Our Mission

Since 2013, the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism has supported investigative or explanatory reporting projects by 30 journalists from around the country.

In service of the Fellowship’s mission to investigate problems and potential solutions, O’Brien projects have tackled issues including the environment, education, mental illness, health care, medical science, open government and criminal justice.

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. Applications are welcome from journalists whose work would appear in or on newspapers, radio, television, websites, online publications or magazines of general public interest.

More than 90 graduate and undergraduate students have spent at least one semester helping O’Brien fellows with reporting, data analysis, research and multimedia presentation.




Dave UmhoeferDave Umhoefer

Dave is a La Crosse, Wisconsin native. He was named O’Brien Fellowship director in May 2017. He also teaches investigative reporting in the Diederich College of Communication. His 32-year career as a reporter and editor at the Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel culminated in a 2008 Pulitzer Prize.



Program Assistant                   

Rachel bio

Rachel Ryan

Rachel is a first-year graduate student in the Digital Communication Strategies program. After earning her BA in Communication at UW Oshkosh, she worked at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) as a Marketing Coordinator. She hopes to continue pursuing marketing as well as delve deeper into the journalism side through her role as a reporting intern for the 2020-2021 O’Brien Fellow Ashley Nguyen.


Key Partners


George StanleyGeorge Stanley

George is editor and former managing editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a co-founder of the O’Brien Fellowship. He was instrumental in creating the program with former Marquette College of Communication Dean Lori Bergen and O’Brien funders Patricia and Peter Frechette. Journal Sentinel provides resources to and often co-publishes O’Brien-backed projects. He had a distinguished reporting career at the Milwaukee Sentinel and the Wichita Eagle, often focusing on environmental issues. He is a 1979 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Greg BorowskiGreg Borowski

Greg Borowski is deputy editor for news, projects and investigations at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Projects he’s overseen have won the top honors in journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Worth Bingham Prize, the George Polk Award, the Goldsmith Prize, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, the Barlett & Steele Awards and the Investigative Reporters and Editors competition. Before moving into editing in 2008, he won numerous awards as a reporter at Journal Sentinel, and at newspapers in Michigan and Indiana. A Milwaukee native, Borowski is a graduate of Marquette University.