The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting is the state’s only independent, nonpartisan and collaborative nonprofit newsroom dedicated to statewide, data-driven investigative reporting. AZCIR holds powerful people and institutions accountable by exposing injustice and systemic inequities through investigative journalism.
AZCIR covers state and local government, education, public health, the environment, and public policy issues that impact the lives of Arizona residents. AZCIR publishes content online at AZCIR.org, and through a distribution network of newsrooms in print and on television and radio. AZCIR releases its content under a creative commons license, meaning it’s free for other newsrooms to use with appropriate credit.
AZCIR is funded by individual donors, foundations, fee-for-service revenue from collaborative data work with partner newsrooms, through training and corporate underwriting of events. As a matter of policy, funders exercise no control over AZCIR editorial decisions, and all funders are publicly identified.
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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EDITOR
Brandon Quester is the co-founder, executive director and editor of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting. In a short time and with limited resources, he built AZCIR into an award-winning newsroom, becoming a regional hub for original and collaborative accountability journalism that is best known for its deep reporting on important public policy issues in Arizona and the Southwest. Prior to his work with AZCIR, Quester’s career ranged from coverage about children living along the U.S.-Mexico border to U.S. soldiers serving in Kuwait and Iraq. He previously worked as the multimedia editor for the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a nationwide investigative journalism project headquartered at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism. Quester was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow, and a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News 2020 Emerging Leaders Council, a group of leaders expected to advance the industry over the coming decade. Most recently he worked as the director of data and visuals for inewsource in San Diego.
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INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER — EDUCATION
Maria Polletta is an investigative reporter for AZCIR focused on covering inequities in education. Her position is made possible by a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation’s Ellis Center for Educational Excellence. Prior to joining AZCIR, she covered state government and politics for The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network, leading breaking and enterprise watchdog coverage of the Arizona Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office and state Supreme Court. Polletta also has covered criminal justice reform, inequality issues, economic development and city politics over the past decade, with bylines from Arizona to Mexico. She regularly appears on television and radio as an analyst and moderator. In 2020, Polletta was one of two Arizona journalists chosen to oversee the nonprofit Southwest Stories Project, a regional reporting initiative that sought to highlight the pandemic’s effects on marginalized communities in the American Southwest. Polletta has been selected for various national reporting fellowships ranging from the Poynter Institute’s Growing Up Poor to the National Press Foundation’s Spotlight on Statehouse and Local Reporting.
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INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER — HEALTH
Shaena Montanari is an investigative reporter for AZCIR focused on covering health disparities. Her position is supported in part by Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Montanari recently completed a master’s degree in investigative journalism from ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism where she was a Roy W. Howard Fellow. Montanari has held reporting fellowships at National Geographic and The Arizona Republic, and produced freelance science and health journalism for publications such as Popular Science and Atlas Obscura. Before changing careers from science to journalism, she was a paleontologist and received her doctorate in comparative biology from the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History.
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Isaac Stone Simonelli
Investigative reporter | roy W. howard fellow
Isaac Stone Simonelli is a Roy W. Howard Fellow for AZCIR as part of a year-long investigative reporting fellowship. He joins AZCIR as an award-winning reporter and editor with more than a decade of experience, from data-driven reporting on the U.S. energy sector to photojournalism and drone footage captured across several continents. Simonelli earned a master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism in December 2021. Previously, he was editor of the Kodiak Daily Mirror in Alaska after a brief stint as a copy editor with the publication’s sister newspaper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Simonelli also served as the managing editor of the Phuket Gazette in Thailand, where he transformed the newsroom into a digital-first publication that focused its resources on enterprise reporting. He has written for publications such as the Alaska Business Magazine, Climbing Magazine and ADVMOTO Magazine, and his investigations have been published by organizations such as The Washington Post, Inside Climate News and the Associated Press.
Amy Silverman is an award-winning writer, editor and teacher. In 2020 she is working with the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson on a year-long investigative series as part of Pro Publica’s Local Reporting Project. Silverman is a frequent contributor to KJZZ, the NPR member station in Phoenix, as well as a monthly columnist for PHOENIX magazine. As a member of the advisory board of the National Center for Disability and Journalism at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism, she edited NCDJ’s Style Guide. She’s an adjunct professor at Phoenix College, and also co-teaches the long-running Mothers Who Write workshop at Changing Hands Bookstore. Amy is the co-founder of Fly Paper and the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies at Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix. In 2019, she and Katie Bravo edited the essay collection Bar Flies: True Stories from the Early Years. She’s also the author of “My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love and Down Syndrome,” published in 2016 by Woodbine House. Amy worked for 25 years as a staff writer and editor at New Times in Phoenix, where she was twice honored as the Arizona Press Club’s Virg Hill Journalist of the Year and also earned the Don Bolles award for investigative reporting. Amy lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband, Ray Stern, and daughters Annabelle and Sophie.
Terry Greene Sterling
editor at large
Terry Greene Sterling is a Phoenix based journalist. Her work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Slate, The National Journal Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Salon.com, High Country News, Arizona Highways, and The Guardian. She’s the winner of 54 international, national and regional journalism awards, including three Virg Hill Journalist of the Year Awards, The Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Greene Sterling is writer-in-residence and affiliated faculty at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She’s the author of “Illegal, Life and Death in Arizona’s Immigration War Zone,” and is currently coauthoring a book with journalist Jude Joffe-Block. The book, under contract with the University of California Press, tells the story of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s unprecedented immigration crackdowns, the Latino-led movement that organized against him and the legal battles that culminated in the historic Trump pardon. Photo by Deanna Dent.
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Valeria Fernández of Uruguay is a contributing journalist for AZCIR who brings more than a decade of experience as bilingual documentary producer covering Arizona’s immigrant community and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her award-winning, independent reporting has taken her throughout the world, and has focused on topics ranging from migrant kidnappings to racial profiling. Fernández also contributes to CNN Spanish and Al Jazeera English, and has been published by newsrooms such as The Associated Press. In 2012, she produced the documentary “Two Americans,” which contrasts Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a 9-year-old U.S. citizen trying to stop her parents’ deportation. In 2014, she helped produce the international web documentary, “Connected Walls,” about life along the Arizona borderlands.
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AZCIR Board of Directors
Adam Goodman, president and CEO of Goodmans Interior Structures, is the third generation to lead the family business. Following the tradition of innovation established by his father and grandfather, Adam has used his leadership roles to help Goodmans adapt to changing markets and anticipate opportunities for growth. Under Adam’s leadership, Goodmans has developed many innovative programs to give back to the community. These programs include Office Chair Hockey, Goodmans Eye for the Good Guy, AIM to Make a Difference, Rooted in Good, GoodInc, GoodART, GoodTHREADS and more. Adam has held leadership positions with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Phoenix, Young Presidents Organization, Phoenix Country Day School, CEO’s Against Cancer, Conscious Capitalism, the Jewish Community Association, First Place AZ, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Phoenix Symphony and Independent Newsmedia. Adam has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Texas at Austin. He resides in Paradise Valley with his wife, Stephanie, and their three children.
Andy Beran spent his corporate career with Intel as an executive in finance, marketing, strategic planning and operations. His work took him around the world and he helped start up new businesses and factories for Intel as well as complete two large international acquisitions. After retiring from Intel, Andy started, grew, and sold a digital marketing and graphics business. After retiring again, Andy acquired an assisted transportation company and co-founded a ride sharing company for seniors. Andy remains active as a small business mentor with the Arizona Commerce Authority and SCORE as well as consulting for a number of international companies. Andy holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and is currently completing a doctoral degree program with a dissertation on the acceptance and adoption of shared autonomous vehicles by older adults.
Sarah Cohen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor who serves as the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University. Before joining Cronkite, she worked as the editor of an investigative data journalism team at The New York Times, where her team’s work was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice in five years. She worked for more than a decade at The Washington Post, where she was a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting winner and a finalist for the prize in Public Service. Cohen has served as president and board member of the 6,000-member Investigative Reporters and Editors educational association for journalists, and as a board member or advisor to the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Center for Investigative Reporting / Reveal. She splits her time between Washington, DC and Phoenix.
Hipolito Corella is a Tucson native who has practiced journalism in his hometown for 29 years at the Arizona Daily Star. Corella’s only work as a journalist outside of Tucson was about a year as a police reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune immediately after graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Arizona in 1991. An assortment of beats followed, including cops, courts, government, education and local politics. In 2002 he jumped to the editor track, joining the City Desk as an assistant editor. Corella was named Regional Editor in 2005, overseeing three weekly zoned publications until he became Metro Editor later that year. In 2013 Corella became one of three Senior Editors at the Star, overseeing local news and enterprise. He served as Interim Editor in 2016 as the organization searched for a permanent editor. Corella is married, has two adult children and spends much of his time since his newsroom’s pandemic shutdown trying to keep his two cats off his computer keyboard while working from home.