Managing Director

As managing director, James leads impact strategy and fundraising for Trace Media and oversees the organization’s expansion and development. He was The Trace’s founding editor, setting coverage priorities and recruiting the first members of the newsroom. James’s experience in media leadership includes tenures as editor-in-chief of Boston magazine, enterprise editor for AOL News, news editor for New York magazine, and story editor for The New Republic. He has shared a National Magazine Award for single-topic coverage, and five individuals he has coached have been named finalists for the Livingston Awards for young journalists. James attended Duke University, where he majored in public policy.

Editor in Chief

Tali leads the editorial team at The Trace, setting editorial strategy and guiding investigations, projects, and feature stories. Since Tali started at The Trace as deputy editor in 2018, she has coached reporters and editors on producing unimpeachable and memorable public interest journalism, including our investigation of self-enrichment by executives of the National Rifle Association and indelible narrative features on the drivers and effects of shootings. Prior to joining The Trace, Tali was director of the Master of Arts program at Columbia Journalism School, where she taught courses on reporting, interviewing, and longform writing. Before that, Tali was a reporter at the San Francisco Bay Guardian and wrote for magazines including Newsweek, New York, and National Geographic. Tali earned a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. in science journalism from Columbia University, where she continues to teach.

Executive Editor

As executive editor, Craig helps set editorial strategy for The Trace, with a particular focus on audience development, local partnerships, and other grant-funded initiatives. Craig spent the majority of his career in leadership roles at the New York Times, overseeing media and science coverage and managing technology editors who specialized in fielding state-of-the-art newsgathering tools. Prior to joining The Trace, Craig worked as editorial director for Teach for America, as well as in senior roles for The Appeal, Daily Kos and Climate Central. In 2021, Craig inaugurated the role of diversity, equity and inclusion coach for the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, providing guidance to students, faculty and staff on navigating DEI issues in newsgathering and in newsroom environments.

Managing Editor

Samantha manages the editorial calendar for The Trace, guiding a steady flow of news and data stories, shorter features, and explainers. Samantha spent more than half of her career at The New York Times, where she worked as an assignment editor across several desks; she served as the lead audio reporter on “An Imam In America,” which won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. Prior to The Trace, she worked as an executive producer and podcast host at Bloomberg, where she won a Gerald Loeb Award in audio for “In Trust” and received a Webby award nomination for “Bedrock, USA.” She also spent more than five years as a senior enterprise editor at HuffPost, where she oversaw reporting on social inequality, and led investigations into hate crimes, domestic violence, and school policing. Samantha’s first job in journalism was at the Seattle Weekly; she was one of the first editors to help put out the paper on the Internet. Samantha holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Boston College.

Director of People & Operations

Candace is The Trace’s director of people & operations. An experienced and accomplished nonprofit leader, Candace previously served as Director of Human Resources, Diversity, Inclusion & Culture at a growing organization that provides housing and services to people experiencing homelessness. Candace’s former colleagues praise her empathy, her knack for spotting potential and supporting professional development, and her ability to just make good things happen. Earlier in her career, Candace ran operations for a department of Catholic Charities of Chicago and managed grantmaking for the Chicago Foundation for Women. She received a Bachelor of Arts in nonprofit management and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from DePaul University. Anderson is a member of several boards and has dedicated her life to serving people in greatest need.

Senior Editor, Local Impact

As senior editor for local impact, Joy is steering the launch of The Trace’s local reporting initiative, managing reporters covering Chicago and Philadelphia. Before joining The Trace in February 2021, Joy worked as a reporter and editor at HuffPost, the Los Angeles Times, and the Seattle Times, where she was an editor and reporter for the philanthropically funded Education Lab. She helped develop and edit EpicenterNYC’s school newsletter, The Unmuted, as part of that community journalism initiative’s effort to connect neighbors in Queens during the pandemic. Joy earned a B.A. in English and political science from Barnard College, and was awarded a Spencer Fellowship at Columbia University. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Columbia Daily Spectator and the Board of Directors for the Education Writers Association.

News Editor

Brian is The Trace’s news editor. He is responsible for identifying emerging opportunities for quick-turn news stories, ongoing watchdog coverage, and follow-up reporting. Between 2016 and 2022, Brian served as a reporter and staff writer at The Trace, covering gun trafficking and community-based violence prevention. He was part of the team that produced Missing Pieces, a multi-partner collaboration about the link between gun theft and violent crime that won a Deadline Club Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian was also a lead reporter for Off Target, an investigation in partnership with USA Today that helped prompt reforms to how the federal government polices gun dealers. Brian is based in Chicago and holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Data Editor

Olga is data editor and a reporter at The Trace. Previously, she was an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska and deputy data editor at ProPublica. She has written award-winning stories about unemployment insurance, legislative redistricting, the foreclosure crisis, and patient harm in hospitals. She graduated with an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University in 2008. Her main data analysis tools are R and SQL, and she dotes on her three cats.

Manager of Operations

Mayra is The Trace’s manager of operations, responsible for powering the organization’s operations in accounting, freelancing, fundraising, and human resources. Mayra cares about her staffers, celebrates their milestones, and helps them flourish by cultivating relationships and a strong work culture at The Trace. Prior to this role, Mayra worked at Aon Hewitt, a human capital and management consulting firm where she managed office engagements, was a steward to senior leaders and directors, and served as the key liaison for the Northeast region. She earned her Project Management Professional Certificate from Stony Brook University. Mayra is also a dedicated volunteer, with a special focus on disaster preparedness, homelessness, and hunger and food insecurities. She has always sought to help people with essential needs in underserved communities.

Impact + Audience Editor

As The Trace’s Impact + Audience Editor, Gracie leads audience engagement strategy, including editing the Ask The Trace series of explainers and managing the newsroom’s off-platform presence, and keeps track of where our stories are having real-world results. She previously led social media and community engagement for The Atlantic’s CityLab and digital strategy for two nationally syndicated public radio shows. Gracie grew up in Oregon and majored in American studies and media studies at Tufts University.

Newsletter Editor

Sunny is in charge of our newsletters, leading the growth of existing products and dreaming up new ones. They previously worked as a copy editor at The Intercept and as digital editor for the Texas Observer, and co-published a web-only magazine under the Brick House media cooperative. Sunny has covered topics ranging from the Texas funeral industry to the life of visionary composer Pauline Oliveros. They hold a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Digital Editor

Selin leads the newsroom’s production processes, serves as art director for our stories, and manages ongoing coverage areas. She is our digital editor and also a contributing feature writer. Formerly a freelance writer and researcher, and an editor at The GroundTruth Project/Report for America, Selin has focused on efforts of intersection and representation in journalism. She holds a degree in journalism from Boston University, and a M.A. in politics from Columbia Journalism School.

Copy Editor

David joined The Trace as a copy editor in 2016, following 15 years at The New York Times, mostly as late editor on the News Desk. Before that, he was a reporter, columnist and editor in Boston and Los Angeles. He won the Los Angeles Press Club Award for Best Investigative Reporting in 1987. He lives in Western New York.

Senior Staff Writer

Mike is the senior staff writer at The Trace. He has produced numerous high-impact investigative projects focusing on the gun lobby, including a series that revealed widespread self-dealing at the National Rifle Association. A finalist for The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, the series led to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit seeking to dissolve the NRA and her office’s ongoing attempts to hold its leadership accountable. Spies has also earned a New York Press Club Award for continuing coverage, and in 2017 was recognized as a finalist for the Livingston Award. His bylines have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, POLITICO magazine, Rolling Stone, and ProPublica, where he worked as a reporter focusing on democracy issues and the federal government.

Senior News Writer

Jennifer is a senior news writer and founding staffer at The Trace. She previously covered gun violence at The New York Times. In her decade on this beat, she’s covered community gun violence, the intersection of domestic violence and guns, and the growing role of firearms in public life. She is currently the lead writer of the Ask The Trace series and tracks news developments on the gun beat.

Staff Writer, Philadelphia

Before joining The Trace, Mensah was a staff writer on the Justice & Injustice team at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he focused on gun violence, corruption and wrongdoing in the public and private sectors for five years. Mensah also covered criminal courts, public schools and city government for the Philadelphia Daily News, the Inquirer’s sister publication. A native of Washington, D.C., Mensah began his career at The Washington Times. His freelance work has appeared in People and Vibe magazines. In 2022, Mensah was part of a team of Inquirer reporters who were Pulitzer Prize finalists for explanatory reporting for their yearlong chronicling of the impact of gun violence on Philadelphia. In 2019, he was named print journalist of the year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. In 2017 he received the Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence and a $10,000 prize from Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication for writing a series of articles about a man who, at the time, had spent 37 years in solitary confinement. He graduated from Bowie State University in Maryland.

Staff Writer

Will is a staff writer at The Trace. His reporting focuses on the gun lobby and related topics. Previously, he spent seven years on the investigative reporting team at Newsday, chronicling the cronyism, self-enrichment, and abuses of power endemic to government and law enforcement in New York. Stories that break ground, reveal connections, and dive below the surface are his jam. Will loves to learn things that he’s not supposed to know.

Staff Writer

Alain is a staff writer covering developments in firearms technology and the ATF. His investigations into auto sears, toy guns, and ghost guns for The Trace have led to congressional action. A military veteran and gun owner, Alain did tours at inewsource and Texas Standard, where his work led to important public safety, civil rights, and criminal justice reforms.

Community Engagement Reporter, Chicago

Justin, a Chicago native, previously worked at City Bureau, a nonprofit civic media organization in Chicago, where he covered housing and development. He was also an editorial fellow for Mother Jones magazine, writing for and fact-checking the online and print editions. In 2019, he earned his Master’s of Science in journalism with a special focus on social justice and investigative reporting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. 

Reporter

Champe Barton is a reporter at The Trace covering the gun industry. His work has focused on the role of gun distribution in America’s gun violence epidemic, including lax enforcement of federal firearms laws by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, failure by California police departments to properly trace crime guns, and efforts by gun manufacturers to monitor how the guns they produce slip into the criminal black market. His work has appeared in USA TODAYRolling Stone, Slate, The Guardian, FiveThirtyEight, and The Daily Beast, among other publications.

Reporter

Chip is a reporter at The Trace covering federal policy related to violence prevention and firearms. He is also the author of The Trajectory newsletter, which spotlights the people, policies, and programs grappling with America’s gun violence crisis. 

Before joining The Trace as an investigative fellow in June 2020, Chip worked as a reporter and the editor-in-chief of his collegiate newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman. He also covered the state legislature, governor, courts, and elections for the Alabama Political Reporter. As an undergraduate, Chip studied political science and journalism at Auburn University. He also earned an M.A. with a concentration in politics from the Columbia Journalism School.

Reporter

Fairriona is a public health reporter at The Trace. Previously, she created a newsletter focused on health disparities and environmental injustice titled Tropes & Stereotypes. Fairriona has covered a range of topics including public safety, climate change, and food insecurity as an undergraduate and graduate student. She attended North Carolina A&T State University where she studied mass media production. She received a graduate degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, specializing in science writing.

Reporter, Chicago

Before joining The Trace, Rita worked as a reporter for Injustice Watch, covering the criminal legal system and immigrant communities as a Report for America corps member. As an undergraduate, Rita studied anthropology and journalism at Northwestern University. She earned an M.S. with a concentration in social justice and investigative reporting at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

Community Engagement Reporter, Philadelphia

Afea has a deep love for her city and its diverse communities. In addition to her passion for writing and helping others, Afea is a self-proclaimed foodie. As part of her job, she oversees Up the Block, a resource and information hub for Philadelphians who have been affected by gun violence. Before joining The Trace, Afea was a veteran media professional and freelance journalist whose work had been published by The Philadelphia Tribune, WHYY, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other news organizations. Afea is a Temple University alumna, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.

Editing Fellow

Agya K. Aning is The Trace’s inaugural editing fellow. Previously, he covered environmental justice for Inside Climate News, and before that he lived in China and Taiwan, where he taught English as a second language and studied Mandarin. He grew up in southwest Virginia and earned a master’s degree in investigative journalism from Arizona State University. At one time, he was decent at the electric and bass guitars.