Prison Journalism Project establishes a 10-member board of advisers

March 08, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A group of 10 people — exceptional leaders in journalism, academia and criminal justice — was announced as the newly established board of advisers for the Prison Journalism project, housed in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.

Bill Keller, the founding editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project, will serve as the group’s chairperson. The board will help support and shape the Prison Journalism Project’s future work.

The genesis of the Prison Journalism Project is based on a simple question: How can we unleash the enormous power of journalism to elevate the voices so often left out of the public conversation about justice and imprisonment in our society — the incarcerated and those in communities affected by incarceration?

Since the Prison Journalism Project was launched in early 2020, it has published over 450 stories by more than 200 writers across 28 states and Canada.

““The Prison Journalism Project is built around the goal of providing increased access as well as more collaborative and educational opportunities to incarcerated men and women around the country,” said Shaheen Pasha, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State and a co-founder and co-executive director of the Prison Journalism Project. “We are so fortunate to have attracted an amazing group of dedicated advisers whose professional and personal experiences will be invaluable to us in achieving this goal on a national level.”

Members of the board are:

Bill Keller, chairman 

Bill Keller is the founding editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project and was the executive editor of The New York Times from 2003 to 2011. During his 30 years at the Times, he covered the end of white rule in South Africa as well as the collapse of Communist rule and the breakup of the Soviet Union, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989. He has also been a senior writer for The New York Times Magazine and an op-ed columnist. Keller is a graduate of Pomona College and the author of “Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela,” published in January, 2008, by Kingfisher. 

asha bandele

asha bandele is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author of six books, including the widely acclaimed memoir, "The Prisoner’s Wife," and the novel, "Daughter." Her most recent work was the 2018 collaboration with Black Lives Matter co-founder, Patrisse Khan Cullors, who shared her story of challenge and triumph with asha in "When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir." In the early part of her career, she served on on the senior editorial team of Essence, reporting to and training under their legendary chief editor, Susan L. Taylor. A long-standing advocate for racial justice and prison abolition, bandele is the director of strategic initiatives for Galaxy Gives, Mike and Sukey Novogratz's family foundation. She lives, works and most importantly, parents an incredible daughter, Nisa, in Brooklyn, New York.

Lawrence Bartley

Lawrence Bartley is the founder and director of “News Inside,” the print publication of The Marshall Project which is distributed in hundreds of prisons and jails throughout the United States. News Inside is the recipient of the 2020 Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media. Lawrence was a member of the teams behind “The Zo,” winner of the 2020 Online Journalism Award for “Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling” and “What Do We Really Know About the Politics of People Behind Bars?” which was an honorable mention recipient for the 2020 Phillip Meyers Awards. He is also an accomplished public speaker and has provided multimedia content for CNN, PBS, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and more.

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and creator of the groundbreaking 1619 Project, which examines slavery's modern legacy and reframes the way society understands this history and the contributions of Black Americans to the nation. She also extensively covered resegregation of American schools, which garnered her the National Magazine Award, a Peabody and a Polk Award. She is the co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization dedicated to increasing the ranks of investigative reporters of color. Hannah-Jones earned her bachelor's degree in history and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame and her master's in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Marie Hardin

Marie Hardin is the dean of Penn State's Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, one of the largest accredited mass communications programs in the country. Hardin served as president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals, in 2018-19. She also chairs the committee for the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She joined Penn State’s faculty in 2003 after teaching at Florida Southern College and the State University of West Georgia, respectively. She has won university-wide teaching and advising awards at every institution. She earned her doctoral degree in 1998 from the University of Georgia and previously worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, and a freelance magazine writer.

John J. Lennon

John J. Lennon is a contributing editor for Esquire and a contributing writer for The Marshall Project. He is currently incarcerated in Sullivan Correctional Facility. As a prison journalist, he has been published in The Atlantic, Esquire, New York Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Men’s Health, The Washington Post Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. In 2019, Lennon was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in feature writing for his Esquire feature “This Place Is Crazy;” this same essay was later anthologized in the 2019’s Best American Magazine Writing. He was also a finalist for the Molly National Journalism Prize for “Spying on Attica” and “A Turbulent Mind,” which The Marshall Project published in collaboration with Vice and New York Magazine, respectively. In 2020, his story “The Apology Letter” appeared in The Washington Post Magazine’s special prison issue, which won a National Magazine Award for single topic publication.

Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins is an investigative journalist in residence at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York. He was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his series on violence in New York prisons, produced in collaboration with The Marshall Project and The New York Times. The series also garnered the 2016 Hillman Prize for Newspaper Journalism. Robbins has been a columnist and staff writer at the Village Voice, the New York Daily News, and The New York Observer. He was also a Revson Fellow for the City of New York in 1985 and was the Jack Newfield Visiting Professor at Hunter College, where he taught investigative journalism, in 2007.

Sam Robinson

Sam Robinson is the public information officer at San Quentin State Prison, the busiest prison in California. He handles media inquiries from around the world and oversees the prison’s media center, including the award-winning Ear Hustle podcast, where he is also an on-air collaborator, and San Quentin News newspaper, which is the nation’s only entirely prisoner-run newspaper. He is active in the California Correctional Supervisors Association, where he currently serves as state secretary.

Aly Tamboura

Aly Tamboura is a manager in the Criminal Justice Reform program at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. He joined the organization in 2017, after working as a software engineer. Having spent over a decade of his life incarcerated, much of Tamboura's work focuses on partnering with a rapidly growing national coalition of formerly incarcerated leaders, who are expanding and accelerating the reform movement. Tamboura supports their efforts to build national and state-based coalitions that are challenging the laws that contribute to mass incarceration, helping pass critical legislation, and giving those who are closest to the problems a voice in reimagining a better justice system that helps people and keeps communities safe.

Charles Whitaker

Charles Whitaker is dean and professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Before joining the Medill faculty, he was a senior editor at Ebony magazine, where he covered a wide range of cultural, social and political issues and events, including two U.S. presidential campaigns and the installation of the first black members of the British Parliament. Whitaker is the co-author of "Magazine Writing," a textbook that examines the magazine industry and deconstructs the art of feature writing for consumer and business-to-business publications. He also is the author of four statistical analyses of the hiring of women and minorities in the magazine industry and has served as an adviser on diversity issues for the Magazine Publishers of America. Whitaker has served as a judge for the National Magazine Awards and the International Regional Magazine Awards Association. He currently serves on the board of directors for both the American Society of Magazine Editors and the Center for Public Integrity.

Last Updated March 11, 2021