A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura
Nation Books, 2016
A Radical Faith tells the story of a US woman killed by the military government of El Salvador in 1980. It traces Maura Clarke's transformation from rule-bound and parochial young woman to outspoken and daring advocate in a popular movement for justice. Maura's life raises profound questions about the intersection of religious conviction and political action, solidarity and personality. Ariel Dorfman called it “meticulously researched” in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. The Daily Beast called it “excellent.” Jacobin gave it a glowing review. It has been adopted in several Latin American history, Women’s Studies and religious studies courses at U.S. universities.
Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Lehman College, City University of New York (Spring 2018, Fall 2018)
Teach journalism and media studies majors in courses on reporting, media ethics, the media industries, public relations and the role “ethnic” journalism plays in shaping understanding of US life, immigrant experience and ethnic or racial identity. Positive student and departmental reviews
College Now at Lehman College (2010, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Taught rising high school juniors and seniors in intensive college-credit classes of Lehman’s Summer Arts Academy. Students examined news media coverage, particularly around race and immigration, studied local government, dissected investigative reporting and debated the duties and power of a free press while they learned to be reporters investigating and writing their own news articles. Through first-hand reporting, open public records research and interviews, students became experts on a topic. They learned to structure an informative and engaging article from new information, use language efficiently and effectively, write with precision and proofread with care. Each summer the class produced a news magazine. Student pieces explored surveillance and policing, efforts to defuse gang violence, the struggles of unlicensed street vendors, the shortage of free ESL classes and efforts to increase high school graduation rates. In 2015 students reported on issues of health justice and access to nutrition. In 2016 they focused on gentrification and affordability in the Bronx. In 2017, city council races, in 2018 housing.
Long Island University (2012, 2013, 2014)
Students examined bias, absence and the limitations of accuracy in comparative reading of New York City newspapers, explored ethical conflicts and challenges in sourcing and the potential power of journalism as fourth estate. They learned best journalism practices, refined and improved their writing and gained an education in public policy and urban issues as they reported on neighborhoods from Downtown Brooklyn to Coney Island.
Hunter College (2012)
Neighborhood News/Hunts Point Express
Combining my knowledge of the Bronx and street-level journalism, students learned nuts-and-bolts reporting, refined their use of precise and clear language and studied the social history of the South Bronx as they covered Hunts Point for the community newspaper.
Independent journalist (2004–present)
Specializing in urban public policy and the role of faith in the public square, published in The New York Times, the New York Daily News, New York magazine, The Village Voice, Newsday, America, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter and elsewhere. In particular, my work has focused on the ways in which sometimes arcane government policy impacts life on the streets and sidewalks of the city and on the role religious communities play in building the just society. For New York magazine and The Village Voice I explored the effect of over-leveraged real estate on low income housing, tracking the financial stripping of the Riverton, a historic and storied development in Harlem. For The New Republic I examined the history and decline of progressive politics among Irish Americans. I’ve written about radical environmental encampments inspired by the Standing Rock protests and efforts at racial reconciliation between First Nations people in Canada and their abusers. My journalism is distinguished by deep, immersive interviews and robust research.
Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC (2005–2011)
As occasional producer on the Peabody Award-winning live public affairs discussion program, researched and prepared in-depth interviews with policy makers, authors and public figures, managed audio and website features, and contributed to shaping the public conversation about New York City, with a focus on bringing the city I know from my neighborhood in the Bronx onto the airwaves.
WNYC and wnyc.org (2010–2012)
Writer, producer and editor for the campaign-coverage site It’s a Free Country; also contributed audio-rich reported pieces on hunger, government services and voting access and participation.
City Limits, contributing editor, Housing and Homelessness (2007–2011)
Covered affordable housing, real estate and homelessness for New York City’s premier policy news source. In this dynamic and complex beat at the heart of City Limits’ mission, developed story ideas, maintained sources in and outside city and federal government, kept abreast of changes in law and developed expertise on banking and financial issues related to housing development and real estate. My work for City Limits on the limitations of the federal HAMP program and on the precarious financial position of multifamily rental buildings pre-dated major national publications by more than a year. An early story examined how New York State's method of counting prisoners as residents in the place where they are incarcerated dilutes voting power in New York City.
The Village Voice (2007–2009)
Covered homelessness and affordable housing, including the devastating impact of the subprime mortgage crisis on a working class community of color that had previously enjoyed one of the highest rates of home ownership in New York City.
The Wall Street Journal (2010–2013)
As a stringer, reported on deadline and with fierce competition; contributed to multiple stories on crime, including the kidnapping and murder of Leiby Kletzky.
Busted Halo (2006–2010)
Wrote articles about immigration detention, the new sanctuary movement, art and war.
National Catholic Reporter (2006–2009)
Reported on poverty, social movements and religion in public life, including a major piece on the future of American communities of religious sisters.
Paterson, N.J. Herald News (2000–2004)
As staff writer, covered the police and city hall beats including the FBI investigation that sent the mayor to prison in this post-industrial city of 150,000. Multiple stories on the impact of the war on drugs on heavily-policed neighborhoods, the effects of under-employment. Uncovered wage theft at an industrial laundry, spurring a US Department of Labor investigation and winning back pay for immigrant workers. A major investigative piece traced the path of a hand gun from the pawn shop where it was purchased in North Carolina to the shooting death of a 15-year-old at a Paterson football game.
University of Notre Dame, Cushwa Center for American Catholic Studies, LANACC
From Queens to El Salvador: The Cold War Transformation of “Church”, lecture with academic responses from Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Departments of American Studies and History, Todd Walatka, Department of Theology and Douglass Cassel, Law School, April 2017
Form and Content: The Art of Good Writing, panel presentation, The Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination conference, April 2017
City University of New York, Graduate School of Journalism
The Second Draft: From History to Narrative Nonfiction, Journalists on Reporting the Past, panel discussion, March 2017
Manhattan College, Dante Seminar
Journalism, History, Theology: The Interdisciplinary Approach to a Biography, Peace Week conversation, March 2017
Foremothers Against Tyranny, The Radical Faith of Maura Clarke, International Women’s Day lecture, March 2017
St. Peter’s College
The Radical Call of Maura Clarke, panel lecture, March 2017
Boston College, Center for Human Rights and International Justice
Choosing Solidarity in a Time of Tyranny, public lecture, February 2017
Finding Her Way to Justice: Maura Clarke, faculty and student lecture, February 2017
University of Mount Union, Peace Studies Forum
Sister Maura: Building Justice from the Personal to the Political, public lecture, February 2017
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, M.S. May 2000
Fordham University, B.A. Urban Studies May 1998
Awards & Honors
2009 Henry Frank Guggenheim grant for Criminal Justice Journalism, John Jay College, CUNY, for investigation of reforms in New York’s juvenile incarceration system.
2004 Finalist, Deadline Club of New York for Tracing a Killer, the story of a handgun’s journey from legal sale in North Carolina to the murder of a 15-year-old in Paterson, NJ.
What Happened to Irish America? - The New Republic, March 2018
How Standing Rock Became a Spiritual Pilgrimage for Activists - America, June 2017
Why Journalists Need to Resist the Label of ‘The Opposition’ - America, April, 2017
In Uncontested Districts, an Election But No Choice - WNYC - October 2010
The Riverton, Latest Collapsed New York Housing Icon, Auctioned for $120m - The Village Voice, March 2010
Protest, and a Hunger Strike, Over Haitian Immigrant Deported 24 years Later - New York, January 2010
Freedom and Beauty, Iraqi refugee Artists Find a Home in Hell’s Kitchen Church - Busted Halo, May 2009
Subprime Mortgage Wasteland in the Bronx - The Village Voice, March 2008
Tenant Harassment Bill to Become Law - The Village Voice, March 2008
Mamaroneck Settlement Doesn’t Quell the Debate - The New York Times, June 2007
Hey, That’s My Prisoner: Pols Want the Numbers - City Limits, February 2007