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Behind the Words

Kat Stafford is a national investigative writer and global investigations correspondent, focused on race and inequity, at The Associated Press. She investigates how structural racism has fueled inequity in America through the lens of politics, government, health, environmental justice and more.

Her journalism journey began when she was a child growing up on Detroit's east side. Her father was the neighborhood block club association president and the family put together a monthly community newsletter full of news that residents felt went uncovered by local media. It was her first exposure to community-driven journalism, laying the foundation for her career where she works to highlight under-resourced and ignored​ Black and other communities of color that largely remain undercovered.

She joined the AP in February 2020 as a national race and ethnicity writer to cover the intersection of race and politics. But two weeks into her new role, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, transforming her role to focus on covering the pandemic's disparate impact on Black and other communities of color, the racial justice movement and the presidential election. Prior to joining the AP, Stafford was an investigative reporter at the Detroit Free Press, Michigan's largest daily newspaper. Her reporting there prompted city legislation, policy changes, congressional reviews and federal and state investigations.

Stafford is a 2021-22 University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellowship alumni, where she worked on a project examining how a lifetime of health disparities impact Black Americans from birth to death.

She is the former vice president of the Investigative Reporters and Editors' Board of Directors, the industry's leading nonprofit organization focused on investigative journalism. And she is the past chair of IRE's Member Services Committee and the deputy chair of the National Association of Black Journalists' Print Task Force.

Stafford has received several awards for her work. She was named a finalist for MIT's 2021 McElheny Award science journalism award for an investigative project about lead poisoning and housing demolitions in Detroit. She also was awarded Michigan's Associated Press Media Editors 2019 First Amendment Award.

She was named a 2019 Ida B. Wells Investigative Fellow and received the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2017 Young Journalist of the Year Award from the organization's Detroit Chapter. Stafford was also a 2016 Fellow of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles’ prestigious Journalist Law School. She is the past vice president of the SPJ Detroit chapter and a board member of Eastern Michigan University’s student newspaper, The Eastern Echo. Stafford has also made several television appearances and regularly hosts and moderates panel discussions and gives speeches about race in America.


Stafford is a leading voice on representation and equity and has led or participated in several training sessions and panels, including for the Ida B. Wells Society, the Poynter Institute, the Maynard Institute and several colleges and universities, including the University of Michigan and Cornell University. She's also participated on international panels and events, including the U.S. Embassy Paris, France, the Global Investigative Journalism Network and the International Center for Journalists.

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