Staff

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.

 

Dana Webb-Randall – Assistant Director

Dana joined the Institute for Southern Studies in August 2016 as the office coordinator and became assistant director in September 2017. Dana brings to the Institute 18 years of experience in administering nonprofit organizations, programs and projects, especially in the field of public health. She has served as a director, project coordinator/manager, reviewer or trainer for various organizations including the American Red Cross, Adequate Housing for Missourians, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network. She holds bachelor's degrees in African-American Studies and English from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

 

Billy Corriher - Senior Researcher

Billy joined the Institute in January 2018 as senior researcher, where his work includes a focus on democracy issues including fair courts and voting rights. Billy has written about these and other issues for ThinkProgress, The Hill, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and the News and Observer. He has been interviewed by NPR’s "Fresh Air" and other media outlets. Before attending law school, he was a reporter for the Clayton News-Daily in Georgia. Billy received his bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in journalism from the UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a law degree and master's in business administration from Georgia State University.

Read Billy's Facing South articles here.

 

Keylin Rivera - Program Director, Southern Strategies Program

Keylin joined the Institute in May 2018 as program director of the Institute’s Southern Strategies Program, an initiative aimed at deepening understanding of changing trends in the South, strengthening collaboration and building progressive infrastructure in the region. Prior to joining the Institute, she served as Climate & Clean Air Program Director at Green Latinos, an environmental justice organization in Washington, DC. Before that she helped lead national Latino voter outreach in the 2016 elections, worked in the mayor’s office in Washington, DC, and was on staff at the Environmental Protection Agency. In North Carolina, she was an organizer for immigration reform and coordinated the North Carolina Resistance Summit in 2017. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Spanish from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

 

Rebekah Barber – Research Associate

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.

 

Allie Yee – Research Fellow

Allie joined Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies in July 2014 and became associate director in September 2016. Working with Executive Director Chris Kromm, Allie launched the Institute's Southern Strategies Program in 2014, which has provided research and analysis about Southern trends and social justice infrastructure for partners including the Democracy Alliance, the Ford Foundation, Grantmakers for Southern Progress, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and others. Her research focuses on demographic change, immigration, voting and civic engagement in the South, and her research has been featured in AlterNet, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The News & Observer (Raleigh), The News & Record (Greensboro) and North Carolina Public Radio.

Prior to joining the Institute, Allie was a fellow at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation where she assisted in grantmaking to nonprofit organizations in North Carolina working on a range of issues. She holds a bachelor's degree from Duke University in public policy studies.

Read Allie's Facing South articles here.

 
Theo Luebke – Program Fellow

Theo joined the Institute in summer 2018 as a program fellow for the Institute's Southern Strategies Program. He is a North Carolinian with more than 15 years of experience in civic engagement, movement-building, multi-racial coalitions, community organizing, faith community organizing, electoral politics, legislative policy, teaching and grassroots democratic practice. Prior to his work with the Institute, he was the North Carolina Organizing Director for America Votes. He is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and Brown University.

 

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.