Professor Cheryl W. Thompson makes history as first African-American board president of Investigative Reporters & Editors.
School of Media and Public Affairs associate professor Cheryl W. Thompson was elected president of Investigative Reporters & Editors during the organization's annual convention in June. Thompson will make history as the first African-American board president after joining the board in 2015 and becoming vice president in 2017.
An Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter who writes for The Washington Post, Thompson will preside over the global organization that provides members access to reporting tip sheets and hosts conferences and specialized training sessions throughout the United States.
As board president, she says she will continue to work on increasing the organization's diversity, boosting student membership and furthering partnerships and participation with the international community of journalists.
“I am honored and excited to lead this 5,700-member organization that I've been a part of for two decades,” Thompson said in an IRE release. “Watchdog journalism has always mattered, and I want to continue IRE's mission of 'fostering excellence in investigative journalism,' including ensuring that the organization's membership better reflects the tapestry of this country.”
The 2018 Staub Faculty Excellence Award-winner for SMPA faculty member of the year, Thompson attended her first IRE conference in 1996 in Providence, Rhode Island where she met a recruiter for The Washington Post who asked for her resume. She started at the Post the next year and ran for the IRE board 19 years later.
On becoming the first black IRE board president, Thompson says “Being a woman of color who just happens to be board president allows me the opportunity to show everyone that IRE is about inclusivity... There are not a lot of women of color in investigative journalism in print, but the numbers are growing and that's a good thing. So, I think having myself and others out there representing IRE could help continue to grow the numbers.”
After joining the SMPA faculty in 2013, Thompson says more than 100 students have joined the organization and are benefiting from the learning resources and mentoring program IRE offers.
Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization formed in 1975 as a forum for journalists around the world to help each other with story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.