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Kari Lydersen
Chicago IL

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Current Employment:

  • Community Fellowship Director of the Social Justice News Nexus at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, which brings together graduate student and community fellows (reporters and community leaders) to do stories on a series of topics, currently mental health. 2013-present.
  • Staff writer for Midwest Energy News, covering energy policy, technology and environmental issues. 2012-present.
  • Freelancer writing for publications including Discover Magazine, Better Government Association, Crain’s Chicago Business.
  • Contributing editor, In These Times magazine, and covering labor issues for In These Times’ blog “Working”.

Past Employment:

  • 2011-2012 Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellow: One of five fellows studying for two semesters at the University of Colorado; taking mostly classes at the law school including Energy Law, Climate Change Law and other environmental law courses. Working on a book about hard rock mining in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Research associate at the Medill Watchdog Project at Northwestern University, working with students to conduct investigations with media partners. 2013-2014.
  • Staff writer for The Chicago News Cooperative, which produced content for the Chicago edition of The New York Times – Summer 2010 to Feb. 2012, when the organization closed.
  • The Washington Post Midwest bureau, Chicago: staff 1997-2009: covering Midwest news for A section; Science page (approx. 30-60 bylines/year).
  • Part-time staff writer for Midwest Energy News (www.midwestenergynews.com), a web media outlet featuring energy news for industry, NGO, government agency and environmentalist audiences.
  • Freelance writer with work appearing in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Economist, Discover Magazine, Crain’s Chicago Business, Better Government Association, People Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Reporter, ColorLines, In These Times, various other publication.
  • Summer 2012 published academic article on hard rock mining in the U.S. and Latin America for the University of Colorado Law School’s Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy.
  • Associate Editor, StreetWise newspaper, 1998-2002.
  • The Oregonian, intern writing regularly for the paper, four months in 1996.
  • General focus on environmental issues, especially energy, mining and the Great Lakes; immigration and human trafficking; Latin America; labor.
  • Proficient in Spanish.
  • Reporter for The Daily Northwestern at Northwestern University.

Journalism Fellowship and Awards:

  • 2013 Peter Lisagor Award for Daily Newspaper: Best business or consumer reporting.
  • Recipient of Samuel Chavkin Investigative Journalism Fund to report on gold mining in Colombia, 2014-2015.
  • Heinrich Boell Foundation Climate Media Fellow, 2012 (funding energy reporting in Germany and the UK).
  • Senior Fellow, Institute for Justice and Journalism “Immigration in the Heartland” program 2012 and 2013.
  • Senior Fellow, USC Annenberg Reporting on Health Fellowship July 2012.
  • Recipient, Chicago Community Trust “Local Reporting Awards,” for in-depth coverage of environmental and development issues on Chicago’s Southeast Side, 2012 and 2013.
  • Fellow, Institute for Justice and Journalism, Environmental Justice program 2009; and Immigration in the Heartland program 2011.
  • Participant, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Trans-Atlantic Media Network meetings: Stockholm, 2009 and Miami, 2011.
  • Fellow, Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources 2005 Great Waters Institute, 2008 Energy Country Institute, 2008 Willamette Valley Institute, 2010 Beaver Islands Institute and 2011 Lake Ontario Institute.
  • Fellow, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, 2007 Great Lakes Program and 2008 Alaska Climate Change program.
  • Dart Ochberg Fellow, 2009.
  • Grant recipient for the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, 2010.
  • Winner, Studs Terkel Award, from Chicago Community Media Workshop, 2011.
  • Fellow, Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment, South Florida 2008.


  • "Closing the Cloud Factories: Lessons from the Fight to Close Down Chicago’s Coal Plants." Midwest Energy News E-Books, 2014.
  • “Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%.” Haymarket Books, 2013.
  • “Revolt on Goose Island: The Chicago Factory Takeover and What it Says About the Economic Crisis.” Melville House Press Books, 2009.
  • “Shoot an Iraqi: Life, Art, Resistance Under the Gun” (co-authored with Wafaa Bilal). City Lights Press, 2008. Named top 10 art books of year by Booklist; starred review in Publishers Weekly.
  • “Out of the Sea and Into the Fire: Latin American-US Immigration in the Global Age.” Common Courage Press, 2005 .
  • Contributing author to books including: “How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office” (Soft Skull Press, 2004); “The Battle of Seattle: The New Challenge to Capitalist Globalization” (Soft Skull Press, 2002); “You’re History” (Continuum, London 2005); “Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground” (Soft Skull Press 2007); “Tipping the Sacred Cow: The Best of LiP” (AK Press 2007).

Past Teaching:

  • Columbia College of Chicago, journalism professor (part-time): 2006-present. Classes taught: Intro to Mass Media, Community News, Reporting and Writing II, Grammar for Journalists. (Community News and Reporting and Writing II are lab and field work classes; Intro and Grammar are seminar classes).
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago, journalism professor (part-time): 2011
  • We the People Media, youth instructor, teaching journalism to youth who live in public housing and other low-income neighborhoods, 2000-present.
  • Michigan State University, youth instructor for intensive environmental journalism program throughfor low-income Chicago youth, 2011-2013
  • Community Media Workshop and other groups, led workshops/trainings on media and community bus tours.

Multi-media Skills:

  • Photojournalism regularly published in The Washington Post and other media.
  • Video published on The Washington Post website.
  • Online chats for Science stories in The Washington Post.
  • Produced and hosted radio segments/shows on community and college radio.
  • Live blogging for OnEarth Magazine.
  • Twice-weekly blog for In These Times Working (www.inthesetimes.com/working) about labor issues.

Non-Profit and Foundation Writing:

  • In-house reports, web site content, publications and other text produced for foundations and organizations including the National Wildlife Federation, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the McCormick Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Planning Association, the National Housing Institute, the Steans Family Foundation.

Public Speaking:

  • Panelist and presenter on immigration, globalization, environmental issues, trafficking and other topics at venues including: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute; University of Colorado Law School, Applied Research Center annual conference; Northwestern University; Journalism and Women Symposium; The Media Consortium; Society of Professional Journalists annual conference; Alliance for the Great Lakes; National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice; Northeastern University; Illinois State University; Community Media Workshop; Allied Media Conference; Grand Rapids Community Media Center; Grand Valley State University.
  • Book readings around the U.S.
  • Guest on national and local radio and TV programs including The Washington Post Radio; Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview; Pacifica; Democracy Now (TV and radio); The Marc Steiner Show (Baltimore); WGN Chicago, CAN-TV Chicago.


  • BSJ from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, 1997.
  • Studied abroad in Prague (summer program).
  • Dean's List at Northwestern University.
  • Concentration in Spanish at Northwestern University.


  • National champion in marathon swimming, 15 kilometers and 25 kilometers.
  • Varsity swim team member at Northwestern University.
  • Completed an Ironman triathlon and five Chicago marathons.