Announcing the 2024 FOIAfest Boot Camp Cohort

The Chicago Headline Club, the largest SPJ chapter, is proud to announce its 2023 FOIAfest Boot Camp cohort.

The FOIAfest Boot Camp is a training program for Chicago-based reporters from marginalized communities to help them navigate accountability journalism — from story-idea to publishing.

The journalists will receive specialized training sessions from seasoned reporters and mentoring from The Investigative Project on Race and Equity. The program also includes a stipend and a free ticket to FOIAfest, the Headline Club’s annual conference to train journalists and members of the public to access public records through the Freedom of Information Act. 

This year’s cohort is being led by senior investigative reporters Maria Inés Zamudio and Alejandra Cancino, who launched the program in 2021 hoping it would inspire newsrooms to create mentoring opportunities to support and retain journalists of color in the industry.

Funding for FOIAFest and the Boot Camp comes from the MacArthur Foundation and Driehaus Foundation. 

Meet the cohort

Jessica Alvarado Gamez is an investigative Roy W. Howard Fellow on WBEZ’s data team. Previously, she earned her master’s degree in investigative journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She was a reporter for the school’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, covering housing barriers in Arizona and national policing practices. She also reported on police reform for the Carnegie-Knight News21 Program as a Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow, specializing in documentary production and photography. Her work has been featured by The Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Univision Arizona and Arizona PBS.

Liuan Huska is a freelance journalist and writer at the intersection of ecology, embodiment, and spirituality. She is the author of Hurting Yet Whole: Reconciling Body and Spirit in Chronic Pain and Illness, a book weaving memoir, theology, and sociocultural critique. Liuan’s reporting and essays have appeared in many places, including Chicago’s WBEZ, Borderless, Grist, Christianity Today, The Christian Century, and NPR’s Here and Now. She is a regular columnist for Sojourners magazine.

Michael Liptrot’s career in journalism began as an intern at Birmingham’s WBHM. He later became a multimedia journalist with Birmingham Board of Education before joining Chicago Public Media. As a fellow and data reporter, Michael was published across WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times. Notably, his role in “Profiled: The State of Traffic Stops in Illinois,” a collaborative series with the Investigative Project on Race & Equity. That work piqued his interest in FOIA and public records. Michael is a staff writer for both the Hyde Park Herald and South Side Weekly. He previously was in the Chicago Reader’s Racial Justice Writer’s Cohort.

Reema Saleh is a writer, researcher, and multimedia producer based in Chicago. Her fellowships with the City Bureau and the Chicago Reader sparked her passion for mission-driven, community-engaged journalism. She covers politics, culture, and social justice issues for nonprofit newsrooms throughout the city and currently works as a podcast producer for Change Agents. She previously led the Root of Conflict podcast at the Pearson Institute, exploring global conflict and the people, societies, and policy issues it affects. Last year, she graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s in public policy, melding together research and storytelling for social impact.

Tatiana Walk-Morris is a Detroit-born, Chicago-based journalist who primarily covers business and technology. Her work has appeared in publications like the Chicago Reader, Crain’s Chicago Business, Planet Detroit and Vox. 


Duaa Eldeib is an investigative reporter at ProPublica. She has examined failures that have led to a stillbirth crisis in the U.S., the fatal consequences of delaying care during the pandemic and the plight of hundreds of children trapped in psychiatric hospitals. Her work has sparked legislative hearings, governmental reforms and has led to the release of young men incarcerated as juveniles and the exoneration of a mother who was convicted of murdering her son. Her series on stillbirths was a finalist for the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting. Before joining ProPublica, she worked at the Chicago Tribune, where she and two colleagues were finalists for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from the University of Missouri with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and psychology and received her master’s in public policy from Northwestern University.

Lakeidra Chavis is a reporter with The Marshall Project. She has written on wide-ranging topics including the rise in Black suicides during the pandemic, gang dynamics, the opioid crisis, and victim compensation. Lakeidra previously reported at The Trace, ProPublica Illinois and NPR stations in Chicago and Alaska. Lakeidra is a 2021 Livingston Award finalist and lives in Chicago, Illinois. 

Matt Kiefer is WBEZ’s news applications editor, breaking down large and complex datasets into stories that matter to Chicagoans. Prior to joining WBEZ, Matt worked on an R&D team at the Washington Post, where he developed and supported products to automate public records requests and analyze large document collections for investigative projects. He was a 2020 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, where he prototyped tools for monitoring civil and human rights. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he started a collaborative research project to collect medical examiner records around the United States to support local newsrooms measuring the virus’s impacts on their communities. Previously, he was the data editor at the Chicago Reporter, a small nonprofit newsroom that investigates issues of race and income inequality. He is the creator of FOIAmail, an open-source software project that enables news organizations to distribute, manage and process large-scale public records request campaigns.

Kimbriel Kelly is the assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief at the Los Angeles Times, where she oversees coverage of politics and policy in Washington, D.C. Kelly led the bureau’s coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, the 2020 Trump election challenge and, in her first year as bureau chief, launched three successful series, the “United States of California,” “Covering Kamala Harris” and “Extreme Heat.” She was the first person of color to lead the bureau since it started operating in Washington in the 1940s, and only the second woman to hold that post for The Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Kelly was an investigative reporter at the Washington Post, where she was part of the team that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for the series “Fatal Force,” uncovering the FBI’s undercounting of fatal officer-involved shootings. Before moving to Washington, Kelly was a reporter, editor and publisher in metropolitan Chicago for almost 15 years at the Daily Herald and the Chicago Reporter, where her investigation into Countrywide Financial’s subprime mortgage lending led to the nation’s largest fair-lending settlement.