Medill professor joins Chicago Innocence Project board amid racial dispute with Evanston Police
December 10, 2012
Longtime Medill Prof. Ava Thompson Greenwell has joined the Chicago Innocence Project’s board of directors, the organization announced this afternoon.
Founded by former Medill Prof. David Protess, ChIP is a nonprofit investigative reporting initiative that looks into wrongful convictions. The group approached Greenwell last week to offer her a board position. She said this evening that the ChIP mission is “extremely important to democracy.”
“What’s more exciting than that?” Greenwell said. “To see a wrong be righted?”
Greenwell is the second Medill professor to join ChIP this year. In July, Pamela Cytrynbaum became the project's executive director, a full-time position.
Cytrynbaum said Greenwell’s extensive career as a journalist and educator, as well as her work at Northwestern, made her a natural choice for ChIP’s board. Cytrynbaum added that Greenwell, who will remain a full-time professor, will further strengthen the project’s connection with Medill.
“She values justice and truth and education in ways that really match our values,” Cytrynbaum said.
Greenwell’s decision to join the ChIP board comes amid her public clash with the Evanston Police Department.
In August, an officer handcuffed and briefly detained Greenwell’s 13-year-old son Diwani while looking for a burglary suspect described as a “black male wearing blue cargo shorts.” In the incident’s aftermath, Greenwell accused EPD of racial profiling and is currently pursuing a lawsuit the officer who originally detained her son.
“That perspective of having gone through that situation personally gives me a unique viewpoint in terms of being on the board,” Greenwell said.
An alumna of both Medill’s graduate and undergraduate programs, Greenwell has taught broadcast journalism courses since 1993.
— Lauren Caruba