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.


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.

Read Sue's Facing South articles here.


Benjamin Barber – Research Associate

Benjamin Barber is a researcher and writer with Facing South. He 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.

Read Benjamin's Facing South articles here.

Olivia Paschal – Investigative Reporter

Olivia is a staff reporter with Facing South whose work focuses on democracy, labor, money in politics, and agriculture. She previously worked at The Atlantic and was a Facing South intern in the summer of 2017. Her reporting has also appeared in Scalawag, Southerly, and Civil Eats, among other outlets. Olivia holds a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University.

Read Olivia's Facing South articles here.


Rebekah Barber – Editorial Fellow

Rebekah joined the Institute as an editorial intern in summer 2016 and continued as a research associate at the Institute and writer for Facing South in fall 2016. Her research and writing focuses on racial justice, democracy and Southern history. Rebekah's writing has appeared in the Louisiana Weekly, The Nation, News & Record (Greensboro) and TruthOut. As a student activist, she served as a Common Cause democracy fellow and organized around issues including voting rights, the Fight for $15 and Medicaid expansion. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from N.C. Central University in Durham, North Carolina.

Read Rebekah's Facing South articles here.


Elisha Brown – Julian Bond Fellow

Elisha joined the Institute in 2021 as the second Julian Bond Fellows. 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, 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.

Read Elisha's Facing South articles here.


Raina Lee - Administrative and Program Assistant

Raina provides administrative and programmatic support to the Institute. Raina attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she studies public policy. She has served as a North Carolina State Youth Leader for the Poor People's Campaign and School Representative on the Wake County (N.C.) Superintendent Student Leadership Committee, and has organized on a variety of issues including gun violence, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial justice.


Ethan Clauset – Web Director

Ethan Clauset directs the Institute's website development and online publishing strategy. He is a former volunteer and board member of Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and co-founded the Internationalist Prison Books Collective, which sends free books to prisoners in Mississippi and Alabama. He provides internet advice and consulting for nonprofit organizations, including the Institute for Southern Studies, WXYC-FM and Daylight Magazine. Ethan is a graduate of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.