COVID-19 and Updates from Wallace House


Due to the current public health emergency and in accordance with national, state and University of Michigan directives, all Wallace House Presents events have been canceled for the remainder of the semester and regular fellowship activities have been suspended.

Our staff is working remotely and remains available to our fellows, applicants, alumni and partners as we adapt our programs to address critical concerns on public health and safety.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our programs.

Build Confidence and Skills with a Knight-Wallace Fellowship

Jennifer Guerra, Knight-Wallace alum, won a
Peabody Award for Michigan Radio’s podcast, “Believed.”

I wrapped up my Knight-Wallace Fellowship in April 2018. Thirteen months later I was at Cipriani’s in New York City, sharing the red carpet with Billy Porter and the cast of “The Good Place.” I was there with my colleagues from Michigan Radio, accepting a Peabody Award for “Believed,” our podcast about the women who brought down serial sexual predator Larry Nassar. I was the project’s executive producer and head of a newly launched podcasting unit – two roles that seemed out of reach before the fellowship.

“Believed” is the first nationally-produced podcast by Michigan Radio, an NPR affiliate that covers news across the state. It is one of the most in-depth, significant projects that we’ve ever taken on as a newsroom and a station and it became the first podcast produced by a member station to be distributed by NPR. The series topped the Apple Podcast chart one week after its debut and remained in the top 30 throughout the next eight weeks. In addition, being recognized with a Peabody Award, my colleagues Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells received the Livingston Award for the podcast series. None of these honors mean as much to us as the many letters and emails we received from survivors who said they were moved by our story. They’re the reason why we did the podcast: to help people understand how Nassar was able to abuse so many girls and women for so long, and how you could have missed it, too.

The podcast was a remarkable team effort: reporters, editors, producers, fact-checkers, lawyers. You can hear each of their names in the credits, along with a list of thank yous to folks who helped out on individual episodes.

The Knight-Wallace Fellowship wasn’t mentioned in the credits, but it may as well have been. For me, the fellowship gave me the confidence and skills to advocate for myself as executive producer of this major new project. And it gave me time.

Time away from deadlines. Time to focus on craft. Time to envision the next phase of my career.

The Fellowship intentionally, methodically pushes reporters out of their comfort zones. For some, that means taking courses in rocket science or Russian literature. For others, it means taking a modern dance class and pushing past what it feels like to learn something new in a room with trained 20-year-olds who know what they are doing. The goal is to step beyond what we’re used to in the newsroom and, instead, to sit in that moment of tension and discomfort and let it affect you.

I don’t pretend to speak for everybody who’s gone through the fellowship, but I can wholeheartedly say that for me, having the opportunity to step away from the daily news grind for nine months was liberating, and career-changing.

A podcast bootcamp at Wallace House in
November 2017

When I got to the University of Michigan, I thought about stories in terms of how they fit into four-and-a-half-minute radio features because that’s what I knew how to do; it’s what got me in the fellowship in the first place. But during those nine months as a Knight-Wallace Fellow, I got to entertain the possibility of something bigger. I spent hours talking to students about campus climate and civil discourse and explored new (to me) books in an ethnographic writing class with Ruth Behar. Jeremy Levine’s class on nonprofit business strategies was particularly inspiring, and, with help from Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson, helped me hone my own plan for where I wanted to take my work. By the time I left the fellowship, I had developed a vision – and an editorial and business pitch – for how to create a podcast unit within Michigan Radio.

I took that pitch back to Michigan Radio and immediately started work on “Believed” as the executive producer. As an executive producer, I was responsible for the overall production and execution of the nine-episode podcast. Since “Believed,” I’ve been working on podcasts full time. I’m now in charge of our nascent podcast unit and am currently developing limited-run and serialized shows for the station. We just released a five-part series about identity called “Same Same Different,” featuring one of my incredibly talented fellow Fellows, Regina H. Boone. My team and I are hard at work on a narrative podcast that will drop around the 2020 election. Stay tuned!

All this is to say: Apply! I don’t know how many times in your life you’ll have the opportunity to talk anytime you want to with some of the smartest people on the planet, to spend time with journalists from all over the world, to take a minute to wonder about what stories the world really needs to hear, see and read right now… and to develop the methods and frameworks to tell them.

The Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists at the University of Michigan are accepting applications from U.S. applicants for the 2020-21 academic year. We’re looking for accomplished journalists eager for growth and deeply committed to the future of journalism. The deadline to apply is February 1, 2020.

Learn more about the Knight-Wallace Fellowship »

Jennifer Guerra was a 2017-18 Knight-Wallace Fellow and is Executive Producer of Special Projects at Michigan Radio, an NPR affiliate in Ann Arbor. 

Q & A with Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson and Hovey Speaker McKenzie Funk

McKenzie Funk’s seven-year old son, Wilson,
carefully inspected the Hovey Bowl presented
by Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson.

McKenzie Funk came to the Knight-Wallace Fellowship in the fall of 2011 to study the paradigm of endless economic growth and to unpack years of reporting on how governments and corporations were profiting from global warming. His 2014 book, “Windfall,” won a PEN Literary Award and was named a best book of the year by several publications. He returned to Wallace House in September to give the 34th annual Graham Hovey Lecture, and he sat down with Lynette Clemetson before the event to discuss writing on and living with the topic of climate change.


Clemetson: Discussions of climate change are most often presented through science or politics, or the clash between the two. What made you want to explore it through financial gain?

Funk: I wasn’t a climate change person. I grew up being interested in environmental issues because of my parents and where I grew up in Oregon. But precisely for the reasons you describe – that it’s a political fight or a scientific question – as a narrative writer, I had shied away from it.

Clemetson: And what changed that?

Funk: It was 2006, and I was living in New York trying to get my freelance career going. I got an email from the Environmental News Network, a short one or two line item about something called a sovereignty operation up in northern Canada, a group of Canadian Rangers there to defend the Northwest Passage. And I thought, “that’s really weird.” They mentioned a climate connection, and it just sounded very different from everything else I’d heard about people reacting to climate change. I called the PR people at the Canadian Forces to ask if I could go along on the next one. They were overjoyed because this was basically aimed at the United States. They wanted the world to know that the Canadian military was up there staking a claim to the melting North.

Clemetson: And what made you want to follow the thread and keep reporting?

Funk: In the background of all of this, “An Inconvenient Truth” had just come out. There was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report coming up the next year. There was the prospect of climate legislation coming up in the Senate. It was all sort of bubbling. My story from the Canadian Forces expedition was published in Harpers in August 2007. Around the same time, the Russian government sent two mini subs down to the bottom of the ocean at the North Pole and planted a Russian flag, and suddenly people were saying, “Wait a minute, what’s going on?

Clemetson: You approach the global crisis through three broad themes – melt, drought, deluge. And your themes are starkly organized around geography.

Funk: Yes, the north versus the global south, high latitudes versus middle latitudes. It’s obvious if you pull back and think about it. The northern countries are the ones that have been wealthiest. We not only have enough in our war chest, as it were, to survive some of these impacts, but we can, in some cases, benefit. And of course, we’re the biggest historic emitters of the carbon that’s causing this problem. That remains true even as we outsource our industrial production to China. We are the end users of much of that carbon.

Clemetson: In the weeks leading up to your talk, this topic seemed to be ever present. President Trump was angling to buy Greenland. The Bahamas was devastated by a hurricane. Do you see this issue everywhere now?

Funk: Once you see it, it’s everywhere. We just moved to Oregon, to a town called Ashland, which is at the very bottom of the state, near the border of California, not so far from Paradise, California. The town is famous for its Shakespeare Festival, which brings in tourists. The economy is basically built on how nice the town is. When we arrived, it had the worst air quality in the entire country because it was ringed with wildfires. It’s something that’s happened consistently summer after summer for the last several years. This part of southern Oregon is just burning, and the smoke permeates everything. My wife Jenny had to stay to attend school but the kids and I, we dumped our bags, our boxes and left immediately, because we were wearing smoke masks out on the street. It was like this apocalyptic new reality.

Clemetson: And how did you feel about leaving?

Funk: I was very aware that we had the privilege to be able to pack up, get in our car and drive somewhere. There were many families in the region that couldn’t get away and were just suffering through the smoke. Businesses were collapsing. It was actually the first time that it became real for my life. I started to think strategically about moving north, back to Seattle, back to a place where, if you look at the impacts, it will be safer.

Clemetson: Your book paints a picture in which the people who can afford to win will win. And people who can’t will lose.

Funk: Yeah. The gaps between rich and poor, between dark and light, between black, brown and white are set to grow unless we’re really careful about this. It’s a justice story essentially. The hope is that if we can more collectively recognize the systemic issues, the more we will take steps to adapt more fairly. A lot of the justice questions have to do with how we adapt and who we adapt for. We’ve done so little in terms of making cities more resilient and in terms of thinking about how we’re going to prepare for the storms or heatwaves or fires. There is still a lot of room to make our responses more equitable.

Clemetson: Some people come to the fellowship to pursue something new. You were already deeply involved in this reporting and in writing a book when you arrived. So how did you approach your time?

Funk: There was a Great Lakes Water Wars class that was outstanding, and Andy Hoffman’s class in the Business School on how corporations were confronting climate change. A lot of the section in the book about Shell Oil was informed by that class. But I also spent a lot of time in the fellowship on seemingly unproductive things. Jenny was pregnant. We spent time hiking in the Bird Hills Nature Area, canoeing on the Huron River. And I spent a lot of time chasing my dog.

Clemetson: Chasing your dog?

Funk: We lived in the house that Matt Power had lived in when he was a Fellow. It was donut shaped, with a central staircase. It was perfect for running in circles. And I would just chase the dog around and around, for a really long time, every day. It was great. It was one of the most important things, just having time to think. To think about what I had gathered and to put it all together.


Wallace House Presents McKenzie Funk on Climate Change

The 34th Graham Hovey Lecture

“Seeing Green: The Business and Inequity of Climate Change” with McKenzie Funk ’12

September 10, 2019 | 5 p.m.

Wallace House Gardens
620 Oxford Road, Ann Arbor

Welcome remarks by Mark S. Schlissel, President, University of Michigan

Watch the discussion here »

While the issue of climate change rises in importance to the U.S. electorate, players in energy, banking and business are cashing in on the environmental crisis. McKenzie Funk, 2012 Knight-Wallace Fellow, is the author of “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming.” Join him for a critical discussion of drought, rising seas, profiteering, and the hardest truth about climate change: It’s not equally bad for everyone.

Funk writes for Harper’s, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Outside, The New York Times Magazine and the London Review of Books. His 2014 book “Windfall” won a PEN Literary Award and was named a book of the year by The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Salon and A National Magazine Award and Livingston Award finalist, Funk won the Oakes Prize for Environmental Journalism for his reporting on the melting Arctic and has received fellowships at the Open Society Foundations and MacDowell Colony for his forthcoming work on data and privacy.

Funk studied philosophy and comparative literature at Swarthmore College and capitalism and the paradigm of endless growth as a 2012 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He speaks five languages and is a native of the Pacific Northwest, where he lives with his wife and sons.

The annual Graham Hovey Lecture recognizes a Knight-Wallace journalist whose career exemplifies the benefits of a fellowship at the University of Michigan and whose ensuing work is at the forefront of national conversation. The event is named for the late Graham Hovey, director of the fellowship program from 1980 to 1986 and a distinguished journalist for The New York Times.

Birgit Rieck, Pursuing Her Dream


by Lynette Clemetson ’10

After 19 years of working with journalists eager to define the next bold steps in their careers, Birgit Rieck, our beloved Associate Director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships, has decided to embark on a bold new journey for herself. She’s leaving Wallace House to reconnect with her life back in Germany and to pursue new possibilities for her abundant skills. Her last day with us will be Friday, August 23. 

It’s difficult to imagine Wallace House without Birgit. For hundreds of people who have walked through our doors, myself included, she has been an essential part of the Wallace House experience, a vital point of contact who made everything possible. Far beyond the planning of seminars, workshops and international travel, Birgit – with her infectious laugh and infallible German efficiency – created much of the warmth and welcome of the special atmosphere here. 

Her fingerprints and sensibility dot every facet of our Wallace House programs, from the aesthetic beauty of the Hovey Lecture in the back garden, to the renovation of the Wallace House library and creation of our editing suite, to the hands-on fellowship workshops on writing, editing and audio/visual storytelling. She has been a friend, mentor, travel companion and confidant to countless journalists who have entrusted us with a year of their lives. 

Birgit joined the Wallace House staff in 2000 to manage the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists and in 2004 changed positions to manage the Knight-Wallace Fellowships.

Before coming to Michigan, Birgit studied anthropology (Latin American studies) and English literature at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn. She was awarded a Master’s degree in cultural anthropology (African studies) and education from Johannes-Gutenberg-University in Mainz after completing fieldwork in Uganda and Rome. This fall, she will complete the Media Transformation Challenge, a one-year executive leadership program at Harvard’s Kennedy School. 

As the associate director of the program, she managed daily activities and herded unruly groups of fellows on outings from Flint to Istanbul. She enlivened our intellectual pursuits with pop-up tango lessons, wine tastings and horseback riding. She made the hard work and small details of the fellowship look effortless. She could be laughing at a Thursday night dinner, quietly slip away to arrange group flights for 25 (with multiple return dates!), then be back downstairs for a toast and dessert, without breaking a sweat.

Anyone who has been part of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship knows the transformative power of stepping back to evaluate your career, your dreams and your aspirations. In life there are sometimes moments of clarity when you know it is time for something new, even if you’re not quite certain yet what it is. It is part of our driving philosophy at Wallace House to honor those moments and to respond seriously to the possibilities they present. Those leaps take guts, belief and heart – all traits Birgit possesses in abundance.  Though we truly cannot fathom the place without her, we know that wonderful surprises await.

To state the obvious, Birgit is irreplaceable. We will not be filling her position any time soon. Instead I will use the next year to evaluate the best structure for Wallace House moving forward. We have a Knight-Wallace Reunion coming up in September 2020. Birgit has agreed to come back then, so we can have a spectacular party and aptly celebrate all she has meant to us. 

Lynette Clemetson is Director of Wallace House. She was a 2010 Knight-Wallace Fellow. You can reach her at or Follow her on Twitter @lclemetson

The Bells, Whistles (and Rockets!) of Fellowship Life

Sharilyn Hufford ‘19 was able to figure out
many ways to “let go” during her time as a
Knight-Wallace Fellow. In addition to the
U of M carillon, she also had the chance to
play on the largest carillon in Central and
South America on the class’ international
news trip to São Paulo.

A hand-lettered sign in a neighborhood coffee shop greeted
me with a bit of wisdom on my first morning in Ann Arbor: “Sometimes you just have to let go and see what happens.” If there ever was a time to let go, this was it. The academic year was about to start, and I had an ambitious study plan for the fellowship – creating high impact news products and best practices for workflow in product design. But I still hadn’t figured out how I would approach the challenge in the classroom.

I’d already combed through the 464 pages of the fall course catalog, searching for classes to teach me how other industries were using processes, systems and technology to transform their work. With so much to choose from, I wasn’t worried about filling a schedule. I knew I would find something that aligned with my study plan. After all I had a ‘short’ list of roughly 25 classes. (OK, I might have been trying too hard.)

The problem was my fear of not finding the right classes, of missing out on something or somehow not getting enough out of my precious time on campus. Could I follow the sign’s advice and just let go? It didn’t take long to find out.

At our very first orientation meeting, I spotted a poster on the way to tour Burton Memorial Tower: “Bells on the brain? Take Carillon 150. Play the U-M bell towers!”

The University of Michigan has two carillons out of only 600 in the world, one in the middle of Central Campus in Burton Tower and one in the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus. And heck yeah, I wanted to play them.

The other students – a mix of about 20 graduate and undergraduate students – weren’t just music majors. They were studying everything from engineering and public health to community action and social change. We all had some kind of music training or background before signing up for carillon.

All the years of piano lessons and band had set me up for this opportunity, but the carillon required learning new techniques, like coordinating hands and feet, and setting aside time to experiment with new sounds and strengthen new skills.

Once I started spending time in the carillon practice rooms, I realized I had forgotten what it was like to learn something new – to have a beginner’s mind. It was fun. It was humbling and frustrating at times. It was also unexpectedly restorative.

Taking that first leap into the carillon class gave me the courage to try several other seemingly risky classes. I joined a team of mechanical engineering and design science students in a class in which we had to take a physical product from idea to prototype to verification through a series of analytical design processes. It was a crash course in engineering analysis and creativity and also design, psychology, marketing and economics. I learned quantitative methods for idea generation and selection, evaluating designs and anticipating failure modes in designs. In the process of applying those models to my team’s project, I gained new frameworks for thinking about how to create stories and news products.

I took a course where I learned about electronic health records systems and public health records, and the issues surrounding deployment and development of health technology. I have a new appreciation for the planning that goes into software rollouts, launches and upgrades having heard from professionals who manage technology that provides critical care for human beings.

By the time winter semester started, I was ready for more challenges. Someone recommended a course that was an introduction to rocket science.

That’s right, rocket science! Rocket Science might seem like an unusual choice for a journalist, but its language permeates the way our technology –oriented culture describes product development and innovation work: moonshots, launches, missions. And it encapsulated everything that I aimed for as a Fellow – to stretch and reach for new discoveries. To understand more fully why journalism is the work I had devoted my career to, to embrace others who are on the same mission and lift them up, too.

Oh, yeah, and to have a little fun.

The time in practice rooms, in classes, and with other Fellows and my family helped me start letting go of old patterns and routines. Learning a new instrument – or new technology – or taking on a new role requires practicing, stretching into a new repertoire and strengthening new skills.

Now that our time together in Michigan has ended, I think I’ve found the secret equation to the fellowship. It isn’t really about any one class or the specifics of the study plan. It’s about escaping the atmospheric distortion of the day-to-day journalism grind so you can see in different ways and explore new possibilities with a little less gravity. I’m excited to keep exploring – to let go and see what happens.

Sharilyn Hufford ‘19 is Deputy Editor, Platforms, for The New York Times.

Welcome to Korea, My Home


On our second day in South Korea we toured Camp Humphreys, the newly constructed U.S. Army Garrison, 40 miles south of Seoul. The massive military encampment covers more than 3,000 acres and is very American, dotted with Subway sandwich shops and suburban looking homes.

Seungjin Choi (front row, third from left) was proud to be a tour guide for
his fellow Fellows. The class is pictured at BulguksaTemple in Gyeungju,
South Korea, an ancient relic of the Silla Dynasty and a Unesco World
Heritage site.

To balance out the day, I arranged for a very Korean dinner at a restaurant specializing in tofu. The restaurant had more tofu dishes than most Americans could imagine. The experience, simple for the average Korean, was exciting and a little overwhelming for our group. From the moment the first dish came out, I fielded many questions: “SJ, can you explain how you eat this food?” “What sauce should I use?” “Can I ask for a fork?” With a little explanation, everyone enjoyed the tofu delicacies, and I had a chance to enjoy my fellow Fellows discovering something new.

For three weeks before the trip, I was communicating with former Korean Fellows seeking advice on planning the itinerary. I was worried about making the right plans and choosing the right places to visit. There were disagreements, as I explained, “I don’t want to show my Fellows the negative aspects of Korea.” But one of the former Fellows corrected me. “They are all journalists. They can see everything, even the things we may want to hide.” He was right. It was not just a trip; it was a journalism trip. I needed to present Korean society as it is, not as I wished it to be.

Our trip coincided with a historical moment as President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un were meeting in Vietnam. The outcome would have significant political, economic and social implications for South Korea. In addition, the final day of our visit marked the 100th anniversary of the March 1st Movement, a national holiday commemorating Korea’s fight for independence from Japan. It was important to help my fellow journalists understand the political tension still playing out in Northeast Asia.

Certainly we should explore Korea’s economic rise, but we should also discuss corporate corruption and the negative impact of the Chaebol, the Korean term for powerful family-run conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai and LG. While it would be fun to explore K-Pop and the growing influence of the Korean entertainment industry, it was important to discuss issues like gender discrimination, Korea’s #MeToo Movement, and teen depression and suicide.

How could we accomplish it all in five days? In the end, we struck a balance. We saw the film “Mal-Mo-E” about efforts to save the Korean language during the Japanese occupation. We learned the complex, centuries old geopolitics of East Asia from Dr. Hahm Chaibong, president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. We examined the conflict between North and South Korea during a visit to the Joint Forces Naval Command complex.  And we were reminded of the familiar struggle to support independent journalism from two start-up media outlets, one of which has since announced its closure.

We also had fun. We peered down at the city from a dizzying observation deck near the top of the 123rd floor of the Lotte World Tower and stood with a crowd of screaming teenagers to watch
a live taping of a popular K-Pop TV show. We ate live octopus at Noryangjin Fish Market and relaxed at a Korean spa. We learned how to brew Makgeolli, traditional Korean rice wine, which will be ready to drink just in time for a visit from the class of 2020.

As the Fellows learned new things, I discovered new things while looking at my country through their experiences. I never paid attention to how tofu dishes are cooked because it is so familiar to me. Looking at Korean society while traveling with the Fellows, I realized stark generational differences between Koreans that I had never considered deeply before. I learned to look at Korea more objectively and this will certainly impact my work.

Traveling my country with the Knight-Wallace Fellows was an unforgettable experience. I still have many things that I am eager to show, and I hope that the program will return for years to come.

See you in Korea!

Seungjin Choi is a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellow and Reporter, Maeil Business Newspaper (Seoul, South Korea).


Dug Song Joins Wallace House Executive Board

Dug Song, vice president and general
manager of Duo Security, joins our
Executive Board.

Wallace House is pleased to announce the addition of Dug Song, vice president and general manager of Duo Security, to our Executive Board.

An innovator and leading voice in cybersecurity, Song founded the Ann Arbor based company, Duo Security, in 2010. Duo now protects the data and information of more than 14,000 organizations. Last year, Cisco bought the company for $2.35 billion, the largest acquisition ever for a Michigan-based software company.

“Digital security is a daily concern of reporters and news organizations seeking to protect their sources, stories, production and distribution.” said Wallace House Director, Lynette Clemetson. “Dug believes deeply in the essential role of journalism in a democratic society. And he is a visionary in the field of securing democracy by securing information. He will add valuable expertise to our Executive Board as we work to provide forward-thinking support to the journalists in our programs.”

Song has a history of building successful products and companies to solve pressing security problems. Prior to launching Duo, Song spent seven years as founding Chief Security Architect at Arbor Networks, protecting 80 percent of the world’s Internet service providers.

Song is the newest member of the Executive Board, which was formed in Fall 2018 to provide strategic support and guidance in developing new initiatives for the Knight-Wallace Fellowships, the Livingston Awards and the Wallace House Presents event series. Comprised of acclaimed journalists, innovators and accomplished University of Michigan faculty, the board will play an active role in leading Wallace House through a period of growth and expanded vision to support the careers of journalists and uphold the role of a free press in a functional democracy.

Song speaking to Knight-Wallace Fellows about
protecting journalists’ data, sources and news
content from digital manipulation.

In addition to Song, Wallace House Executive Board members are:

  • Daniel Alarcón, co-founder and executive producer, Radio Ambulante and author
  • Kainaz Amaria, visuals editor, Vox
  • Michael S. Barr, dean, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
  • Liz Barry, special counsel to the president, University of Michigan
  • Alex Blumberg, CEO and co-founder, Gimlet Media
  • Ferhat Boratav, lecturer, Bilgi University, Istanbul
  • Jim Burnstein, screenwriter and director of screenwriting, University of Michigan
  • Tabbye Chavous, director, National Center for Institutional Diversity and professor of education and psychology, University of Michigan
  • Anne Curzan, professor of English and Associate Dean for Humanities, University of Michigan
  • Louise Kiernan, editor-in-chief, ProPublica Illinois
  • Margaret Low, president, AtlanticLIVE and vice-president, The Atlantic
  • Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief, The Undefeated and senior vice-president, ESPN
  • Paul Resnick, professor and associate dean, School of Information, University of Michigan
  • Ann Silvio, correspondent, “60 Minutes Overtime” and managing editor, 60 Minutes online

Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House, chairs the board.

Read more on the Executive Board members and their bios.

Wallace House Associate Director Embarks on a Fellowship of Her Own

Birgit Rieck has been cultivating the
Knight-Wallace Fellowships for journalists
from both Ann Arbor and abroad for many
years. Now it’s her turn.

After more than 18 years of helping to create life-changing fellowship experiences for other people, it is high time that our Wallace House Associate Director, Birgit Rieck, gets to experience a fellowship of her own. Birgit has been accepted into the inaugural class of the Media Transformation Challenge, a one-year executive leadership program at Harvard’s Kennedy School, designed to help news leaders find creative, sustainable solutions to challenges facing the industry.

For the next year, Birgit will spend one week each quarter in Cambridge with a cohort of news executives working on a focused initiative to help Wallace House move in new directions. The timing for this unique development opportunity is ideal. Wallace House is in an exciting period of growth. Allowing Birgit the space to step away from the busy day-to-day of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships to develop new ideas that will benefit us for years to come.

Birgit’s focus during her fellowship year will be examining ways for Wallace House to provide targeted support to journalism initiatives in the Midwest.

“Over 63 million people live in the twelve Midwest states between North Dakota and Ohio but stories from the region seldom make headlines and most midwestern newsrooms continue to shrink or disappear completely. I’d like to find ways Wallace House can specifically support regional journalists and their work. At the same time, I want to explore ideas that would make national audiences more interested in reporting from the Midwest. I am grateful that Lynette supported my application and is giving me the time away to experience a fellowship myself!”

The Media Transformation Challenge, which starts in January 2019, is a new program of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy within the Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program. It is directed by Doug Smith, founder and former director of the Punch Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University School of Journalism, and Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center.

In the quarterly training sessions, Birgit will join her fellowship cohort for coaching and group problem solving, designed to help news leaders drive long-lasting change within their organizations. In the weeks between the group sessions she will spend time researching her study plan, working with her executive coach, and developing her project with the leadership team back at Wallace House.

Please join us in congratulating Birgit and cheering her on as she works to bring the same kind of energy and new ideas back to Wallace House that we send our own Fellows away with each year.

And don’t worry… we’ll make sure she wears plenty of Wallace House and Michigan gear while she’s walking around the campus of that other university. #GoBlue!

Wallace House Announces Executive Board

Wallace House Executive Board



Wallace House announces a newly formed Executive Board to provide strategic support for its existing programs and guidance in developing new initiatives. The group will advise the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists, the Livingston Awards and the Wallace House Presents event series. The 14-member board, comprised of acclaimed journalists and accomplished University of Michigan faculty, will play an active role in leading the organization through a period of growth and expanded vision to support the careers of journalists and uphold the role of a free press in a functional democracy.

“Among the many things that make Wallace House truly special is the caliber of experts who help us steer our programs,” said Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House. “This group of distinguished leaders brings expertise in both transforming long-standing institutions and creating vibrant, new organizations. I look forward to them pushing us toward new possibilities.”

Wallace House will continue to build on the success of its renowned flagship programs, the Knight-Wallace Fellowships and the Livingston Awards, with ambitious new directives, like Wallace House Presents, aimed at increasing public engagement with journalism. The cross-section of board members – all change-agents in their own work – will also help Wallace House think creatively about addressing industry challenges in the midst of continuing technological and social change, and cultivating financial support from individual and institutional donors to help the organization fulfill its mission.

The Executive Board is comprised of ten members newly introduced to the work of Wallace House and four members of the previous Knight-Wallace board, which advised the Knight-Wallace Fellowship for Journalists. The broader programmatic mandate of the new advisory body will enable Wallace House to think ambitiously about the full scope of its programs, reach and influence at a time when active support for the work of journalists is of vital importance.

Wallace House is pleased to welcome Executive Board members:

  • Daniel Alarcón, author, co-founder and executive producer, Radio Ambulante
  • Kainaz Amaria, visuals editor, Vox
  • Michael S. Barr, dean, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
  • Liz Barry, special counsel to the president, University of Michigan
  • Alex Blumberg, CEO and co-founder, Gimlet Media
  • Ferhat Boratav, CNN TÜRK and lecturer, Bilgi University, Istanbul
  • Jim Burnstein, screenwriter and director of screenwriting, University of Michigan
  • Tabbye Chavous, director, National Center for Institutional Diversity and professor of education and psychology, University of Michigan
  • Anne Curzan, professor of English and Associate Dean for Humanities, University of Michigan
  • Louise Kiernan, editor-in-chief, ProPublica Illinois
  • Margaret Low, president, AtlanticLIVE and vice-president, The Atlantic
  • Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief, The Undefeated
  • Paul Resnick, professor and associate dean, School of Information, University of Michigan
  • Ann Silvio, correspondent, “60 Minutes Overtime” and managing editor, 60 Minutes online

Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House, will chair the board.

Read more on the Executive Board members and their bios.