Jo Napolitano spent nearly two decades reporting for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Newsday before winning a Spencer Education Fellowship to Columbia University in 2016 in support of her reporting on immigrant youth. Her first book, The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America, was published by Beacon Press in Spring 2021.
Napolitano has reported on many topics throughout her award-winning career, including crime and science. But education remains her primary focus, and for good reason: It was the only means through which she would escape poverty.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Napolitano was abandoned at a bus stop by her birthmother when she was just a day old. Placed in an orphanage, she nearly died of starvation before she was adopted by a blue-collar family from New York. She was raised by a single parent and is a first-generation college graduate having earned her bachelors from Medill at Northwestern University. She lived in New York City and believes no child’s life should be left to chance.