I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead the Chicago Headline Club during its 100th anniversary year.
Journalists are truthseekers, the last bastion of free speech upholding the basic fundamental values of a democratic society, tasked with keeping elected public officials in check and holding governments accountable. We shine a light on the darkness of ignorance, injustice, and corruption.
As journalists and media companies increasingly come under attack, I feel we are stronger together. And being part of an organization whose sole purpose is protecting the public’s right to know, upholding high ethical standards and enriching members’ skills through valuable training, provides a vital support system that can help weather whatever challenges lie ahead for the industry.
In recent months under the leadership of my predecessor Robert K. Elder, the CHC board has shown its dedication to supporting journalists during these difficult times.
We’ve granted up to $500 in stipends totaling roughly $50,000 to struggling journalists affected by job loss and reduced wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic providing them with the resources to continue working. We’ve compiled job and career resources for seasoned and graduating journalists to help them navigate the evolving job market. And we’ve continued to offer free virtual programming during the lockdown addressing the challenges our members are facing with reporting the news under the constraints of a pandemic. Our mission has not wavered despite the challenges of this era.
Among the goals for my tenure are:
1) Helping Chicago area newsrooms improve coverage of communities of color and hire more minorities;
2) Promoting partnerships with higher education journalism programs to develop a new generation of reporters, photographers, and editors;
3) And increasing membership.
A bit about me: I’m the Diversity Editor and education writer for the Daily Herald. I cover suburban K-12 school districts, including Elgin Area School District U-46, community colleges, and universities. I have covered stories on a variety of issues and topics, including human interest, local government, health, politics, religion, and diversity. I joined the Daily Herald in 2000 and cover communities in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties. I also am a mobile-journalist occasionally producing multimedia projects, including my own photos and videos.
I chair the Daily Herald’s Editorial Diversity Committee whose goals are: to more deeply reflect the cultural, ethnic, racial, gender and demographic diversity of our suburbs; to offer broader perspectives of minority communities and of peoples’ lives and experiences to help foster understanding, combat hate, and negative stereotypes; and to be inclusive of different voices for more nuanced storytelling.
I have done extensive work covering issues facing the Muslim, Arab, Latino and Hindu communities in the suburbs.
I am a frequent guest on ABC 7 Chicago News, and have given several radio interviews about my exclusive news reports. I’ve also been nominated and won several Peter Lisagor Awards and other journalism accolades from various press associations.
Before joining the Daily Herald, I worked at The Edmond Sun, a small daily newspaper covering Edmond, Oklahoma. There I worked as a writer, copy editor and paginator, designing and laying out the front and inside sections of the paper every day. I interned at the Daily Oklahoman and The Edmond Sun after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1998 with a bachelor of arts degree in newspaper journalism.
I speak four languages: English, Hindi, Urdu and Tamil, and am currently learning Arabic. I grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where my interest in journalism first sparked after watching 24/7 CNN coverage of the Persian Gulf War. A first-generation immigrant to the U.S., I live on Chicago’s Northwest side.