SMPA Welcomes Two New Terker Distinguished Fellows

Kristen Grimm and Vivian Salama
August 24, 2021

Kristen Grimm, President of Spitfire Strategies, a woman-owned, strategic communication firm dedicated to advancing racial, economic and social justice, and Vivian Salama, a national security reporter for The Wall Street Journal join the School of Media and Public Affairs as the 2021-2022 Terker Distinguished Fellows.

In their roles, they will participate in class discussions, student lunches, and public events throughout the academic year.

Established by Bruce and Cindy Terker in 2010, parents of 2013 SMPA graduate Jennifer Terker, the Terker Distinguished Fellows in the Media and Public Affairs program brings exceptional professionals from the fields of media, political communication and public affairs to SMPA each academic year.

Kristen Grimm has over 30 years of work in public interest communication and campaigns. She has an extensive portfolio of clients across many issues and the world such as the Ford Foundation on Census and human rights in the global south, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on education reform, Media and Democracy Fund on online privacy, and much more. In 2002 she decided that the world needed more women-run companies so she started Spitfire Strategies and created the Smart Chart, a free tool designed to help mission-driven organizations create an actionable and effective communications plan. After the success of this tool she was able to help get more children health care coverage, help the Gulf Coast get  back on its feet after the BP oil spill, start the Executive Training Program to give CEOs the skills needed to run communicating organizations, and work for thousands of nonprofits and foundations around the world, learning more with every assignment. 

Prior to starting her own company, Ms. Grimm was an intern with a firm that was just finishing up Nelson Mandela’s stadium tour, and eventually became its’ president

Vivian Salama joins SMPA from The Wall Street Journal where she has covered U.S. foreign policy and national security for nearly two decades, reporting from more than 80 countries. Since moving to Washington in 2016, Salama has covered the White House and national security for The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News, and the Associated Press, with a focus on foreign policy. During that time, she has broken a number of major stories involving the Trump White House, including details on the administration's controversial travel ban, President Trump's interest in buying Greenland and the two impeachment inquiries.

Ms. Salama previously worked as Iraq bureau chief for the Associated Press, and she has also been based in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and Egypt. She marched alongside protesters in several Arab capitals during the so-called “Arab Spring.” She has authored a number of lengthy academic studies, and she wrote a children’s book, called The Long Journey Home, which chronicles a young boy’s journey as a refugee from war torn Syria.

Both of these fellows come to SMPA with an extensive background in journalism and communications. Ms. Grimm currently serves on the boards of Grist and the Windward Fund, and she is on the advisory board for the Narrative Initiative. She is a member of the 2014 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute and serves in the moderator corps for Aspen. On faculty at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, she teaches a course on using influence to advance public policies. Ms. Salama is a fluent Arabic speaker and has working knowledge in Spanish. While the bulk of her experience has been in the Middle East and South Asia, she has also reported in North Korea, the Balkans, and across East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and South America. She began her career working for television networks in New York City and Providence, Rhode Island.

The SMPA community is proud to welcome these dedicated and distinguished fellows.