2020 Fellowship Class

Daniela Castro

Bogotá, Colombia | Multimedia journalist | Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

TRACE Investigative Reporting Fellow | Host: (Delayed) NBC News Investigations

Castro coordinated cross-border projects for OCCRP that investigated the flight and capture of a drug cartel leader, fraud linked to the president of Romania’s ruling party that involved a resort in Brazil, and corruption by the Venezuelan president’s family. Castro, 31, previously covered organized crime in Latin America for InSight Crime’s Spanish-language website. “Investigative journalism is for me one of the best weapons we have to fight corruption and the crimes that have extended their tentacles to different parts of the world,” Castro wrote in her application essay.



Abhishek Waghmare

New Delhi, India | Data Journalist, Business Standard

TRACE Investigative Reporting Fellow | Host: (Delayed) Chicago Tribune

Waghmare specializes in reporting about public finance in India. He won a national award for financial journalism with his story on the National Small Savings Fund. He’s written how demonetization disrupted the economy and lowered incomes, how the government was using an outdated methodology to set floor prices for farm produce, how contraception practices in India compared with other countries, and why tax reforms led to revenue reductions.“I enjoy going deep into understanding public and private data, and connecting data insights to real happenings in the business world,” Waghmare said.



Bilge Kotan

Istanbul, Turkey | Producer, Reporter, TRT World

Patrick and Janna Stueve Foundation Fellow| Host: (Delayed) Los Angeles Times

Most of her work at Turkey’s public broadcasting station is for the digital division. Her articles before she started the fellowship focused on refugees in Turkey, the war in Syria war and the protests and other problems in Iraq. “Fearless writers have shown that the documentation of stories from any region have the capacity to touch people living in other parts of the world — even if they share no similarities. In my opinion, this happens when there is excellence in storytelling and integrity.”




Illia Ponomarenko

Kyiv, Ukraine | Defense Reporter, Kyiv Post

Bill and Christy Gautreau Fellow/Brian Bonner| Host: (Delayed) USA Today

Illia is a defense reporter at the Kyiv Post. He’s been covering the proxy war with Russia since it arrived in his hometown near the Eastern front five years ago when he was still a student.  “I did not select journalism; journalism selected me,” Illia said. He began working three years ago for the Kyiv Post, an English language daily newspaper renowned for its high quality and independence. (Here’s a link to his author page). Along with the war and security issues, Illia has covered the United Nations missions in Congo. He is the sixth consecutive fellow from the Kyiv Post, and his fellowship was sponsored by funds from Bill and Christy Gautreaux and a crowdfunding campaign by his editor, Brian Bonner.


Khatia Shamanauri

Tbilisi, Georgia | Journalist, Analyst, Formula TV 

Host: (Delayed) Minneapolis Star Tribune

Khatia is a reporter for a digital news outlet and a television station producer.  She left her first TV station with several colleagues after government capture, and then led an effort to form an independent online platform. Before the fellowship began, Khatia produced two weekly prime talk-shows at TV Pirveli. She also reported for the analytic web portal eugeorgia.info, where she started working in 2015 and helped cause positive changes in Georgia’s society. After the fellowship, Khatia switched to TV Company Formula and plans to form an independent investigative reporting digital news outlet.  “My goal is to launch a new in-depth project in Georgia that will lead to big changes not only in Georgian media, but in Georgian society as well,” she said. “I have an ambition to investigate the most vulnerable issues of our society based on new techniques, approaches and western journalism standards.


Ahmad Noorani

Islamabad, Pakistan | Founder, Editor, FactFocus.com

Scholars at Risk/Protect Defenders/Alfred Friendly Foundation At-Risk Fellow | Host: Missouri School of Journalism

Noorani worked the past 12 years for the investigative unit of The News International in Islamabad, one of Pakistan’s largest English-language newspapers. He was compelled to leave Pakistan because of attacks he faced because of his work. He was nearly beaten to death, fired, and blacklisted. He continued to be threatened and warned to stop reporting about the military’s dominance in civilian affairs and the unreported assets of leading politicians and their family members. Noorani developed an investigative reporting website during his fellowship, based at the Missouri School of Journalism and run by Alfred Friendly Press Partners. The other sponsors are New York-based Scholars At Risk Network, an international nonprofit that protects threatened scholars and has a new Practitioners at Risk program; and Protect Defenders EU, a nonprofit that assists defenders of human rights.

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