Meet The 2015-16 Fellows

The J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication has announced the journalists who will spend the 2015-16 academic year as part of the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism. For the first time, the program will also support a fourth fellow who will spend the year focusing on a matter important to journalists and the public. The residential O’Brien Fellows are Justin George, a crime reporter at The Baltimore Sun; Liz Navratil, a crime and courts reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Dave Umhoefer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The nonresidential fellow is Miranda Spivack, a former editor and reporter at The Washington Post and who lives in Maryland.

Justin George, The Baltimore Sun

Justin George Justin George has been a crime reporter at The Baltimore Sun since 2012, a role leading to him to contribute to the first series of the popular podcast “Serial.” During the Freddie Gray investigation and subsequent Baltimore riots in April 2015, he reported from inside the police department's headquarters. George grew up in Littleton, Colo., and attended Columbine High School before graduating from the University of Colorado. Before The Sun, George worked at the Tampa Bay Times, where he covered Hurricane Katrina and investigated sex abuse at a group home.

Liz Navratil, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Liz Navratil Liz Navratil covers the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County police departments for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The University of Pittsburgh graduate helped to expose allegations that the city’s police chief and others in a bureau diverted money from the department into an off-the-books account for personal use. The police chief was forced to resign and sentenced to prison; the reporting earned accolades from Investigative Reporters & Editors. Navratil also helped to reveal flaws to a police response to a woman’s 911 call the night she was killed.

Dave Umhoefer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dave Umhoefer Dave Umhoefer is an investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for a six-month investigation of Milwaukee County’s pension system; his stories exposed a corrupt, illegal scheme in which more than 350 employees had increased their pensions by a collective $50 million. The University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate is also a reporter for the Journal Sentinel’s PolitiFact Wisconsin team and an adjunct instructor teaching investigative journalism to students at Marquette.

Miranda Spivack, Independent Journalist

Miranda Spivack Miranda Spivack specializes in accountability journalism and writes for The Washington Post and various print and online magazines. Between 1998 and 2013, she worked as an editor and reporter at The Post. Her reporting and editing led to changes in the way government conducts its work, including regulation and oversight of development, campaign finance, the environment and public safety. Spivack previously served as a deputy editor for The Gazette Newspapers, a Post subsidiary, and is also a former Washington correspondent for The Hartford Courant.

Learn about the 2016-17 fellows or other past O'Brien Fellows

Johnston Hall


In the news


  • O'Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism
  • 1131 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Milwaukee, WI 53201
  • Phone: (414) 288-4068