Defend democracy in the South.


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.

Read Chris' Facing South articles here.


BENJAMIN BARBER – Democracy Program Coordinator

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.

Read Benjamin's Facing South articles here.


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.

Read Olivia's Facing South articles here.


NATALIE GRIFFIN – Finance & Administration Manager

Natalie is the Finance & Administration Manager at The Institute for Southern Studies and a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill. She joined the Institute team in 2023, where her responsibilities include performing and coordinating the finance and human resource functions, and providing administrative and operational support to the team and facility. She has worked in the accounting and finance field since 2001, gaining a wide range of experience and expertise at a variety of small and mid-sized businesses across the country and the globe.