Chris Kromm – Executive Director and Publisher of Facing South
Chris joined the staff of the Institute in 1997. From 1997 to 2000, he was the editor of Southern Exposure magazine, the Institute's award-winning journal of politics and culture. He was appointed executive director in 2000. He is also publisher of Facing South, the Institute's online magazine.
A frequently-sought commentator on Southern politics and current issues, Chris has appeared on over 300 TV and radio broadcasts including American Public Media's "Marketplace," CNN "Live," C-SPAN, Democracy Now, KCRW California's "To the Point," Mississippi Public Radio, MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," NPR's "All Things Considered," Pacifica Radio, WUNC's "The State of Things," and Sirius XM Radio. Kromm's writing has appeared in The American Prospect, The Herald-Sun (Durham), The Hill, The Huffington Post, The Independent Weekly (Durham), The Nation, The News & Observer, Salon, and other publications.
Chris is the author or co-author of more than 60 Institute reports on topics ranging from the changing demographic and political landscape in the South to money in politics, labor, voting rights, and the U.S. Census. Kromm's reports have been covered in more than 350 media outlets, including ABC News, Associated Press, BBC World, Bloomberg News, CNN News, The Guardian (London), NPR, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post, and USA Today.
Under Chris' leadership, the Institute has been recognized with several prestigious honors and awards, including the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting, a North Carolina Justice Center Defenders of Justice Award for Policy Research and Advocacy, a Harry Chapin Media Award for coverage of poverty issues, an Investigative Reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association, and honors from the National Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and the White House Correspondents' Association.
Sue Sturgis – Editorial Director
Sue joined the Institute in November 2005 as director of Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project to document and investigate the post-Katrina recovery. A former staff writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Independent Weekly in Durham, North Carolina, Sue directs and writes for the Institute's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. She was the first journalist to be awarded the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters' Catalyst Award for her commitment to educating the public about important environmental issues.
Sue has authored or co-authored numerous Institute reports, including "The Drive to Drill" (2015), "Life After BP" (2011), "Faith in the Gulf" (2008), "Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement" (2008) and "Blueprint for Gulf Renewal" (2007). Her work has also appeared in other publications including The American Prospect, The Progressive, and Salon. Sue holds a master's in journalism from New York University and a bachelor's in social work from Penn State.
Benjamin Barber – Research Associate
Benjamin Barber is the democracy program coordinator at the Institute for Southern Studies, a contributing writer for Facing South, and a graduate of the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a bachelor's degree in history from Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina. Benjamin previously interned with the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and with Facing South, and he served as the historian for the North Carolina NAACP Youth and College Division. His research focuses on voting rights, democracy, and Southern history.
Olivia Paschal – Archives Editor
Olivia Paschal is the archives editor with Facing South and a doctoral student in history at the University of Virginia. She was a staff reporter with Facing South for two years and spearheaded Poultry and Pandemic, Facing South's year-long investigation into conditions for Southern poultry workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her reporting has appeared in The Atlantic, the Huffington Post, Southerly, Scalawag, the Arkansas Times, and Civil Eats, among other publications. Olivia holds a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University.
Elisha Brown – Staff Writer
Elisha joined the Institute in 2021 as the second Julian Bond Fellow. Elisha came to the Institute from The New York Times, where she worked for two years at the express news desk. At the Times, Elisha covered the COVID-19 crisis, voting rights, and was co-lead reporter for The Neediest Cases Fund, which chronicled New Yorkers in underserved communities. A native of South Carolina, Elisha attended American University, where she founded The Blackprint, a website for students of color. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and Vox.