Dana Priest wins Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square

Dana Priest, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Washington Post, has been named the inaugural winner of the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square. The prize honors a modern storyteller whose work has had a positive impact on public affairs. It will be presented April 12 at a public conference on campus.

Priest is being honored for her lifetime of work, with special focus on her reporting – along with colleagues Anne Hull and Michel du Cille – on deplorable conditions at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2007.

Story in the Public Square is a joint initiative of the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. It seeks to examine and, where appropriate, celebrate the role narrative storytelling plays in public affairs.

“I am honored to be the first recipient of the Pell Center Prize,” Priest said. “Sen. Pell has been a hero of mine for decades, probably ever since I was a college freshman and learned his name for the first time from the Pell Grant that allowed me to attend school in the first place. He was a larger-than-life figure for me in my beginning days as a reporter as well. So to receive an award in his name for the work I do is especially meaningful to me.”

Priest added, “I am especially taken by the idea of Story in the Public Square – and look forward to coming to Newport next month.”

“Dana Priest’s record as a journalist and as a gifted storyteller made this inaugural choice for the Pell Center Prize easy,” said Dr. Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center. “The impact of her storytelling as a journalist and as an author has long been recognized by her peers and by policy makers. Today, we are thrilled to say her work is recognized by the Pell Center as well.”

“Storytelling has the potential to move opinion and policy because of its ability to convey emotion, character and insight – the stuff of human experience,” said G. Wayne Miller, co-director of Story in the Public Square and a journalist with The Providence Journal. “Dana Priest, as a journalist, has told stories that matter, and attitudes and policies have changed as a result. We’re thrilled to be able to recognize her.”

The April 12 conference, Story in the Public Square, is open to the public. Registration is available online at www.salve.edu/pellcenter. A $20 registration fee (waived for Salve Regina students, faculty and staff) reserves a seat at the conference and lunch that day.

Story in the Public Square is made possible, in part, from a major grant award from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the David and Mildred Morse Charitable Trust.

 About Dana Priest

Dana Priest is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter and national security expert for the Washington Post. She was the newspaper’s intelligence and Pentagon correspondent for more than a decade. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Priest revealed and documented the largest covert action program in the CIA’s history as well as the unprecedented growth and use of the military’s clandestine special operations forces around the world. Recently she chronicled the proliferation of counterterrorism agencies in a series of articles and the best-selling 2011 book “Top Secret America: The Rise of the National Security State.”

Priest has traveled widely with Army Special Forces in Colombia, Nigeria and Kosovo and with infantry units on peacekeeping duty in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. She has received every major journalism honor, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for “The Other Walter Reed,” about the neglectful care of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She received the 2006 Pulitzer for uncovering the CIA’s secret prisons and counterterrorism operations overseas. She is also author of the 2003 book “The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace With America’s Military.”

Priest has appeared on CBS and NBC News, 60 Minutes and PBS’s Frontline and well as all the major cable news programs. Priest holds a B.A. in political science from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

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