Hooked on news, I worked for several local papers before landing at The Philadelphia Inquirer. I wrote hundreds of news articles, features and investigative stories that tracked everything from corruption in the Atlantic City police department, to the art and cultural beat. I never expected to leave The Inquirer, imagining that I’d die with a half-written story in the computer. But as the landscape for journalism started shifting cataclysmically under my feet, I felt stymied, fenced in, at a dead end.
Because of my amateur interest in gardening, I had befriended a Philadelphia botanist, Dr. William Klein, who became the director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii. Unexpectedly he offered me a job, and I grabbed it.
For two years I lived on Kauai. As I explored the Hawaiian plant crisis and hunted down garden history, I realized that I was, and always will be, a reporter at heart.
The Hawaiian experience returned me to journalism, but in a new sphere. I spent several years training journalists overseas, in Eastern and Central Europe, Africa and Latin America. Settling in Washington, D.C., I freelanced articles for the Washington Post, Mother Jones, the American Journalism Review, and others. Now I direct a program for international journalists at the University of Maryland College of Journalism, and teach writing and reporting.