Journalists of all media to took part in a workshop focusing on journalism about cities and their complexities. The workshop included in-depth discussions in a small-group format of topics such as poverty, housing, transportation and economic mobility. Expert presenters included the Pulitzer-winning author of Evicted, Matthew Desmond, as well as author and NPR / PBS journalist Ray Suarez.




and a conversation with MATT DESMOND


and public events

Workshop Leaders

Ray Suarez

Ray Suarez is a McCloy Visiting Professor of American Studies at Amherst College. He was recently the host of Al Jazeera America’s daily news program, Inside Story. Suarez was a correspondent and anchor at public television’s nightly newscast, The PBS NewsHour. Before PBS, he was the Washington-based host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Suarez is also an author. He wrote the companion to the PBS documentary series, Latino Americans. He published an examination of the relationship between religion and electoral politics, The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America. His first book, The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration (Free Press, 1999) examined decades of transition in urban America.

Suarez holds a BA in African History, from New York University and an MA in the Social Sciences, from University of Chicago.

Wendi C. Thomas

Wendi C. Thomas is an award-winning independent journalist based in Memphis, Tennessee. Her work focuses on economic and racial justice. Thomas writes for The Christian Science Monitor, The Undefeated and is a senior writing fellow with the Center for Community Change.

Thomas was a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Thomas has also taught at the University of Memphis and at Harvard University’s Extension School, where she was invited to develop the school’s first journalism course about race and class.

From 2003 to 2014, Thomas was a metro columnist and assistant managing editor at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. She was the first black woman to write opinion for the then 162-year-old newspaper.

Previously she was an editor at The Charlotte Observer, an editor and reporter at The (Nashville) Tennessean and a reporter at The Indianapolis Star. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Butler University in 1993.

Her many awards include her 2008 induction into the Scripps Hall of Fame for local commentary and second place in column writing in the 2012 National Headliner contest. She was also chosen as one of 12 fellows in ProPublica’s first Data Journalism Institute in 2016.

Pam Kelley

Pam Kelley worked as a reporter at the Charlotte Observer for more than thirty years, where she won awards from the National Press Club, National Education Writers Association and the Society for Features Journalism.

She’s now writing a narrative nonfiction book, tentatively titled Money Rock: A Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South, under contract with The New Press. The book explores Charlotte’s legacy of racism through the story of one cocaine dealer and his family.

Stephen A. Goldsmith

Stephen Goldsmith is currently Director of the Center for the Living City, as well as an Associate Professor in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. He also serves as the Director of the Capstone Program for the Office of Undergraduate Studies and serves as the co-director of the university's Consortium for Dark Sky Studies.

As the former Planning Director for Salt Lake City, Stephen was the first artist/planning director appointed in a major city in the U.S. During his tenure, which included preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, he completed projects including an award-winning guide titled, Towards a Walkable Downtown: urban design strategies to improve the pedestrian environment in Downtown Salt Lake City; a project to develop high-performance, green building policies for the city; development of the city’s first Transit Oriented Zoning districts, and a “Walkable Communities” ordinance. During the 2002 Olympics he produced an international symposium and exhibition titled, “The Physical Fitness of Cities: Vision and Ethics in City Building.”

Stephen was also the founding director of Artspace, a community development corporation creating affordable housing and workspace for artists and others in Salt Lake City. He is an accomplished sculptor whose water features and environmental installations can be seen in public spaces throughout Salt Lake City.

and a conversation with...

Matthew Desmond

Matthew Desmond is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Princeton. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow.

He is the author of four books, including Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016), which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Carnegie Medal, and PEN / John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, Desmond’s research focuses on poverty in America, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, racial inequality, and ethnography.

He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. A Contributing Writer for the New York Times Magazine, Desmond was listed in 2016 among the Politico 50, as one of “fifty people across the country who are most influencing the national political debate.”

Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

partners & Support


A special thanks to the Ford Foundation for supporting Telling Vital Stories: A City Journalism Workshop and to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for providing support for the public events.