis to wider societal trends. His fellowship project dives into the current state of community building coalitions in the Austin neighborhood of West Side, Chicago. Most specifically, identifying the philosophy being put into action by Collective Impact Agencies like Austin Coming Together, and the network of local organizations they work to support.

Logan Jaffe is a reporter focusing on newsletters, audience and engagement at ProPublica. Her reporting through New America will examine the return of stolen land to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and the local historical reckoning that’s required. Jaffe’s past work has included investigations into the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and communities known as sundown towns. She previously worked as an embedded mediamaker for the New York Times' Race/Related newsletter, and a multimedia reporter for the Curious City project at WBEZ-Chicago. Jaffe is also pursuing a Master's degree in Public History from Loyola University Chicago.

Zaid Jilani is a journalist and communications professional based outside Atlanta, Georgia. He has in the past worked as a staff reporter for NewsNation, The Intercept, AlterNet, and ThinkProgress and has been published in outlets ranging from The New York Times to Fox News. His project involves documenting the social and political changes that have occurred in the state of Georgia over the past few decades, focusing on how newcomers and long-time residents alike are responding to the opportunities and challenges of an evolving state. Jilani can be found on Twitter/X at @ZaidJilani.

Olivia Lewis is a Detroit-based journalist who emphasizes data, history, and solutions in her storytelling. She is a graduate of both Hampton University and the University of Michigan. Her project will be published by BridgeDetroit. The story will focus on Detroit's I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project, a proposed traffic exchange to increase safety, walkability and economic activity to the area. Olivia will highlight how the interstate, originally a product of urban renewal, changed the area for decades and the implications of the proposed changes on the quality of life for the current community..

Tina Kelley is the co-author of Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope and Breaking Barriers: How P-TECH Schools Create a Pathway from High School to College to Career as well as four books of poetry. She shared in a staff Pulitzer covering 9/11 at The New York Times, where she was a metro reporter for ten years. She is the senior education reporter at Star-Ledger. With her fellowship, she will be writing about three interracial friendships from three different generations in her suburban New Jersey town.

Nicholas Mainieri is the author of the novel The Infinite. In his freelance work his nonfiction tends to focus on stories involving sport, community, and local care or culture. He resides in northern Indiana where he works with students and teaches writing at the University of Notre Dame. He holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans. His fellowship project is a work of narrative journalism about Foundry Field in South Bend, Indiana, a new ballpark and public art project that illuminates history and fosters an inclusive place for play.

M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska is Associate Professor at American University where she researches and teaches 19th and 20th century U.S. history. She is the author of History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s and is currently working on a new book about the history of visitors and newcomers to Washington, D.C. M.J. is also an active public historian who collaborates on public projects across the city and nationwide and sits on the boards of Washington History magazine and HumanitiesDC. M.J.’s fellowship project will trace the histories and legacies of local and federal Bicentennial planning in Washington, D.C., concentrating on lessons learned for planners and organizers today.

Aisha Sultan is a nationally syndicated columnist, award-winning filmmaker and features writer. Her work has run in more than a hundred publications. She has won several national honors recognizing her writing and her documentary storytelling. Her work explores social change with an emphasis on education, families and inequality. Her project focuses on the social contributions of trailblazing Muslim American women in the Midwest. She is a staff writer and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Chandra Thomas Whitfield is co-host and producer of "Colorado Matters," a daily interview-style, public affairs show on Colorado Public Radio. An award-winning multimedia journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Essence, Ebony,, and The Huffington Post. In 2020, she hosted and produced the Clarion-award-winning podcast, In The Gap, about how pay inequity and discrimination impacts the lives – and livelihoods – of working Black women in America. She will be reporting on how Colorado’s rapidly growing 65 and over population requires more public and civic engagement to thrive.

Natasha Varner’s essays and reporting have appeared in Electric Literature, The Nation, Atlas Obscura, PRI’s The World, Jacobin, and The Abusable Past. She has a PhD in history and produces public-facing scholarship on the many ways the past remains entangled with the present. For nine years, she worked as communications and public engagement director for the Japanese American history non-profit, Densho. As an Us@250 fellow, Dr. Varner will be reporting on the decades-long struggle to preserve and commemorate the site of a former Japanese American incarceration camp in southeastern Colorado, as well as the impacts of its new designation as a National Historic Site.

Alejandra Vasquez is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her most recent film Going Varsity in Mariachi, co-directed with Sam Osborn, premiered at Sundance and screened at festivals around the world. For her fellowship project, she's following the incoming freshman class of students at a public school program that exclusively serves newcomer migrants, primarily unaccompanied minors.

For more information on the Us@250 initiative and our fellows, please visit

New America thanks The Hearthland Foundation for their generous support of the Us@250 initiative.

For media inquiries, please contact For questions about the Us@250 initiative, please contact

About New America

New America is dedicated to renewing the promise of America, bringing us closer to our nation’s highest ideals. We’re a different kind of think tank: one dedicated to public problem solving. Our team of visionary researchers, changemakers, technologists, and storytellers study and seize the opportunities presented by dramatic social and technological change. We search for powerful ideas, wherever they are, and collaborate with civic innovators around the country to develop evidence-based solutions.