Geneva Overholser is an independent journalist in New York City, recently elected to serve on the board of the Rita Allen Foundation. She is the former director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. Previously, she held the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism, where she was based in the school’s Washington bureau. She was editor of The Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995, where she led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. While at the Register, she also earned recognition as Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation and was named “The Best in the Business” by American Journalism Review.
She has been ombudsman of The Washington Post, a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group, and a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun. She has been a columnist for the Columbia Journalism Review and frequent contributor to Poynter.org. She also spent five years overseas, working and writing in Paris and Kinshasa.
Through the Annenberg Public Policy Center, in 2006 she published a manifesto on the future of journalism titled On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change. She is also co-editor, with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of the volume “The Press,” part of the Oxford University Press Institutions of American Democracy series.
She currently serves on the boards of the John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford University and the Academy of American Poets, and on the advisory board of the Women’s Media Foundation. Previously, she served on the boards of the Center for Public Integrity, the Committee of Concerned Journalists and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, as well as the Journalism Advisory Committee of the Knight Foundation and the Poynter Institute Advisory Board. She was for nine years a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, the final year as chair, and is a former officer of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. She held a Nieman Fellowship and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Overholser holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in history from Wellesley College, as well as a French language certificate from the University of Paris. She is married to David Westphal, also a journalist. They have three children.