Here are the bios for our terrific group of 12 Howard Center for Investigative Journalism Fellows. Our existing fellows — Trisha Ahmed, Nick McMillan, Allison Mollenkamp and Kara Newhouse — will be joined by Marianeli De Leon, Emmett Gartner, Destiny Herbers, Victoria Ifatusin, Rachel Logan, Tatyana Monnay, Eve Sampson and Aadit Tambe.
Though Trisha Ahmed grew up in Alpharetta, Georgia, the first place she proudly called “home” was Baltimore. That’s where she went to college and became a field interviewer in the poverty and inequality research space. In Baltimore, she completed her Sociology and Social Policy degree at Johns Hopkins University in 2018. After graduating, Ahmed completed a research fellowship with Stanford University in San Bernardino, California, and dove into journalism for the first time through volunteering at the local NPR station. Soon after, she moved to Calcutta, India, to learn about her Bengali heritage, but also to complete an internship at The Telegraph India. Then, she moved back to Georgia to work at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters as an intern, then as an assistant producer for a year.
Investigative reporting fascinates Ahmed, because it allows journalists to merge the worlds of research, policy and personal stories for consumption by a mainstream audience. Ultimately, she hopes to use investigative journalism to push the conversation further about wealth inequality in the U.S., and to catalyze change (in attitudes and policy) toward a more equitable society.
Marianeli De Leon
Marianeli De Leon is a first-generation Guatemalan American raised in Kensington, Maryland. After tragedy stuck her family in 2009, De Leon swore to seek justice and to assist underprivileged communities in any way she can.
She started her journalism career when she became a staff writer for one of Montgomery College's news outlets, The Advocate. She obtained her Associate of Arts in Communication Studies in 2019. She transferred to The Universities at Shady Grove as part of the University of Maryland's communication program, and become a blogger for the student blog, Around the Grove. She soon obtained her bachelor's degree in Communication.
De Leon hopes she can use investigative journalism to spread awareness of various topics the general public might not be knowledgable about. She aims to improve her journalistic skills while working with the Howard Center so she may continue on the path of investigative journalism once she graduates. She can't wait to see what she can accomplish at Merrill and the Howard Center.
Emmett Gartner is an environmental reporter from Annapolis, Maryland, who graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont in 2020. As an undergraduate, he wrote and edited for the university’s environmental publication, Headwaters Magazine, and wrote for weekly newspapers across Vermont.
Gartner's experiences outside of journalism have brought him even closer to the stories he covers. In the summers of 2018 and 2020, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest and witnessed firsthand the impacts of climate change and wildfire on the country’s western landscape. Similarly, in the summer of 2019, he interned for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and helped expand climate-change curriculum for Maryland public-school teachers through lessons in environmental storytelling.
Gartner looks forward to sharpening his investigative reporting skills at the University of Maryland and hopes his work at the Howard Center tackles these complex environmental issues in a way that is engaging and useful for those most impacted by them.
Destiny Herbers is a first-year graduate student from Roscommon, Michigan. She graduated from Alma College in the spring of 2021 with a B.A. in Communication with emphasis in Political Science. During her time at Alma, Herbers focused on international policy issues relating to climate change and public health, and completed teaching internships in Sierra Leone and India. During her travels, she was moved by the incredible untold stories she found and came to care deeply about giving a voice to the voiceless.
She plans to pursue investigative journalism as a way to combine her passions for politics and storytelling to bring to light issues of social justice and hold accountable those in positions of power to work toward a more just society.
Victoria Ifatusin comes from Staten Island, the forgotten borough of New York City, but has an interest in journalism that originates from her four-year stay in Nigeria. After witnessing the corruption of government, politics and political enforcement such as police, and seeing the impact it had on Nigeria's citizens, Ifatusin had an undying desire to uncover their acts and tell untold stories. Since then, she decided she was going to become an investigative reporter.
After coming back from Nigeria in 2015 and completing her last year of high school, Ifatusin began learning about journalism at the CUNY College of Staten Island. Four years later, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communications: Journalism, and had the opportunity to intern at the Staten Island Advance, The Brooklyn Reader, SiriusXM and more. Today, Ifatusin works as a breaking-news freelancer for the Staten Island Advance, and hopes to become an investigative reporter who focuses on uncovering and explaining corruption in social systems. In her free time, she enjoys meeting various people, learning about new things and places, and skateboarding.
Rachel Logan is passionate about telling people's stories, but for years, her time was split with code. She earned a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown while writing continuously for the student paper, The Advocate. For the last two years, she also worked for the Daily American, a daily newspaper in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and Our Town Johnstown, covering local affairs and paying her rent. She wrote about collegiate mishandling of a mold outbreak and school buses losing children, brewery owners who won a national recipe contest and churches coming together for a new summer fair. When she graduated, however, she put writing English aside for a year in favor of writing Python and C# for a small company's pharmaceutical pill-counting machine -- but quickly decided she wanted to go back to reporting.
Logan is going into her second year of graduate school, and is loving taking her local government reporting one step further for statewide enterprise stories, using code to distill vast tables of statistics into hard-hitting data sentences, and crafting beautiful and functional websites. Journalism is wonderful way to get involved in new communities, and reporters are vital in encouraging residents to participate in political discussions that they have the power to act on. When she graduates, she hopes to return to Pennsylvania to cover more statewide trends and to keep the public eye on its representatives.
Nick McMillan is from Vancouver, Washington (right across the river from Portland, Oregon). He graduated from Rice University with a degree in statistics. After college, he spent the year as a Scripps Howard investigative video fellow in the Washington, D.C., bureau. During his fellowship, he had the life-changing opportunity to work on a wide range of stories, from helping uncover white supremacists in the U.S. armed forces to documenting the lasting impact of an earthquake on Puerto Rican school children.
McMillan found that investigative reporting was the perfect way to put his videography, statistics and motion-graphic design skills to use while telling stories that need to be heard. He can’t wait to continue developing as a storyteller, reporter and videographer while attending the University of Maryland as a Howard Fellow.
Allison Mollenkamp is a radio reporter and multimedia journalist from Jefferson City, Missouri. She worked extensively to cover COVID-19 and the 2019 floods for Nebraska Public Media, the NPR member station in Lincoln. This included breaking news coverage as well as long-term reporting on disaster recovery in the state. Mollenkamp also reports on crime trends and Nebraska arts. In the future, she hopes to focus on investigative journalism in order to hold those in power accountable and answer important questions the public may not have the time and resources to pursue.
Mollenkamp graduated in 2018 from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in English. She spent much of her time at the university as an intern for Alabama Public Radio, where she covered a wide variety of topics, including the status of coal mining in Alabama and the state’s continued celebration of Confederate holidays. She has previously worked for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and for KDLG, a small public radio station in Dillingham, Alaska. In her free time, Mollenkamp is an avid community theatre performer and sitcom fan.
Born and raised in South Florida, Tatyana Monnay was always fascinated by the world of journalism. As the daughter of a journalist, Monnay grew up in the newsroom. Since then, she’s been building hard skills in research, audience engagement, and multimedia producing and editing. Monnay pursued a bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Multimedia Investigative Reporting at the Missouri School of Journalism.
In the newsroom, Monnay explores her passion for multimedia storytelling and expanding the reach of stories through innovative audience-engagement strategies. Coming from a family of Haitian immigrants, Monnay understands the fundamental importance of a free press and holding people and institutions accountable. When she’s not looking for trends in data and her eyes aren't blurry from doomscrolling on Twitter, Monnay likes to take time to disconnect and deepen her yoga practice.
Driven by a desire to make a positive impact, Kara Newhouse has committed her career to telling untold stories. After earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from American University, she entered into journalism by reporting on civil resistance in Latin America and the Middle East. When she returned home to Pennsylvania, Newhouse was part of a two-person reporting team that uncovered financial mismanagement and persistent Sunshine Act violations in Lancaster County’s wealthiest school district. During the year-long investigation, Newhouse made extensive use of the state open records law to hold public officials accountable. Her team’s work prompted hundreds of taxpayers to attend public meetings and demand changes to school district operations. It also led to a more transparent superintendent search and the restoration of elementary art and music classes.
Newhouse has received numerous journalism awards, including Pennsylvania’s most prestigious newspaper honor, the G. Richard Dew Award for Journalistic Service. In addition to digging for the truth as a reporter, she is committed to using digital media to lift up underrepresented voices. As a board member for a rural arts council, Newhouse conceptualized and produced two public art projects in which adults with mental illness shared their recovery stories. At LNP Media Group, she created a two-season podcast featuring women in STEM careers. When not immersed in reporting, Newhouse writes children’s books about women in sports. She is currently covering the impact of COVID-19 on students and teachers nationwide for KQED MindShift.
Eve Sampson is a first-year graduate student and new Howard Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the United States Military Academy at West Point before commissioning in the U.S. Army as an Engineer Officer. After a deployment to Syria and Kuwait, she was inspired to pursue journalism as a way to share the incredible stories she heard and the events she witnessed.
Sampson is committed to the pursuit of investigative journalism as a means to illuminate inequalities, injustices and conflict worldwide. She is excited to develop her skills as a journalist and learn from her teachers and peers at the University of Maryland.
Originally from Mumbai, India, Aadit Tambe is a second-year master’s student at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, specializing in data and computational journalism. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 2020, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, along with a German minor.
Tambe has committed his journalistic career to explaining the news visually, through data analysis and interactive graphics. He enjoys crunching complex data sets to develop story ideas. Most recently, Tambe worked on the data and graphics team at NBC News as an intern. At the University of Iowa, he served as the managing digital editor of the university’s award-winning, student-run newspaper, The Daily Iowan. Ahead of the 2020 Iowa caucuses, he created an interactive tracker to plot presidential candidate visits in the state. The project earned him an honorable mention at the Associated Collegiate Press Awards for Best Multimedia Story of the Year: Interactive Graphic. His goal is to pair investigative journalism with his background in coding to tell data-heavy stories in innovative and visual ways.