Diederich College of Communication announces 2019-20 O’Brien Fellows

March 21, 2019

The J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication announced today the next class of journalists joining the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism. Marquette student journalists will assist the fellows, who are expected to arrive in Milwaukee in August.

The incoming Fellows for the 2019–20 academic year are: 

  • James Causey, projects reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Katelyn Ferral, investigative reporter, The Capital Times
  • Payton Guion, investigative reporter, New Jersey Advance Media
  • Larry Parnass, investigations editor, The Berkshire Eagle

“We’re thrilled to support these journalists and their ambitious public-service investigations,” said Dave Umhoefer, O’Brien Fellowship director. “Our student journalists are lining up to work with this group.”

O’Brien Fellows spend the academic year at Marquette University producing a multimedia public service journalism project along with a group of Marquette student interns. As a result of an $8.3 million gift from Patricia and Peter Frechette, the O’Brien Fellowship has been able to give more than 20 journalists the opportunity to craft in-depth projects since 2013.

In the past, projects have covered various topics such as environmental protection, criminal justice, education and health. The O’Brien Fellowship selects projects based on potential impact to cause change and identify solutions. 

O’Brien Fellowship work has won national journalism awards. Most recently, 2017-18 Fellow Gary Harki of The Virginian-Pilot was awarded the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting for his O’Brien project, “Jailed in Crisis” which covered the dangers incarceration has for inmates with mental illness.

The fellowship allows Marquette students to receive first-hand experience from a veteran reporter, as well as the chance to compete to spend the summer as a paid intern at their fellow’s home news organization. 

Harki’s team of student reporters  — Alexandria Bursiek, Rebecca Carballo and Diana Dombrowski — worked for months to compile a first-ever database of deaths in U.S. jails involving inmates with mental illness.

The current class of O’Brien Fellows includes: Natasha Haverty, an independent reporter from Boston; Erin Jordan, investigative reporter with The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette; Ashley Luthern, crime reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Jenni Monet, an independent journalist from Tucson and Brooklyn; and Katie Worth, a reporter with FRONTLINE PBS. 

In 2013, Peter and Patricia Frechette made a generous gift to Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication in honor of Patricia’s parents, Marquette alumni Perry and Alicia O’Brien. The Frechettes designated their gift to the launch of the “Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism,” a program designed to give reporters the outlet they need to produce a world-class public service project and train the next generation of outstanding journalists.

About the O’Brien Fellowship

Since 2013, the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism has supported investigative or explanatory reporting projects by over 20 journalists from around the country. Stories by O’Brien Fellows have earned prestigious honors including the George Polk and the duPont, and awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Headliner, the National Association of Black Journalists, the John Jay College/Guggenheim and the National Academies. Fellows have worked as staff or freelance journalists. Over 70 graduate and undergraduate students have spent at least one semester helping O’Brien Fellows with reporting, data analysis, research and multimedia presentation.

About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the associate director for university communication in the Office of University Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or kevin.m.conway@marquette.edu