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Dorothy Gilliam

DOROTHY BUTLER GILLIAM, former reporter, editor, columnist and Founder/Director of the Young Journalists Development Program for The Washington Post, retired from the newspaper on June 30, 2003. She served as the Shapiro Fellow at The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs for the 2003-2004 academic year, and has served since 2004 as senior research scientist and Founder/Director of Prime Movers Media (PMM) at The George Washington University. The Prime Movers Media experience provides urban high school students, veteran journalists, college interns and high school media teachers the opportunity to work with and learn from one another in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA. This exciting intergenerational and intra-disciplinary coalition teaches media literacy and inspires urban high school students to pursue journalism studies at the collegiate level. Students produce multi-media products-- print and online publications, radio, video and television programs—for their fellow students and communities. While the program will sunset at GW at the close of the academic year, it will continue in Philadelphia as Gilliam pursues her vision to expand the program to a new school systems to ignite the next generation of journalists and to expand diversity in America’s newsrooms.

Gilliam first joined The Washington Post in October 1961 as a reporter on the City Desk. During that time, she covered such major events of the civil rights movement such as the integration of the University of Mississippi in l962. In the mid-60's, Gilliam left The Post to have more time with her young children. She was a part-time reporter for WTTG's television program, "Panorama" in Washington, D.C., and wrote free-lance magazine articles. She returned to The Post in 1972 as an assistant editor in the Style section. In 1979 she became a columnist for The Post. Her column ran regularly in the Metro section for 19 years, covering issues in education, politics and race, as well as her own personal experiences. In 1998 she left column writing to concentrate on developing the Young Journalists Development Program, a long-term initiative of The Post to educate and cultivate talented young people who were interested in careers in newspaper journalism. It also addressed The Post’s commitment to increase job opportunities for minorities who are often underrepresented in newsrooms across the country. Gilliam began her journalism career as a reporter for The Memphis Tri-State Defender, a black weekly, where she covered the Little Rock Nine, a civil rights focus she continued when she joined The Washington Post. Before coming to the Nation’s Capitol, she also worked as an associate editor for Jet Magazine for two years, and associate director of information at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. Gilliam served as chair of the board of directors of the Robert Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (MIJE) from l985-l992. She is a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Gilliam grew up in Louisville, Ky. and graduated cum laude from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. with a B.A. in Journalism. She earned her master's degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and was honored as a recipient of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Alumni of the Year Award in 1979. In 1991, she was a fellow at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University, studying racial diversity in the American media. In the fall of 1996, she was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Among the honors she has received are Lifetime Achievement Awards of the Washington Press Club Foundation in 2010, induction into the Society of Professional Journalists’ Hall of Fame in 2002 by the Washington, D.C. Chapter, induction into the NABJ Hall of Fame in 1992; winner of the University of Missouri Honor Medal in Journalism in 1998; the Unity Award in Journalism from Lincoln (Mo.) University; and the Ann O'Hare McCormick Award from the New York Newspaper Women's Club while a student at Columbia.

She is author of Paul Robeson, All American, and is a contributor to The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press: 2009. She has also chapters in a number of other anthologies. Gilliam is a member of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C, where she serves as a member of the Steward Board and chair of the Commission on Public Relations. She has three daughters and three grandchildren.